Time to break out
This is all a mistake and you have no idea why you just woke up in this prison. All you know is that you’re innocent and that you have to get out of here. Everything in this prison is awkward, it’s kind of abandoned but not entirely. Find the key to the prison’s dark secret and you will find your way out.
Exit The Room is a large European escape room franchise who have been in the industry for years, and they’ve now entered the online environment offering a number of live avatar escape games. It’s worth noting that it seems like the online games are offered from various locations so your experience could be different to ours if you get a different location (ours was Munich).
Booking of the game was simple enough as it showed the dates/times that were available in our time zone, so no confusion for working out when it was – although in hindsight it would have been useful if the email confirmation mentioned the time zone just to avoid any potential confusion.
We opted for their ‘Prison’ room as it looked pretty cool in the pictures online and it’s pretty hard to go too far off with a Prison themed room. What we forgot to account for was that the Prison room shown online was different to ours, so that was a bit of a minor surprise from the start.
Our team consisted of four players, which always feels like a good sized team for online games, as we were joined by Amy and Ian from Brit of an Escape Habit. When booking the game you get a choice of ‘Basic’ or ‘Premium’, we opted for ‘Basic’, but more on that later.
We clicked the link at the appropriate time, and after a minor tech issue, we joined our host in her prison cell. We received a thorough briefing on how the game worked, then without much fanfare, or story, we began our experience.
Like I said earlier, you can choose a ‘Basic’ or ‘Premium’ package and we chose ‘Basic’. Even though it was called basic it still had everything that we have come to be familiar with in online games; a Zoom call and a separate inventory in the browser. The ‘Premium’ package puts a little more branding on the screen and everything is loaded in one window (video and inventory) using Twilio.
Camera work was steady by the gamesmaster and she moved through the room at a decent pace so we were able to stop and look at items when we wanted to. We did experience a couple of minor tech issues but she was quick to acknowledge these and we were back on the way in no time.
Exit The Room haven’t long launched their online offerings so there were still some kinks which needed to be ironed out, but they seemed receptive to feedback so hopefully the issues we encountered won’t be issues for much longer. The issues we found seemed to be hangovers from the ‘real-life’ version of the game, and with a bit of tweaking they should be fine online – one such issue was a communication puzzle but due to the camera focussing on the wrong object it made it very hard to actually offer any instructions.
The inventory system wasn’t used very much but where we did use it we found it useful. A useful addition would have been a 360 view of the room so we could see what was around without having to ask our avatar to constantly spin around so we could see what was there.
There was, I believe, a timer in the room which counted down from 60 minutes, although I wasn’t sure when this actually started, a little more notification of when our briefing ended and our experience started would have been useful.
There was the typical mix of puzzles that you would expect to find in a prison break style room; observation, deduction, numerical puzzles, and physical manipulation of your surroundings. Many of the puzzles resulted in combinations for padlocks but there was also some tech used to keep you guessing.
Generally we found there to be decent signposting on the puzzles so when we solved it we knew exactly where the code/item went. The puzzles were of varying levels, some easy, some a bit more challenging, but all made sense. There was one puzzle which involved numbers and arguably a bit of logical thinking that we took a bit of time to solve as we interpreted it in two different ways, but somehow Liz worked it out, and with that we were off.
I’m not sure how many languages our gamesmaster/avatar spoke but I would guess the number was probably at least three so she can be forgiven for not understanding the occasional word, and she did a good job of understanding some of the rubbish we were saying.
As I mentioned, she was steady with the camera, and when issues occurred she handled them well, especially as some of the challenges were due to the online-conversion rather than anything she did. The entire time she seemed genuinely happy to be in the room and hosting the game, it goes a long way when you have a happy and joking avatar.
The one big area where this game felt lacking was the story, our avatar explained that we had woken up in this cell but we didn’t know why. If the story could be tweaked to make the avatar more part of our team rather than just our eyes/ears/hands, it would have helped create more immersion (not easy when we’re playing from a comfortable couch).
A jovial host probably made this game a bit better than it could have been, but a few tweaks are needed to the game to make it translate well into a well-rounded online experience. At £109 per game, this is a premium price for a product that didn’t feel premium.
GOOD TO KNOW
- Number of connections: 2-6 Players
- Price: £109 – £119
- Devices: Computer recommended
- Platform: Zoom/Twilio
- Inventory: Yes
- 360º View: No
- Time Zone: Varies – Book according to your Time Zone
|Value for Money|
Team: 4 players
Time Taken: 45 minutes
*Disclaimer: we weren’t charged for this experience, but this has not influenced our review