If there’s one thing I’ve always wanted to do it’s to go into an escape room alone. I guess I was curious to see how far I could reach on my own since a big part of solving these rooms depends on cooperation and team play.
One day I finished my workout at the gym and I was on my way home when I made a spur-of-the-moment decision to just do it. The center was just opening up early in the morning and the reception was empty. It’s the perfect time, I thought. I had tried calling them several times prior to that in order to ask if it was possible to play these games solo and I was told numerous times the minimum number of players should be 2. I think they were on a good mood that day or they just felt sorry for me and they let me in. The downside though I had to pay a ticket for 2 people. I didn’t mind because it’s something I really really wanted to do.
I dropped my gym bag at my car and went back to them 30 minutes later at the time given to me. They made me sit in the waiting room until the game master arrived. He walked in and we both stood in front of the escape room door. He explained the basics and I was told there was some fantastic hidden buried treasure inside one of the room’s pyramids. Something is cursed inside this room; however, and it’s my job to get inside and find the treasure otherwise some lunatic Pharoah will come and get me. I tied my shoe laces, zipped up my parka and went in. I was READY FOR WAR! All those years playing puzzles games were definitely not going to waste. How hard can it be, right?
As soon as I walked in, the door locked behind me, and I felt my heart sinking in my stomach. Crap! What did I get myself into! I felt slightly cluster phobic inside a small room with some giant mean looking Pharoa staring down at me on a high pedestal.
The screen flashed a number in front of me and the countdown began. I immediately started running in every direction trying to find every item I could get my hands on. The first few puzzles were easy, except for a partially mathematical one, which I completely sucked at. I made sure I gave my back to the camera so no one sees me counting with my fingers.
For the first room I used up two hints but overall I was doing great. Then, I discovered I had to literally JUMP on the high pedestal above me in order to reach something. No, that can’t be right, can it?! Did they really expect you to do physical labor like this in an escape room? I tried finding an alternative way but eventually I got yelled at from the microphone that yes, in fact, I had to jump up. Luckily I was in my gym clothes.
Not only did I have to jump on the pedestal, I had to pull and carry around 10 or 15 plaster poles that are bigger than my size. By the time I was done I was seriously exhausted. I didn’t have time to rest though. I solved the next puzzles and managed to reach the final room and that’s when I seriously freaked out.
The room was so small and narrow and almost completely dark. I felt my heart racing and I seriously contemplated just giving up right there. What made it worse was this room had no screen. I couldn’t see how much time was left and I couldn’t read any hints to help me escape this tiny space.
The final puzzle was tedious and involved a bunch of symbols and hieroglyphs. I knew what I had to do but the code wasn’t working for some reason. I tried it over and over with no luck. Finally I heard something in the other room and I realized my time was up. The screen went blank and I stood waiting for them to open the door for me and tell me I failed, only the door didn’t open and I felt myself panicking. I started signaling to the camera that I needed to get out- no answer. I asked for help- no answer. I waited… again- no answer. What the hell was happening? Why aren’t they letting me out? I finally ran back to the dark room and thought my only hope is to try and get that last code working somehow to get the hell out.
After some time, it finally worked. Not sure how and not sure I really care. All I wanted at that moment was to finally step foot out of that room. When the door opened, the game master was standing behind the door waiting for me. Apparently he left the navigation room when my time was up and they all decided to give me an extra 5 minutes because I was so close to the exit. It would have been nice if they told me that though instead of making me feel like I was completely cut off!
I wasn’t happy that I didn’t solve that last puzzle on time but considering that I managed to finish the entire room alone was an achievement in itself. I felt so proud of myself, but would I do it again? Probably not!
Although you’re obviously playing with people watching and helping you along the way from start to end, there’s just something seriously crazy about being locked up in a room alone. Not to mention the amount of work that had to be done to move things around. I never felt the value of team-play in those games until that day.
Overall it was a memorable and funny experience that I definitely would not do again or recommend to anyone.
We pretty much finished all escape rooms from Escapeland. The only one left was The Crypt which we got to play recently.
