‘Overlight’ by Renegade Game Studios

So, I am pretty excited about this one. I was browsing the puzzles at Books-A-Million a few days ago and spied a shelf of puzzles that caught my eye. For they were branded with a gaming company that I recognized. There on the shelf were several puzzles produced by Renegade Game Studios, featuring artwork from their games.

I stopped up short, literally gasped, and exclaimed, “Someone finally did it!”

Oh my god I have been saying this for so long! Why aren’t game companies making puzzles!?!? They have licensing or copy rights to beautiful and alluring artwork that is already designed to tell a story in a single image and look fantastic laid out on a table, the crossover between tabletop game production and puzzle production is obvious, and they have a passionate, built-in audience that enjoys sitting at a table for hours moving little bits around. I mean, come on!

Needless to say, I could not wait to get one those babies home and put it on the table. In fact, I committed a major breach of puzzle protocol and tore down a half-finished puzzle so I could get this one started.

Alright so let’s get down to the details and puzzling experience. We start with the packaging, box, and components. The box comes shrink wrapped in plastic.

‘Overlight’ by Renegade Game Studios

The box itself looks and feels great. I immediately noticed the thickness of the box walls– this box means business. The top edge of box is rounded– an easily overlooked detail that adds some polish to the appearance.

The company name, piece count, and puzzle title are all prominently placed while keeping the image the star of the show.

‘Overlight’ by Renegade Game Studios

The sides of the box are very cleanly designed, they have just exactly what you need and nothing extra to clutter it up.

‘Overlight’ by Renegade Game Studios
‘Overlight’ by Renegade Game Studios

All the fine print is on one box side and even that looks neat and tidy.

‘Overlight’ by Renegade Game Studios

The back of the box definitely hearkens to the gaming background of the production company. It is styled similarly to how tabletop components are displayed on a game box, it also includes a descriptive overlay that reads very much like the opening teaser you find in a rulebook.

‘Overlight’ by Renegade Game Studios

Have to say I love the box. It looks and feels fantastic. It stands out on the shelf with its bright colors and clean design. I really like that they kept the game box aesthetic, while somehow managing to tastefully plaster “PUZZLE” in giant letters all over the box. It is smart design all around.

Now for what’s inside!

‘Overlight’ by Renegade Game Studios

I kind of chuckled when I saw this. I was like, it is just like a gaming company to include a giant-ass puzzle poster and a giant zip-loc component baggie for the pieces.

‘Overlight’ by Renegade Game Studios
resealable baggie. nice!

And yes, the poster is massive.

Overlight puzzle poster

Wait! There’s nothing in that photo to provide scale, you say? You can’t tell how big the poster is without a frame of reference, you say?

How about the completed puzzle is actually underneath that poster and is completely covered by it, apart from the bottom edge just peeking out.

Dude, hilarious. This thing takes up so much real estate it is absolutely and completely impractical for actually helping to do the puzzle. This is one of those things that seems to fail at both things you might be wanting it to do. It’s too big to be a practical puzzle aid, but the fold creases all over it also makes it unattractive as a frameable poster.

Alrighty, enough of that, let’s address the quality of the puzzle itself. And this is where we run into some “yikes” moments. Straight up, these pieces are not good. This was the worst of it.

‘Overlight’ by Renegade Game Studios

That? Is a lot of lift, a lot of significantly bad lift. This one was the worst for sure.

‘Overlight’ by Renegade Game Studios

This thing is absolutely mangled. Any given puzzle could have a piece like this and I’d say it was a bad break. But, as I continue I think you will see that this isn’t a one-off, but rather a result of poor quality. Take a look at this next bunch of pieces.

‘Overlight’ by Renegade Game Studios

These are most, but not all, of the pieces I found with minor instances of lift. The amount of damage featured in this picture alone would be unheard of in a Heye, Pomegranate, or Galison puzzle.

Now take a look at this next set. Sad to say it, but there were just a LOT of pieces that had these types of minor imperfections. These imperfections are not an issue in completing the puzzle per se. But they are indicative of the underlying issue that is resulting in so many damaged pieces and it does not bode well for the long-term durability of the puzzle.

‘Overlight’ by Renegade Game Studios

Here is a close up of a piece.

‘Overlight’ by Renegade Game Studios

These pieces are suffering from at least one, but my guess is two, issues. A lack of adequate layer compression and insufficient adhesive. Yes, these pieces are a respectable thickness, but the problem is that too much of the thickness is…air, I guess?

