The Video Game/Movie/Escape Room crossover you didn’t know you needed
“AVATAR” is a traveler of parallel worlds, whose vocation is to maintain a balance of good and evil on earth. Getting into a parallel world, “AVATAR” needs help from the support team!
Project Avatar is one of those experiences that we had heard a lot about but also knew very little about it. Of course most of the talk had been about the price tag as at 200 euros* it isn’t cheap (don’t let that put you off just yet). I’m not sure I’ve ever spoken with an escape room company who were this confident about their game, it’s a brave move to tell people that this game is something special especially considering the quality of other (cheaper) games on the market.
This felt like it was going to be a rather epic experience so we assembled a support team with oodles of experience; Brit of an Escape Habit (both Amy and Ian), and Deadlocked Escape Rooms (Charlie and James).
With nothing more than a Zoom link, we joined the call at our allotted time, really not knowing what to expect, and what we were in for was something that has pretty much created its own niche in the online escape room experience. This was a cross-over between online escape rooms, Hollywood movies, and video games. If you’ve ever seen the film Gamer, then I think that film is probably the most accurate representation of what you will find in Project Avatar (minus all the killing).
When we logged in we were greeted in the lobby by Tasha who reiterated how much fun we were going to have (confident, I like it). With a short briefing and a pleasant chat out of the way we were ready to begin our adventure. What can best be described as a short film played that explained the story, the rules of the game, and ended in a load screen taking us into the eyes of our Avatar.
I must admit, at first all the rules and directions felt rather overwhelming but once we got into the game everything became clear and we had no issues knowing what to do or how to control our Avatar.
For a game that started with more direction and guidance than I think I’ve ever seen before, it all flowed really smoothly and was executed perfectly. There was obviously pre-recorded footage used in the game to help develop the story, but it intertwined seamlessly with the live footage that it helped suck you into the story.
If you are considering playing Project Avatar and think it will be like every other avatar based room out there, then you’d be wrong, this game is very, very different. Project Avatar does have puzzles, but actually this game is more about the experience around it, it was like playing a video game without a controller – including an on-screen HUD (Heads up display) that displayed your vital statistics.
The space that this operates in is massive, actually it’s beyond massive and if you really wanted to you could just go have the Avatar go off and explore the local town – anything is game! While playing I found it hard to know how close we were to the end as it wasn’t confined by the usual restrictions of a regular game. Yet despite the massive size of the game, they had used simple yet effective signposting measures to help you know where you were, remember where crucial items are located, and know how many items you are trying to find in each space.
Being a crossover between an escape room and video game, it needs an epic soundtrack, and it certainly had that! The music used throughout either added to the suspense, or the humour, but was always welcome. The other nod to video games such as health and using specific items for certain tasks was also very well done.
One particular scene, which I’d love to go into more detail about but don’t want to ruin it for you was, for lack of a better word, epic. It felt rather random, but it was so much fun that we just didn’t care. If you ever played a certain beat ‘em up video game that involved ‘Fatalities’ then you’re sure to get a kick from this!
When you do finally make it to the end of this experience, it feels like you are in the final scene of a movie and it brings together everything that you have been working towards into one satisfying, and very cinematic, finale.
Looking back at this room, I don’t recall there being a massive number of puzzles to solve. The biggest puzzle was navigating around the enormous landscape and working out what you should interact with. Saying that, there were a few puzzles that were heavy on search and working out how to interact with your surroundings. Really, if you’ve played video games and love escape rooms, then this is like the perfect hybrid of the two.
The puzzles in the game were set at the right level for this type of game, just difficult enough to help you get the brain working, but not so hard that you waste a lot of time on them and then feel rushed to complete the experience. I particularly enjoyed one puzzle that was arguably simple in its execution and I would love to see it in a real escape room some day.
Searching in such a massive space could become tedious but our Avatar was trained for helping identify if something was likely to be useful or not. In fact the way he interacted with the surroundings strangely added an element of humour to the game.
A live online experience, much like a physical room, can be made or broken by the gamesmaster/avatar, and in this experience he was certainly a massive addition to it. This game takes place in a town in Western Ukraine (we’re continuing our virtual world tour) and I don’t know how much English the Avatar actually spoke but it made no difference at all.
For a game where you communicate with your avatar verbally yet he only responds with some dodgy hand signals, there were surprisingly few issues with communication. Not only did the Avatar manage to add humour with his hand signals but the way he interacted with his surroundings took it to the next level, it would seem that literally nothing in this ‘world’ is off limits. See a cupboard that you don’t like as it brings back horrible childhood memories? He’ll destroy it for you! Push the boundaries in this game and you’ll have a truly unforgettable experience.
If I had to use one word to describe this experience it would be ‘bonkers’. This was a whirlwind from start to end and was a lot more fun than I expected it to be. If you can get over the very high price point, then it is worth giving it a try just to experience something different.
At 200 Euros* the game really isn’t cheap and you’ll probably want to get together a good number of team members to bring the cost-per-person down. But this is a 90 minute experience and really there is nothing else (that we have seen) like it on the market right now.
*Since writing this review, the pricing structure has changed and it is now 100 Euros for up to four players and an extra 25 Euros up to a maximum of ten total players. Although not cheap, it certainly makes it more comparable with other live experiences.
GOOD TO KNOW
- Number of connections: Up to ten players
- Price: 100 € for up to four players, 25 € for each additional
- Devices: Desktop or Laptop suggested
- Platform: Zoom
- Inventory: Yes? But it’s different
- 360º View: No
- Time Zone: Ukraine (EEST)
|Value for Money|
Team: 6 players
Time Taken: 1hr 15mins
*Disclaimer: we weren’t charged for this experience, but this has not influenced our review.