Posted in The Panic Rooms

CSI: Grounded – The Panic Room

Murder Mystery Escape Game

The Panic Room have always been up there with escape rooms in the UK and with lockdown in place, we were so pleased to hear they had decided to bring one of their games to us. CSI: Grounded was the first in a series of games The Panic Room are turning from their mobile games into an online platform. We gathered ourselves and friends (via Whatsapp video call of course), to see if we can solve the murder!

THE STORY

A man has been mysteriously poisoned on a flight, it must have been someone on board but who? Solve the puzzles and work together to find the who, why and how of this brand new detective mystery.

THE GAMEPLAY

Although the game describes itself as an escape room game I feel it underplays itself a little. Yes, it’s partially an escape room game but it’s also a full on murder mystery. This game is chock full of information and, unlike a physical escape room, also includes some nice red herrings in order to try and throw you off the scent. You need to be just as much a detective as you do an escapee. I don’t remember how many notes, numbers and motives we wrote down in the end, but one of our team definitely ended up with writer’s cramp!

The principle behind the game is simple. There are a series of locked cases, bags and envelopes that require a password to access. The game reveals the next password you need as you search the evidence. Its a very linear game but being online it would be difficult to create something that wasn’t. We found that the majority of the game play was pretty well signposted. If there were occasions where you might get a little stuck, the hints at the bottom of each page will certainly help. If you get really stuck, the last hint is the answer. We found the puzzles were fair but challenging and, at times, pretty inventive. We particularly enjoyed the interviews puzzle and thought is was a really ingenious way of creating something a little different. There was only one point in which we felt the signposting was a little off and this meant that when we looked at the clues we were still a little lost. When we finally reached the solution, we could see where it was coming from but felt it may have been a little lost in translation.

On the whole, gameplay was fair and flowed well. It shows the creativity of the industry and how they can overcome barriers when something so major is thrown at them.

DESIGN

The game is a web based adventure so over complicating the amount of data that needs to load can compromise design. The game has some really good use of technology as part of the game and these worked well. The overall look of the game’s interface was basic but the design elements that were integral to the game were well done. We did have a couple of issues with loading but refreshing the page solved these.

What has to be taken into consideration is that The Panic Room have put this together with limited resources and in a short space of time. To take something that exists in the physical world and translate it to the digital world and it still remain a great game is a remarkable feat and The Panic Rom should be applauded for their endeavour.

The game costs between £15-£20 depending on whether you manage to get the early bird rates or not. Bearing in mind you can have as many players as you want over different locations, the game offers real value for money.

OVERALL

We have a really enjoyable evening playing CSI: Grounded. Although not a overly taxing game mentally, it was tough enough to feel you had to work for your victory. We look forward to the other games The Panic Room are working on.

Escaped: 48:37

Theme *****

Design *****

Gameplay *****

Difficulty *****

Overall *****

Posted in Modern Fables

Modern Fables – Medogan

An online adventure game

We’d read some comments from others about Modern Fables take on the online escape/adventure game. We have to admit that we’ve not heard of them and being in London, they are a bit of a trek from us.

THE STORY

STRANDED IN YOUR IMAGINATION. The Modern Fables take on a pick-your-own-adventure played out in your mind. Can you uncover the secrets MEDOGAN has to offer? Can you escape the confines of reality?

THE GAMEPLAY

Modern Fables have created more of an adventure game than a traditional escape game but this doesn’t detract from the quality of what they have made. You will find that many free to play games (although they are asking for donations), are fairly basic affairs. The idea behind them is solid but the concepts are more simple. This is not the case with Medogan. In fact, we’d go as far to say as this is up there as one of our favourite adventures we’ve played so far during lockdown.

The game is episodic. At the time of playing we only had access to the first episode which brings our protagonist to the mysterious village of Medogan. Although set in modern day, the village gives of a very Midsommar vibe and the game gives snippets of details that makes you suggest something akin to Hot Fuzz is kicking off. The only issue, the episode finishes with more questions than it does answers. This certainly wets you appetite for the next instalment.

