Dispatch (Vol. I)

This interactive serial mystery by Breakout Games is shipped directly to your door, with a new box provided each month. These clues often lead you between the web and the real world. Unravel this tangled web of clues, where each package reveals additional details to solve the crime.

The Good

Component Quality (+6)

So many keepsakes in this series! Say goodbye to trashing flimsy paper components which you recycle and maybe even burn later. I’m very tempted to try and use these components for my own puzzling purposes. I can imagine sending secret messages or designing my own weird things for friends to solve.

Story Immersion and Excitement (+4)

Breakout is very clear that this is a serial segment of escape room games, and they want to hook you into the story right away. Consequently, they do a good job of pushing the components in with the story, getting you involved in the story and giving you some level of purpose and investment in the solving of the puzzles.

Portability and Sustainability (+6)

When this showed up on my doorstep I couldn’t actually remember I had spoken with the publisher about this game. I was even able to bring this game in a normal tote bag to a coffee shop to try and solve all by my lonesome. If you travel a lot, this would also be a perfect fit in a carry on bag if you’re looking for something to unplug from.

Informative (+4)

This game does a good job of integrating videos with the knowledge presented to you in the game. Considering the title of the series, you do end up learning some fun magic tricks along the way. Yet, I really do wish I had more of the upcoming boxes to know if I really did need to learn any of those magic tricks for future puzzles… regardless, I know things now!

The Bad

Serial in Nature (-5)

As much as I listed this in the previous section, it annoys me when I have intentional barriers to progress for the purposes of capitalism. It’s unclear if you haven’t seen something, or you have only seen part of something that will make sense in future boxes. Through and through, you feel stalled because it was designed with serial subscription in mind.

No End in Sight (-2)

There are disclosures on the publisher’s website about how long each of the series can be before the end is in sight. I’m unsure if they disclose this at the end or at the beginning of a campaign, but I wasn’t aware when I first received the box. Only after some time solving I finally realized the information I had wouldn’t make any sense until I got more boxes.

Unclear Prerequisite Tools and Environments (-1)

There are puzzles in this game that required me to change the environment within which I was trying to solve the box. Mind you, this doesn’t mean that I needed to do a rain dance just so rain water fell down on some pieces — but it did mean that I had to impractically simulate environmental conditions to get something to work. I can’t tell you much more than this but I wish it had been clear about that.

Too Much Meta-puzzle Focus (-6)

Like I mentioned, this is a serial… series? so there is a meta-puzzle to solve based on all of the things you have gathered across a variable number of boxes. Consequently, you are not truly satisfied with just one box, and I believe this is by design. You may be able to decrypt certain things and feel the satisfaction of having made those connections but that’s all you’re going to receive in terms of validation from this game. I, for one, do enjoy being able to do more than just translate codes or use ciphers properly. I got none of that here.

The Ugly

Activities are Ambiguous (-0.5)

Considering there is a variable ratio of meta-puzzle to isolated box puzzles, sometimes you find yourself trying everything in the box verbatim. For example, this box came with magic tricks and links to videos online to learn the tricks. I started performing the tricks and was wondering whether I would reach an epiphany at some point — and didn’t.

Rolled-Up Posters (0)

There are posters or banners that come in the small box, and while I did note that I enjoyed the size of the box, it was not a helpful home for the rolled-up posters. It took quite a bit of dexterity to keep them rolled when storing them in the box.

Hint System is Bonkers (-4)

So they have an adorable detectives’ business card with contact information you can use. However, they do have business hours because you are interacting with a real human but it doesn’t seem they have a good feel for how strong or weak a hint they should continue to give. You’d think that if you’re following up with more questions that they’re not giving you a strong enough hint but they did not pick up on this from me at all.

Queasy Town (-0.5)

A few puzzles in this particular box took me to queasy town for a little while because (SURPRISE!) perspective puzzles exist in here. My eyesight isn’t very good to begin with, and they do provide a magnifying glass to you for purposes that I will let you find out for yourself if you get this box.

Difficulty: 2/5 for Advanced
Satisfaction Grade: D+ (68%) for Okay
Worth Your Money? Maybe.