An escape room at a table. Or a treasure hunt in a museum.
These games take about 2 hours for teams of 6-8 people. We'll bring multiple copies of a game to a venue of your choice. Your group will split up into teams and each team will play the same game concurrently.
You and your team members are employees at The Institute for Steganographic Arts, and the collection is in a hopeless jumble. Your job: put it all in order. But just when you get the galleries cleaned up and each piece of artwork matched with its tricky title, something... happens. You will uncover new artifacts and clues, and it’s up to you to investigate and solve the Mystery in the Galleries. Stageable anywhere • 5 - 500 people • Read more →
This game is centered around a giant map of over 60 islands. Everything you need to play the game is packed into a locked backpack. You and your team are secret agents who must break into the bag and use the objects you find inside — a bottle, ancient coins, postcards, a newspaper, and a mysterious starfish-shaped computer — to solve the puzzles and find your way back to your secret agent meeting location. Stageable anywhere • 5 - 70 people
Ten terrible creatures, each from an alternate dimension, have been let loose to wreak havoc on our town. The only clues you have are locked inside a mysterious briefcase. Break into the briefcases, locate the creatures, and figure out who is causing all this mayhem. Stageable anywhere • 5 - 70 people • Read more →
These games take 3+ hours for teams of 3-5 people. We can stage any of these for you, or we can design something entirely new.
Seurat has hung on the walls of the Art Institute for years. Ditto Matisse, Monet, Picasso. Thousands of visitors pass by them daily, without noticing the codes embedded within. What do they say? What prize does it all lead to? Up to 60 people • Inquire for details ↓
Legend tells us that the Lincoln Park Zoo was once a place of magical wonder, where visitors could see animals now spoken of only in myth. Recently unearthed documents indicate that the magical zoo still exists, in a parallel dimension, if you can only find the gateway. Up to 60 people • Inquire for details ↓
Palms must be greased. Machines must be oiled. But must it all be done so brazenly? Your skills are needed in deciphering a tale of aldermanic corruption that’s happening right under our noses. Up to 80 people • Read more →
It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man named Ishmael, fire of my loins, unhappy in his own way, without having done anything truly wrong, remembers that distant afternoon when his father took him to discover ice — but I don’t feel like going into it, if you want to know the truth. Up to 60 people • Inquire for details ↓
Every weekday, we post a new pattern-finding puzzle @pzlr on Twitter. Solving requires you discover the pattern and reply with another word or phrase that can fit it. This way we build a growing list of pattern-matching phrases, without spoiling it for those still playing. Play now →
We collaborated with Field Notes to create Clandestine, their 41st quarterly edition. The books are gorgeous and useful note-taking tools, and thanks to us, there are layers of secret info waiting for you inside, if you care to look for them. We also built a mystery around the launch of the books, but since it’s still going on, we can’t say much about it here. Buy yourself a set • CPLYPGPC9E2T8R
We teamed up with The House Theatre to create The Last Defender, an experiment in immersive story and puzzling. It’s part performance, part puzzle, and part live action game. The year is 2016, but as imagined in 1983. The United States and The Soviet Union are still mired in the Cold War, and have placed artificial intelligence (alongside 8-bit arcade-style computer technologies) in command and control of impossibly destructive nuclear weapons. Players navigate work as a team to solve puzzles, make increasingly difficult decisions, and try to save the world. On temporary hiatus. Sign up to be alerted when it returns.