We usually go in as a big group (7 players in total) but this time we were only three. It was most fitting to be honest since the room was less challenging the others.
The story goes that there’s a vampire hidden somewhere inside the crypt. Many adventurers before you has attempted to kill him but failed. One hour before sunset you find yourself locked inside the crypt yourself following a journal entry a person has left behind. You will need to follow the clues and find the vampire before he finds you.
There are about 3 rooms in total to unlock. I realized that almost all of the escape rooms in Avenues are much smaller than the Symphony mall branch. That didn’t compromise the nice decorations though. Almost all of their games are pretty well done.
The puzzles were straight forward and a lot easier than what we anticipated except for the last puzzle, which we had an issue with. There was nothing special about this particular room. We got accustomed to have that one fun twist each room presented, but not this one.
Frankly, I didn’t overly enjoy it as much as I enjoyed the other ones. In terms of how scary it was, atmospherically it gives you a spooky vibe but doesn’t include any jump scares, nor does it have any person inside to interact with you, which is perfectly fine with me. I usually avoid the ones with human actors. I find them seriously distracting.
I obviously couldn’t take pictures but I’m planning to find a way to see how I can review escape rooms better in the future as I’m a huge fan and would like to collect my memories of them in an archive.
All photos posted here are taken from the escape room supplier’s website. The items are an exact replica except for some minor changes in the way they’re laid out in the room.
My final score is 2/5 ★★
- 3/5 for decorations
- 3/5 for story/lore
- 2/5 for puzzles & exploration
- 2/5 for overall experience
Location: Escapeland (Avenues Mall)
This game is part one of a trilogy, two of which are released and the third still in development.
The game begins with the lead character Holly receiving a letter from her sister, whom she hasn’t seen in ten years. The letter informs Holly to visit a house in order to unravel the truth about their family. Shocked and elated at the same time, Holly makes her way immediately to the given location and begins following the leads.
The game is described as a hidden-object with mini games. The puzzles are not traditional hidden-object and the game tries hard to be inventive but perhaps a little too innovative, at least to my taste. I didn’t find a logical pattern to the hidden objects and overall they felt flat to me. Thankfully, the developers opted out of hidden objects all together in the second part of the trilogy.
I think what stood out the most to me was the story itself. Often a garden-variety of these games lack depth and the plots feel rushed. In fact, many people I know just skip through the scene sequences to get to the puzzles. In this game; however, the story is engaging. Without saying too much, there are many aspects of the game’s playability that make the narration of the story interesting.
The atmosphere of the game is spooky with a few jump scares here and there but not more than that. The music, by far, is what keeps you on your toes. And it just happens to be that this game is one of the first games I got to play testing my new gaming surround system. Let’s just say I kept my volume at the lowest at all times!
Overall the game is decent and memorable. I heard the sequel is good so looking forward to playing that next. One thing that I absolutely hated, though, was the navigational system. Clicking to maneuver out of places can easily unlock your inventory display by mistake, which happened A LOT. It made moving around a total nuisance to be honest. I’m one of those people that prefer keeping my inventory opened at all times so having it unlock every couple of minutes was seriously annoying. Hopefully they got that sorted out in the sequel.
My final score is 3/5 ★★★
- 1/5 for gameplay
- 3/5 for plot
- 2.5/5 for puzzles & exploration
- 3/5 for overall experience
Game Platform (played on): PC, Steam
Murder She Wrote II: Return to Cabot’s Cove is a mystery point-and-click game that follows the mystery writer and amateur detective Jessica Fletcher. It is based on a classic TV show of the same name from back in the 80’s. Jessica Fletcher and her adventures were a childhood favorite of mine so I was excited try this out.
The game includes 3 episodes/cases in the form of books set in the town of Cabot Cove, Maine. Many of the characters you meet are in fact characters from the actual show. The music, graphics and voice acting are very nostalgic to someone that have watched the show. I thought that aspect of the game was well done. In fact I couldn’t help myself as soon as the memorable intro music played I had to make a little happy dance.
Another nice feature is that despite all three cases set on the same map, new locations are unlocked upon starting a new case except for the final case which is set on a completely new location.