Gameplay is very much in the way of a detective story. We found that we’d written about 4 pages of notes with everything going on and these little titbits were extremely useful in order to solve the main puzzle of the game. But, what is so ingenious about this game is that it isn’t just text that you need to gather. It uses a series of your own technology in impressive ways to bring the story to life. I don’t want to give away what, you will just have to find out for yourself. I challenge you not to be as impressed as I was with one of the way in particular! Gameplay flows nicely and, as long as you read and listen to everything carefully, everything will slot into place. The game isn’t the hardest we’ve played but it will certainly keep you busy for an hour or so in order to work out what you need to put where. There aren’t any clues to the game but if you need a push in the right direction, you can contact Modern Fables by their Facebook page and they will send a suitably cryptic clue back. Also be aware that you need to access this game via a PC or laptop. It will not work on a mobile device. You’ll also need a way to listen to the sounds, its very important.

DESIGN

The game does have a large amount of text but this is key to the story. It also has a lot of visual elements too and the design of these are superb. It really immerses you into the world of Medogan. There has clearly been a huge amount of time and effort that has been put into creating this game. To have completed it in such a short period of time too is astonishing. If you don’t play another free online game during your lockdown, Medonga has to be the one.

OVERALL

A superb game full of intricate details, design and story. It really immerses you into the world Modern Fables are trying to create and is a genuine joy to play. It’s not only a phenomenal game, it also make us want to make the trip to London to play their physical games if the quality is anything like this one. We are looking forward to playing episode 2.

Theme *****

Design *****

Gameplay *****

Difficulty *****

Overall *****

Posted in Escape Room Puzzles

Escape Room Puzzles

An escape book

From the mastermind behind Deadlocked Escape Rooms James Hamer-Horton, comes a Puzzle book that ties in with their fictitious company, the Wexell Corporation. This book doesn’t just bring enough content for one game but gives you ten rooms to break out of.

THE STORY

Enter the world of Escape Room Puzzles, but beware… once you enter, you only have a limited time to solve the puzzles before time runs out and you are locked in forever! Become Adam Parkinson, a young investigative journalist, and join his conspiracy-theorist friend Henry Fielding as they take on the diabolical Wexell Corporation. You must guide Adam through 10 precarious rooms, solving the puzzles he finds in each one, discovering what Wexell are up to, and then escaping to the next location.

THE GAMEPLAY

First off, let me say that out of all the play at home games and books I have done, this has to be the closest I’ve ever come to feeling like I’m playing an escape room. There is so much content in this book that it will give you hours of playtime and you could argue that each of the 10 rooms would take a minimum of an hour to complete and can be completed by a team rather than an individual. Like many other escape type books it is story driven and the entire thing plays out over the 10 rooms. The story is pretty good and the text you have to read is important to the story too.

Now, let’s move on to the puzzles. The one thing I applaud the book for is that it’s not created for the everyday man. The puzzles in this book are HARD. I mean REALLY hard. Some of the puzzles require a leap of logic and a number of the are really labour intensive. If you are looking for something to take you away a few hours, this isn’t the book for you. It requires a lot of thought, a lot of time and a lot of effort. It also requires you to manipulate the book at times. Some will want to photocopy pages, others will happily pull it apart.

Having applauded the difficulty, I think this is also its downfall. The book is so labour intensive it can take out the fun of the gameplay and it’s so difficult it means you hit a brick wall many, many times and you have to go for hints to make progress. I prefer a game that’s hard but not too hard that the hints are almost required to make your way through the game. Due to this, by the time we reached room 10, it was a case of getting it done rather than enjoying the experience.

DESIGN

The book’s design far surpasses the design of any other book we’ve played. There is really intricacies in the detail and the design is integral to many of the puzzles. It’s a real feat of design and adds to the feeling of it being the closest to an escape room we’ve played. Some of the design adds to the difficulty too.

OVERALL

Escape Room Puzzles is a bittersweet experience. By far the closest experience we have had to playing an escape room in a book but the mechanics of the puzzles let it down. If the same format had more straightforward puzzles, not easy, just straightforward this would have been a much, much better experience.