Cards Against Humanity hired us to build a massive online alternate reality game, called Hanukkah LOL, centered around a Dad whose kids had locked him in a basement puzzle dungeon. Over 6,000 people played the game, which required solving clues that were buried in physical mailings, as well as hidden in stores around the country. Players collaborated on Slack, watched live Periscope broadcasts, and voted on what Dad needed to do every day to escape. Read on Medium.com: How we built this →
The Curse of Peg Leg Sullivan is unique storytelling/puzzle adventure about a real person named Peg Leg Sullivan and the curse he may have put on Chicago by (maybe) starting the Chicago Fire in 1871. It’s part history, part fiction, and part puzzle. And it’s free to play. Download and play the game on the Vamonde platform
“These puzzle hunts are a perfect mix of clever, funny, challenging, and social. Every time I do one, I meet new people and learn to work with them to solve problems quickly.”— Max Temkin
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The Unknown Islands is a two hour puzzle game, centered around a giant map of over 60 islands. Everything you need to play the game is packed into a locked backpack. You and your team are secret agents who must break into the bag and use the objects you find inside — a bottle, ancient coins, postcards, a newspaper, a whale-watching guide, and a mysterious starfish-shaped computer — to solve the puzzles and find your way back to your secret agent meeting location. Five teams will be playing at once, independently, and each team will get to play the entire game.
Thursday, November 15
Empirical Brewery on Foster
7 - 10 PM
“The puzzle hunt was expertly designed and intricately fascinating. We had a great time trying to solve innovative puzzles throughout Wicker Park, we had a wonderful time exploring the neighborhood, and our team learned a ton about working together. We would do it again at the drop of a hat!”— Andrew Dawson
Teams work and solve together, one puzzle at a time, for a couple of hours. Players need to inspect stories, art, designs and other various artifacts for important information, then apply deductive reasoning and pattern matching skills to solve a mystery.
You know that rush you get when you solve a problem that’s been nagging at you for a while? A puzzle game injects that feeling directly into your veins, over and over.
Put another way: our hunts combine the triumph of breaking a code, the thrill of a good mystery novel, and the adrenaline rush of a playground game of tag. Our puzzles require deduction, pattern recognition, observation, and creative problem solving. They run the gamut from LEGO construction to wordplay, from code breaking to recognizing pop songs. They are designed to work for strong puzzlers or casual ones, and they work best for teams that have a mix of both.
And we don’t skimp on the storytelling. All the puzzles are in service of the story, whether it’s a crime that needs solving, a search for a hidden treasure, or a last-ditch effort to stop the approaching robot singularity.
“The Mystery League took our annual Scavenger Hunt to the next level. Our mission is to help people discover why design matters, the Scavenger Hunt is an introduction to architectural literacy. Together we tricked people into believing they were just having fun, but they were actually learning.”— Lyla Catellier
We’ve staged hunts for dozens of companies, in Chicago and elsewhere, including:
Because they’ll be immersed in puzzles for hours, teams will be forced to come up with new ways to approach and solve problems together. Also, they’ll have a fantastic time, and they’ll leave energized.
One thing we hear a lot from players is that they’re happy to exercise parts of their brain they don’t get to use everyday at work. People leave our hunts feeling smarter, happier, and more creative.
We can build a hunt for any size group. There are certainly economies of scale when we design for a larger group.
Usually about two hours. If you need it smaller or longer, we can accommodate. Just get in touch and let us know your needs.
Our hunts can be staged almost anywhere. Some possibilities:
We’re based in Chicago, but we're happy to travel anywhere. If you have a particular venue in mind for your event, please mention it when you get in touch.
Prices can vary depending on the complexity of the setting, length of event, number of players, how much tweaking we need to do, etc. For small groups, it starts at $65 per participant. If your group is larger than 40 people, we’d be happy to discuss discounts.
At least two weeks is ideal.
First off, we post a new puzzle on Twitter every weekday.
Ocassionally, we put on games for the public and sell tickets. Check our Events section to see if there are any upcoming events.
We’re also available to create puzzle-based marketing campaigns, puzzle installations, single puzzles, or hunts you can run on your own over and over again. Get in touch, and we’ll put together a proposal for you.
The Mystery League helped us put on a great event. Each puzzle was so inventive, making great use of site-specific details, and the overall event held together brilliantly. All of the custom materials produced for the puzzle were beautiful and polished.”— Joe Germuska
Sandor Weisz has been making puzzle hunts since he was a teenager. He’s 42 now. He writes puzzles any chance he can get, which you can find daily at @pzlr on Twitter, weekly in our newsletter, at Puzzled Pint, or on the NPR Sunday puzzle. He lives in Chicago with his wife and two kids, with whom he records a podcast.