A haunted house you’d want to live in!
The family of this home is searching for a good trustworthy group of people to housesit their manor for the Winter. During your time there, you learn about the caretaker and the family, the manor’s secrets, and that maybe this isn’t the dream stay you were after.
Our first visit to District 3 took place way back in July 2020, when we tackled The Cabin, so we were overdue for a return visit to try out another of the four games on offer from the Regina based company. The Cabin was thoroughly enjoyable, so we had high hopes that the next game on the list would be as equally well done.
Joined once again by our friends Amy and Ian from Brit of an Escape Habit we joined the call to help David ensure that his opportunity to house sit a beautiful manor house was entirely as it seemed and not dodgy or haunted at all. Spoiler alert: it was definitely Haunted.
Live-video/Avatar-led escape rooms can vary wildly from company to company in terms of how immersive they are, so one of the first things that struck me as the game began was just how much more “theatrical” Haunted is when compared to some other live-avatar games we have come across. The Cabin managed this to some extent, but it’s clear that as online avatar games have remained a part of the industry District 3 have expanded on the idea. Emergency Exit perfected this more theatrical style with Virtual Exorcist and The Beast, and District 3 have created a similar feeling with the opening of Haunted and our introduction to David (our avatar). Although David did eventually switch from a more presentational style to the more common first-person camera feed, he also knew when to switch back again, allowing the game to become not only theatrical, but also immersive.
Alongside David’s camera feed, we also had the ability to look around independently, or view things a bit more closely with Telescape. Normally I could take or leave an inventory system, as I often find that I spend more time looking at this than I do involved in the actual live events taking place, but with Haunted, elements of the Telescape inventory system were interactive, allowing us to solve the puzzles ourselves without relying exclusively on David for everything. And while solving puzzles in Telescape won’t trigger a reaction in the room, the system did allow us to all feel as though everyone was involved, making the game just that much more engaging.
The set itself is quite impressive, and gives the impression of more space than I suspect there actually is, as it appears as though District 3 have managed to actually create a mini manor house, with a multitude of doors to unlock, and spaces to explore. Despite the masses of space which could actually be quite overwhelming, Haunted seems to play out in a relatively linear fashion, with one task leading on to the next, revealing more of the mystery of the manor and the narrative behind the game. There are some exceptions to this linearity, and Telescape also allows for some feeling of openness to return, but for the most part, we found ourselves tackling the puzzles in tandem. But alongside the beautiful set were the little touches that gave the feeling that the place was truly haunted: whispers and movement, and doors that just unlock themselves without a key. This use of tech (or was it the spirits?) kept the tension building all the way through to the climax of the game until the finale.
The puzzles throughout Haunted were varied and put a number of our skills to the test, presenting us with cyphers and codes, logic problems, some minor maths, and mixing in a bit of searching, observation, and even testing our listening skills. Teamwork came into play often, with some tasks becoming much simpler with two minds on them, but be prepared to think outside of the box; one of our most ridiculous suggestions for solving a problem actually turned out to be just what David needed to do.
Solving the puzzles resulted in so many fantastic “Ah ha!” moments that we completely lost track of how many times we said, “That was a great puzzle.” Of course, there were also a number of puzzles that absolutely did not click with my brain (at least, not until Amy explained them), but the signposting for Haunted was on point, so even without our diverse skill set within the team, I’m hopeful I would have made the connections…eventually.
Haunted also has a little Easter Egg puzzle – which you can choose to solve or not, so if larger teams ever want to truly split up, someone could always turn their attention to solving this, rather than saving David. We ended up solving this after escaping as we had a bit of time leftover, but this did mean that we technically missed out on the Easter Egg Achievement. (Yes, there are Achievements, much like a video game.)
David was a welcome addition to the team, skilled with his camera work both in terms of steady POV shots and knowing when to put the camera down, and perfectly executing the sometimes bizarre requests of our remote team. Plus his performance as an unwitting sacrifice to the spirits of the house was spot on. But not only that, his subtle guidance with lingering in certain places or chiming in with a well timed “opinion” ensured that whenever we stumbled, we didn’t stay down for long or need to request a clue.
Although, I almost wish we had, as we found out following the game that there is actually an in-built clue system that helps to keep the game as immersive as possible. However, before you go just requesting a clue just for the sake of experiencing them, it is worth noting that while clues are unlimited at District 3, if you need more than two this will impact your score on the leaderboard. Whether that matters or not is up to you, but I would always prefer to take a clue rather than fail to escape. But don’t worry, there are other ways to unlock achievements and boost your score if you’re the competitive sort.
Haunted is one of those games that I wish we had actually had the opportunity to play in person, if only to experience the set first hand. But the format adopted by District 3 to bring Haunted online ensures that nothing missed and other aspects are enhanced, so if a trip to Regina isn’t in the cards for you anytime soon, I have no hesitations recommending you play the game online instead.
GOOD TO KNOW
- Number of connections: 2-8 Players
- Price: $27.00 (+tax) CAD per adult (Child Discounts available)
- Devices: Desktop/Laptop
- Platform: Zoom & Telescape
- Inventory: Yes
- 360º View: Yes
- Time Zone: CST (Regina, SK, Canada)
|Value for Money|
Team: 4 players
Time Taken: 44 minutes
*Disclaimer: we weren’t charged for this experience, but this has not influenced our review.