Who ate all the pies?!
Come one come all and listen close, I have a tale to tell. It starts right here in a festive land, where all is not quite well…
The year is 2020. Jolly old St Nick has been kidnapped and with Christmas in jeopardy, the elves need a plan.
They hire B.R.U.C.E. – an out of work experimental research droid, who’s recently retrained as a private detective… a private detective with a penchant for solving crime and telling really bad jokes.
Our plucky little robotic hero is back, and this time, B.R.U.C.E. saves Christmas! Bewilder Box and Eltham Escape Rooms combined forces back in April to bring us Sector X: The B.R.U.C.E. Project Part 1, and later Part 2. While B.R.U.C.E. Saves Christmas features the same little robot, the game is a stand-alone and there is absolutely no need to have played the prior games. But we have played both of the B.R.U.C.E. games, and delighted in their terrible robot jokes, so of course we were eager to play the new festive iteration.
As we have played The B.R.U.C.E. Project, we thought we knew what to expect from the game, and in many ways we were right. Like the earlier games in the B.R.U.C.E. universe, B.R.U.C.E. Saves Christmas is a completely self-contained digital game without a host, and can be played at any time. Likewise, you can expect the excellent production value in the videos, and throughout the game in general, to continue. But the team have also been hard at work behind the scenes and one of the biggest frustrations from the earlier games is now a thing of the past.
When Part 1 of The B.R.U.C.E Project arrived, it felt significantly different from any of the other games that were being brought to the market by independent escape room companies, as it was more of a point and click video game, rather than a linear puzzle game on a series of pages, or an ARG sprawling throughout the internet. The platform it was built on also allowed up to six connections from different devices, and the game was synchronised for each player, so it was one of the first games that we played that felt truly co-operative. The only limitation to the platform was that all players needed to be looking at exactly the same screen – if one person toggled away from a puzzle, everyone would be pulled away. However, B.R.U.C.E. Saves Christmas has rectified this issue. You can still have up to six connections, but now players can look at different things simultaneously and, thanks to a scrolling text bar at the top of the screen, if anyone solves a puzzle, everyone is updated. If anyone manages to solve the final puzzle to move on to the next level though, you will all be pulled through (but that should be pretty obvious that will happen).
Being able to split up to view different screens is just one notable difference between B.R.U.C.E. Saves Christmas and the earlier games. Gone is the foghorn celebration button (don’t be alarmed though, it has been replaced with something a bit more fun, and less harsh on the eardrums). But perhaps the biggest change is the introduction of an inventory system. The game is much more interactive than its predecessors, and players are now able to gather items and use them elsewhere, rather than simply solving for a numerical or word code. In some instances, the inventory system made it much simpler to navigate between the different pieces of a puzzle than it would otherwise have been. The introduction of the inventory has given the game a much more open feel, with the possibility to work on puzzles independently, or at the very least explore, so that if one team member spots something and relays it to the rest of the team, it may click for someone else.
The style and manner in which the puzzles were presented made the game feel very much like a digital version of a traditional physical escape room, and this was emphasised even more by the underlying narrative, which was driven forward both by the puzzles and videos unlocked throughout the game as you rush toward the finale. But which ending will you choose for the culprit? Naughty or Nice, B.R.U.C.E. Saves Christmas embodies the spirit of the holiday, and comes with a lovely, heartwarming message.
Logic problems, observation, codes, cyphers, pattern recognition, plus a few festive delights are all in store for your puzzle brains. The puzzles were pleasing, and fair, and had a number of delightful “ah-ha” moments; although I will admit I managed to solve one completely by accident. The puzzles were all completely integrated with the theme, either as part of the mystery to identify the kidnapper, or just a bit of festive fun. But thanks to the improved interactivity of the interface, there’s a new challenge in store that changed the game – Communication. Unlike the earlier B.R.U.C.E. games where it was technically possible to play solo, B.R.U.C.E. Saves Christmas would be incredibly difficult, if not impossible, to do so.
In keeping with the family friendly theme, there’s even a fun search task that could be delegated to younger players if they aren’t up to solving the puzzles. Of course, this is just as enjoyable for the young at heart, so maybe not.
Gord and I didn’t take any clues, but of course, B.R.U.C.E. will have access to help should any of the puzzles be proving to be a little difficult. We reached out to Bewilderbox/Eltham about how the clues worked and they said…
Hints are delivered in chronological order, so you’ll get the exact nudge you need for the puzzle that you’re stuck on… but only if you all agree!
Clicking the hint button will trigger a team vote. If everyone says ‘yes’, the hint is delivered. If someone says ‘no’ you’ll need to do some additional negotiating with your more stubborn team mates.
If you are looking for a festive game that is suitable for the whole family, full of satisfying puzzles, terrible jokes, and of course, mince pies, look no further. B.R.U.C.E. Saves Christmas is a perfect game for a socially distanced holiday gathering.
Don’t forget: Bewilder Box are running an Escape Room Enthusiast Leaderboard for December. Just make sure to add the tag [UKE] at the front of your team name to submit your time if you want to enter. If you are an escape room enthusiast, you may notice a nod to one or two familiar names from the industry.
- Computer with Internet Connection (Chrome recommended)
- Pen and Paper (optional)
|Value for Money|
Team: 2 players – working from two computers
Time Taken: 33:34 with no clues