“I’m writing you today to urgently request the immediate assistance of your firm with investigating the whereabouts of two missing people… I’ve heard great things about your skills in cracking difficult cases, so I hope you will agree to take this on.”
The Tale of Ord is a narrative tabletop puzzle game in which you’ll search for two missing archaeologists through ciphers, codes, challenges, and clues steeped in Old Norse mythology.
Designed to be played in 4 episodes, The Tale of Ord is about 9-13 hours of playtime for 1-4 people. I found 4 players to be the sweet spot for the game.
The Tale of Ord is cooperative puzzle adventure game along the lines of an escape room. You’re charged with a single task – locate the missing archaeologists. Each episode contains a number of clues to help you unravel the mystery. Puzzles chain into each other and include codebreaking, identification of foreign objects and symbols, and completing elaborate challenges. (Some hints are provided through the website if you get stuck.) There are several puzzles in each box, and each has various steps as well. Each episode contains about 3-4 hours of gameplay and has its own conclusion, but the overall story develops over the course of the entire game.
I love a good puzzle. My first board game was Clue. The first series I remember reading were the Sherlock Homes short stories. These days we make a point to visit an escape room in every city we visit. I’ve played almost every single escape-room-in-a-box game.
I’m not kidding when I say this is one of the best puzzles I’ve ever done. Ever. Hands down.
It opens simply, but quickly starts to test your wits and puzzle solving skills. This is a real brain burner. Challenges range from ciphers, to plant identification, to code (like, literal computer code) reading, to drawing. Nothing is ever what it seems on the surface, but some are so insidiously clever you’ll smack your head when you realize the solution.
I’m going to tell on myself a little. I have a fantastic group for puzzle games and with our experience I kind of expected us to blow through the puzzles and be done well under the suggested time, like we have with many other games. Um, no. Like many groups, each of us has a particular style or two of puzzle we’re good at. The Tale of Ord challenged every one of us. Almost every object or clue required putting our collective skills together to solve a piece, being composed of many parts visual, code, word, or other type of challenge.
The story is rich. Letters, journals, articles, and even web pages are carefully researched and tie together seamlessly. The progression feels natural with no sudden “Mwahahaha, it was me all along,” moments or eye-rolling macguffins. The player is also going to get a crash-course in Norse mythology as The Tale of Ord is steeped in old lore. You’ll become somewhat invested as the story unfolds.
The components are amazing. Magazine articles look genuinely like something torn from a glossy magazine. A set of keys are actual cut keys from the hardware store. Internet links created for the story actually lead to web pages. There’s a wood burned amulet for part of the story – its a legitimate wood amulet that has been hand wood-burned. These take the story to another level. It’s so much more immersive to hold something in your hand that actually looks and feels and is the object needed for this part of the puzzle.
The Post Curious website has a hints section for each of the clues. These are well done as well with each part being broken down into steps that are usually questions as prompts (‘Did you read the article on Odin’s sacrifice?’ sort of thing), so that your party still has an opportunity to solve the puzzle partially. If you get really stuck the final set of hints is a sort of walk through of the puzzles and their solutions. Also, all the hints have to be clicked on to be revealed, so no spoilers.
If you like puzzle games, you absolutely have to add The Tale of Ord to your wishlist.
(Think you’ve got what it takes? Try this free puzzle!)
Thinky, clever, and well made, The Tale of Ord is the king of narrative puzzle games for code-breakers and clue unravelers looking for a real challenge. Tightly woven story and quality components create an immersive setting. Different types of puzzles will challenge everyone in your group. Hours of gameplay that never feels stretched out. You’ll need your thinking cap on for this one.
Final Score: 5 Stars – A brilliantly designed puzzle game that will challenge every level of gamer.
• Um, none. Fight me.