Sunday 12 May 2024

Locked Three Times Over!

The Vertigo Puzzlebox from Quizbrix
First up, I should let you know that this was sent to me for free for review.

In December 2022 I reviewed the aMAZEing Puzzlebox (also available from PuzzleMaster) and absolutely loved it. A few months later they released a follow up challenge called the Vertigo Puzzlebox and I had intended to buy one this time. Time went by and I got sidetracked by life, work and many many many other puzzles and it sort of fell by the wayside. The new one was reviewed by Steve (Boxes and Booze) reminding me that this was a great designer. Then, out of the blue, I was contacted again by Peleg to ask if I would be happy to review it. I cannot say no to a good designer and it duly arrived from Israel last weekend.

As with the previous puzzle, the challenge is to find and release the gold bar hidden inside the box, using only what is provided as you work through the sequence. The top of the box appears to have the letters QB on it superimposed on each other (I confess that I had to squint at it for a while to see it and thought it might be a D&G logo). The puzzle is made almost entirely using the ⅓ height lego bricks in various sizes and there are a number of voids visible and outlines of larger constructions that look like they should move as a single piece. In one place there is a clear brick and the ability to see right through.

Time to start - the only option available is to push and prod at various bits of the puzzle until you find something that moves and then you are off to the races. The first 4 moves are a nice unlocking sequence which leaves you with the lid removed and a tantalising view of the gold brick inside:

No spoilers here! I cannot reach that gold brick
Having seen the target, it is time to try and work out how to remove it. This is easier said than done. A single tool is found on the way and there appears to be a number of places that it can be used but none of those places seem to actually do anything. There are 8 possible places to use that tool and it requires careful attention to realise when one of them actually does something. after this there are more opportunities to use the tool in other places.

There is slow progress of finding things that move inside but it is not apparent what those movements actually achieve. It is an odd sensation of making progress without truly understanding that you are and only realising it when something else suddenly is possible. after the first few moves inside I hit a brick wall. I could see my target, I could move all sorts of things inside and tantalisingly the brick got closer but then it stopped. I was stuck at this point for several days. I was determined not to use the solution video they link to on their site and kept trying for the best part of a week.

After days of doing the same thing over and over again and then back tracking, I had one of my rare thoughts. What if I...Aha! I had moved a new part of the interior which I had not done before. Did this help? Well sort of except the brick still wasn't reachable. Having got to a new position, I was able to redo some of my previous steps and, of a sudden, I had my gold bar:

That was a real odyssey!
I had a sort of muscle memory of what I thought that I had done to release the gold and attempted to reset the puzzle. Everything went back inside and it looked perfect... or so I thought!

Of course, I usually do these puzzles several times before writing about them and on my second time through, I underwent the initial unlock process and then the second step using the tool. After this the gold bar was removable - something was not right! I looked inside the box and realised that the critical move that had taken me so long to find had not been undone when resetting. I duly went through that move a second time and it still saved too easily. What was I missing?

Continuing to stare deeply into the box, I noticed that the critical move that I had found wasn't a locking or unlocking move. In fact, I could not understand what it did. That is odd because I definitely remembered being absolutely held up before I found that move. I needed to understand what that move had enabled - time to look at one of the removed pieces from the puzzle.


Oooh! That is very clever! After an extra day of fiddling with the puzzle in pieces I realised that this puzzlebox has at least 3 locking mechanisms (it might even have 4!). It is possible to open it without fully realising the extent of these mechanisms but only when working out the full reset do you realise just how much has been put into it. This is a tremendous puzzle made better by working to open and then reset without resorting to the solution videos. Take the time to explore and think© and you will be left with a huge grin on your face.

I might even go as far as to say that the vertigo puzzle is cleverer and more enjoyable than the original aMAZEing puzzlebox. You should definitely check it out. Those are the only puzzles on their site just now but I really hope that they continue to produce more - they both are absolutely fabulous.

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