There’s plenty of interactions between characters; however, you’re not given the chance to choose your own conversations. Instead, they unfold to keep the story going.
Much like a standard adventure puzzle game there’s an inventory with minimum item exploitation; a hint system and a journal. The puzzles are considered fairly easy. I thought the mini-games variety was decent but I was a little disappointed that they made you go back to the same puzzles which made it a little boring and repetitive.
I can see that there are plenty of features that can make the MSW game series unique. Sadly, there aren’t many of them out there. I think there are only 2 games for the computer and a few others in different formats. It’s a shame because the TV show has enough content to turn these games into a hit. It just needs someone to develop these games to make them better and create a culture behind them which would be really nice- kind of like what Herinteractive is doing with Nancy Drew.
Overall the game is average if not a little too easy, but for any Jessica Fletcher fan, this comes as a heartwarming treat!
My final score is 3.5/5 ★★★
- 3/5 for gameplay
- 2/5 for plot
- 3/5 for puzzles & exploration
- 3/5 for overall experience
Game Platform (played on): MAC, Big Fish Games.
It’s been a while since I played a Big Fish Game but when I saw the game Bonfire Stories: The Faceless Gravedigger selling for $2 I thought why not. Upon logging in though the price changed to $6. It seems the promotion is only valid for new subscribers.
I’m assuming the game is part of a Bonfire Stories hidden game series. One thing about me is that I’m not a huge fan of hidden object games. I prefer mini-games over hidden objects but every now and then I get in the mood to play one when I don’t want to think too much.
The story is about a group of friends who decide to camp in the forest of Quiet Grove. At night, they gather around a bonfire and tell each other spooky stories. One of the gang members tells the story of the faceless gravedigger and that’s when your game launches. As usual you’re either a journalist or a cop trying to follow the lead of a mysterious phenomenon and in this one- you probably guessed it- is a faceless cult of gravediggers.
The story is a little cheesy not to mention the transition of cutscenes can be rushed and laughable but the graphics look ok. In some parts like the Cinema & Reception the design is nostalgic and 60s style which I’m a sucker for. They tried to be inventive with the hidden object games which was nice so there’s a bit of variety. One that stood out for me was an audio-based hidden object which frankly I haven’t seen done before. A conversation takes place and you have to find the items spoken.
Aside from that item manipulation- which I usually enjoy- was average. In the beginning it was okay but eventually I noticed they make you find the same items, not sure why. You can combine the items but everything is very straightforward. There’s also no journal to refer to- only a map and a task list, which is very odd. The funny thing is that I hardly ever use the notebooks/journals in adventure hidden object games but in this one they wanted you to remember certain code combinations. In some mini games, as is customary, they’ll let you see the code clue you find side by side with the mini game, but in others you have to depend on your memory. Which is fine but with these games it’s something unexpected as the majority of the game is easy and doesn’t demand jotting anything down or trying to remember. When I clicked on the information button it laughably said “it’s the same code and letters you heard so many times in the game”. I guess the game designer was bored that day.
The mini games were fine. In fact, some of them actually made me think for a change. They weren’t exceptionally difficult but they weren’t that easy either. Overall the game lasted for about 2 hours, which is not very long but for the promotional $2 they’re offering (provided you’re a new subscriber) I think it’s fair.
I’m sure it’s even cheaper (if not free) for the iPad and iPhone. Would I play it again? Definitely not. Would I recommend it? Probably not but possibly, if I stumbled on it and someone happened to ask me about a game at that very moment in need of something laid-back to play to waste time- I might.
My final score is 3/5 ★★★
- 2/5 for gameplay
- 2/5 for plot
- 3/5 for puzzles & exploration
- 3/5 for overall experience
Game Platform (played on): MAC, Big Fish Games
Note: The link provided here is for the Collector’s Edition which is $13- Couldn’t find the standard Not sure why they have so many different prices for the same game. Aside from the collector’s edition which is usually pricier there’s also $6 and $9 and the $2 promotion. I definitely don’t think this is worth $13.