Is this the real life, is this just fantasy?
After four long decades serving a secret intelligence agency, an embittered Abigail Vandermist suddenly drops off the map. She has found something out. Something to do with an old rescue mission into the heart of the USSR, a nuclear physicist, and her own enigmatic father.
Meanwhile, Abigail’s sister Helena has been searching for her, ever since her disappearance in 1979. With your help, she was finally getting somewhere. But with Abby on the run, you’re back at square one, and you are not the only ones trying to get to her first…
Nearly two years ago we had the privilege of playing The Vandermist Dossier by Diorama, and they’re back! Coming soon to Kickstarter is the long awaited follow up, The Medusa Report. We were lucky to get our hands on an early copy of the game and we were told that there will be tweaks to it before launch but what we played was essentially a slightly less refined final copy. When I say ‘less refined’, don’t let that put you off, it was very refined.
Play online and play at home games went crazy during those dark days of Covid lockdowns, but since the world has reopened they have sadly declined in numbers. This is why it’s so refreshing to see companies like Diorama Games putting out new games and bucking the trend.
The Medusa Report arrived on our doorstep in what felt like record time, considering it came from the Netherlands. The hard thing was setting aside the time to play it! This is a game to be savoured, so we didn’t want to rush it and ruin our experience. We finally found the time to sit down one evening, and first impressions (as expected) were great.
There was no trip down to the local Staples to grab a ream of boring white A4 paper for The Medusa Report, oh no, everything in this pack felt like it was bespoke and of the highest quality – it just oozes class. I must admit, at one point I did do a Google search to see if a location was real as I wasn’t sure if the map used was made for the game, or genuine.
The Medusa Report is one of those games where everything you need is in the box, and everything is available to you right from the start. This usually gives information overload and for us that was certainly the case, but also we spent longer than we should admiring the contents of the pack. Fortunately Diorama included a nice starting point in the instructions/directions and that certainly helped us to focus on the relevant documents at the right time.
As I mentioned earlier, we were told that our copy was an early copy and final versions would be refined some more. To be honest, had we backed it on Kickstarter and received this version of the game, we wouldn’t have been disappointed. There was one section where something was hard to read, but this has already been picked up on and is being fixed for the next iteration.
This is a game where technically you don’t really need the internet to be able to play it. Everything is in the box and you can piece it together without the use of technology. The only time you may need the internet is if you need any clues, and when you have the final solution and you want to check you’re correct.
As an added bonus, there are a couple of extra puzzles tied in that link back to the Vandermist Dossier. You don’t have to do them, but if you’re a completionist then it’s probably time to dust off your copy of Vandermist.
The puzzles in this game are not obvious puzzles, you have to go through the report and piece bits of information together to come up with answer. But in doing so you encounter puzzles that feel authentic, real, and challenging. We did struggle with one or two puzzles but after consulting the clue system we swiftly realised the error of our ways and were back on track in no time.
There is a fair amount of reading in The Medusa Report, but the more in depth you go with this then the more understanding you have of the story and are able to solve the mysteries contained with. I’m not great with story, but fortunately Liz was on the case and was able to pull it all together in the end (she really does carry our team).
So puzzle types, well… Observation, wordplay and decoding were the most prevalent but there were other puzzles, I’m just not sure on the best way to describe them. You’ll need to get creative with how you handle the documents and not all is as it first appears. Oh and one extra bonus, you can play this game without destroying it!
This game has some cracking puzzles and extremely satisfying solves. It’s amazing that after playing so many games we can still see new puzzle ideas and think “How the hell did they create that?!” Well done Diorama, you’ve put some original and extremely unique puzzles in this game – hats off.
For those dumb days that seem to happen far too frequently, I love a good clue system. It’s hard to make a clue system that feels fully integrated into a game like this, so Diorama have just done the logical thing and kept it simple. When you start the game you are given a URL that you can access anytime for getting help. The clues are divided by item type so you know what you need to look at, and then they are broken down into further Hints, an Explanation and then finally the Solution should it be needed.
It’s nothing fancy, but it’s simple and it works. We consulted it a couple of times and it was enough of an assistance to get us back where we needed to be. When we played we had to email our end solution to an email address, but we’re told that in the final version there will be a web portal where you can enter your solution and find out if you’re correct there and then.
The Medusa Report is one of those games that feels chaotic at the start, then as you progress it comes together to form a beautiful harmony. The documents blur the lines of what’s real and what’s fantasy, and it’s really rather impressive how much puzzling can fit into one box!
- Pen and Paper
- Internet and email account*
*We played an early version of the game prior to its Kickstarter launch. Kickstarter backers and later purchasers may not need email.
|Value for Money|
Team: 2 players
Time Taken: 1hr 16mins
*Disclaimer: we weren’t charged for this experience, but this has not influenced our review