Posted in Brain in a Cage

Stranger Story – Brain in a Cage

Online/Physical Escape Room

We’ve played so many escape games online since locked down but we were yet to play a virtual games. Basically, a physical escape game but played over Zoom with an avatar as your GM and physical body. We were invited to play Stranger Story by Brain in a Cage in Livorno, Italy. If we were honest, we had our reservations. How on earth does a physical game played virtually really work and, more importantly, will it live up to playing it live?

STORY

1984 – Indiana – Recently several strange fact happened in town, farmers have seen their whole harvest gone rot overnight and strange creatures has been heard howling from the woods.

It all started when the Hawkins National Laboratory, a government science laboratory outside the city, has confiscated few houses near the woods for not so clear reason. One of these houses is William’s home, of one of your best friend. William has recently been taken to the hospital since he was screaming and he was getting colder and colder. You’re pretty sure that this has something to do with the activity of the HNL, you reported this to the police, but without any evidence, they cannot do much.

You guys have decided to start an investigation on your own. While you’re all pretending to be playing Dungeons&Dragons together, you’ll be going to William’s house. Will’s mother is with him at the hospital and won’t be back before 1 hour.  You have to find what’s really going on with the HNL activity.

THE GAMEPLAY

Imagine you are in a real escape room, but the physical body is the GM/Avatar who shows you the game from their point of view through a phone or Go Pro. This is exactly how this game works. The GM/Avatar is basically your eyes and ears and will look at, move, try and find what it is you ask for. There is little suggestion of being led through the game unless, I’m guessing, you get stuck. We managed to play without the need for any clues and the game ran pretty smoothly.

Stranger Story, as you may have guessed, is based around the popular Netflix series, Stranger Things. The gameplay bring a series of different puzzles of which all fit perfectly into the theme. If you are a Stranger Things fan,you’ll appreciate the room far more than someone who hasn’t as the numbers of nods to the show is amazing. Very little of the game requires knowledge of the show though. There is one puzzle you will be able to solve quicker if you’ve seen the programme but it’s certainly not essential.

The room is very linear. Each puzzle very clearly leads from one point to the next. The only niggle is that there are a number of padlocks at the start and answers can be put into several. It’s a little trial and error to get the right one first time. There is a varied range of answers in the first part of the game but most come from padlocks of either a numerical or word kind. It’s not until the initial padlocks that the technology ramps up.

The use of technology in the room is superb. The owner is a former electrician and you can tell he has used his skills to bring electronics into the game. There are some great wow moments as you forget about padlocks and cause and effects comes into play as one piece of technology helps progress the game into the next. The game really gives you a sense of progress and lots of regular victories.

It isn’t the hardest game we’ve played by a long way but, to us, that didn’t matter. We always find that as long as the game is fun, the difficulty rating doesn’t matter. The good news is that we had a lot of fun playing the game.

At the start we talked about the worries we had of playing a physical game virtually. To our surprise, we got a similar buzz from playing the virtual version as we do a physical game. Without being able to play a physical game, this really scratched an itch. It made us want to play more virtual games and play more games by Brain in a Cage if we travelled to Livorno in future.

DESIGN

Every part of the games was a real homage to Stranger Things. We found that the design had been created to immerse us into the world of the game. Much of the design was used within the game but there were also nods to show that really added to the immersion. A really well designed game, with great gameplay. The game is more expansive than you first realise and the use of space is really well done.

OVERALL

For Stranger Things fans, this is a must. So well thought out with great gameplay and flow. If you’ve never watch the show, you’ll still be able to enjoy some great puzzles, great wow moments and a thoroughly enjoyable hour of puzzling.

The game available as an online game from 40 Euros and as a physical room from 60 Euros.

Theme *****

Design *****

Gameplay *****

Difficulty *****

Overall *****

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