Deckscape: The Curse of the Sphinx (Spoiler Free)

Designer: Martino Chiacchiera, Silvano Sorrentino
Artist: Alberto Bontempi
Publisher: dV Giochi
Players: 1-6
Ages: 12+
Times Played: 1, on a copy I borrowed from Dale

The Deckscape line from dV Giochi are a series of “puzzle” games and reside in the orbit of “escape room” games.  These sorts of things come in many varieties -some require apps and others physically can’t be played again because there are destructive or consumable elements- but what I have liked about the Deckscape series is the relative straightforwardness of the puzzles, a little dabbling in riddles, and the sense of adventure.  They insert you into a narrative and the illustrations of the cards carry you along.

Let’s look at how the Deckscape series plays.

As with most puzzle/escape games, the player count is somewhat arbitrary, and the rules will be the same regardless of player count. As with physical escape rooms, my personal preference is for lower counts as each person has a chance to more easily be involved in the experience, and that’s even more true with the puzzle/escape games that you’ll play on your table, as the components are smaller than room size! I played this one 2 player and it was the perfect count for me.

The Deckscape games do an excellent job of packaging the game to avoid spoilers, and you’ll generally work down the deck of around 60 cards in order.  A few cards on top will cover any rules or instructions you need, and it isn’t much.  One card is also the clues, which, rather than being obscured with red lens shading or something similar, are simply written backwards! We ended up using two clues, and it was a great way to prevent accidental eye wanders, as your focus was on reading from right to left.

In “The Curse of the Sphinx” you’re on what appears to be a personal guided tour of a pyramid in Giza when you get trapped inside and must work your way out. 

That’s, um, mostly it! To stay spoiler free, I can’t say much more, but like other games in the series, your adventure will find you wandering a largely linear path, though with occasional also linear branches.  Many cards you encounter will be one-time use, and others will not be.  Actually, that’s part of what I like about the deckscapes the most -you can often rely on a puzzle to be self-contained.  The series is also more situational -almost…environmental- in the sense that they require you to be aware of your surroundings -not in the room as you play, but you the adventurer who has become momentarily entombed. That’s another nice touch as the puzzles feel more like real-life detective work or adventure survival and less thematically arbitrary (OK, maybe not “real-life” though.) There probably won’t be any fourth-wall breaking manigances (Google tells me that’s French for “shenanigans”.)

All that said, this wasn’t my favorite.  There were a few stand out puzzles, but a few others left a bad impression. Do you know that sort of puzzle that frustrates you, and eventually you find the solution with the help of a clue, but you simply roll your eyes “…OK” and have sort of disengaged yourself from that specific puzzle?  There were a couple of those.  One where I thought the solution required too much of a leap and another where the puzzle came with directions, but I felt they were poorly worded to the point that I didn’t feel we could reasonably determine what was intended in a way that would allow us to solve it.

Here are a few links to some other titles in the series we’ve looked at before:

Dale Yu: Review of Deckscape: Escape from Alcatraz (spoiler free)
Dale Yu: Winter Puzzles #1 – Deckscape: Behind the Curtain (game), 404 (book), The Cult Experience (book)
Dale Yu – Review of Deckscape: The Mystery of Eldorado (spoiler free review)
Dale Yu: Review of Deckscape: The Fate of London
Dale Yu: Review of Deckscape: Test Time (Spoiler Free)

Ratings from the Opinionated Gamers

I love it!
I like it. Dale Y
Neutral. James Nathan
Not for me…

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