A very sweet game
World famous confectioner Honey Humbug set off to explore the Amazon Rainforest in order to find new and exotic ingredients for new recipe ideas. That was 12 months ago… And nobody has seen or heard from her since.
Now presumed missing, an heir must be found.
We were due to make the trek northwards to Nottingham and visit Escape Stations in May 2020 to tackle their debut game, Prometheus. Of course, I think we all know what happened next… But with hope on the horizon, we are tentatively rescheduling that trip for May/June 2021. But even if things don’t work out for this trip, you can be sure we’ll work out another trip to Nottingham somehow, for Humbug Hijinx was the perfect teaser for what might be to come from the company in the future.
Escape Stations have done with Humbug Hijinx something that makes perfect sense to me – create a digital game related to their physical games to get the puzzling started before teams ever even arrive. Humbug Hijinx is set in the same universe as Sweet In Tension (currently in development) and I have to say, it’s done its job well – I am very much looking forward to playing Sweet In Tension when it opens.
Gord and I are now quite familiar with browser-based point and click escape games, and that’s exactly what Humbug Hijinx is, and filled with bright and colourful graphics (the map excluded). Unlike some of the options out there, this one is designed to be played across multiple devices/households, up to five devices to be exact, and a single game code will allow multiple users to all log into the same interface and see where your teammates are in the game.
However, while the illustrations are beautiful and playful, the interface is…clunky. Keep excellent notes, as anytime you wish to revisit a part of the mansion, you will need to re-enter the code to unlock the door. Fortunately, we were warned about this in the opening, but it bears repeating. Also, although the game is cooperative, and linked for all players, everyone views exactly the same screen. This does mean that if one player is reading some pertinent information, and another clicks to exit to another part of the game, everyone will be moved on, whether they want to be or not. This was particularly frustrating when some information for one puzzle would be located in a different place to the area in which it was needed to progress the game. Screenshots alleviated some of this frustration, but it certainly wasn’t ideal.
Fans of Willy Wonka will find a bit of joy in the colourful images and the confection-inspired story (although that’s about where the similarities end) as we searched the house for Honey Humbug and followed the trail of sweeties to discover what might have become of her. The search led us through the mansion in a rather linear manner, with one task leading on to the next, although you may find yourself retracing your steps at points. Frustrations with the interface aside, we enjoyed our hunt for Ms Humbug, and look forward to where the story goes next.
Logic, observation, codes, wordplay, as much searching as one can really get away within a digital point and click… Humbug Hijinx had many of the traditional escape room style puzzles we know and love, resulting in codes or discovering secret hiding places, which somehow managed to replicate some of the feeling you get in an actual escape room when something reacts in an unexpected manner.
There were one or two puzzles that didn’t feel as intuitive as the rest, but for the most part, the puzzles were fair and fun to solve. Thanks to the imagery, I could see this game being a favourite with families, and perfect for getting teams in the mood to visit Escape Stations in person.
Clues are available throughout for each puzzle, thankfully. But aside from the clunky nature of the interface, this is another area in which the system could stand to be improved a bit. Due to a bit of confusion over exactly which creatures we had happened upon in a forest, we did end up checking out the clues at one point, and while the question mark located in-game did give us a few nudges, it often told us what we already knew and just weren’t getting.
But never fear, if you’re still really not getting it (or didn’t listen when you were told to take excellent notes), there is a walkthrough available in addition to the in-game nudges. Walkthroughs aren’t my favourite, if only because they encourage people to take the easy route rather than try a different approach, but thankfully this comes as a dropdown, so you can choose which room/puzzle you need a walkthrough for, without getting a spoiler for another section.
Humbug Hijinx was a sweet little game (yes, that was totally intended.) It’s a little clunky, but there are some solid puzzles, and even better, you’ll find an extra treat waiting for you upon completion.*
*(It’s a discount code for Sweet In Tension, okay, which makes the game essentially free! So really, there’s no reason not to have an extra bit of fun before booking in your escape at Escape Stations.)
- PC or Tablet running modern browser (Chrome/Edge/Firefox)
|Value for Money|
Team: 2 players
Time Taken: 39mins
*Disclaimer: we weren’t charged for this experience, but this has not influenced our review.