Hello Crowley Manor, we missed you
Deep in the forest of Crowley Manor lies a secret as dark as the house itself; maybe even worse?
There’s a cabin in the woods with a legend of the supernatural. Long abandoned, there have been strange sightings and many people have disappeared, as reported in the news over the years, never to return.
You should NOT enter! The question is… can you escape part 2 of the Crowley Manor story?
We had been putting off playing the online games from Emergency Exit Escape Rooms because we wanted to experience them in person, but now having played them, I am pretty confident when I say that would have been a total mistake. We’ve played a fair few escape games now, both physical and virtual, and there are some experiences that stick with you long after you’ve forgotten about the puzzles. The Virtual Exorcist was one such experience. It was so fantastic online that I can’t imagine that the physical game could possibly have been any better, and like any rabid fan, we were eager to find the time to conquer the second chapter of the story and play The Beast.
That time came a few months after playing The Exorcist, when Amy of Brit of an Escape Habit coordinated a time to reassemble the team, and so on a chilly January evening, we joined our Zoom call to see how the next chapter in the Crawley Manor saga was to unfold. Our previous guide, Ronnie, was unavailable (or too terrified) to reprise his role, so instead, we were greeted by James “from the tech team” who would guide us through the next chapter of the story. After a quick briefing, we entered the manor…
The Beast picks up where The Virtual Exorcist left off, and for reasons that are apparent at the end of Exorcist, we must return to Crawley Manor despite the horrors within. Once again, Emergency Exit have created a game that would be more akin to an interactive horror movie than an escape game. Yes, you’re still guiding a living, breathing human being around a physical space from your remote locations, but as with Chapter 1 of the story, The Beast’s presentation is similar to that of a ghost hunting programme. Cameraman Liam returns to accompany our host through the derelict Crawley Manor, rather than transmitting a video feed from our avatar’s POV, as so many others have done. This, combined with the lack of inventory or 360 views of the space that might otherwise drag the player away from the action on the screen, gives the game a much more immersive and interactive feeling than we often come across in the live video escape games.
The Beast takes place in the set of two of Emergency Exit’s physical games, Conjure and Poltergeist, and there will be similarities for those that have played the physical games, but it feels as though the company have used the games as a framework only for The Beast, building an experience specifically for remote play within the limitations of the set available to them. But whatever limits the set may present, the virtual format opens other opportunities to create a truly memorable, and even theatrical, experience.
The Beast plays out in a fairly linear manner, which can make some feel left out of the puzzling action, particularly in a larger team. However, thanks to the format, even when taking a backseat to the puzzle solving, I still felt completely engaged and invested in the game. In fact, there were even a few points where I will admit, I even jumped (but I am also easily startled.) The story showed a clear progression, with an unexpected and dramatic conclusion.
The puzzles throughout The Beast were the typical sorts one is likely to come across in an escape room, providing a variety of tasks that will challenge your powers of observation, force you to think logically, and test your deductive reasoning. The game uses a mix of padlocks and the magic of technology (or perhaps the supernatural, oooOOOoo) to keep you guessing and ensure that the methodology of using solutions discovered is just as varied as the puzzles themselves.
The puzzles were just the right level of difficulty for us with a combination of engaging and fair puzzles to make our brains work with a few simpler tasks thrown in to keep the pace. The puzzles were thematic and often tasks served to drive the narrative forward, making things feel less like puzzles, and more like necessities.
James and Liam were a wonderful team. James, with his conversational and informative manner, excellent listening skills, and subtle guidance, ensured that just the right tone was set for the game and that we knew exactly what we needed to be doing. James’ subtle nudges in the right direction whenever we seemed to be overcomplicating, or overlooking something, ensured that we never needed a direct hint, but I’m sure that had we ever become truly stuck, those gentle nudges would have become a bit more forceful.
Though Liam never speaks, a subtle humour filters through from behind the camera and can often bring a bit of levity to what becomes a surprisingly tense situation, particularly given that we as the players are never in any real danger (…or are we?). Equally, Liam is also excellent at ensuring that the camera work is smooth and steady (you’re unlikely to get motion sickness from the Emergency Exit games) and always focussed on just the right thing at the right time.
Horror or supernatural-themed games (zombies excluded) are not often my first choice when choosing a game, and yet, The Virtual Exorcist is possibly my favourite online-avatar game that we’ve played to date, with The Beast close behind. Play them both – you won’t regret it.
GOOD TO KNOW
- Number of connections: Up to 6
- Price: £80
- Devices: Computer/Mobile/Tablet (Computer recommended)
- Platform: Zoom
- Inventory: No
- 360º View: No
- Time Zone: United Kingdom (GMT)
|Value for Money|
Team: 6 players
Time Taken: About an hour