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Come join our RPS Game Club liveblog for The Tartarus Key next Monday!

Hang out to chat spooky puzzles on Monday 3rd

A woman lies in a dirty medical room, on an examination bed, in puzzle thriller The Tartarus Key. She is labelled as 'poisoned woman'
Image credit: Armor Games Studios, Rock Paper Shotgun

This month's pick for our RPS Game Club is the nails sort-of-horror puzzle game The Tartarus Key, and we'll be doing another funtabulous liveblog to chat about it with you next Monday July 3rd at 4pm BST / 8am PDT. Is that a different month to the current one? Yes. But do I make the rules? Also yes. And, like Katharine was last time, I'm travelling right now, so Monday it is.

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Thematically speaking, I should have said I can't make it because I've been kidnapped and locked in an eldritch broom cupboard, where the exit code is divined by multiplying the number of motivational posters featuring animals with the number of broken mops (but not whole mops!) against the wall. This is the vibe of The Tartarus Key, a game that throws tropes around itself like a protective cape. There aren't any jump scares, but you're still having a fun retro-horror time, and feel a bit like you're playing through the kind of 00s thriller movie you'd throw on when you got tired of browsing Netflix. And I mean that as extremely high praise.

If you've not played The Tartarus Key you can get a taster with the free demo of the first couple of puzzles on Steam. They're some of the easier ones, and they still took me bloody ages to figure out. If you work out how the internet functions (a feat beyond even the most senior of Google techs) then do come and join us for a fun chat on Monday, at 4pm BST / 8am PDT.

I've put my review in below, plus the other articles we've written about it this month, and will update it before Monday with anything else we add. Get in the mood to consider how in real life you wouldn't be able to solve these puzzles and would probably gradually wither away in a locked mansion, ho ho!

Player character Alex Young jerks awake to find herself locked in a weird horror puzzle mansion in The Tartarus Key
Image credit: Armor Games Studios, Rock Paper Shotgun

The Tartarus Key review

Guess what? I liked it! The Tartarus Key is, as I point out, nails - but it's worth putting in the effort, especially if you're a puzzle game fan. Depending on what ending you get it can feel abrupt at the finish, but for the dedicated it's worth a replay, too.

Alex, protagonist of The Tartarus Key, talks to Torres, who is sitting by the fire. She's saying 'We should also attempt to find out who's behind this.'

The Tartarus Key is great when you've got a clever friend who can do the puzzles for you

In one of my favourite of Ed's recent articles, he describes being told how to solve the puzzles by his friend, who is also called Ed. This is very funny.

A bathroom in The Tartarus Key showing a bathtub and white tiled floor covered in splashes of dark blood

The Tartarus Key's theming rules because it's tropey, not scary

I opine (as is my wont) on why I think the way The Tartarus Key's themes are great - to expect it to be actually scary is missing the point. It's more supposed to remind you of horror than be actual horror itself. It's cool!

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