Review: Wacky Wheels Mystery Games: The Mysterious Case of the Dancing Mania

 Wacky Wheels Mystery Games:  The Mysterious Case of the Dancing Mania

Published in October of 2022 (we, here at The Voynich Times mysteriously grabbed an early copy), The Mysterious Case of Dancing Mania is the first issue in a new quarterly Mystery Puzzle Game magazine from Wacky Wheels in the Netherlands! It calls itself, “A mystery story puzzle game” and combines story, mystery, guessed it…puzzles!
We here at the Voynich Times have really wanted a Mystery Puzzle Game subscription magazine for a long time, so we were so excited to have used the mystic arts to find this item! So…did it stand up to our expectations? Did we love it? Did we hang our heads in shame for failing every puzzle?  Did we use it as kindling for our fireplace?  Well, let’s not get ahead of ourselves.  Let’s discuss the product first!

 Wacky Wheels Mystery Games was created by a group of mysterious folks whose website ends in “.nl” which we can only imagine means that they are from a country that is null?  However, with much research, it would appear that they could, in fact, be from Dutchland, but how Dutchland equals .nl, we may never know.  They create road rallies that combine mystery puzzles for an experience where you are solving your path as you go!  Now, they have decided to add a magazine format so that armchair escapists can join in the fun! 

Early 2019, the idea of Wacky Wheels was born out of a mixed passion for escape rooms and road trips by its creators Klaudia, Johan and Edwin. The stories and puzzles come from Edwin's chaotic mind, after which Klaudia makes sense of it all and makes things look in a way that other people can also appreciate it. Johan creates the whole digital landscape, so that the games can be found, bought, played, and enjoyed.

This cover is gorgeous!  Really, really, gorgeous, with popping goldish colors on a navy-blueish background with just great style. We may actually frame this cover to add to our museum!  The back cover provides just enough snippet of the story to pull you in and does an amazing job of encapsulating what they are going for, “FOLLOW THE STORY, SOLVE THE PUZZLES AND UNRAVEL THE MYSTERIOUS CASE OF DANCING MANIA.”  (Voynich plea: please reconsider your obvious hatred of the Oxford comma!).

The magazine also feels really great!  It is similar to a cardstock cover with glossy interior pages in the (A4) magazine size, but–color us mystified–the paper is made from ecological paper with a lower CO2 footprint than recycled paper–according to their website.  

Disclaimer: we at the Voynich Times did not hire our own scientists and conduct decades-long scientific experiments to validate these claims…we just consulted the Eco-nomicon.

The interior paper is nicely printed with varying fonts and aged looking backgrounds designed to make each author’s documents seem unique–this is a nice touch!  Overall, the presentation is great, but they may want to keep an eye on combinations of fun fonts/backgrounds that can make reading a little challenging at times—but this is just a minor issue.  

The inside cover tells us how to play–yes, this is not an immersive product, it knows it is a game and presents itself as a game within the fictionalized story–and this helps set up the gameplay mechanic, which was slightly confusing at first, but quickly came into focus.

Step 1: QR Code to get your scorecard/hint page.  I am a HUGE fan of being able to scorecard the game as I play!  If the game is not designed to be fully immersive, then I want the game-play aspect like this offers!  One quick call-out…the app works great, it has a nice look/feel, is easy to use and really helps!

Step 2-6: Describes how to read, play, score, and share!  

The next page shows what the questions are that you will be solving for, and then the game itself begins!  At this point, with all the love and quality put into this product, we were really nervous and were rooting for this game to be good, not just pretty.  Were our hopes unfounded?  Read on…

Color-blind warning:  To solve a few puzzles you need to have full color vision..and even then the colors were a bit tough for me to see at times…so if you are color challenged, grab a friend to help.

The story of this game involves solving the mystery of a dancing plague!  Going through this game you will solve various puzzles based on the evidence put together by those who were investigating the incident.  It is then put together with a meta-puzzle to complete the game.  You will also have an opportunity to use deductive reasoning with some documents to see how closely you can figure out the events of the day, but this part is unscored, but a fun challenge for those who want an extra “detective” bit of game. I really like having the mix of puzzle/ story/ deduction, so this was a nice touch.  All but the last part are scored.  The puzzle portions of the game are scored, where your amazing prowess (or shame, in our case–we got one wrong) will be shown to the world on the leaderboard!

The puzzles were a fun mix of challenges that kept us entertained as we worked our way through the book…okay, by the royal “we” we mean me.  But, we digress…

We did totally fail on one puzzle, but that was because we did not interpret something correctly and it is on us, not the game…ooh, that one stung.  One of the  puzzles was rather frustrating at first, but gave a great “A-ha!” moment when we figured it out!  That “A-ha!” moment was the highlight of this game for us! 

The overall game took us several hours to play and made for an enjoyable time of playing…so, what was our score you may ask?  960/1000…also known as “last place” at the time of this writing.  

So, what was the bottom line, you may wonder after reading this far?  Well, let us tell you…I will be subscribing!  Yes, this game holds a nice place in the middle of the pack for toughness, a top spot for portability and offline play (although you need to check answers online), and works as a nice, casual, fun-filled puzzle game!  So, speed-type out now to and do yourself a favor and subscribe!


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