Room-in-a-box, Jan 2021
In addition to their fairly huge range of online games, The Panic Room now have a considerable library of puzzle books. Some of them, including this one, are also available as self-print PDFs with the same content, which makes the books fairly close to a ‘print and post’ option. Spiral bound with stiff covers, the books are a distinct step up in presentation from just a sheaf of printed papers; though when playing you may well find it best to pull the pages out. I did manage to play the Book of Grimm in a non-destructible way, but only by using graphics software; it’s definitely not how the game is designed, and it is both easier and better if you accept that the book won’t survive the play session.
Like The Panic Room’s other books, The Book of Grimm is entirely non-linear. The pages contain all the clues for all the puzzles, interspersed and scattered, and it’s up to you to work out what goes with what. This risks being overwhelming at first, particularly for beginners, and whether you keep the pages bound in the book or pull them out, expect a lot of flipping between different sheets to find that thing that you saw just a moment before.
The story here is about uncovering the secrets of the Brothers Grimm to keep safe their secret, that the fairytale creatures they wrote about actually exist. There are polished videos to introduce and conclude the game, and each puzzle resolves to a letter or a string or letters, which assemble to form a phrase. You can enter each answer as you find it in the game’s website, which confirms whether the answer is correct. Note that this isn’t just a verification system – to end the game you need to enter all answers correctly (and note also that the very final password is case sensitive!). Most puzzles use a runic alphabet, which you then need to decipher to English.
The fairytale theming is lovely, and I like the colourful illustration style throughout. The puzzles are varied and imaginative, though I found several of them not completely crisp in their solutions – in that I’d end up fairly confident I had the intended answer, but not certain of it. Being able to confirm the answers in the website was therefore essential, though in one case confusing as to whether the solution should be entered with spaces or without. There are also good three-level hints for each puzzle, though if you don’t quite understand how a puzzle is supposed to work you may find that the hints jump to the solution without giving enough clarification.
Of the four Panic Room books I’ve now tried, Grimm has the theming and art style that most immediately appeals to me. It’s likely to be a significant challenge for beginners, due to the lack of explicit sign-posting; we found it somewhat hard work, though a big part of that was because we were stubbornly not cutting up the pages where we were supposed to.
Disclaimer: We played this game on a complementary basis. This does not influence the review or rating.