The Sparkwood and 21 Shield logo with the words STUDIO NOTEBOOK underneath

Perplex City 🌱


Perplex City was a long-term alternate reality game (ARG) presented by Mind Candy, a London-based development team. The first “season” of the game had players looking for “The Receda Cube” (referred to simply as “The Cube”), a priceless scientific and spiritual artifact to the people of a fictional metropolis known as “Perplex City”, that had been stolen and buried somewhere on Earth. The game offered a real-life £100,000 reward (approx. $130,000 or €115,000) to whoever found it. Like most alternate reality games, the story of Perplex City is told through blogs, puzzles, and other various media.

The game began in April 2005, and was won by Andy Darley of Middlesex, UK, who found The Cube in a wooded area in Northamptonshire, UK on 2 February 2007.

Mind Candy sold foil packs of puzzle cards to fund the game. Each card featured a different puzzle, and although the cards provided additional lore, it was possible to participate in the ARG without purchasing them. According to Mind Candy, the first wave of cards for the new game season, called Perplex City Stories, were to be released on March 1, 2007, and in June 2007, they announced that the second season was on indefinite hold.

I loved this when it was about. Such a great idea of cross-platform puzzles and games and fun. Collect trading cards, solve them, get clues and a community all trying to find a buried cube and a narrative about a weird futuristic city. I think about it often.

It reminded me of Masquerade, by Kit Williams, that I was obsessed with as a child. Plus the YEAR ZERO ARG by Nine Inch Nails.

Here’s the link to the site. Here’s the Wiki for the game / story. Here’s the retrospective of Season 1. The wikipedia page. Here’s a great article about solving one of the puzzle cards years after the game ended. Here’s a database of all the cards.