CSI Bristol – Cryptic Enigmas

  • Reviews

An immersive detective story with challenging puzzles and excellent attention to detail

Date played: 29 October
Team: Jamie & Mim
Time to finish: 1 hr 49 mins

Hire CSI Bristol – Use code CSI10 to get 10% off until 31 December
If you decide to get the game, please let them know that Armchair Escapist sent you!

Just before the first lockdown, I was looking around for mobile escape experiences as part of a company team building activity. The pandemic put a stop to it before I could make any headway, but I still wanted to see how such an experience could work.

That’s when Cryptic Enigmas, an offshoot of Cryptic Events, pivoted one of their mobile escape experiences as a couriered escape kit.

And when a honking great silver case arrived at my doorstep one morning, I knew I was going to be in for a wild ride.


A mysterious package arrives at your door.

It’s a case file from CSI, Stan Dioblos, containing the latest instalment in his lifelong tussle with the heinous crime lord known only as Cryptic. 

You’ll need your wits about you, as you untangle the webs Cryptic has left for you. 

Investigate shady organisations, eliminate suspects and solve puzzles in this immersive, criminal caper.  

Theme: A sprawling detective caseload with great materials

If you’re a fan of ephemera and physical componants, this game is for you. As well as the large silver case, you’re provided with a collection of dossiers and criminal profiles.

And once you open the case, you better clear some floor space.

Just like the evidence boards you see on crime shows, there’s a wealth of materials that you’ll have sprawled across your living room. The materials themselves are solid and good quality. The game also comes with solver’s tools like a magnifying glass and a whiteboard with markers.

We didn’t need to use the magnifying glass but I see how it could come in handy for inspecting some of the finer details.

The theme is solid – the materials you get are a mix of evidence collected by the CSI Bristol team and include the calling cards left by the criminal ‘Cryptic’. There’s a mishmash of styles as you might expect from an eclectic mix of evidence collected from across the city.

Puzzles: Challenging and varied with added deduction

Though I thought at first this would be quite a linear game (the game has eight lockboxes that help you eliminate a suspect in turn), I was quite wrong.

We wound up reusing most materials to solve later puzzles, pinging back and forth as we sifted through the evidence.

With the wealth of evidence, at times it was a little overwhelming for our team of two. Then again, we overthought almost every puzzle when the solution was simpler than we were making it out to be.

There’s a mix of deciphering, pathfinding, observation, assembly and lateral thinking. The deductive elements add an extra level of depth to the game. The lockboxes and puzzles give you the means to collect enough evidence in order to crack the case.

I enjoyed being rewarded with each solve by chipping away at our list of suspects – even the deductive elements required a bit of puzzling, which was satisfying.

The puzzle flow was good, and it was quite satisfying to see how something seemingly innocuous at first paid off later on the game once we understood how to read it.

There was one element of the deduction where the solution seemed a bit ambigious, and once we’d found the answer we felt it was a little unclear (as we could see more than one suspect that would fit).

Hints / experience: Good chatbot and fun overall package

We used quite a few hints in this one. The game’s hint system is a chatbot from your contact ‘Stan Dioblos’ who gives you graded hints for the puzzle you’re stuck on. It worked well, and let us overcome each tricky bit ourselves with just a gentle nudge.

I felt there could have been more of a payoff at the end. Once we’d solved the case I’d have wanted some visual congratulatory message or something more to round off the rest of the story.

Summary: Great for team-building or family game night

From the moment you crack open that large silver case, you know you’re in for something special. An immersive detective story with challenging puzzles, excellent attention to detail and great elements of deduction.

I’d recommend a larger team tackle this one – four to six would be ideal. With the wealth of evidence and materials to pore over, you’ll need every brain you can get. This makes CSI Bristol perfect for team building or a family gaming night.

CSI Bristol
Designed by
Phil Hill
: £60 for Bristol, UK residents (£85 couriered elsewhere in the UK)
Duration: 120 minutes
: Pen/paper for note taking, computer / phone with Internet and Messenger access

Hire CSI Bristol – Use code CSI10 to get 10% off until 31 December
If you decide to get the game, please let them know that Armchair Escapist sent you!

Disclosure: We were offered a complimentary game for the purposes of writing a fair and honest review. This has not affected our opinion of the game whatsoever. Check out the disclosure policy for more info.

Image from Cryptic Enigmas