The right level of creepy
On the outskirts of town the silhouette of a derelict house stands ominously against the backdrop of a winter’s moon. An owl’s screech pierces the cold night air. In the shadows, a creature flees, disturbed by an approaching vehicle.
The heavy, oak front door creaks open, beckoning you in. Your breath is visible in the damp and gloomy hallway. A sudden chill shoots down your spine and for a moment you contemplate heading back to the car and driving away. But bravado spurs you on.
In the room ahead waits a malevolent spirit. A demonic presence said to terrorise all those who dare to enter. Your purpose here this evening is to banish it from our world. For good. But first, you must make contact…
On the last full day of our Cornish holiday, we decided to split from our friends and play a few escape rooms on our own, as you do of course. The day began at Housetrap’s Gnome World venue to tackle Tumbleweed with the rest of the team, but then it was off to the company’s Bodmin location for Aquarium. But getting the timings right on an escape room day can always be a little bit tricky, so with over an hour before our next game was due to start, we took a break to visit Trago Mills before returning to Housetrap for one final game: Seance.
After exploring the wonders of Trago Mills, we made our way back to Housetrap’s venue on the outskirts of Bodmin, and were once again greeted by Lauren, our host and GM. We felt ready to conquer all manner of demonic entities, so without further ado, Lauren went over some basics, and walked us to the entrance to Seance.
Covid-19 Precautions: Housetrap have allowed additional time for cleaning between teams. Game times are staggered to avoid crossover of teams in public areas, and there was plenty of hand sanitiser throughout the building. We left our masks on in public areas, but they are optional in game.
As Lauren ushered us through the door, I admit, I was slightly concerned about what was to come. After all, Housetrap’s website advises that the game has moments that some may find alarming, and is not suitable for anyone that is pregnant or of a nervous disposition. But I was actually most concerned about whether I would actually be able to see or not, as the space was DARK and we had not been provided with any torches. But as the game got underway, this resolved itself and we had no issues seeing whatsoever (which is much appreciated as my eyes deteriorate in my old age.)
As the darkness receded, and our eyes adjusted, the dining room we found ourselves in came into focus. Instead of using darkened corners to haunt players, Housetrap have used sound, lighting, and special effects to create a surprisingly immersive atmosphere. Yes, there were plenty of jump scares, but those of a nervous disposition can rest assured that there are no ghosties or ghouls actually in the game with you. In fact, one of the most impressive parts of the game for me were the moments of “supernatural” activity. It’s rare that a ghost game actually manages these things without another person physically in your game, but there were plenty of opportunities for the wee ghosties to trick and torment players, without ever actually coming in contact with them. Sadly, we were a bit too quick in places to experience some of it, and I almost wish we had, as the things that happen make for a very unique experience.
The dramatic opening gave way to a game that had its highs and lows, which build steadily as we worked our way towards the finale. The game itself played out in a relatively linear manner, unveiling some of the narrative as we progressed through the game, although as we learned more, perhaps it should have had a title more along the lines of “Exorcism”. Seance had a relatively linear structure, which helped the narrative to unfold in a logical manner, but there were often times where Gord and I found ourselves on parallel puzzle paths for a moment, only to come back together, both having revealed something needed for the next task.
The puzzles throughout Seance fit well within the theming, and felt almost natural as we followed the narrative. Signposting was excellent, and we rarely struggled with what to do next, as we worked our way through challenges that included everything from searching and observation, to more physical tasks.
The puzzles were varied nd just challenging enough to keep us guessing with other traditional puzzle types that included wordplay, pattern recognition, logic and more. There were plenty of padlocks in the game to give a great sense of satisfaction when pulling them open, but given the supernatural theme, it was incredibly refreshing to find plenty of puzzles that had a more mystical reaction upon solving them.
Lauren had already acted as our GM for Aquarium, so she had a good idea of the things that we were likely to get hung up on, and was ready to provide some assistance when requested. Of course, it wasn’t really Lauren, it was the house itself providing help when we were stuck.
For the most part, we found the puzzles to be logical and intuitive, but there were a few minutes when we needed to ask the haunted house for help. The help arrived on the same screen that displayed our timer and was just enough to make us realise how silly we had been. And unlike Aquarium, hints were unlimited, so players can feel secure in asking for assistance… although the house may, or may not, provide it.
Of the games that we played at Housetrap, across both venues, Seance was my favourite. With a spooky atmosphere and a few jump scares, the real highlights for me were the moments of supernatural activity, and the surprises that came with it. Plus, the puzzles were pretty good too
Team: 2 players – escaped in 45 mins
Address: 7 Paardeburg Rd, Bodmin PL31 1EY