Theme *****

Design *****

Gameplay *****

Difficulty *****

Overall *****

Posted in The Escape Book

The Escape Book

An escape book

The Escape book claims to be the “First book based on the puzzles of Escape Rooms”. I’m not sure on the accuracy of their claims but having been published in 2018, it’s probably not far off. The book was originally written in Spanish before being translated into English a year later.

THE STORY

You’re an investigative journalist – and you’ve learned too much. Your mission is to escape the labyrinth where you have been trapped and expose the corrupt, high-flying businessman, Castian Warnes. This is no easy feat, but your life depends on it.

THE GAMEPLAY

The book itself is entirely story driven. The best way to describe it is if Saw was an escape room movie but it didn’t have the gore. That’s the kind of idea Ivan Tapia was going for. Instead of Jigsaw being the mastermind, it’s replaced with Castian Warnes, a voyeuristic businessman who watches as the protagonist, Candela Fuertes, makes her way through the labyrinth of puzzles. There are 17 puzzles in total, each of which give you the answer to the next page you need to turn to. Puzzles on the whole range for quick and simple to much more complex. None are out of reach of an experienced player but some may need a little help to get to the answer. Luckily, the book has a series of hints for each puzzle at the back of the book. Gameplay on the whole is good but to get through to the next puzzle you have to read a huge amount of story. There are times where you have to read six or seven pages of story in order to reach your next puzzle. It really is story overload and, at times, leaves you wondering why there is so much detail. All of the story in the book is superfluous to the puzzle solving too. It gives you some background as to the characters and gives the story purpose but it feels it’s a story first and a puzzle book second.

DESIGN

The book has a very clear colour palette of black, white and yellow and this is maintained throughout the book. The puzzles are clear and well designed although they are very blocky in nature. This means that they look more functional than realistic. It doesn’t mean they are any less of a puzzle just that the design means it is less like an escape room.

OVERALL

There is plenty to keep an enthusiast busy for a couple of hours if you aren’t bothered about getting bogged down in the story. One worthy of being in lockdown or musing over on a beach somewhere.

Theme *****

Design *****

Gameplay *****

Difficulty *****

Overall *****

Posted in Escape Room Durham, Unlock

Escape Room Durham: Mr X

An online treasure hunt

Although not strictly an escape room, Escape Room Durham have created an online treasure hunt to keep us puzzle solvers happy. Whats more, it’s totally free to play and will easily fill an hour of your day while staying at home. So, what’s it all about?

THE STORY

“Agent, our HQ is shut down, and we are all having to work from home!

Despite this, we are still being taunted by Mr X.

We need to track this dangerous individual, firstly we need to find out his Surname.

Can you take on the job? 

He is taunting us with cryptic clues. We think solving these will lead to his name. We’ll be here to help along the way!

THE GAMEPLAY

The important thing to remember here is that this isn’t an escape room, its a series of word puzzles that require you to search using the internet to make progress. What the game does do is make you think. These word puzzles require lateral thinking (and a little knowledge of the world) in order to make your way through the 6 different puzzles. The beauty of this is that it utilises technology really well. I don’t know if I’ve ever had so many aha moments playing a play at home game but I smiled all the way through at the cheeky use of real life and the attention to detail you have to pay in order to make progress. It’s genuinely a very clever game that really shows how creative Escape Room Durham are. I enjoyed it so much, I challenge them to do some more!

Each puzzle comes with a hint which sheds light on the very cryptic puzzles. For those not local to Durham, these come in handy to help zone you into where you may need to look at certain points in the game. If the hint doesn’t help then you can message them on Facebook and they’ll even provide you with extra hints!

DESIGN

It feels a little tough to talk about design. Escape Room Durham have put together a game to help people stay at home during this Coronavirus crisis. It means that the whole game runs through their website. There is some design put in here but only for it to be functional. There isn’t any whistles and bells, but there doesn’t need to be. There is a clear use of different fonts and it’s obvious that they have really thought about how they make it fun and easy to use.

OVERALL

This was a lot of fun. For most people this will be a good hour of entertainment. It’s not the easiest game you will play but it’s also not the hardest. It’s just clever, free fun! We loved it! You can play the game at https://www.escapedurham.co.uk/mr-x

Theme *****

Design *****

Gameplay *****

Difficulty *****

Overall *****