La Famiglia – Escape Room Game (spoiler free)
- Publisher: Puzzling Pursuits
- Players: 1-6 (we had 2 solvers)
- Time: no time limit – we took 48 minutes to solve part 1, 66 minutes to solve part 2
- website: https://puzzlingpursuits.com/
The Opinionated Gamers have long been a fan of escape room games and puzzle pastimes. We have done plenty of physical escape rooms, online puzzle hunts, and lots and lots of escape room games, from well known franchises (Exit, Unlock, Escape The Room, Werewolf) to one-off challenges and even a few puzzle books.
We were recently contacted by a company new to us, Puzzling Pursuits. They are based in California, and they now have 4 different game boxes (2 each in two different story lines). We were sent a care package of two games to try out.
Per their own introduction: “We create immersive puzzle adventures, games with rich storylines you actively participate in. Solve puzzles, crack codes, and problem solve your way to an objective that changes with every game.
We are inspired by escape rooms, puzzle hunts, and immersive experiences. We love unique adventures that contain camaraderie, problem solving, satisfying “AHA” moments, and compelling story-telling. We thought about what it would be like to bring the best of these experiences into the home.
So, we set out to create an at-home game that is incredibly enjoyable, great in value, and easy to play—whenever, with no time limits. We strive to make the best immersive puzzle adventures for anyone who loves escape rooms, puzzles, riddles, or mysteries. Since launching in 2020, thousands of avid puzzlers from all 50 states have loved playing our games. Whether you’re looking for an awesome new way to bring your family or friends together, a unique date-night experience, or are looking to dive into a storyline yourself, we’d encourage you to give one of our games a try!”
The first one we opened was La Famiglia, the first game in a series: “It’s the Roaring Twenties, but not everything is as glitzy as it seems. Gang violence is on the rise, and a dangerous mafia group is up to something big. You receive a request for help from the FBI. Enter the world of La Famiglia, and play its sequel, The Takedown.”
I ended up packing the slim box in my carry-on as we were heading out for a summer vacation, and we already knew that we were going to have two fairly extended layovers – this seemed like the perfect opportunity to give this game a try. All of the puzzles are fully contained in the box, though we did have to supply a few writing instruments and some scratch paper. The only other thing we required was something with internet access (hooray for Google Fi working in Heathrow!) in order to access a web page to check the answers as well as the online hints…
As you can see, the very elegant art-deco styled box clashes with the ubiquitous and garish airport carpet!
When you open up the box, the two acts of the game are split up into two large envelopes. We found the first one, and following the instructions – we opened it up to get started on our quest.
The contents of the first envelope provided you with all of the needed information for all of the puzzles in the first set. There were some instructions/flavor text in the envelope marked “Investigator”, but otherwise you’re on your own to figure out what to do.
We’ve had lots of experience with puzzle hunts/escape room games, so we quickly got to work. But, don’t fear – if you’ve not done this sort of thing before, the online help offers some basic hints on how to approach the genre. If that’s not enough, there are also plenty of directed clues – for each specific component to help you along. There are as many as 9 different clues for the puzzles, and if those aren’t enough, then you can always just get the answer.
While we didn’t need any clues for this first set, we did go back and look at them afterwards -and they are nicely tiered to give you just the nudge that you need if you are stuck.
You will also use this same interface to check if you have come up with the right answer for each of the puzzles. Simply type in what you think is the answer, and it’ll tell you if you are right or not!
In this game, each of the packets has a number of puzzles (5 each) and then a meta puzzle which uses the solutions of the first five puzzles in that packet. The puzzles were average to above average in difficulty, and there is a nice distribution of puzzle types – some visual, some wordplay, lots of different pencil play styles, etc. One of the puzzles (out of 12) felt a little unsatisfying in the solution, but that’s a pretty good ratio for this sort of thing.
The quality of the material also should be commented upon. There is newsprint (for newspaper), glossy cardstock for menu pages, legal pad paper, etc. There were even some baseball cards in this one! Overall, the quality of the bits was quite high, and this adds a lot to the overall feel of the game.
As we are still not quite through the COVID era, I would note that this could probably be played remotely. While it would be easiest to have each remote site have their own set of materials (i.e. purchase their own box); most of the things in the kit are in a size amenable to scanning/taking pictures of. The newspaper in part 1 is Gazette sized, so that would be harder to scan, and a photo might not give you enough resolution to read it easily – but it could be done… Or just reserve the newspaper to the person who has the game and let the other players work with the more easily scanned bits. In the end, you’ll likely all be discussing the puzzles and how to solve them, and you’ll end up working together anyways.
As I mentioned at the top, we did this with just two people, and we had no problems sharing all of the material. As there are 5 puzzles in each envelope (plus the metapuzzle) – there is plenty of stuff to be passed around and examined.
As with most games in the genre, this game can only be played once. Once you know the solutions to the puzzles, it’s not likely that you will forget how to solve them – especially the clever/memorable puzzles! This is also a game that you probably will not be able to pass on to another group as some of the material must be written upon or altered, and this would reduce the experience for people who tried to play it next with the same box.
I liked the fact that there is no time limit here, you can work on the puzzles at your own pace. While we split up the game into the two natural sections based on the envelopes; this is also something you could just spread out on your desk, working on puzzles as you had time, and then check your answers whenever you felt that you had finished a puzzle.
There is pretty good value here compared to other escape rooms as you essentially get two “experiences” in each box – I would think most groups will take 60-90 minutes for each envelope; so that’s a fair bit of entertainment for $35, and the high quality of the components is a nice added plus. And, if you buy multiple games, Puzzling Pursuits does offer a discount of 20%.
Our first experience with the games from Puzzling Pursuits was defintiely positive, and it helped us manage a five hour layover in Heathrow. The quality of the puzzles is great as is the quality of the physical components themselves. I kind of wish I had taken a few more pictures, but honestly, I probably couldn’t have done so without spoiling something, so maybe it’s best that the finished game ended up in the recycle bin in the airport.
We still have one more box to do from Puzzling Pursuits, and we’ll likely get to that some time in the next month! If you’re interested in seeing what they have to offer, check out their webpage at: https://puzzlingpursuits.com/
Rating from the Opinionated Gamers: I like it.