Welcome to The Game Shelf!

After getting into the board game hobby at the end of 2014, we've decided to share our thoughts on the games we're collecting on our shelves. The collection has certainly expanded over the last few years and we've been making up for lost time!

Sometimes our opinions differ, so Amy will be posting reviews every Tuesday and Fi will post on Thursdays. We hope you enjoy reading some of our opinions on board games - especially those for two players.

Get in touch by emailing thegameshelfblog@gmail.com

Wednesday 26 June 2019

The Game Shelf Previews:- Crypt X

Game: Crypt X

Publisher: Inside the Box Games

Designer:  Rose Atkinson

Year: 2019

Crypt X is a game inspired by modern day archaeology and is centred on Ancient Egypt as its archaeological setting. Inspiration came from the Egyptian collections of the British Museum and the Ashmolean Museum, as well as online museum collections and various books and articles on the history and mythology of Ancient Egypt.

Crypt X is a narrative puzzle game for 1-5 players, following the mystery of a missing archaeology professor. As his student you'll investigate the puzzles he left behind.Not only will you solve the puzzles, but you'll also unravel the story behind his disappearance by working with the integrated app technology.

Crypt X launches on Kickstarter on 26th May 2019 and you can find out more in our preview.


Crypt X is extremely open-ended for an escape-room style game. Instead of being presented with the usual 1 or 2 puzzles at a time, Crypt X provides you with an abundance of puzzles all at once. There are 2 kinds of puzzles, the first, and most common, are single-card puzzles. Everything you need to know about how to solve the puzzles is on a single card, though you may need to reference the main reference sheet for a couple of them. Then there are complex puzzles, which require previous puzzles to have been solved before you can tackle them. Either way the puzzles will give you an answer, which may be a number, a word or even a question which you will have to Google the answer two. You then type your final answer in the app and it will tell you if you were correct or not, along with dispensing some of the story.

While the preview we were given did not have an app developed yet. In the final game you will be score on how well you solve the puzzles, how many wrong answers you gave and how many hints you used. The story will revolve around you finding a lost archaeologist, your final score will determine the lost scientist's fate.

Amy’s Final Thoughts

For this preview we were given 18 puzzles to solve out of the 50+ that will be in the final game. We weren't given any of the story that would normally be your reward for solving puzzles. As such we can't rate the game experience as a whole, but instead only judge it on the strength of the puzzles. The first thing that stuck me was that Crypt X is very friendly to larger groups of puzzle-solvers. While most escape room style games give you only a single puzzle to solve at a time. Crypt X gives you a ton, letting everyone grab puzzles that match their specialty. Conversely though this made it feel like a solitary experience, rather than working together to solve a puzzle we were just doing our own thing until we got truly stuck. Hopefully the complex puzzles which require previous answers will alleviate this problem somewhat, but I feel some middle ground option may have worked a little better.

All of the puzzles we received were contained on a single double-sided card. In most cases though one of the sides of the card was entirely decorative or a minor clue on how to approach the other side, with the puzzle itself being relegated to a single side. The puzzles varied in difficulty and type, if anything with a stronger focus on word puzzles. Sometimes you required quite the logical leap to work out what was expected of you. Fortunately the app is able to give hints to help you solve them, though on the occasions which we did ask for a hint we didn't find them as helpful as we might have liked.

One thing that Crypt X really nails is the Egyptian theme, expect to be translating hieroglyphs, finding lost tombs and having to google the names of Egyptian gods based on their descriptions. This did interfere a little with one of the word puzzles, which had us trying to guess a very themed, but otherwise quite unusual word based on only a snippet of letters. Hopefully the final game will use the story to draw you in even more and get you in the right headspace. Overall Crypt X has some solid challenges to boast about, I just hope that the app and storyline is enough to tie together what threatens to be simply a deconstructed puzzle book.

Fi’s Final Thoughts

We are not the smartest when it comes to puzzle solving and escape room games. Luckily, with Crypt X, you can pass the puzzles around and get another pair of eyes on a puzzle really easily since each puzzle is its own card. With more than two people around the table, you'd have an even better chance of working out some of the really tough puzzles in Crypt X. Fortunately for those like us the app will integrate a hint system too, so you shouldn't be stuck for two long!

Whilst it seems really simple - access to all of the puzzles simultaneously really removes some of the frustration of escape room style games, where you don't even know if you have all of the right elements to find the answer. However, if you're looking for a bigger, more challenging puzzle, then the overarching puzzles at the end of the game promise to give you something more complex and narrative driven to solve. I like that this is something very few escape rooms do - we've seen it in Exit: Dead Man on the Orient Express, but very rarely in other games in the genre.

Crypt X has maths puzzles, riddles, word play, destructive spatial puzzles and ciphers that really cater to lots of different people. Taking some inspiration from Detective, you'll also have to reach into the real world, looking up some answers on the internet and learning history along the way. It's a great touch that adds some interesting educational value to the game and could even lend the game to use in the classroom if all of the information is historically accurate. The theme is everywhere throughout the game and the artwork has some lovely touches that carry this through.

By mixing some of the best bits of puzzle books, escape room games and narrative app driven experiences, Crypt X is definitely worth watching out for if you're fans of brainteasers and looking for an immersive game experience with it.

You Might Like...
  • Crypt X has a huge number of puzzles compared to other escape room or puzzle type games.
  • Because each card is a standalone puzzle, it's easy for lots of people to play.
  • You really will learn more about the theme since you have to use the internet to find some answers.
You Might Not Like...
  • Solving puzzles can be a solitary experience, without the human interaction that's fun in board games.
  • It's not always clear which information is relevant to soling the puzzle, even after some hints!

The Verdict
If you've been underwhelmed by the number of puzzles in games like T.I.M.E. Stories or even in the smaller escape room games, then Crypt X has you covered. With 50+ puzzles in the box, there's plenty to tackle and a large group can share the puzzles and work on the ones they like the best. If you can't get enough of puzzles in books like Journal 29, then Crypt X really promises to be a thematic and stretching game experience.

Crypt X was a prototype kindly provided to us by Inside the Box Games. All photos are based on the prototype materials and may not represent the final game. It comes to Kickstarter on 26th June 2019.

1 comment:

  1. Very interesting blog. Alot of blogs I see these days don't really provide anything that I'm interested in, but I'm most definately interested in this one. Just thought that I would post and let you know.
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