Roll up, Roll up!
Your lifelong dream is to work among the jaw-dropping performers of Muggins Carnival – but wait…
Nothing is what it seems as you race to solve the Ringmaster’s baffling puzzles. Work together as a team or go head-to-head with other players to see who’ll be crowned King or Queen of the carnival.
We’ve always been big fans of games that we can play at home to bridge the gaps between physical escape rooms, keep our puzzle solving skills fresh, and change it up from Monopoly at family gatherings. Many of these play at home game companies have been around for a while, but Trapped are relatively new, coming to the market in July 2020. Having experienced both of the other games on offer from Trapped, The Bank Job and The Art Heist, it was inevitable that we would take on Carnival.
I knew very little about the game going in, and with a Carnival theme was fully expecting a horror themed carnival full of terrifying clowns. I’m pleased to report that I was mistaken in my assumptions (you know what they say about assuming after all) and Carnival is actually very family friendly, and full of light hearted fun.
The concept of the games from Trapped is to create an escape room in your own home, and the paper based game provides everything you may need in order to do so, including low tack sticky tape to fill your living room with carnival games. Sadly, there are no rides. Unlike The Bank Job or The Art Heist, Carnival is less an “escape” room, and more a series of puzzles that exist just for the fun of it. There is no clear progression of the game, with an end goal of escaping. But rather the goal is to solve the Ringmaster’s puzzles and be awarded points. How you choose to play, is up to you, however. You may choose to split into teams (or individuals) and solve all of the puzzles, competing for the best score – although there should probably be a penalty for clues if that’s the case. Or you may just enjoy puzzles, and want to play cooperatively with everyone and work your way through. The possibilities are endless.
The game structure is completely open – work on the puzzles together or tackle them independently in any order you wish. This open structure makes this game particularly ideal for larger groups, as there really isn’t a limit to the number of people that you could play with. Play as a two like we did, play competitively as six individuals, or split into up to six teams of two or more – it doesn’t really matter, fun will still be had as long as the space you set up in is large enough. The game is even completely replayable if you’re gentle with the components. (We actually received the game from Amy at Brit of an Escape Habit, via Jamie at Armchair Escapist.)
As one might expect, Carnival is themed around a carnival. The paper components are bright and colourful, with not a clown in sight. Other than the styling of the things in the box, there’s little you can do to make the experience truly immersive, other than perhaps finding music that may work on a carousel. (Unless you’re playing as part of a carnival themed birthday party, of course.) But the puzzles are engaging enough that it’s just fun, and where The Bank Job and The Art Heist each offered a final challenge that flipped the style of those games on their heads, Carnival presents the opportunity to actually play a carnival game of skill.
While difficulty is always subjective, Carnival is marketed as the least difficult of the games from Trapped for a reason. Observation is key (and you may want to make sure you have your glasses nearby if you need them), with many puzzles relying on your ability to notice things, and put them together. Even with others that included a bit of minor maths, a touch of logical reasoning, and even a bit of decoding there is little that will stump puzzle enthusiasts.
That’s not to say that enthusiasts won’t enjoy the game because it’s on the easier side, but rather that the puzzles were completely fair, with no frustrating leaps required to solve them, thus allowing the game to just be fun as we worked our way through the “games” around the room. But perhaps the aspect of the game that was the most fun was the final task that wasn’t a puzzle at all, but rather an entertaining game of skill.
We love Trapped’s clue system. Like most (possibly all) of the play at home games we’ve tried, clues are available and delivered in a granular manner. Carnival is no different, in that respect, but rather than a website, or hint cards, instead comes with a book of jumbled clues that can only be read using the clue decoder.
It seems a bit strange and confusing at first, but this clever little system ensures that there is no risk of spoilers for another puzzle, or seeing too many clues for the puzzle you’re on. And don’t worry, each puzzle has a list on the back to let you know exactly where to start if you need a hint.
As the easiest of the games on offer from Trapped, Carnival is a perfect choice for the whole family (aged 8+ according to Trapped). Thanks to the format and the puzzle styles, I can see this being a great hit at a children’s birthday party, or even the next family reunion.
- Note-taking implements may be useful
|Value for Money|
Team: 2 players
Time Taken: 22 minutes
Website: Available from a number of escape rooms or on Amazon (https://www.amazon.co.uk/Trapped-CA001-Carnival-Waiting-puzzles/dp/B08556VDRG)
*Disclaimer: we weren’t charged for this experience and it was gifted by Golden Bear, but this has not influenced our review