Fun in the Cabin
There has been a series of kidnappings near a cabin. After locking your group up, the kidnapper leaves to find more trespassers. In trying to escape, you begin to learn more about who’s cabin it is, who the enemy is, why he kidnapped you, and what he is trying to hide.
If you haven’t already come across them, Live-Avatar style escape rooms began cropping up at the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic as escape room venues tried to find new ways to bring their games to a housebound public, and even months into various stages of lockdown, or lack thereof, across the globe, companies are continuing to bring new games to the market. District 3, based in Regina, SK (Canada) are one of the companies that took their time bringing their games online, to ensure that the experience was the best that it could possibly be.
Normally, when we play an escape room we play as a team of two (with a few exceptions for other puzzle crazy friends, of course), yet for some reason when we play live avatar escape rooms online we always seem to prefer teaming up with others. Strength in numbers I suppose. Those others, on this occasion, were the teams behind Deadlocked and EscapeTheRoomers. We gathered on the Zoom call at the appointed hour, met our host, David, and after a short chat and minor briefing, suddenly, the screen went dark, and we began.
The Cabin is one example of an existing game that has only been slightly modified in order to be played remotely, with your GM ready and waiting to be your eyes, ears, and hands within the game. Done well, this style of game straddles the line between escape game and immersive virtual theatre. David was certainly aiming for the immersive theatre aspect with the opening as his screen went dark, and we heard the muffled audio of the kidnapper, only to then “wake up” within the cabin, adding an element of suspense and giving the game a more immersive start. Not only that, David’s rig for the device supporting the Zoom call meant that the camera work was steady (no motion sickness here!) and he could even opt to set it down for a wide-angle to make certain aspects of the game that would be exciting in person the same feeling virtually.
Once inside the cabin, the game played in a non-linear fashion with multiple starting points, and thanks to the inventory system plus the static images and 360 views of the game it was actually possible for team members to work on different puzzles or continue to search the room simultaneously. The set reflected the sorts of things my imagination comes up with when I think of remote cabins of creepy psychopaths, with boarded-up windows, wood stoves, secondhand furniture, and unexpected surprises. Although it was hard to hear over the Zoom call, an atmospheric soundtrack with the rumblings of a thunderstorm played, adding an additional feeling of suspense, and a clearly visible in-game timer meant we knew exactly when David’s abductor may return…
The puzzles in The Cabin were typical of the types of puzzles we see in most escape rooms, with observation, logical deduction, some minor maths, and a bit of searching (plus more) all making an appearance, and incorporated a nice variety of physical padlocks with some more surprising tech elements to add a bit of variety.
With the exception of one puzzle (and even our difficulties with that were partially down to error on our part), the tasks were satisfying, with a number of easy wins to keep the game flowing, and a few more complex activities to please our puzzling brains. The Cabin is a game that would have been great to play in person, with so much to explore, and a number of more tactile tasks, but still translated well to the virtual format.
As with any remote play/live-avatar style escape game, your GM becomes an integral part of your team, and walks a fine line between allowing the remote players to explore everything, but also subtly guiding them in the direction they need to go. David walked that line well, giving us time to explore, and following the chaotic directions from six players well, and even got into the spirit of things with our quips and jokes (the Deadlocked team are a rather gregarious bunch). We didn’t need any outright hints, although it was close on one puzzle, but had we needed them, I’m certain they would have been delivered perfectly by David.
It is worth noting that while clues are unlimited, more than two clues will result in a lower overall score, which may affect your position on District 3’s Leaderboard. It only matters if you actually care about that sort of thing. I personally prefer to take a clue and experience the entire game, and not worry about leaderboards (unless we make it onto one, of course), but it does add an element of friendly competition to a game.
The Cabin was fun, and David a good host. At $27.00 CAD per person, it is well priced for a live-avatar style escape, and would be a decent choice for anyone looking to try out the format for the first time.
GOOD TO KNOW
- Number of connections: 2-8 Players
- Price: $27.00 (+tax) CAD per person
- Devices: Desktop/Laptop
- Platform: Zoom
- Inventory: Yes
- 360º View: Yes
- Time Zone: CST (Regina, SK, Canada)
|Value for Money|
Team: 6 players
Time Taken: 47 minutes
*Disclaimer: we weren’t charged for this experience, but this has not influenced our review.