Puzzles come in many forms, all shapes and sizes, but there’s probably no puzzle genre that offers more variety and range in difficulty than mechanical brain teasers.
The physical element adds so much to the solving experience that cannot be replicated in other puzzle styles. Whether you’re assembling pieces into a given shape, manipulating two pieces to separate them (or put them together), or twisting and turning a puzzle until it becomes the desired shape, mechanical brain teasers offer a world of possibility.
And in today’s product review, we’ve got two different varieties of brain teaser to test out, all courtesy of the creative minds at Project Genius. Both are part of their True Genius line of wooden brain teasers, rated for ages 14 and up, and each has its own ranking on a scale of 1 to 5 in difficulty.
Without further ado, let’s get solving!
First up, we have this 4-out-of-5-star difficulty puzzle box.
One of the most famous encryption techniques in history is named after Julius Caesar, so it’s quite apropos for Project Genius to name a puzzle box covered in symbols after the historical icon.
Caesar’s Codex is a beautiful wooden box with detailed patterns along all four sides. On the front, the box features four slider bars that can move up and down, each bearing eight different symbols and labeled with a different shape (triangle, star, square, circle).
The box also has a grid on the back depicting a host of different letters and characters, leaning heavily on the concept of encryption.
Your goal is seemingly simple: figure out what arrangement of characters on the four slider bars is required to open the box. But you’ll definitely need to keep your eyes open and your wits about you to unravel the secret behind Caesar’s Codex.
I do feel, though, that the difficulty ranking is too high. Perhaps I’m too accustomed to the tricks of puzzle boxes, but this seems more like a 2-out-of-5 difficulty, 3-out-of-5 at the max. This is a delightful mechanical brain teaser that I would absolutely use to introduce solvers to the world of puzzle boxes.
Now, for a proper 4-out-of-5 difficulty brain teaser, look no further than Minotaur’s Labyrinth.
Inspired by the myth of Theseus, the Minotaur, and the Cretan Labyrinth, solvers must spin and maneuver the Minotaur through the maze. But this is far more than simply a matter of choosing the correct path.
Playing around with the Minotaur piece involves figuring out how to navigate both the horns on top and the irregular shape of the peg underneath that you can’t always see. It’s a devious bit of puzzling that requires you to keep respinning and maneuvering the Minotaur in order to escape. The tight angles and variously placed obstacles make the Minotaur’s horns quite a challenge.
But once you do, the challenge is only half over.
You must now flip the piece upside down, reenter the labyrinth, and navigate your way back to the center.
[Yes, I am posting this picture just to prove I did it.]
This involves learning how to navigate the piece in its new arrangement, and the horns are much harder to judge now that they’re sliding around underneath the maze walls. It really does feel like solving a whole new maze, even though you’ve JUST conquered this one.
It’s brutal, but also immensely impressive to make the same maze twice feel like two totally different challenges. The first part of the puzzle is more like a 3-out-of-5 difficulty, but the second half absolutely earns the 4-out-of-5 difficulty rating on the box.
Caesar’s Codex and Minotaur’s Labyrinth are both available through Project Genius as well as certain online retailers.
Whether you’re looking for a deduction puzzle or a mechanical challenge, one of these impressive brain teasers from Project Genius is sure to hit the spot. And both are part of this year’s Holiday Puzzly Gift Guide, coming soon, so be sure to check it out!
[Note: I received a free copy of each brain teaser in exchange for a fair, unbiased review. Due diligence, full disclosure, and all that.]
Trick or treating is over, but there’s no trick here. Treat yourself to some delightful deals on puzzles. You can find them on the Home Screen for Daily POP Crosswords and Daily POP Word Search! Check them out!
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