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Curio The Lost Temple

Trapped in a temple, players must work together to solve a series of puzzles in order to escape. For each puzzle, one player will hold the answer key and guide one or more players through the necessary steps in order to find the solution.

Gameplay

In Curio: The Lost Temple there are a series of puzzle modules. Each player selects one to play during the game. Players will then each take a card for one of the modules that they did not select. This card will have the five-letter word that the player with the indicated module must find with their puzzle. If players find all the words on the cards, they win the game. Various difficulty levels allow players a certain number of incorrect answers before losing.

An example of a puzzle module is the wheel module. It comes with a three-tiered decoder wheel. The player with the answer card looks at the card, which has instructions for the various ways the wheel tiers must be turned in order to reach the first letter of the answer word. After the player with the wheel finds that first letter, the player with the card then gives them the instructions to follow to find the second letter in the word, and so forth.

At the start of the game you set a stopwatch. Your difficulty level, the number of puzzle modules used in the game, and how long it takes you, will determine your final score. There is also a timer board set in the middle of the table and a thirty second sand timer is set on it. If the hourglass ever runs out of time, players lose the game. During the game, one player may touch a circle on the board. While still touching it, they are not allowed to speak or work on their module, but another player may then flip over the sand timer. There is also a WizKids app that can be used in place of the sand timer that works much the same with players pushing buttons and not being able to communicate until the time has been reset.

Curio: The Lost Temple Components

Review

You might look at Curio: The Lost Temple and think it was an escape room game, but it’s actually less about solving puzzles and more about communication, teamwork, and working under pressure. It sort of feels like a board game adaptation of Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes.

There is a lot of multitasking involved. You need to follow the instructions given you and give out instructions, all while keeping an eye on the sand timer. The timer adds a fantastic level of tension and a fun layer to the gameplay.

Screens are included in the game to hide your answer card so that in theory you could keep it face up while working on your own puzzle module, but they’re fairly small and we found they didn’t work well. It was easier just to pick the cards up and hold them as needed.

Each puzzle module is unique from the others and it is fun to try out the different puzzles and see how they each play out. However, it does lengthen the explanation of the rules, since players need to understand each module. The rulebook is a bit clunky, but it walks you through each puzzle type, essentially letting players do a test run for all of them.

Many of the symbols used on the puzzle modules are strange glyphs and sigils, and learning ways to describe them to other players can oftentimes be pretty funny. But it’s also quite satisfying, as you play more with the same group, to get better and faster at communicating about these symbols.

Curio: The Lost Temple isn’t really an escape room game, but it is something very unique. It is also something that will very much work for some players and really not work for others, with little space in between. If you enjoy real time elements, trying to beat your high score, and tons of teamwork, you should check it out. We’ve never played another board game quite like it.

Pros: Unique, real time element is excellent, variation in the puzzles

Cons: Player screens don’t work well, teaching takes awhile

Disclosure: we received a complimentary review copy of this game.