Alright, let’s wrap this up. Here are my Thoughts and Feelings about MIT Mystery Hunt 2015.
Things I particularly liked about this year’s Mystery Hunt:
- Smoothness – From a player’s perspective, everything in this year’s hunt was executed flawlessly.
- Puzzle Presentation – I really liked the format of the World Map, which was a single webpage that got longer and longer as we discovered more puzzles. It was a perfect visual representation of our progress throughout the hunt, and it was fun to wonder what was coming up next or to see the beginning of a new round of puzzles appear.
- Visual Design – Hot dang! Random Fish knocked it out of the park with the graphic design for the World Map. Everything looked really nice! I was super impressed.
- Treasure Chest – This was such a fun surprise and the puzzles inside were delightful.
- Runaround – I had a lot of fun during the Runaround and appreciated that most of the activities could include our whole team.
Some things that were kind of a miss for me:
- Story/Characters – This wasn’t a negative, I just didn’t find it particularly compelling. But I did like that our objective was fairly straightforward through the entire hunt and didn’t require a lot of reading (the Story So Far page was also very helpful here).
- Character Interactions – These still don’t feel worth their while.
- Pacing and Difficulty – This hunt felt a little off the whole time. It felt like there were only a small number of puzzles available at any given time, which gave sort of a constant feeling of being bottlenecked. I also felt like I saw a lot fewer really tough, Mystery Hunt-esque puzzles. Everything felt a little bit on the easy side.
Unfortunately, I didn’t end up going to any events this year, but I hear they were great. Write-It, Build-It and Steamteam sounded particularly fun.
I also want to talk some more about the Runaround. This was only my second time on a Runaround, so it was interesting to see something so different from my experience last year. The Alice in Wonderland Runaround was made up entirely of fairly challenging puzzles. Had we been in the lead during last year’s Runaround, we definitely would have lost it during our long fight with the bed puzzle. This year, the Runaround was made up of activities that were fun, but not necessarily challenging. The word search was the only challenge that required any real solving, while the rest just took time and energy. It didn’t feel like there was much possibility of changing rank once a team had entered the Runaround.
This brought up some discussion on our team of whether the nature of the Runaround should be that of a final challenge or a victory lap. This definitely seems like a matter of personal opinion, and there were people on our team who felt strongly in either direction. While I did enjoy the activities from Runaround 2015, I think I swing a bit more towards the challenge camp, if only because it can be tough to sustain enough energy for a 4 or 5-hour victory lap. The exhaustion of the Hunt can really take its toll during those early Runaround hours, and that makes it easy to feel apathetic or even irritated about activities that are more like party games than puzzles. In a more challenging Runaround, the adrenaline of trying to keep your place and the mental stimulation of the puzzles can provide a much-needed energy boost.
Overall, another solid and impressive (and fun!) hunt thanks to team Random Fish. I was especially impressed that it seemed like most of their team was made up of students (or “babies” as I’ve taken to calling them). Then again, I get the impression that Left Out has one of the older average team member ages among Hunt teams, so it may not be so uncommon to have a team of students running the event.
I feel like, more than in previous years, I anticipated Hunt for a lot longer in the months leading up to the event this time around. Somehow, I think that made it fly by even faster than usual. Or maybe it was the easier difficulty level of this year’s hunt that made it seem shorter. I hear that team Luck has been known to put on very complex and intricate (and difficult) hunts. I’m looking forward to their event, and hope it makes Hunt weekend drag on forever! (I may come to regret having said that!)