First Look: Hellas 2019

Episode 2 from Legacy: Quest for a Family Treasure

Hellas 2019 is an investigation game inspired by escape games. You can play it alone, or gather a team of 2 to 4 players. Unlike traditional escape games, Hellas 2019 is not played with a countdown. Most players complete the game in 60 to 90 minutes. An Internet connection is required. A smartphone is good enough, but they do recommend that you use a tablet or a laptop if possible.

Disclaimer: This preview uses final demo components and rules. What you see here may be different from the published game.

The Good

Real World Information (+10)

They tell you that you need an internet connection for a reason! Some questions require research to find the answer and it’s always a treat to learn real world facts. This is especially useful because some of these facts and constructs could be used for other puzzle games you play in the future. You may need to use their hint site to guide you on what specific terms to research or you could also just be very descriptive in a search engine and still reach the same conclusion. Even the terms that have nothing to do with the puzzles I found myself looking up and learning more about Greece than I did before!

Guidance and Goals (+9)

Not only is the hint system great but the initial letter in your package gives guidance on order for the puzzles so you don’t find yourself wandering aimlessly. There are also symbols that clearly mark which materials in the game correspond to which puzzle so you aren’t confusing solutions together. This is also helpful when trying to gauge exactly how fast you could complete the game, so if you’re more of a slow burn puzzle hunter then you can pick up the rest later.

The Bad

Haphazard Details (-3)

This game either gives you too many details or not enough details depending on the puzzle you’re working on. The reason why this is bad and ultimately frustrating is that you aren’t ever certain how hardcore your sleuthing should be. In some instances I read too far into the guidance and didn’t even come to the same answer without looking up the solution on their site. One of the main draws of puzzle games for me is the path between origin and destination, and if you cannot understand how you got somewhere it is a complete waste of time.

Not Color-Blind Friendly (-5)

As the photos suggest, there is a pair of old-school 3D glasses that comes into play and their use of it is not elegant. It makes the assumption that you can pick out the finer details in some of the graphics in the game, when you could actually have difficulty doing so. I’m not even color blind in any way and still needed to confirm my solutions against their site. To be honest, I even got dizzy at one point trying to read something. This part of the game isn’t even truly avoidable because the corresponding puzzle is before the ending so you either have to throw in the towel or just risk a bit of queasiness trying to get to the answer yourself.

The Ugly

Stretches in Terminology (-1)

When the game asks you to look for certain things, it uses words that I’m not in agreement with. I’m not sure if this was more of a language barrier or an oversight in the art, but it was a problem. These were instances where I had to live in the hints to validate my thinking. I really dislike using hints for this purpose. It feels like a smear upon my skill as a puzzle solver and it isn’t even rewarding to be validated by the site. I frequently found myself saying “What? That isn’t a ____ . Ugh, whatever”.

Difficult Components (-1)

Fairly certain I accidentally damaged one of the components trying to use it. Short of having other tools on hand I had to improvise and just prayed that the damage would not prevent me from playing the game properly. Luckily none of the damage impacted gameplay but what if they had packed it differently? I would have had to lose out on an entire puzzle simply because it was a difficult component.

Difficulty: 3/5 for Expert
Satisfaction Grade: C+ (78.7%) for Good
Worth Your Money? Yes.