Welcome to The Asylum
You and your friends enjoy exploring abandoned buildings and today you have come across an old mental asylum named the Piper Mental Institute. The asylum has been lying dormant since its closure in 1982. You all decide to venture inside the building. As you all walk through the corridor, you notice a door at the end of the hall, approaching it you see it reads “enter if you dare!”. Laughing it off, you and your friends decide to enter the room to find out more about what lies behind the door. As you walk through, one of your friends brushes past the door and it slams shut, the door is locked and you can’t get back out. You are now left with no other option than to try and find another way out…
It feels like an eternity since we played Elgin Escape’s first digital game, Murder Mansion, but perhaps that’s just because every day feels a bit like Groundhog Day. In reality, it’s only been about seven months, and Elgin Escape have clearly been hard at work putting together a new point and click game for the masses; Piper Asylum is the result of all that hard work.
Whenever I hear ‘asylum,’ I immediately think of Series 2 of American Horror Story; you know, the one set in an insane asylum. Fortunately, Piper Asylum is less horror story, and more minor (almost non-existent) creepy elements, suitable for friends and families alike.
Piper Asylum is not too dissimilar from Murder Mansion in terms of structure and feel, so if you have played Elgin Escape’s first game and enjoyed it, then Piper Asylum will likely tickle your fancy as well. It is an entirely self-contained, browser-based, point and click game that has been designed to allow for up to six devices to connect and play cooperatively. The game itself is very linear in structure, with one task leading onto the next, although it has now provided some opportunity for teams to investigate independently from one another, which gives the game a somewhat more open feel.
I will be honest, I’m a massive fan of immersion and story, but it can be hard to do in a point and click style game. While Piper Asylum does have a narrative, and a twisty one at that, I found that for me it faded into the background, and my focus was more on the puzzles. For me, this made it less immersive, but Gord often ignores story altogether and it never affects his enjoyment of a game – so take that as you will.
There certainly wasn’t a lack of content to be found within Piper Asylum, with 16 puzzles to work your way through. Some of the puzzles presented were simple, and able to be solved in seconds, while others were much more complex, with multiple layers, and provided opportunities for the additional challenge of communicating within your team. (Unless you choose to play solo, of course. Then you have the challenge of navigating between the pieces of information.)
Cyphers, codes, maths, spatial relations, and, unsurprisingly, a healthy amount of logic with a bit of observation and a touch of listening combine to give us a good variety of puzzles throughout Piper Asylum. The puzzles are similar in style to the sorts of challenges common in live escape games, and while some of the puzzles that appeared were not amongst were not my favourite types to come across in an escape game, whether it’s online or in person, for the most part, the puzzles were fair, and fun. One even stands out in my mind as being particularly rewarding when the solution was discovered.
But there were a few we came across that had me questioning, “Why would we think to try that?” even after taking a clue. To some degree, I still stand by that, but in hindsight, there is some signposting that if we had been paying closer attention to it, may have led us in the correct direction, but often there was little to no guidance as to what format the solution to unlock the next stage of the game may be in.
A clearly marked, red “CLUE” button in the top right-hand corner of the screen ensures that players will not be trapped in the asylum forever if they are unable to make heads nor tails of the puzzles throughout the game, and there were three puzzles in particular where we had to take advantage of this. As expected, the clues offer a series of gradual hints to get the weary puzzler back on track, culminating in the solution if subtlety isn’t working.
Since the emergence of play at home escape room style experiences emerged nearly a year ago, one of the most sought after types is one that allows teams to play collaboratively from near and far. With Piper Asylum, Elgin Escapes has added another enjoyable game that is perfectly suited to players across multiple households.
- Laptop/Desktop computer (or smartphone, perhaps)
- Speakers turned on
- Notepad for note taking
|Value for Money|
Team: 2 players
Time Taken: 59 mins
*Disclaimer: we weren’t charged for this experience, but this has not influenced our review.