Ready Player One
Welcome to Level One …
When you discover a mysterious old console from the 1980s in the attic, a dangerous computer virus hiding in the software starts to escape.
Through a combination of printed puzzles and online hacking, can you play your way through the retro levels and shut the console down before the virus gets out?
It’s your job to hack into the mainframe, attack the computer virus and Level Up!
80’s nostalgia is all the rage, with television, books, films, and yes, even some escape rooms capitalising on the fact that all of us 30-somethings just want to escape back to a time when things were simpler and full of bright colours, Transformers toys, and big hair. Gord is especially nostalgic for the 80’s, so needless to say, our interest was piqued when Level Up was announced.
We’ve played two of Escape Hunt’s earlier games, Stolen and Murder at the Mansion, so I assumed that Level Up was to be more of the same, with a number of smaller observation tasks and minor puzzles all leading up to one giant logic puzzle in the form of a Puzzle Grid. Well, you know what they say about assuming, and I was pleasantly surprised to find that Level Up was not, in fact, more of the same.
Like the other games from Escape Hunt, Level Up is a print and play game, presented in a 13 page PDF document. Escape Hunt recommend printing everything and while you can get away with viewing most of the materials on a screen to save some ink, there are five pages that really do need to be printed to get the most out of the game, with two optional pages for a “bonus level” at the end. This time around we opted to print only the necessary pages, and skipped the bonus level, because make no mistake about it, even with only printing five of the 13 pages, this game will give your printer quite the workout. The PDF is beautiful to view on the screen, with colourful puzzles on top of even more colourful backgrounds, but I cringe every time I have to print one, simply because all that ink for the background is just destined for the recycling bin.
As I was printing the pages, I was intrigued by the lack of the “Puzzle Grid” that I have come to expect after having played two Escape Hunt games previously, and just how this game might play without it. As it turns out, Level Up plays out very differently from our previous experiences with Escape Hunt, with print and play elements that were far more involved than their previous games, resulting in a bit of paper craft, paper aeroplane competitions, and even a bit of a throwback to a game that kept me and my sister (relatively) quiet on long car journeys in the bonus round.
Unlike the previous games from Escape Hunt, Level Up introduced a more realistic style of play, taking us out of the printed paper elements, and into the World Wide Web in order to shut down the rampaging computer virus, and eventually even introduced us to a character or two. But perhaps the biggest, and most pleasant, surprise in Level Up came from the ending. Our previous experiences with Escape Hunt games have left us feeling a bit deflated when it comes to the ending; Stolen didn’t have one at all, and Murder Mansion’s was a bit protracted after a technical failure. But Level Up managed to provide a clear ending, and even threw in a little bit of fun.
I’ll be honest here, there weren’t actually that many puzzles, and the ones that were there weren’t overly taxing for hard-core puzzle fiends (although still enjoyable), but those puzzles combined with the fun and slightly retro theme makes Level Up a good choice for a family game night, or those that are looking to try an escape from home for the first time.
Like it’s predecessors, Level Up does require a certain amount of observation and logical thinking, but unlike its predecessors, that’s not all you’ll be up to, with puzzles that require a variety of additional skills including spatial relations, decoding, internet stalking, listening, arts and crafts, and more. There really is something to amuse everyone here, and we found the variety of tasks in Level Up refreshing and engaging.
The vast majority of the digital and print and play games that we’ve played have used one variation or another of the idea that clues should be provided piecemeal, but the method of delivery has varied from game to game. Level Up has a dedicated page on the game website to provide clues if players need them. The system is very user friendly, with one clue and the solution for each task, and there’s no chance of spoilers for a puzzle that you don’t need a clue thanks to the layout, unless, of course, you hover too long over a clue you don’t need.
Escape Hunt have certainly “Leveled Up” with this game. If you’re looking for a fun nostalgic way to spend an hour, Level Up could be just what you’re looking for.
- Device with an Internet connection
- A Facebook login
- Printer and 5-13 pages of paper
|Value for Money|
Team: 2 players
Time Taken: 35 mins
*Disclaimer: we weren’t charged for this experience, but this has not influenced our review.