The closest we’ve come to a true Escape Room experience at home
The Wexell Corporation has a problem right now. There’s a mole in the company, working against us with some very sensitive information and we need YOU to find out who’s been sneaking around where they shouldn’t.
Go solo or gather your closest confidants to take down THE INSIDERS before they go world-wide.
When the UK ground to a halt in mid-March, and even days before the Government made their shelter in place advice a mandate rather than a suggestion, Deadlocked were one of the first UK companies to launch their own version of a play at home game: The Insiders. The game had been in the works for some time to become an escape room in a box, linked, as all their rooms are, to the Wexell Corporation. But with a few tweaks, the game was able to be launched early in a different form.
It’s no surprise that something like this was in the works at Deadlocked. Not only do James and Charlie have experience developing a number of live escape games, but James is also the author of the Escape Room Puzzles Book series, making a play from home game the next logical step for the team. With our extended team, we have played all of Deadlocked’s Reading rooms: The Phoenix Research, The Testing Chamber, and most recently, The Time Machine. But when we saw the posts on social media announcing the arrival of The Insiders, Gord and I decided that we would tackle this particular mission on our own, from the safety of our sofa.
There is literally something for everyone in The Insiders, with traditional escape room style puzzles, alongside some simply standard puzzle puzzles, plus a variety logic puzzles, a bit of internet sleuthing, some arts and crafts, plus some impressively coded tasks that venture more into the realm of video games. Puzzles and sleuthing aside, there are even some moments of character interaction, allowing the lines between game and reality to blur.
In a traditional escape room, I would rage at the need to use outside knowledge, or even worse, utilise the internet to look up something. Even with other play at home games, I have found myself irritated at the need to drag out a piece of obscure general knowledge from my 6th-grade history lessons or look up a piece of information, preferring those games instead where the game plays more like a live escape game with no outside knowledge required, and all information contained within the materials presented. It was rare that we needed to do any research outside of when it was the task at hand, but there were a few cases where some may find it necessary. In our case, there were was one puzzle type that I had never come across before. A quick search quickly gave us the process, and we were off, but unlike other games, the need to look this up didn’t bother me, possibly because we weren’t looking up answers, but rather information on the mechanics of how something should work.
Never did I ever think that when writing a review about an escape from home would I get to mention immersion. But Deadlocked have completely hit this one out of the park, and this is the closest I have come to feeling fully immersed in a game from home. By simply weaving the fact that you are working remotely into the story, suddenly the fact that I am on my couch, working with my computer and print-outs has made the suspension of disbelief possible. Unlike other games that we’ve played from the comfort of home, we don’t have to imagine that we have actually gone into the Wexell Offices to find this information, as we were never meant to be there in the first place. This simple thing has actually allowed The Insiders to be more immersive than some of the traditional escape games we have played. In my opinion, this game isn’t an escape from home at all, but rather an entirely new breed of game: an amalgamation of a live escape game and an escape from home.
Gord and I played The Insiders as a team of two, both in the same location. But the nature of the game would easily allow a team in multiple locations to play together using video conferencing software. The experience itself is split into sections, each taking anywhere between 45 minutes and two hours (depending on experience), but within each section, Gord and I often found ourselves working on tasks completely separately from one another, only to then come together to analyse the information we had found.
The Insiders could even be tackled solo, although one task would be an absolute nightmare, but could be accomplished with a lot of hard work, persistence, and patience (we have heard of one person completing is solo so far). No really; it would be like trying to cook while simultaneously rubbing your tummy and patting your head. Even with two of us, it nearly caused a rage quit, at least until we switched places and realised I was doing things backwards.
When we played, this was perhaps the one area that could have let The Insiders down, but had the benefit of increasing the realism. One section of the game does have an inbuilt clue system where one can click for additional intel, but aside from that, it appeared that players would be reliant on reaching out to their contact if help is needed. This is all well and good in the time of quarantine but could become troublesome down the line. As it is, I imagine it is already rather irksome for Deadlocked with players asking for help at all hours of the day and night (not us), but credit where credit is due – I certainly wouldn’t reply straight away at 3am, which I know both James and Charlie have done, so top marks for games mastering there.
I have since learned that help is now available in a form other than reaching out directly to your contact, and follows along the lines of the more commercial escapes from home, with multiple hints for each puzzle, and finally, if you’re desperate, the solution, although the assistance is still in character as much as it can be. I’m not sure what an ideal clue system would be for this type of experience, but this system is the new standard and should give Deadlocked some peace.
If you haven’t already been convinced to try The Insiders, I don’t know what else I can say. It is without a doubt the best play at home game we have taken on to date. The Insiders is surprisingly immersive, incredibly clever, and just downright fun. At the cost (at time of writing) of £9.99, or free (yes, free) with the purchase of a gift voucher for a live game when the world restarts, it is an absolute bargain, providing hours, possibly even days, of puzzling fun.
- Computer/Laptop with internet connection
- Printer and about ten sheets of paper
- Scissors, glue, tape
|Value for Money|
Time Taken: Approx. 4 hours (no clues)