This is no ordinary Babysitting job
Searching for a job, but having little luck due to the whole COVID-19 thing, you decide to turn to Craigslist. Everything seems pretty sketchy and illegal, until you come across a posting from DirkyDirk420. The posting reads: “Babysitter needed. To watch a baby. A big one. No physical contact; only watching via video link.
A little odd, but definitely the least strange you’ve found so far. You contact DirkyDirk420 and he hires you. He says he will send you another email with more details closer to the date of the job.
Fingers crossed this Dirk guy isn’t some sort of pervert. I mean, you did find him on Craigslist…
I kind of love it when an Escape Room company develops games that all have interconnected storylines, and Mystery Mansion in Regina, Canada is one company that does just that. They are currently on their second “season,” and the virtual version of Episode One: Detective’s Office played so well online that you’d almost think it had been developed with the remote player in mind; I can’t wait to see what happens in Episode 2 when it’s released.
Seen is an entirely different kettle of fish. Seen is a stand-alone game, outside of the world being built in Mystery Mansion’s episodic games, but no less brilliant. It all began with an email from Dirk, thanking us for accepting his babysitting job. As it turns out, this is no ordinary babysitting job, which we quickly learned as we signed on to begin our watch and received our video instructions from our dodgy Craigslist employer. As we connected to the video feed to watch over our Baby, the sinister nature of our seemingly innocent job offer was revealed…
Seen is one of Mystery Mansion’s physical games in their Regina location, that has been slightly modified to be played remotely by directing a live avatar around the game. As we saw with The Detective’s Office, Mystery Mansion have put a lot of thought into the remote experience. For one thing, the back story for Seen differs slightly from the story you would get if you were to play in person, giving a purpose to both the video feed, and your avatar (or rather, “Baby”). For another, the addition of the 360 views and inventory system, using Telescape allows the remote experience to claw back some of the open structure that many live escape games have, and many remote play games lack.
Inventory systems and 360 views of games can be a bit contentious, with some teams that dislike games without them, and others that dislike games that have them. I personally have no preference either way, as there are positives and negatives on each side of the argument. Telescape is one of the most commonly used systems we’ve come across and is incredibly versatile. It’s effective as an inventory and, in the case of Seen, very useful, affording the opportunity to our team of four to keep track of what we had found, take a closer look at some of the puzzles, and occasionally tackle different tasks simultaneously, ensuring everyone felt involved in aiding the escape of our Baby, despite the somewhat linear structure of the game.
The game itself has a horror theme, and while nothing is overly scary, the creep factor is there. Seen is also infused with a dark, adolescent, and mildly (depending on your tastes) inappropriate humour, and we absolutely loved it. Of course, given that anytime he sees a slightly foggy window, Gord will draw a penis in the fog, it was exactly our type of humour. But this dark humour, combined with the horror theme gave the game itself a feeling somewhat closer to a comedy horror along the lines of Shaun of the Dead (although the story was a bit more Saw-like). At first glance, it may seem as though Seen is just your basic kidnapping scenario, but the game actually has a strong underlying narrative, which many of the puzzles feed into.
Seen was full of puzzles that are quite typical of escape games, with tasks that relied on observation, logic, and a bit of critical thinking. Many of the puzzles resulted in combinations for padlocks, but the styles were varied, and along with the inclusion some more “physical” tasks, kept us guessing throughout the game. Seen is not an especially tech-heavy game, but don’t let the basic design fool you.
The puzzles themselves were well thought out, thematic, and free of pain points, with many providing some wonderful “Ah-Ha!” moments and often utilising the adolescent humour that permeated the entire experience to great effect. We really did find that everyone on the team found a puzzle that suited their particular strengths. But, as we’ve found with most avatar style escape rooms though, the experience is about so much more than just the puzzles.
Our fiendish employer, Dirk, insisted that we refer to our babysitting charge as “Baby.” Baby’s actual name was, in fact, Mitch. Despite his obvious terror at his kidnapping, Mitch was an excellent addition to the team, keeping his video feed steady, and dutifully investigating all manner of things that might aid us in facilitating his escape from his captor.
I’ve said it often, but I say it because it’s true: when playing an escape room in person, the GM often plays a massive role in how the experience goes, but when playing remotely, the avatar in the room can truly make or break your experience. From our first introduction to him, Mitch was fully in character and the banter between “Baby” and our team added an extra level of fun and immersion. While the game itself was entertaining, with well thought out puzzles, this is one of the few experiences we’ve had with online escapes that I firmly believe the experience online was even better than we might have had in person.
Gather your closest friends (or enemies), put your own tiny humans to bed (if you have any), and get ready to accept a remote “babysitting job.” Seen really is no ordinary experience.
GOOD TO KNOW
- Number of connections: Up to ten
- Price: CAD$20.00 per person
- Devices: Desktop or Laptop suggested. Also compatible with handheld devices
- Platform: Zoom/Telescape
- Inventory: Yes
- 360º View: Yes
- Time Zone: Regina, Canada (CST)
|Value for Money|
Team: 4 players
Time Taken: 30 minutes
*Disclaimer: we weren’t charged for this experience, but this has not influenced our review