SNAP Review – Deckscape: The Mystery of El Dorado
After years of research and seraching, you have concluded that the legend of El Dorado is in fact, just a myth. But wait! The Amazon holds one last clue to: The Mystery of El Dorado!
This is a SNAP review for Deckscape: The Mystery of Eldorado.
In this Deckscape game, you’ll gradually work your way through the 60 card deck, solving puzzles and gaining clues to the mystery of El Dorado.
Alberto Bontempi‘s art is clear, but sometimes a bit more cartoony than we were expecting. Some cards held clues to various puzzles, while others presented choices (and some did both!) The only clues we didn’t “get” were thankfully not the only way to solve their particular puzzles.
Some card-based puzzles were very small, which made it challenging for us to solve together in a group: they were only visible by one person at a time.
A folded leaflet held the key to several puzzles, but still felt like something you might really find. It wasn’t just a contrived picture there to serve the puzzles. A nice change from some other escape boxes we’ve tried!
Deckscape feels a bit like a choose your own adventure book in the form of a deck of cards. You move “forward” through the deck and solve puzzles as you come to them. Once you think you’ve solved a puzzle, flip the card to find the solution.
Sometimes, you’ll find a card that gives you options on where to go next. It will instruct you to take specific stacks of cards and put them in separate piles. This gives you the idea of branching paths – “choose your own adventure”.
Because of this structure, most puzzles can only be attempted ONCE. (We found one exception to this rule.) Discuss it as a group and make sure that you’ve decided on an answer before you flip a card!
Sometimes you’ll pick up helpful items that will assist on later puzzles – and some puzzles will require the use of specific items. Here and there you’ll find hints available to you from earlier puzzles – some more obvious than others.
If the group fails a puzzle, you’ll take a penalty of “Z”s or “X”s. Z penalties represent hunger and tiredness, and are easier to remove (use pencil to record these!). Xs count against your score at the end of the game.
Once you get to the end of the deck, the game is over. Record how long it took you and add your penalties. How were you at solving the mystery?
We expected a card-based escape room. Although it differed from the card-driven Unlock, it still had some of the same shortfalls. It’s hard for more than two people to study a single card to get clues. We had to pass cards around the table, which negatively impacted our completion time.
There was a lot of passing cards for puzzles that were more complex. For puzzles that were easier, the first person who saw the card solved them, then simply passed the card around the table saying, “does this look right?” because we wanted everyone to feel included.
Although after playing Decktective: Bloody-Red Roses, we were hopeful that this would have more in common with that style of play than the typical “look for this card” escape box.
We were looking forward to finding out what this deck of cards and paper brochure had in store for us.
This Deckscape game felt more like a story than many other escape room games we’ve played. There was a real narrative here, with goals that change slightly over the course of the game.
You’re lost in the Amazon jungle, so it shouldn’t be a surprise that bad things keep happening to you. When we found a card that said “You are LOST!” our daughter just sighed and said “… okay.”
We love escape boxes, but there’s not a ton of immersion. You’re sitting around your table, and you can’t change that. So, we’re not going to be fully immersed and feel hopeless, or the other emotions the cards are trying to evoke.
You’ll split out portions of the deck after solving the first puzzle. This structure makes it look like there are branching paths – but in reality, you’ll need to visit nearly everything. The order really matters, too. If you solve a puzzle correctly, but without the necessary “items”, you’ll still take a penalty.
There were tons of places to get hints, which kept the difficulty level low. There are two “side quests” that can give you a list of hints itemized by card number: a few of these were invaluable and made us happy we had those cards available to us.
I thought for sure we’d be done with this Deckscape in an hour. But even though it never felt “too difficult”, it still took us 90 minutes. I didn’t mind, but I’ll make sure we allow enough time the next time we play one.Anitra
It depends on how desperate you are to score well; we didn’t rush through this. Instead, we played at a relaxed pace, and shared cards around the table to make sure everyone was included.
We had really high hopes after playing Decktective: Bloody-red roses. So it might not be fair to measure Deckscape: The Mystery of El Dorado against that. Anitra liked it more than most of the Unlock games we’ve played. Andrew prefers the Unlock system, but enjoyed the narrative flow present in this Deckscape game.
We are comparing this to Unlock rather than EXIT, because the Deckscape game is not destructible. You can pass it on to someone else after you’re done with it.
For an enjoyable time, with a few bumps along the way, we rate Deckscape: The Mystery of Eldorado 3.5 out of 5 golden treasures.
The Family Gamers received a copy of Deckscape: The Mystery of El Dorado from dV Giochi for this review.
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Deckscape: The Mystery of El Dorado
Number of Players: 1-6
Age Range: 12-99 (a little younger is fine)
Playtime: 60-90+ minutes