The company dV Giochi is an Italy-based board game producer who has made a bunch of party games over the past few years. Some of you may know them best as the people behind Bang, where you battle in the old west. The company recently sent us a bunch of titles for review, which we'll be going into over the next week. Today we're going to go over one of the more interesting titles in the bunch: Deckscape: Test Time. I took my copy over to Watchtower Cafe where some friends and I took part in unraveling this adventure.
Deckscape: Test Time is a card game that acts as a pocket escape room for ages 12+ and between 1-6 players. Yes, you can actually play this game by yourself if you wish. For the purposes of this review, we did it with five people. (Thanks to Adam, Josie, Tiffany, and Allison for playing.) You start the game by taking out the deck and reading the first card and following all the instructions on the card. Immediately it tells you not to look through or shuffle the deck, as each card has a number in the top-left corner for you to follow through in order. All of your instructions and prompts are written on the cards as you go through the deck.
After some initial setup of the time traveling story you are given, you're then instructed to divide up the deck in a specific way. The game acts like a normal escape room would where you are locked in a room with puzzles that you need to solve over the course of an hour, which is kind of the setting you've been given here. You can work as a team on each puzzle one at a time, or divide them up among members and solve them as best you can. The game is running on a timer based off of when you started and points are given based off how fast you finish it and how many screwups you create along the way.
When you're given a puzzle, you will have an opportunity to read the info on the front and deduce what you need to do to solve it. Some are simplistic like doing some basic math, others are far more complicated and require you to do a little thinking. Some puzzles give you items which you can use later on other puzzles, a few more than once. Others simply lead you to the next clue or tell you that you cannot proceed unless you solve a clue elsewhere or have a specific item in your hands. Each time you fail, you give yourself an "X" on a self-made scoresheet which will go against your score at the end.
The game was quite challenging for the time we were playing. Some puzzles were so simplistic that it took us about 30 seconds to agree as a group on what to do. But some were just challenging to a point where you'd end up asking "how in the hell were we supposed to get that?" Ultimately each puzzle does have a solution, which is explained on the back of the cards of how you would have reached those decisions. In many cases, you'll end up just deciding how to go forward with the solution and hoping you're right. The game isn't unfair by any means, everything can be solved with a little bit of knowledge, memory, brain power and common sense.
The one drawback to the game is the ending. We're not going to spoil anything for you, but ultimately you have to make a decision about what you do near the end, and that decision impacts what kind of ending you get. Almost like a choose-your-own-adventure kind of model. But once you make that decision, the replay value of the game ends for you and those who played it with you. The puzzles don't change moving forward, they don't get rearranged and they don't take on new meanings. Essentially, once you pull the trigger on this game and decide to go for it in one night, the replay value immediately goes away because you now know all the solutions. The only way to get replay value out of this is to play it once a year and give yourself enough time to forget the answers.
Decksacpe: Test Time is a really fun game that is worth the challenge. It'll bring together your friends to work as a team and test your brain to answer some fun riddles and puzzles. However, there are people who may only get to play this once as the next time they crack it open, they'll know the answers. You could always buy this for yourself, play it once, then turn it into a birthday or Christmas gift you constantly pass around to new people. Or keep it around and play it every so often when you want to play something different.