As puzzle games go, this one is pretty deep
The games from Enigma Fellowship have been consistently great quality. Tons of work have gone into creating a rich and detailed narrative, a nifty ‘nested gate’ system of puzzles, and quality puzzles that keep waste to a minimum.
Their third game – The Submerged Sentinel – promised more of a challenge than their first two games (and they were still pretty challenging).
When I opened up the protective bag and tore open the initial envelope, a small UV torch keychain fell out. I knew then I was in for something a bit special.
An experimental submarine, the ISS Sentinel, carrying a revolutionary new energy device and the world’s leading scientific experts has missed several scheduled check-ins. The Enigma Fellowship has been contacted for help. Given the lives and scientific knowledge at stake your mission is to not only find the submarine but also rescue the crew.
Can you locate the submarine and rescue the crew? Be prepared for a maritime adventure. There may be some deep diving involved.
A wealth of eco-conscious materials
The physical components from Enigma Fellowship games are predominantly paper based. If you’re the kind of puzzler who likes to handle ‘stuff’, you might be a little put out at first.
It’s a conscious design choice intended to reduce waste and help the environment. Enigma Fellowship is leading the way for eco-conscious puzzle games, using environmentally-friendly printing and shipping and planting trees for every game sold. The emphasis on paper components makes for a much more sustainable game.
The Enigma Fellowship games use a cool ‘nested doll’ system for gating their puzzles. Portions of the game are sealed in envelopes, which are then tucked inside other sealed envelopes. This lets the game expand as you go deeper into the story.
The Submerged Sentinel puts most of its content behind these gates, so when you first open up the letter the contents are deceptively scant. But as soon as you break into the next envelope the game explodes with content.
There’s a rich and detailed narrative here too, played out through text and audio narration on the game’s website. This took some getting used to when we first started playing these games, as we were puzzle hungry and wanted to jump to the next puzzle each time.
Now we’ve embraced the pauses in frantic puzzle solving and I enjoy listening to the story develop, and it really adds to the experience.
Innovative puzzles with fun a-ha moments
The Submerged Sentinel is Enigma Fellowship’s most challenging game by far. Thankfully at the mid point the narrative allows players to take a break before tackling the rest of the game. We should have taken them up on their offer and come back with fresh brains!
There’s some excellent use of the included UV torch, including one where it helps immerse you into the story a little bit. It’s an innovative use of the materials and one that I played with for the sheer novelty of it.
The puzzle flow was incredibly smooth – we knew exactly where we needed to be, even on the more challenging puzzles. Everything was well signposted with with additional scribbles and key iconography to guide us along.
There was one puzzle that I’ve only seen in one other place. And even through the game explicitly told us what to do, we were a little hesitant. The payoff was worth it, though, and I got a real kick out of it.
There’s a wide variety of puzzles in the mix here too, and it’s always mix in with some narrative device to enhance the story. You’re not just path finding, but you’re cross-referencing encrypted logs to and whale song to find that path. There’s a healthy mix of other types too – a spot of maths, pattern recognition, codebreaking and deduction.
The game front-loads the cipher alphabets you need, so you can anticipate them a little (I cheated slightly and used dCode for some of the translation stuff). There was one codebreaking puzzle that was a little bit more of a process but I felt like a bloody genius when I spotted how to work it out. That’s the kind of feeling you hope for.
A welcome peek behind the scenes
One of the greatest things about an Enigma Fellowship experience is that you’re rewarded with behind the scenes content when you finish the game.
I wish more puzzle companies did this. It was great to read about the inspiration behind the game and the challenges they came up against when making the puzzles. It makes me appreciate the experience all the more knowing just how much work went into making it.
Given how challenging we found this one, we used quite a few hints. The online hint system of Enigma Fellowship’s games are graded and granular so you’re only given slight nudges towards each solution. This allowed to still feel smart when solving a puzzle rather than being hand-held through the game.
An in-depth puzzler with great challenges
The Submerged Sentinel is another great puzzle adventure from Enigma Fellowship. Its rich story, innovative puzzles and superb attention to detail mark it out as an excellent choice for experienced puzzlers. I’m no newbie, and this certainly gave my brain a workout!
If you’re a less experienced player, I recommend you start with the other games from Enigma Fellowship – The Lost Knowledge and The Scattered Cards. If you’re up for a challenge, then definitely check out The Submerged Sentinel.
The Submerged Sentinel
Designed by Anuj and Orsi Sehgal
Cost: $22 (convert to GBP)
Duration: 180 minutes
Requirements: Notepad and pen, computer/laptop/phone with Internet access, a drink
Date played: 10 May 2021
Team: Jamie & Mim
Time to finish: 2 hrs 57 mins
Recommended playlist: Finding Nemo soundtrack