We’re all missing playing escape rooms with our friends and family. Luckily though, there are a number of escape room companies who have taken the escape experience and put them online for us all to play over Zoom! In this article I’ll let you know what game’s we have played during lockdown.
A previous team who came to play Spectre emailed us recently to ask our opinion on games we have played after seeing our photo posts on Facebook. My reply turned into an essay, so I decided to use it as a blog post. I’ll add to the list as we play more. Feel free to comment and add your own recommendations.
Panic Rooms – CSI grounded.
This is an online murder mystery with some elements to print out. You don’t have to print them out (like some of the other games out there), but we did so we weren’t looking at the screen the entire time. We’ve found that a lot of the print and play ones just take far too long to finish in one sitting. This one is the only one so far where you could finish it in just over an hour.
It costs £20.
Since playing this one Panic Rooms have released a few more, and are even bundling some together to buy in bulk for a lesser cost. Good news if you end up enjoying this one.
Deadlocked Reading – The Insiders.
These guys have a three-part print and play game called The Insiders that involves some cutting out and some looking at fictional Facebook pages, websites and an infuriating type of ‘Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes’ element!
The game focuses on the WEXEL corporation and sees you having to work out passwords to enter online to move the next stage. This one took the two of us aaagggees to complete…and that was just part one. In all honesty, after not getting all the way through part two, we gave up!
Deadlocked were pretty much the first to come up with an online game. To do all three parts will probably take around five or six hours in total. It is value for money though…only costing a tenner.
Code Decode Swindon – Oldervik Online.
This game is again a print and play, but with some unique elements that make it stand out from all the other print and play types (I don’t want to give anything away). The first part took us three hours to complete as two people and there were some cutting out, sticking and colouring in elements that younger players might enjoy.
Like Code Decode’s real life games, this is tricky, but has a sense of style about it. Part 2 was better than part 1 but took us four hours to complete.
The online hint system is good. Overall probably the best print and play game we have done so far. The first part is £9.99. The second is £12.99. We’re awaiting part 3.
Obviously there are LOTS of print and play games available now. If you are on Facebook, take a look at the UK escape room enthusiasts page.
What we’re finding the most fun, are the remote avatar games. Where you control a real person in a real room with real padlocks, things to find, puzzles to solve and only 60 minutes on the clock.
Escape Rooms Southend – The Virus & The Right Key.
The Virus was the first avatar game we played as three different households. The room itself wasn’t that convincing stage set wise, but it doesn’t really matter that much as you are watching it via Zoom through a camera.
There was some searching and finding of things, some not-to-tricky puzzles and that satisfying glow when you watch the avatar try a padlock and you’ve got the correct answer. Even opening the boxes and looking inside is pretty exciting! We finished this one within an hour and really enjoyed it. The Virus finished on May 24th. They’ve since announced a new horror game.
The Right Key was ok too, but not as good as The Virus puzzle wise. There was a lot of reading things on screen through the camera which took lots of time and wasn’t as fun. But the escape room feelings were there again. They also have another two avatar games we haven’t tried called Once Upon A Time and CSI Southend. We will probably get round to those at some point. They’re all £30 and need to be booked online.
ClueCrypted – The Crime of the Century.
This is by far the best avatar game we have played. This had a lot to do with the games master being really entertaining throughout. It’s their portable game, but tweaked a little. There were a few things to print out in advance (or to open ready on screen to look at)… but these were on theme and didn’t take away from the game play.
There wasn’t a room to explore as such, so no search and find element and no real room dressing, but it didn’t really matter because the puzzles were good and the host was good. Highly recommend this one. It costs £32.
Elgin Escapes – Murder Mansion.
We kinda liked this because there was nothing too tricky to solve in there (apart from one audio puzzle that didn’t lend itself very well to multiplayer online because of sound lag and video quality).
It’s another murder mystery, but unlike some of the others we have played which end up with you scratching your head and re-reading print outs over and over pulling your hair out, the culprit in this one is revealed by an actual puzzle in itself.
The graphics were pretty good and we got through it in an hour and a half. There was no big ‘rush’ like when you open an escape door… but it was pretty satisfying.
It only costs £8…I think they could have asked for more.
Bewilder Box Brighton – BRUCE.
If you’re not that fussed about controlling a real person in a room, then this would probably suit younger players more, along with some adults to assist. It is all online and has been produced/programmed from scratch.
A robot guides you from room to room and there is a puzzle to solve in each. He tells jokes that aren’t funny along the way… We finished it in just under an hour. It costs £15.
Escape Rooms Southend – Once Upon A Time
Another of the avatar online rooms we’ve been playing during lockdown. We’ve done all three of Southend’s now, and they are about to replace The Virus with CSI Southend, so no doubt we will be booking to play that one too. Once Upon A Time was based on fairytale characters, with each corner of the room belonging to a different one.
Your avatar was the Magic Mirror and your goal was to free the magic that was being held captive in the well. That’s the thing about fairytales, there’s no limit to the imagination of what an escape room could be.
I think this game was the easiest of the three. It must have been, as we were told we were in the top 10. The puzzles were definitely easier than those in their other games, which meant we feel like we progressed nice and quick.
What’s always funny though, in all of the avatar games we played so far, is seeing that it is just their room in their house. There’s no real attempt to hide the fact, even down to the air conditioner being completely on show. Still, we thought the game was worth the money.
Panic Rooms Gravesend – CSI Stranglehold
I’ve lost count of the number of online games Panic Rooms has now. There are so many of them they are selling them in ‘bundles’… which is a very shrewd business move. It had been a while since we played their first CSI Grounded offering, which we liked, so we thought we would revisit the series and try their latest.
Our thinking was that the latest one would be their best yet, as they would have learned and improved with every new game they produce. This one was better I’m happy to say…a murder mystery with lots of video, audio and relatively doable puzzles.
We stumbled on the very first puzzle, which we had no idea how to solve so we had to take a clue. We managed to complete the game in an hour and fifteen minutes. Pretty good if I do say so myself.
MARVO Mysteries – M.A.R.V.O Archives Phase 1 & 2
Anyone who has played MARVO’s real room in Bournemouth will have high hopes for this one, we certainly did. This game is different to anything we have played so far. You control a robot that is based at MARVO’s real room/building in Bournemouth and you’re given mini missions to undertake. There’s some pointing and clicking to look around, as well as puzzles which see you disarming trip wires and breaking in to the archives control room among other things (I wouldn’t want to give too much away). There’s also a nifty inventory of tactical gear you can use for different purposes depending on the puzzle. Very clever stuff.
Hopefully I will have more to add soon.
In the meantime, if you want to know more about our online escape room (hopefully coming soon) you can find out about POD here.