Here’s a comparison. The Renegade piece (right) appears to be nearly as thick as the Gibson piece (left). And Gibson is probably the thickest pieces I have encountered. So at first glance all seems good.

‘Overlight’ by Renegade Game Studios

But look at how smooth the Gibson piece is. In comparison, the Renegade piece looks like a sedimentary formation from southern Utah. Observe below– a sedimentary formation from southern Utah. How easy would it be to find some leverage somewhere on this rock below and pry a small layer or chunk of it off…. Not so hard, I imagine. In my metaphor, this is Renegade pieces:

Now imagine trying the same thing on this rock. Not so easy. This is Gibson pieces:

Titus Tscharntke, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

I think we all get the idea.

When sorting and flipping over all these pieces I had to move at a snail’s pace. All the pieces that were interlocked and had to be separated? I could feel the rough edges grating and catching on each other as I gingerly pulled them apart. Several became damaged despite my efforts to be careful. The pieces need more glue to smooth the edges, or they need more compression to tighten up the layers. Or they need both.

Here’s some more piece pics that aren’t just me complaining. The pieces have a linen finish that looks quite nice, though with a bit more glare than I’d prefer.

‘Overlight’ by Renegade Game Studios
‘Overlight’ by Renegade Game Studios
Close up of the linen finish.

This is the glare compared with a piece from Cobble Hill.

‘Overlight’ by Renegade Game Studios

So how was it to actually put this puzzle together? It’s obviously an awesome piece of artwork, and it made for a medium difficulty puzzle.

I approached it by sorting a pile of edge pieces and a secondary pile of anything warmish toned. I think this type of stylized brush stroke artwork does not pre-sort very well. There is too much color juxtaposition that becomes misleading when it’s removed from context by being cut into pieces. For example, the monkey’s pink hand and the woman’s brown skin both have a surprising amount of green in them, so sorting by color up front is bound to result in pieces from the same section divided across multiple color piles. No good.

Instead I sorted out just the red and pink, because those are pretty distinct in this puzzle.

‘Overlight’ by Renegade Game Studios

Once those were pieced I could see the yellows jumping out at me.

‘Overlight’ by Renegade Game Studios

After that was complete it was more about trying to pick out specific features. I started looking for pieces that had those blue lines sweeping around the woman’s head. Or the floating islands, which have a very distinct bright green that is applied in small strokes. The rabbit head has a muted, or grayish tone that I could pick out.

I like puzzles like this, where your set of pieces appear like a chaotic jumble, but after you remove an obvious subset, some detail in the remaining set suddenly jumps out at you. It feels like I’m observing my brain operate in the third person. I remove the pieces with the highest contrast, and suddenly my brain sees something new in what remains, even though all those same pieces were there the entire time.

Once complete it looks awesome!

'Overlight' puzzle
'Overlight' by Renegade Game Studio
2 Overlight
Overlight puzzle
puzzle and poster

Okay, so what’re my final thoughts here? I could recommend this to gamers who want to do a gaming themed puzzle, or people who intend to do the puzzle once and then display it. You can glue the lifted pieces, hang it on the wall and it will look really good.

As a puzzle for a puzzler, however, I have reservations. It does not feel good placing the pieces, you can feel them scraping into place with a horrid sound that crackles, “Damage me….damage me some more.” This puzzle WILL NOT stand up to repeated assembly. I cringe just imagining the damage tearing this puzzle down is going to cause.

False fit on the pieces is a concern as well, there were quite a lot of pieces that fit cleanly where they didn’t belong but the color itself clued that it didn’t go there. Generally the pieces do have unique cuts but there were absolutely enough false fits that it would be a real aggravation on a more difficult image.

At $19.99 for 1000 pieces this is priced reasonably for a puzzle but definitely too high for what you get. I’d put the pieces themselves at somewhere near, but definitely below Buffalo Games quality. I’d hesitate hard before buying another puzzle from Renegade, and definitely not at full price. As a hobby, I want piecing the puzzle to be a pleasure, not cringe.

Despite all of this I am rooting for Renegade Games to be successful in expanding into puzzles. I am sincerely hoping that they will make tweaks and improvements to their production process so they become a destination for puzzlers just for the sake of the puzzles. Tabletop games AND video games are a rich source of stunning artwork and fantasy worlds. I want to see mooooore game companies doing this. Also, children’s books and concert posters. It’s a big art world out there, I am so ready for the puzzle scene to explode beyond the glut of tired landscapes, farm country, undersea collages, quaint villages, and cats.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: