Der Zombies Sind Heir! (The Zombies are Here!)
Allied attempts to stop the launch of the V3 rockets as part of Operation Longbow are successful… and the Axis powers have turned to the unholy powers of the undead! Your commando team must infiltrate an abandoned medical facility under cover of darkness, face the horrors of the enemy experiments, and defeat the zombie soldiers before you join their ranks!
We’ve played Gold Rush by MindTrap and thoroughly enjoyed it, so when we saw that they wanted teams to help beta* test their latest online offering, Operation Nightwalker, we knew we had to give it a try! This review is obviously for this ‘beta’ test version but even this beta version was so refined that we’d recommend it even with no changes being made.
Operation Nightwalker continues the story from MindTrap’s ‘real’ room of Operation Longbow, but takes it to the next level. World War Two games are usually good fun, as are Zombie themed rooms, but combine the two and you’re in for a treat.
Last time we played a game by MindTrap we played with the wonder-team from Deadlocked, James and Charlie, this time we recruited them again but also added another legend in the industry, Amy from Brit of an Escape Habit.
At our allotted time (past our bedtime in the UK) we logged into the portal and joined the Zoom call. When we were admitted we were joined by James from MindTrap who explained the backstory of the game and also did the usual housekeeping to make sure we had the best experience possible (and what an experience it was).
*In case you’re wondering, a beta test is what companies do before launching the game for real, like a soft launch where they want to just iron out the kinks.
Having played a game by MindTrap before we thought we knew what to expect, but one of the signs of a great company is that they don’t rest on their laurels and keep pushing to be better, like MindTrap have done here. This game had everything we needed to have an immersive and enjoyable experience, 360 views? Yep. Inventory? Of course! Lag-free Zoom? You betcha!
What we particularly enjoyed about the tech side of this game was that the inventory was run for us. We didn’t need to enter codes to see things in more detail, nor did we need to remove them, this was done from behind the scenes. A jolly little jingle alerted us to the fact that something was either added or removed in the inventory. Our man behind the scenes was obviously on the ball because as soon as we looked at something in the room, he got it added to our inventory.
You’d be forgiven for thinking that a Zombie/WW2 themed room would be classed as a pure horror room, but this is not that. Yes, it does have some light jump scares but we found that we laughed far more than we jumped (Liz legitimately jumped at one point). The way our avatar interacted with both us and the room was masterful.
I’m going to be deliberately sparse on additional details for this room as I don’t want to spoil anything, but the way the avatar interacts with certain elements of the room really takes it to the next level, or it did for us anyway. These additional interactions added humour, suspense, and excitement.
With some wonderful signposting** I think it is safe to say that there wasn’t a single puzzle in this game that we didn’t enjoy. Each puzzle felt like it fitted perfectly in the theme and I can’t think of any that felt out of place.
The room played out in a nonlinear fashion, although there were puzzles that needed to be solved before you could progress to the next stage. Even though we played as a team of five people we all felt involved and were able to contribute to what was going on in the game. Thanks to the 360 view and the inventory we were actually able to work on some things independently of each other.
Something you don’t often see in an online game are puzzles that force you to use teamwork. Although one particular puzzle could have been solved independently, we solved it as it would have been done in person and this made it so much more satisfying and helped bring back that escape room buzz that is so often lacking.
There was a really great mix of puzzles in Operation Nightwalker, and thinking about it now I think there was only one padlock in the entire room (some people will like that), and that padlock was in a perfectly logical place. The lack of padlocks made this a tech heavy room so we were never fully sure what was going to happen once we solved a puzzle.
My favourite puzzle of the game was actually one of the simplest. It was just so silly that it became hilarious and I wished it could have taken a little longer. Well done to MindTrap for this one, sometimes the overall experience can get lost in place of pure hardcore puzzling, but this moment of lightheartedness was spot on.
**I’ve been informed that not everyone knows what ‘signposting’ means. Essentially this is how well items guide you to where they need to be used, for instance, a room full of padlocks may colour code keys to the locks so you know what goes where. It doesn’t detract from the experience at all and actually takes away a lot of frustration.
Our avatar for this mission was “Pvt. Nick Walker,” AKA “Nightwalker 6,” and he was playing the role of a bumbling Army officer fresh out of bootcamp, a role he played to perfection. He listened to what we were saying (even some very poor jokes) and reacted well, making us feel more involved in the game – for the 53minutes or so that we were involved with this game, we forgot that we were sat at home in our living rooms.
We didn’t need any clues but if we did, Nick would have likely offered subtle guidance to get us back in the right direction, sometimes a quick camera sweep past a certain item, or a pause in one spot can be just enough of a nudge to get you back on track.
Camera work was, as you’d expect from MindTrap, arguably perfect. We experienced no lag or issues of any sort with communication to or from our avatar and his camera work was extremely steady. The problem with an online escape room is that you don’t have your usual peripheral vision to be able to see things out of the corner of your eye when they happen, Nick solved this by using clever camera placement and knowing when to put the camera down.
Top quality acting from our avatar, combined with a wonderful set and puzzles make this room an instant hit. Horror with a pinch of humour, or humour with a pinch of horror, I’m not sure which – just play it and see.
Even though we played this as a beta test, it was slick – very slick – and if they do make any changes it will only improve the experience. There was very little feedback we could give to make it any better so I’m sure if (when?) you play it, you’ll have a great experience.
GOOD TO KNOW
- Number of connections: Upto Ten
- Price: $140 (three connections) +$15 per additional connection
- Devices: Computer recommended
- Platform: Zoom / Browser
- Inventory: Yes
- 360º View: Yes
- Time Zone: Pacific Time (California)
|Value for Money|
Team: 5 players
Time Taken: 53mins