Cantaloop Book 1 - Breaking into Prison is a one to four player cooperative, role playing, deduction game designed by Friedemann Findeisen & Grzegorz Kobiela and published by Lookout Games.
Back in the day, when I was a kid, computer games consisted heavily of point and click adventure games. Games like Grim Fandango, Day of the Tentacle and various iterations of Monkey Island. It first started in 1976 (before I was born I may add) and still continues to some extent today. They were often filled with fantastic humour and combinations of weird items. You went around various scenes, collecting items, combining items and trying to puzzle your way through the game.
Cantaloop, is in essence, the analogue adaptation of its digital counterparts. The game comes with a big book of 20 different locations with various characters and puzzles to solve. Using a very unique and innovative card/numbering system you can combine items and use various items at the locations.
The combination of the characters on the cards you are using or at the locations will give you a code to look up which will give you some dialogue text. This may instruct you to go to another piece of dialogue or give you a code to cross off (i.e. A1, B3, F8 etc). You will collect these codes as you go along and new dialogue options and text entries will open up as you progress.
Cantaloop Book 1 is the first in a trilogy of books following the adventures of Oz "Hook" Carpenter who has just returned from exile. Follow his antics as you try to amass a crew to get revenge on the person who forced you to flee in the beginning.
I loved point and click adventure games as a kid. I have some very fond memories of puzzling my way through these games, combining seemingly innocent items to create something to aid in my adventures. I loved the sense of satisfaction when you suddenly find a winning combination to get past a certain area/section or puzzle.
Cantaloop has all the elements of these old school point and click adventures; finding and combining items, searching new locations, unlocking new dialogue options and it works very well. If you enjoy the digital versions I think you would enjoy Cantaloop.
The mechanisms behind the game are solid. All locations and items will have a two character alphanumeric code and an arrow. When you combine two items you get a code (i.e. z3f2). If this code is generated at a location, you look up the corresponding code at that location. If it is two items in your "inventory" then you look it up in a separate book. The dialogue is obscured and can only be read with a red filter (provided with the game). The dialogue text is branching and depending on what other codes you may have unlocked previously may lead you to different text to read.
There is also a very good hint system if you get stuck that offers layered solutions; from a hint to a direct clue. I found I did use the hint system a few times but not often. I knew what I had to do, but just couldn't find the way the game wanted me to do it. For the most part though the game flowed well. The combination of items to be used and where made sense (at least to me but that may be due to my previous experience with the digital games). I am not going to give away spoilers here as part of the fun is discovering the combinations for yourself.
There is an overarching story but it is not a narrative driven game as such. The story is there to give some context as to what you are doing. There are no branching paths so if that is what you are looking for then Cantaloop might not be for you. However, if you like the puzzle of figuring out how to combine items to overcome situations and obstacles then Cantaloop has this in spades.
Overall, I really enjoyed Cantaloop Book 1. It was on the slightly short side for me and would have liked a bit more content but for the cost of the game it was totally worth it. I did play this as a pure solo game and I am not sure I would want to play it any higher than two players. I see no reason to play this as a four player game. It has the option to just pack it away and save your game and carry on at any point which I really enjoyed.