Online Escape Room Experience
Time: 90 – 120 mins
Favouritefoe score: 8.5/10
Now, as regular readers will know, my game reviews normally involve something I can hold, touch, roll, throw even. Having a physical connection with a game (and my fellow gamers!) is what makes the experience so special. But this time, in the interests of expanding my horizons (and perhaps yours!) I am doing something a little different.
Before I get to that though, I also have a new confession: I have recently discovered that I love escape room type games. Exit Series, Unlock Series……I even have an Exit escape-room jigsaw combo (Exit; The Sacred Temple) to crack open which looks phenomenal (being a self confessed puzzologist and board gamer!).
But I have never been locked in a room (well, not voluntarily!) and relied on myself and others to get out! I hear they are immensely immersive, and actually quite addictive. And, until recently, co-operative games (which is where escape room tend to shine) just didn’t appeal. Fast forward one tentatively spoken new years’ resolution to try buddying-up rather than battling-it-out around the gaming table, however, and I acquired a number of team based titles.
And through that exploration, escape room games slipped onto my radar. But with the Pandemic closing the world down, however, another year passed without me physically closing myself in for fun.
On that basis, when the opportunity arose for me to try an online escape room, I couldn’t help but say “yes please”! With the help of 3 budding (and clever!) volunteer teammates, and some everyday tech, we entered the world of virtual escape rooms courtesy of Webscapade! And, in the hope of avoiding all spoilers, I am going to try to describe what it’s like without actually telling you what it’s like!
Set in fictional Argenia, this experience is connected. And when I say that, I mean you will be using emails, web browsers, audio channels, and even Facebook to puzzle out what dastardly deed is in fact happening during the otherwise innocent Independence Day celebrations! You aren’t all just huddled round one screen looking at a static picture.
From an end-user perspective, therefore, Webscapade, is indeed incredibly immersive from the get-go. I I found myself reading the experience’s own social media feed and websites as I would if I had gone on them to browse in the usual way!
Now, I can’t obviously tell you what we did – that would be an EPIC spoiler to end all spoliers! – but I think I am at liberty to say that our wits and skills were tested in a number of ways to solve tasks which connected the dots. It felt like mystery-solving-for the 21st century, and it was great!
Realising we would be directed different places over multiple computers, I did worry that lots of page scanning and tab flipping could be disorientating. But, as the game helpfully tells you which pages to close whenever a particular clue has been deciphered, it stopped our screen becoming difficult to, well, keep tabs on!
Similarly, I wasn’t initially sure whether sharing only audio with my teammates would work. In a real time escape room experience, just like the board game versions, there are going to be a lot of physical clues and times when only dragging a teammate over to what you have found helps to push progress. But, having to describe more of what we were seeing on our own screens, I think perhaps it helped us to slow down and process more of what we were actually seeing. And if you think harder, you’re more likely to crack it!
And that is a great feature of Webscapade; as you come upon a new element of the puzzle, each team player can choose to bring up the same information on their respective screen. But, there is also the option to divide and conquer. You can each go off hunting down different information over the various relevant tabs, sites, and downloads to the task at hand. Multiple sets of eyes (and brains) working on, cross checking, and verifying different parts of the current puzzle. In this respect, I expect there is little to choose between virtual and actual experiences!
With an estimated play time of 90 – 120 mins, there was a number of different types of puzzle to crack, and we enjoyed the variety. As a team comprising a lawyer (never great in an emergency!), teo scientists, and an engineer, we were quite confident that we would breeze through Webscapade. But the puzzles weren’t, obvious and we found ourselves laughing and even cheering when we cracked them! I particularly liked the way the level of difficulty changed throughout the game.
If you are super stuck, there is the possibility of getting hints to avoid prolonged periods of frustration (which we availed ourselves of, twice). But I think that was the only part of the entire production which slightly underwhelmed us. The hints weren’t actually that helpful, although they must have done something, as we were able to move on eventually!
Honestly, we had a great time playing Webscapade. It was another excuse to get gaming with our favourite pals who live over 400 miles from us, but something a little different to our usual go-to choices. Budget wise, at 25.00USD, it is on par with a few drinks and some crisps down the pub…. but a lot more enjoyable and satisfying than some warm beer and stale peanuts! It also played out about right for us; coming in at 30 seconds under the 90 minute mark. I don’t think virtual games will ever replace the real-deal for me, but this is anther fun, enjoyable experience to share with others. And one that gives a great sense of achievement at the end!
I should mention that somebody in your group will need a working Facebook page in order to play, as well as team members having accessible email addresses. This didn’t put us off, as we all have those anyway, but if you are not comfortable with social media (or giving your personal contact details over to a company), you may have to find a teammate who is if you want to play.
Personally, I am really looking forward to trying the next Season. And given the fun we had this time round, I already have my team pumped, primed and ready!
Webscapade also have a Facebook Page here
[please note that this experience was kindly provided by the company free of charge for the purposes of this review but any opinions expressed are my own]