It’s a Great Night for a Vampire Fight!
A lone vampire hunter has been separated from their unit and now requires support to defeat the bloodsucker in charge. Can you make your way deep into the vampire lair and out again before The Master’s thirsty minions return? A mission both horrific and hilarious, ending with a harrowing escape that will mean life or death for our heroic hunter!
Castle Escapes is a brand new escape room company, specifically catering to the growing demand for online escapes. The company falls under the umbrella of Dark Castle Haunted Attractions, based in South Carolina. Simon and Elizabeth, the brother and sister team (along with their spouses) behind the company have combined their experience from the family business of scare attractions with a penchant for filmmaking to bring something really quite different to the market of both scare attractions and online escapism.
Let’s make something clear – The Hunt for the Crimson Fang is no ordinary online escape room. This is Castle Escape’s first game, developed specifically for remote play, and thanks to the online format of the game, Castle Escapes are able to get away with a number of things that you would never be able to do in a live escape game, and the experience is highly entertaining because of it, albeit a bit shocking on occasion.
We were privileged to be invited to play The Hunt for the Crimson Fang as part of Castle Escape’s soft opening/press event. Expecting a game filled with puzzles, gore, and jump scares, we assembled a dream team of bloggers, escape room owners, actors, and horror movie fans (believe it or not, all of us actually wear more than just one of those hats). Finally, the day arrived and at the appointed hour we gathered on Zoom to meet our operative from The Nocturnal Underground Tactical Squad to hunt down the Master.
With our connection to our operative established, we found ourselves in a butcher shop straight out of a slasher film. From there, the game progressed in a linear manner, as we made our way through to the diabolical master’s lair, through a labyrinth of terrors. The game took quite a few shocking turns and introduced some things that would be quite radical if you were to have them in a live escape game (no owner in their right mind would put a blowtorch or power tools in room, that’s for sure). The Hunt for the Crimson Fang did well to build the suspense, finally culminating in one of the most fun and exciting, but slightly nerve-wracking endings I have yet to experience in a live-avatar escape game, and is certainly not to be missed (if you like that sort of thing).
The Hunt for the Crimson Fang was unlike any online escape game I have experienced before and is an intriguingly unique, and very well executed concept. The game is definitely one to gather your dark humoured, horror-loving friends for and set a time after the kiddies have gone to bed to play, as it does have some rather strong theming. But the game seems to rely more on shock value from outrageous events instead of jump scares and a major creep factor to give it an edge, and darker tongue in cheek humour permeated the entire experience, softening the edges of some of the horror theming. That’s not to say there aren’t some more dramatic, heart-pounding moments – there are – but they were much fewer and farther between than I had expected based on my knowledge of the origins of Castle Escapes.
Puzzles in The Hunt for the Crimson Fang were just the sorts of puzzles I would expect to find in a horror escape game. They were on the easier side (always a bonus when you’re terrified you may be accosted by a vampire at any moment), and thematic. With a variety of puzzle styles incorporating a bit of searching, logic, observation, minor maths, wordplay, and even a bit of lateral thinking, there were tasks to suit the strengths of everyone on the team. Thanks to the background of the creators in both haunt attractions and filmmaking, the solutions to the puzzles not only resulted in combinations for padlocks but also managed to utilise some impressive tech and movie magic.
Expecting the game to adhere to the rules of traditional escape rooms, there was one puzzle near the start of the game that I found could be rather ambiguous in its interpretation, and I doubted at first that we were on the correct path in our solving attempts, but with a bit of necessary guidance, we were able to follow it through to the rather surprising conclusion.
As with any Avatar or GM led experience, the person behind the camera can make or break your experience, and The Hunt for the Crimson Fang was no exception. Simon played his part admirably, and was a hilarious addition to our team of vampire hunters, as he put his life on the line, guiding us through the dark labyrinth, giving subtle nudges when necessary, and even sacrificing some of himself to rid the world of the blood-sucking vampire menace. With Elizabeth behind the scenes, I assume adding information to the Zoom Chat in lieu of a more sophisticated inventory, the process ran smoothly. However, as we played, we noticed some strange behaviours from our avatar that made little sense and felt as though they were done to slow the pace. It turns out there is a legitimate reason for this, but if you would rather not know and keep the magic alive before you play, skip the next paragraph and head to Final Thoughts! (It’s not really a spoiler, but just in case, you can’t say I didn’t warn you.)
When I thought about what to write in this review, I was torn about how cryptic I should be regarding the format of the game. I struggled with whether or not to mention this outright, for fear of giving spoilers, but as the information is available in the FAQ section of the Castle Escapes website, I feel reasonably safe in saying that the game is not, in fact, a live avatar game, but rather something I’ve not come across before. The Hunt for the Crimson Fang is something I struggle to classify, but if I had to, I would say it is closest to being a video choose your own adventure (with some limitations), guided by a live host. We had no idea this was the case prior to playing, and the majority of our team played through the game with blissful ignorance. However, the issue with this ignorance became apparent as we progressed and noticed certain oddities in the behaviour of our avatar, which became increasingly irritating, like resetting padlocks as we played, or heading back to a central location rather than going directly from Point A to Point B. Those of us who didn’t realise everything was prerecorded had initially written this off as nerves, or technical glitches with Zoom, but certain behaviours often led to me thinking, “Why are you doing that?” Simon certainly did his best to cover this and kept up an entertaining commentary throughout which definitely helped, but in actuality, the bizarre behaviours we noticed were all easily explained by the fact that things needed to be done in a certain way to ensure the video continuity. Had we known, it might have ruined some of the magic, but it would have certainly alleviated most of my frustrations.
The Hunt for the Crimson Fang was completely bonkers (but in a good way). Of course, with a name for the operation like The Nocturnal Underground Tactical Squad, we really should have been prepared for this, after all, what sort of covert operation gives themselves the name NUTS?
GOOD TO KNOW
- Number of connections: Up to Eight
- Price: $95.00 (Up to Six)/$125.00 (Up to Eight)
- Devices: Desktop or Laptop suggested. Also compatible with handheld devices
- Platform: Zoom
- Inventory: Links provided in Zoom Chat
- 360º View: No
- Time Zone: South Carolina, USA (EST/EDT)
|Value for Money|
Team: 5 players
Time Taken: 50:00
*Disclaimer: we weren’t charged for this experience, but this has not influenced our review.