The Book of Rituals – Alchemical Review

In this article, you can read a review of The Book of Rituals, an interactive puzzle book. Will it crunch your brain?

Introduction to The Book of Rituals Review

Although here at Victory Conditions we normally review board games, we’re open-minded and curious about all gaming-related products. When the opportunity arose the review The Book of Rituals, an interactive puzzle book by Board&Dice, we were excited to dive in.

It’s a spin-off from their Escape Tales series of escape room narrative board games. Although it’s placed in the same universe, The Book of Rituals is an independent product, and playing any other title from the series is not necessary.

What is The Book of Rituals?

As mentioned, it’s a book of puzzles with an alchemical theme. First, you must discover all the alchemical elements, then there are rites that you can complete by combining them.

Puzzles range from recognizing symbols, patterns, arithmetical problems, looking for clues, thinking outside the box, and a mix of all of the above. They are more or less well-designed and require you to keep your eyes open to details, connect previously learned things, and combine them into something new using drawing, alphabet, alchemical alphabet, symbols, roman numerals, numbers, etc.

The book is quite open and you can liberally select what you’ll solve next. Even though some puzzles have prerequisites in others, this means you’re very unlikely to get stuck and there’ll always be something to do.

Difficulty fluctuates according to the liberal nature of the book. You’ll solve some of the puzzles in minutes, while others will take days before you suddenly open the book and have that eureka moment.

The quality fluctuates, as well. The majority of puzzles are well-designed making you go, “wow”, but there are some that will make you go “wtf”. But a lot of this is also subjective – some puzzles will suit you more, others less.

The Book of Rituals Review Book Cover
The cover looks cool.

Puzzle-Solving

Solving the puzzles is both challenging and satisfying. The best part is the a-ha moment, when you finally figure out what is it that you must do, and then the sense of accomplishment when all the pieces come together.

The puzzles require you to draw and write in the book to connect the clues together. A pencil and an eraser are highly recommended, as you’ll be erasing quite a bit. Technically, you could do all the writing and keep track outside the book to keep it pristine, but it’s just easier to write directly in the book, as it was originally intended.

If you get stuck, you can help with a hint or two. This is usually enough to get you back on track, but you need to be quite self-disciplined with them as it’s easy to fall into the habit of taking them unnecessarily.

Also, the sense of accomplishment is less if you take a hint. I recommend taking the book as slow as possible, to get the most out of it. You’re actually throwing money away if you rush through it by using too many hints, as the playing time/cost decreases.

Web Helper

The book uses an accompanying website as a tool to check solutions and give hints. This is great as there’s no need to browse through sheets of paper, install an app, or register and you can access it easily from anywhere.

The only downside I see is that the book is useless if the site goes down. Not a problem today or tomorrow, but say someone comes across The Book of Rituals in a decade or two and the site is no longer up. The book will be useless in this case.

Less than ideal is that some puzzles have necessary instructions (without which you cant solve them) on the website, which is not noted in the book. So, if you don’t check it yourself, you can get stuck without your fault.

Hints

Hints are fine, but I feel they are missing a step or two especially towards the end. Sometimes you’ll see all of them, and they’ll just tell you the obvious things that you already figured yourself, without the actual procedure to the solution.

In the worst-case scenario, you can skip a puzzle by going directly to the solution. I’ve had a couple of those (Wood and Blood, for those who have the book). The problem is that the website often doesn’t tell you how it got to the solution.

When I’ve invested a lot of time into trying to solve a puzzle, seen all the hints and the solution, and still can’t figure out how they got to the solution, then there’s something wrong.

It can be the design of the puzzle or my subjective perception and thinking process (we all think slightly differently), I don’t know. But in either case, having a more detailed explanation of the solution wouldn’t hurt.

February the 3rd, 2022: The web helper has received an update. After the final hint, there’s now a link to a youtube video, offering a full explanation of a puzzle. A very-welcomed addition that washes away a lot of the initial criticism!

The Book of Rituals Review Alcohol Puzzle
To solve this puzzle, you need to make connections with various other elements (see top-right icons).

Playing Time and Player Count

The Book of Rituals offers a lot of hours of playing time. It mainly depends on how often you use hints. You could rush through it in half a dozen hours, but if you stay away from them, it can take over 20 hours.

But don’t count this playing time in the same way as when you’re playing a board game. Sometimes you’ll take a book in your hand for a couple of minutes and make plenty of progress. Other times, you’ll be shuffling clues around without much progress for an hour.

It’s all about when you get that flash of genius, that eureka moment. With occasional play, the book can keep you busy for weeks.

As for the player count, well, it’s a book. It’s best-experienced solo or at most in two. It’s particularly recommended for couples, as you need to be fairly close to each other if you both want to read. And we all know, women love these sorts of puzzles.

Should you buy The Book of Rituals?

The Book of Rituals is an excellent interactive puzzle book. It’s relatively inexpensive and offers tens of hours of brain-burning activity.

I highly recommend it to people who like escape rooms and similar puzzles, especially if your significant other shares your enigmatic enthusiasm. Just take your time and don’t rush through it.

A copy of the book was provided by Board&Dice.

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The Book of Rituals

4.3

Puzle quality

4.4/5

Immersion

4.0/5

Value

4.6/5

Pros

  • Clever puzzles
  • Challenging and satisfying
  • Great value for money

Cons

  • Difficulty spikes

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