Another fun game from Eleven Puzzles!
Detectives Ally and Old Dog follow the Cryptic Killer’s trail to an old electronics shop. That evening will have them fighting for their lives…
Will you help them find the killer and escape?
We’ve been a bit behind on reviews lately, for a few reasons; we’ve had a few ‘holidays’, we were feeling a bit burnt out, and then Covid finally got us. Fortunately we seem to be over Covid now, have a little more focus, and are currently not on holiday. So we finally found the time to sit down and play the new game by Eleven Puzzles, Parallel Lab.
We played their first game, Unboxing the Mind of a Cryptic Killer, back in January 2021 so it had been quite a while since we saw anything from Eleven Puzzles. We thoroughly enjoyed this first game so we were looking forward to seeing if they had created another winning game.
This game is technically for two players, or we found it worked best as a team of two. However, it does list it as being available for two teams and shows it as 2-6 players, so if you wanted to play as a bigger group, you can! I’m not sure how it would work or if it’s possible to play on more than two screens, but it’s definitely possible to play in two separate locations if you need to – just set up a Zoom call or something.
Parallel Lab follows the same story and design as the first game, which makes sense as it works well and looks very slick – it has a high quality cartoon/animation feel to it. When you start the game, you each (or each team) choses a character, for our game, I was ‘Old Dog’ and Liz was Ally. Each character sees different aspects of the game so make sure you don’t pick the same one!
Another thing that’s worth noting about this game is that it’s not particularly accessible (they state this on their website), if you’re hard of hearing or colour blind then there are aspects in the game where you may struggle. Saying that, despite half of our team being colour blind, we managed to get through the game with minimal issues, so don’t let this put you off – if you’re unsure of any colours you could also share your screen (we don’t consider this cheating if you just need help identifying which colour is which.)
So ignoring the fact that it’s not 100% accessible, this is a game that is very well put together and slick to play. The puzzles are intertwined around a central story and as you progress through the game, between rooms, the story unfolds.
When you enter a new space there is a lot to look at and take in, but to help keep you on track, only certain items in the room are interactive. This was done in a way that felt intuitive and gave good signposting for working out how to link puzzles for player one with items that player two could see (and vice-versa).
The interactivity between the two players works well and we had no issues. We did expect to be ‘pulled through’ if one player enters a code but this didn’t happen, but if one player does enter the correct code, this code will appear on the padlock screen for the other player so they can simply enter it and catch up.
In an online game, for two players (or teams), there’s no prize for guessing that the biggest puzzle type in Parallel Lab is communication. You need to make sure you are comfortable explaining what you see, and listening to what your partner has found. Fortunately we’ve been married for over 10 years so when I tell Liz that I have found a ‘thingamajig’, she generally knows what I mean.
Other than communication, there was a good variety of puzzles; audio, colours, logic, spatial awareness, simple maths, and some observation. It was also nice to see puzzles where it took both players interacting simultaneously to solve.
Although this is an online game, it’s always useful to have a paper and pen handy. But another nice feature of this game was that at times you could ‘doodle’ on the screen. This makes it much easier to solve some of the puzzles, well perhaps not easier, but definitely a lot less frustrating than it would have been without this feature.
We found the puzzles and signposting in Parallel Lab to be so good that we didn’t actually need to consult the clue system, just like when we played their first game. We tried to reload and replay the game so we could have a look at the clues, but it seems like you can only play this game once, so that didn’t work.
So, I’ve had a look at our review for Unboxing the Mind of a Cryptic Killer and copied what we wrote for that, as I’m going on the assumption that they’ve gone for ‘If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’ and used the same hint system.
“If you do need a hint for any puzzle, you will find a lightbulb on the screen clearly labelled with ‘Hints’, if you click on that you are presented with a screen confirming that you really want to see the hint and that ‘you can choose to take as many hints as you wish, the only thing negatively impacted is your pride’. If you don’t care about your pride being damaged then you can ask to see three hints before finally revealing the solution.”
If you liked the first game by Eleven Puzzles, then this one is sure to be a hit. We found the puzzles to be fair, and the game was fun and in places funny. The ‘forced communication’ was also done well and is guaranteed to get you talking to your teammate(s). Eleven Puzzles take their time with their games, and it shows, this is a quality experience.
- Note taking tools (optional)
|Value for Money|
Team: 2 players
Time Taken: 1hr 11 mins
*Disclaimer: we weren’t charged for this experience, but this has not influenced our review