Your close friend and renowned archaeologist, Professor Oldervik Dunstan, is requesting your help once more. The last time this happened you stumbled head-first into a frantic mission against the clock so, understandably, you’re somewhat hesitant to respond. Then again, you do have plenty of spare time on your hands, and the prospect of a new mystery quest is sorely tempting.
Against your better judgement you head to Oldervik’s house and find the front door unlocked. On the desk rests one of the professor’s hand-penned letters, the likes of which are very familiar to you by now! You haven’t even finished reading it but you can already sense a great adventure ahead…
We’re fortunate that we’ve done both of the rooms on offer at CoDecode Swindon, Professor Dunstan and Sub Terra, and they are top quality rooms. As soon as we saw that the brains behind these masterpieces were producing an online experience, it was a no-brainer that we were going to try it. The only question was could it live up to their physical rooms?
There have been a number of print-at-home games released and this would be classed in that category, however there are only three pieces of paper that need to be printed and each one is designed to not massively deplete your ink supplies.
What makes this game a little different is that a lot of it works through QR codes that you scan on your phone and this will enable you to interact with different items that you find. All of our team were using iPhones to scan the codes and we didn’t encounter any issues at all with this system.
One piece of feedback which I would give to companies building online experiences, is to unhide the password field. I’m sure this is just down to the coding and perhaps plugins used, but as there are no security issues involved it would be nice to be able to see what we are typing in (damn my fat fingers).
I must admit, when I saw the print-outs for this game I wasn’t expecting much and thought we were going to be let down. Fortunately they pulled it off and this game exceeded our expectations.
There was a really good mix of puzzles in this game, and I say in this game as everything you need is contained within it. No need to break the immersion by going off to Google, or searching on a map – just stay in Oldervik’s world.
There was a lot of what you may call traditional escape room puzzles here, some logic, some more long-winded deciphering, some lateral thinking, and some padlocks (obviously not physical ones). There was one puzzle in particular which we very much enjoyed, arguably simple in its execution, but so satisfying to complete.
One puzzle slowed us down because we entered what we thought was the correct answer (and it was) but we didn’t notice that something had changed so we kept on trying the same answer. Eventually we typed in the next correct answer and we were able to progress.
For any online experience to run smoothly you must have a seamless clue system in place. We’ve seen games where you phone or message a ‘contact’ who can then assist you, but that is reliant on the GM always being available (not ideal for them). While some systems will give you a page of clues in an all-or-nothing approach and if you don’t get it you just have to skip the puzzle without getting closure.
CoDecode have gone for a tried and tested system where you are gradually introduced to the solution, starting with a simple nudge in the right direction, followed by a few more clues before the final clue is a very well labelled ‘Answer – *Spoiler Alert*’. For me, this is the best way to do a clue system as it gives plenty of nudges to help you find the answer yourself, but if you still don’t understand, at least you get closure when you see the answer and how it was solved.
While playing this game, one of our team proclaimed “this is the most like a real escape room experience we have had so far”, and to be honest I think it is a good call. Liz and I have done an online game (The Insiders) where we made a similar statement, and I think they are both on an equal footing.
A couple of tweaks to the QR system would be welcome as it can get fiddly, but I have been reliably informed that the QR system is going to be improved in chapter two so that shouldn’t be a problem going forward. As it was, it caused a little bit of annoyance and probably slowed us down slightly, but it was actually quite a clever system. As our team had no issues with the QR scanning we thought it was good. However, if you have pop-up ads when you scan QR codes you may get frustrated quickly.
- Printer with A4 paper and black ink
- A mobile device to scan QR codes (at least one per team helps)
- Internet connection
- Pen or pencil
- Clear sticky tape or a glue stick
|Value for Money|
Team: 5 players
Time Taken: 1hour 10minutes