PerplexCity: The Board Game
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Featuring over 1200 unique puzzles including anagrams, logic and number trivia, optical illusions, and riddles, players quest for six puzzle stones scattered across the enigmatic world of Perplex City in this board game based on the cross-media sensation.
Published by: Mind Candy
2 – 16 Players, 1 hour
Review by: Greg J. Schloesser
NOTE: This review was first published in Knucklebones magazine
Mind Candy is a London-based firm that has been operating an alternate reality game (ARG) for the past few years. In this “live” version of the game, players must solve various puzzles and clues in their search for a particular item. The reward to the ultimate winner is quite impressive – approximately the equivalent of $200,000.
With the success of their “live” adventure, it is no surprise that the company has released a boardgame version of the game. As in the ARG, the game is filled with various puzzles, anagrams, trivia and other mind-teasing challenges. Players move about the board – either as individuals or in teams – answering questions and solving puzzles. The objective is to be the first to earn six different colored stones, which can only be acquired at specific locations on the board.
Players move around the board via a die roll. They must move in a straight line, but can reverse direction if they encounter the edge of the board. This ability to move horizontally or vertically in either direction does give the player numerous choices, and is far superior to the standard roll and move games. The majority of spaces on the board are color-coded, and if a player ends his turn on one of these spaces, he must solve the corresponding puzzle on a card within thirty seconds. Answer a question correctly in one of the six circular zones, and you earn a stone of the same color.
If a player lands on an opponent, he must challenge that opponent for one of their stones. If successful, the challenger captures the stone. If the opponent answers correctly, however, he maintains possession of the stone. There are several special “challenge” or “start” spaces on the board, which allow the player to challenge any opponent in a similar fashion. A player must earn his final stone via a challenge in order to win the game. Thus, he must be careful to make sure that at least one opponent already possesses the colored stone that he needs. Otherwise, the game can be very frustrating for the player, as he is forced to wait for an opponent to acquire the stone he needs before attempting to challenge him.
One can easily see the similarities with Trivial Pursuit. The big difference is the nature of the questions, which for the most part are puzzles of various types. Many are visual puzzles involving words, mazes, lines and other optical teasers. Some require the player to discern the object or number that doesn’t belong in a sequence, while others require a player to answer questions and perform arithmetic tasks with the numeric answers. There are a healthy variety of questions and puzzles, but unfortunately a HUGE disparity in their complexity. Some questions and puzzles are ridiculously easy to solve, while others are virtually impossible. This is a major problem in the game, as it can be maddening to repeatedly receive difficult questions while opponents receive questions a child could answer.
The variety of puzzles is what makes the game and gives it a different feel. Trivia aficionados won’t have a tremendous advantage, and most folks will be on relatively equal footing. Playing in teams can further equalize any disparity amongst the players, and make for extremely competitive games. As a result, the game should have wide appeal, even if the winner doesn’t receive a financial windfall!