Saturday 21 January 2023

Keep Locked

I counted myself exceptionally lucky to be able to purchase a copy of Robert Yarger’s thirty sixth numbered puzzlebox – The Keep Locked. Truth be told it arrived several months ago, but I haven’t been able to blog about it until just now…

It arrived a couple of days before Gill and headed off to Boston for a couple of weeks so I managed only a little bit of playtime on a few of the evenings before we flew out. In that time managed to make a little progress but I could see that I was nowhere near completing this E.P.I.C. solve, so I reset it all back to the start position and went off on holiday… and then a few jet-lag-riddled days after we got home, I was heading up to the Northern Puzzle Party, so I made sure that I took the little fortress along with me for others to play with.

Shane ended up supervising several solvers as they wended their way through the solve and I managed to avoid spotting too many spoilers as I really wanted to have a good go at it myself, safe in the knowledge that I was going to really enjoy it.

I deliberately left it alone for a while on my desk and then ended up taking it to an MPP where a few more folks managed to solve it… and then it sat on my desk, sort of in pride of place while I furiously avoided playing with it until I knew I had enough time to really enjoy it… and that time came this afternoon – I had literally an afternoon free, and I wanted to be puzzled – kismet.

This isn’t a small puzzle – it’s more of a statement puzzle – it defies you to have a go – a bit like the 1998 hit from The Mekons. The Keep has four turrets – each colour-coded to the padlocks hanging down from them – I’m guessing that’s not a coincidence. On the front there’s a handsome lion above the heavy doors and portcullis. Around the back there’s a round Stickman logo dancing in the dawn…

I’d seen Rob’s wooden padlocks in the past but these raise the game even further – four locks in different woods – all looking a little different – waiting to be challenged. A few months ago my experience had been limited to fiddling with the locks, so I dived in there again…

Each lock literally has a personality of it’s own, some are polite and formal and others shout and kick… and once they’ve all been dealt with, there are lots of bits and pieces to keep track of.

From there on it was all new territory, and I can definitely say that things get a bit extreme from there on in… there are some seriously funky things that happen along the way, there are times when you’re up a creek without a paddle and you need to pay close attention to find the paddle that Rob’s carefully stashed for you behind some rocks.

As always, there’s a generous sprinkling of tools around and if you’re paying (very!) close attention, it’ll be clear what you need to do – a few times I found myself wondering where to head to next and only when I took stock, did I realise that the answer was right there in front of me all along…

This solve is an EPIC journey – another classic Stickman.

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