Beans, Beans, Beans!
An online sci-fi adventure set aboard a mysteriously empty space station, with a noir flavour. Investigate what happened to the crew, and don’t get yourself spaced! Noir-esque narration, humour and story come together in a fun romp through a small station on the outskirts of space.
We first heard about Next Level Escape in July 2020 when we played their online game, Temporal Tangle, to say we loved that game would be an understatement (I even played it twice just to experience it again). It’s hard to believe that well over a year has passed since then, and it feels like we’re still kinda in the same situation (thanks Covid), so we were very excited when we found out that Next Level Escape were releasing a new online game and this one was set in space!
Temporal Tangle was pretty close to perfection, in our eyes anyway, and while that game was a digitised version of a real life game, this one was a brand new experience only available in the digital world. Reading the instructions before we played, it looked like there were a few things they had improved upon from their first hit, so we were keen to get going.
Knowing pretty much nothing about this game, we sat down by the fire (it’s cold in the UK right now), booted up our laptops (one each) and entered the lobby.
To keep things simple we both loaded up Chrome as that seems to be the most stable for online games. I’m not sure what platform The Strange Disappearance on Station Eleven (TSDOSE) runs on but it looks like it’s a bespoke one; At least, it wasn’t Telescape (as far as we could tell).
The first thing to point out is that if you’re playing this on a laptop, make sure you have your charger ready as this game drank our battery juice like an alcoholic in a pub – it was crazy, and my fan was going into overdrive. Other than the intensive CPU and battery usage, we had no issues with the game and everything else ran pretty smoothly.
This game played more like a video game than other online games, with quality graphics and a point-and-click interface. It was nice to see that they had kept features introduced in Temporal Tangle that made it more accessible – if there was a handwritten note in the game, it would give you clear text to say what it said.
If I remember correctly, in Temporal Tangle our experiences were separate so we had to tell each other what was done so that we could progress together and enter our solutions independently. In this game they have fixed that issue, yes we’re still kinda apart in the game, but there’s a new button called ‘Catch up’ which enables you to sync your sessions. We used this a few times and it worked really well, Liz’s computer also died a couple of times and she was able to join pretty quickly and didn’t need to retrace any steps – good button!
Ok, so game play was good, graphics were good, what’s left? Oh yes, the story! TSDOSE is an odd mix, it’s like a film-noir detective mystery but on a space station – you know, a classic. The game starts with a nice video that gives you the background of what has happened, and if it had opened in a dark, smoke-filled detective’s office, we wouldn’t have been surprised. As it was, we started on a space station!
Perhaps it is just who the Aussie’s are as people, but this game was loaded with humour, which we loved. The story itself is kinda ridiculous anyway (you’ll see when you get to the end), but there were little gems of fun dotted around the place and even one thing that I’ve never seen an online escape room do – I won’t spoil it but it certainly won’t ‘let you down’.
It’s also worth mentioning the inventory system in the game. If one player finds and collects something then it is added to the inventory for all to see, and anyone can use it (useful). There is also an ‘evidence’ file where you collect the pieces of evidence that you need to solve the case.
Often in online games one of the first puzzles you encounter is working out how the game works and how you interact with it. Thanks to a nice little training area before you start the game, that isn’t an issue here. The layout of the station is also quite simple so you don’t really have much chance of getting lost (in space).
As with any online game, communication is key so make sure you split up but communicate everything to your teammates. We played as a team of two so it meant we did a lot of back and forth between the spaces, but it never felt laborious.
Other than communication you’ll find observation, searching and logic will all help you here. None of the puzzles felt particularly challenging but it was a joy to work out how to use the items we had – yes, even the beans.
Ok, a confession. We don’t know about the clue system as we didn’t need any clues. The puzzles all made sense and we knew what to do once we took some time to think about them. Because of this though, we didn’t look at the clue system at all. So I’m going to go on the assumption that they used the same system as they used for their earlier game – this would give you a few nudges to get you back in the right direction and if that doesn’t work, you could get the solution. If you play this game, and that’s wrong, please do let us know.
It’s not part of the clue system, but as it is like a person I’m going to mention it here. This game has an AI Robot that you need to interact with, make sure to have a bit of fun with her, get poking.
This game had great graphics, a unique story that was filled with humour, and thanks to some tweaks to the game play, it was frustration free. If you’re looking for a game that will challenge you, make you laugh, and has unexpected twists and turns – this is the game for you.
Personally I enjoyed Temporal Tangle more than this game, but this game was still a great way for us to spend an hour escaping reality.
- Computer with Internet Connection
- Notepad and Pen (for notes)
|Value for Money|
Team: 2 players
Time Taken: 63 minutes
*Disclaimer: we weren’t charged for this experience, but this has not influenced our review.