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Was it murder? What happened on that fateful day in the 1920s in a rainy Scottish country house? In the board game echoes The Dancer we travel back in time and immerse ourselves in a gripping historical murder mystery as we listen, puzzle and solve a mysterious story.
Scotland in the 1920s. Esther, a young aspiring dancer, disappears. The mystery surrounding her death is never solved. Until today. We are investigators with a special ability: we hear sounds and voices attached to objects. The game objective – we immerse ourselves in the events surrounding the disappearance of the dancer Esther at a Scottish country house and elicit objects their secrets to unravel the mystery of what happened to Esther. The echoes The Dancer board game is in the tradition of home Escape Games, which are now available in different variants from many player manufacturers.
Nevertheless, this cooperative puzzle game is innovative and something completely new, because the sense of hearing is the focus. The quality and fun of this new Escape Game concept stands and falls with how well the story is told and set to music. Ravensburger has done a great job here, because we are quickly immersed in the atmospheric story, and with each new echo from the past, the combining and puzzling picks up speed and culminates in a logical and initially unpredictable finale.
The echoes The Dancer board game is the first audio mystery game of the new game series from Ravensburger. So far, three other Audio Mystery games are already available in stores, which take us as investigators into different eras. With their contemporary concept in the podcast era, the Audio Mystery games also convinced the jury of the Toy Awards 2021, winning in the Teen and Adult category.
Note: Ravensburger kindly sent us a review copy of the audio mystery game echoes The Dancer. However, this review is unpaid and reflects our honest opinion.
In the small game box there are game cards and the game instructions. To play, however, you absolutely need a smartphone or tablet, because the heart of this game is the echoes app, which guides us through the game with an exciting story. You download it, launch it, and need it throughout the game.
A couple fulfills a dream and buys a Scottish country house, which still has a lot of old items from the previous owners lying around. Soon the couple hears strange noises and the ghost of a young dancer restlessly haunts the house. We are called in to elicit the stories from the old noises and uncover what happened to the dancer in this house in the 1920s.
So we scan objects, listen to their echoes, and arrange the cards in the order in which the events took place. The echoes can be snippets of conversations, voices, sounds or music. As we arrange the cards, discussions ensue, we combine, conjecture, and order, and we move the cards around until everyone agrees with the order in which the events occurred in a chapter. When we think we’re right, we switch to solve mode in the app and, starting with the chapter card, scan the assigned object cards in the correct order and, if the solution is correct, get the entire chapter played back to us with more acoustic echoes from the past that move the story and us forward. If we’re wrong, the app immediately offers various ways to help so you don’t get stuck for too long.
Once all 6 chapters are solved in the correct order, it is still necessary to put them in the right order and thus solve the overall puzzle of the story. Once this is done, the game is won. The finale of the case is the epilogue, which tells us how the story of the dancer ends.
The game material in the game box is nicely illustrated – but the real heart of the echoes The Dancer board game is the echoes app. So while you play with the cards and use them to put the events in a chapter in the right order and then arrange them in the exact order, the whole time you have your smartphone or tablet in your hand and scan the cards to elicit their secrets from the objects. Sounds, snippets of dialogue, music are heard. And the smartphone moves from one hand to the next to listen to something again, to move cards, it is discussed and combined and together the story gets more and more sense. While most puzzle games for the home (such as the EXIT games from Kosmos or the BREAK IN games from Schmidt Spiele) consist mainly of tricky puzzles that usually have to be solved alone or in teams of two in parallel, in echoes The Dancer all players work together right from the start. The game thrives on discussion, listening and thinking out loud, and so a great game dynamic quickly develops that draws us into the story.
In this puzzle game, the story is the focus, it is a listening game to participate in, without time pressure. There are no points to reward rushing through to the finale, but playing and reconstructing the atmospheric story at your own pace makes for about 2 hours of fun. Depending on the card order, you start the story differently, and there are varying degrees of difficulty in arranging the order of the chapters. While the individual story fragments don’t make sense at first, the entire story is logically structured and the incidents unfold more and more into a tragic tale with a satisfying finale each time the plot of a chapter is verified. The gameplay thrives on combining, discussing and finding out what happened. That this is so much fun and all around well done is due to the well thought out and coherent story, very good voice actors and atmospheric soundscape in the quality of a top audio game.
It is possible to play the audio mystery game in two difficulty levels. We chose the easy one to start with and it was very solvable. It is possible to get step-by-step clues via the app, which is very well solved and the enjoyment of the game is not spoiled by a quick resolution. The game material is not consumed and so you can pass on the echoes The Dancer board game or play again after a few years, (if you have forgotten the story).
The atmospheric, exciting participatory audio game is super suitable for a game evening for two, with friends or for families with teenagers. Unlike previous puzzle games, the focus is not on different types of puzzles but on a case that can be solved wonderfully together. Those who like to combine and solve criminal cases will definitely have great fun with this game.
An exciting case as a participatory audio game, which draws us into a gripping story through a successful plot with lots of atmosphere. Great idea, which offers fun in two difficulty modes thanks to top radio play and gripping, logical story. Highly recommended!
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