A pleasant surprise
Get your friends together on a Zoom/Skype/Teams/WhatsApp/FaceTime call and immerse yourselves in the Utopia Institute virtual Escape Room experience!
Can you navigate the various rooms in the building and complete the puzzles to help Commander White obtain the antidote research? What will your completion time be?
We’re often contacted by companies/creators asking us to review and offer feedback on their games. Most of the time we do and sometimes we regret it when the games turn out to be poor. Darren from Escape Fun contacted us and asked us to play his game and I must confess, we weren’t expecting much, but actually what we found was a fun game, with decent graphics and pleasant puzzles.
One thing worth noting about Utopia Institute is that the playing code is only valid for 48 hours from the time of purchase, so only buy the game when you’re sure that you and your team are going to be available to play.
We decided to play this as a team of two from two computers, so we made sure to both fully charge our laptops before playing as we know that games built on the Unity platform often push our devices to the limits (my laptop is a little old now). With a notebook and pencil at the ready, we prepared to enter the Utopia Institute.
As a special bonus, you can get 10% off using code RTR10OFF (valid until May 31st)
Even though this game is designed for 2 to 6 players, you will not always see the same screen and will not be pulled through the game automatically if one of your teammates solves a puzzle, so make sure you write every solution down just in case one of your players falls behind.
Being a child of the 80s, I couldn’t help but love the retro intro video that explained the story and our mission. I’m not sure why, but the way the intro was put together with the simple text and images reminded me of playing Dune on the PC (I can’t even remember if Dune looked like that, but that’s what it made me think of). I’m all about the retro feels!
Some people will only play games where you can see each other’s cursors and everyone gets pulled through at the same time, and others won’t care. Personally, provided we’re told about it at the start then I don’t really mind which way it works. We didn’t have any issues with how Utopia Institute was set up and it was nice to be able to explore independently of each other – although communication is definitely key at times.
For some, the story may hit a little too close to home with the current pandemic. Our mission was to acquire antidote research but for me it felt more like World War Z than Covid so it depends how you feel about this type of storyline. The story played out well and each room we visited advanced the story until we got to the logical completion.
One we completed our mission we got the familiar retro style video like we had seen in the intro and this brought a nice conclusion to the story. I think if we had one criticism it was that it felt like the game ended abruptly, despite bringing the story to a close, it just felt sudden. *this was fed back to the creator so the ending may change.
For those who care about time, there was a constant timer displayed on the screen so we could see how long we had been playing and also which room we were in (useful for getting our bearings).
The first challenge in Utopia Institute is working out what you can interact with, and what you can’t – we basically just clicked on everything until things popped up. That sounds like a bit of a chore, but actually it wasn’t and it took no time to work out what we needed and could actually interact with. There were also arrows in the game which enabled us to move around the room to see what else was going on.
We found a good mixture of puzzles and it was nice that we were able to actually interact with items in-front of us, rather than just looking at static images. It’s much nicer to be able to click on things to solve it rather than just staring at something for a while.
All of the puzzles fitted the theme and went with the story. So early on there is the usual run-of-the-mill online escape room challenge of hacking into a computer, but then as you progress you get to see more unique challenges that involve decoding, (basic) maths, logic, pattern recognition and a bit of observation.
One puzzle in Utopia Institute we thought was going to be long-winded and a bore to solve, but once we took a moment to step back and look at what we had, we realised that the designers had made this in a clever way so we could essentially shortcut it – thank you, Escape Fun, we certainly appreciated that!
Out of all the puzzles in Utopia Institute, I think there was only one that we got a bit stumped with, and this was mostly due to communication on our part – Liz spotted something but when she explained it to me I misunderstood what she was saying, whoops! This confusion was reflected in our final time (at the end you can see how long you were in each room), as we spent 44% of our time on the final puzzle.
We checked out the clue system as we like to be thorough in our reviews (no, we didn’t need it for that last puzzle at all, honestly… ) and I’m glad we did as it was actually pretty decent. On each puzzle there is a question mark on the screen, if you click on that it reveals a window that gives a warning that you are about to view the clues and if you require help then you need to scroll down the window. If you keep scrolling you will receive more less-cryptic clues, but each clue is separated by text saying ‘…More hints below…’. This was a nice to ensure that you didn’t accidentally reveal more than you wanted or needed.
If the cryptic clues weren’t enough for you, you would eventually be given the solution to ensure you can play through the whole game and hopefully save the world.
This game surprised us, and in a good way! Ok we got through it in no time at all and others may complete it quicker, but for only £8 it was surprisingly well put together and enjoyable to interact with.
- Device with Internet Access
|Value for Money|
Team: 2 players
Time Taken: 36 mins
*Disclaimer: we weren’t charged for this experience, but this has not influenced our review.