A lot of game for the money
Jonàs Colomes was a famous epidemiologist who advised the government on possible outbreaks of viruses and bacteria. On March 11, 2020, he went to the Pyrenees and never returned. There was no trace of him, so it was considered a voluntary disappearance. His sister Anna Colomes, a police officer, never believed the official version of the events because Jonàs was expecting a child. Anna decides to start an investigation on her own. In full quarantine, through a colleague, she receives some news. A call from a stranger, using his brother’s cell phone, called 911 asking for help. The geolocation places the phone in an old mansion lost in the woods. Anna will start a time trial search to find out what has happened to her brother, from your house you will be able to help her. Do you accept the challenge?
Pentargo’s Quarantine is not likely a game we would have come across without the recommendation from Brit of an Escape Habit, but she hasn’t steered us wrong yet with any of her recommendations and, especially at the price of $2.50 per person, it was added to the list of games to try.
We had been forewarned that the game was quite lengthy, so it was a few weeks before we could find the time to devote to sitting down and playing. It’s just as well we waited until we had a clear afternoon; the game kept us occupied for a total of two hours and ten minutes, but if a marathon of puzzling sounds a bit exhausting to you, there are convenient stopping points throughout the game, where you can take a break, and return when it suits you. In hindsight, that’s probably what we should have done, as it was a bit of a mission.
Quarantine uses the current events and COVID-19 lockdown as a basis for the story, and the reason why Anna, your police contact is able to leave, but you have to work with her remotely. Some players may find the theming distasteful, but it didn’t bother us, as the setting merely provides the backdrop for the situation, and doesn’t delve deeply into the world of epidemiology or trying to synthesise a cure for a real virus that is at the forefront of everyone’s minds.
The game operated using a platform to simulate text messages, designed to give it a more immersive feel and immediately making the game less of a “game,” and more of a real-world set of challenges, presenting more like an alternate reality than an escape game. The structure gave Quarantine a heightened sense of realism we haven’t often seen from these online experiences as we interacted with Anna, and helped her to follow the breadcrumbs in the mystery of her brother’s disappearance.
These breadcrumbs took us all over the internet, in a puzzle scavenger hunt crossed with a detective story style escape game. With Anna on hand to send files, provide additional information, investigate locations we identified, and occasionally offer some help, Quarantine provided a level of interaction and immersion we haven’t seen in a game that didn’t involve a live person on the other end.
The first challenge was surprisingly easy, and we were lulled into a false sense of security with the beginning of Quarantine. From there, however, the challenges grew progressively more difficult, with many complex, multi-level challenges, taking us all over the internet. I say challenges rather than puzzles, because the tasks weren’t puzzles in the traditional sense, but rather presented as a series of “real-world” investigative tasks that crossed so many platforms and utilised so many different tools, I lost track after about seven separate instances of using something new.
Pentargo is a Spanish company, and the game is available in both Spanish and English. However, I think if we were fluent in Spanish, playing the original Spanish language version would have offered a much better experience in places. For the most part, the game was flawlessly translated, but there were a few instances where the solutions were still required in the original Spanish, which wasn’t always clearly signposted, and occasionally problematic with the ambiguities of Google Translate. It was really only problematic in one specific instance, and we actually had to look at the solution for this particular puzzle, as we never would have managed to complete the game without it, both at first because we didn’t realise we needed the Spanish, and then finally, because like any language, there were several possibilities for the solution
The chatbot platform where you converse with Anna will allow you to ask her for help if at any point you are struggling, and hints are given in Anna’s voice, in gradual manner, but doesn’t reveal the solution. If you are completely stuck, a secondary clue system exists, and is emailed with your purchase confirmation. This secondary clue system operates in a website outside the game environment, and will give one more slightly obscure hint, and finally the solution.
We didn’t often need help, but we did run into issues with one other puzzle, aside from the one mentioned earlier. It was particularly irritating, as we actually had all of the information we needed, and knew what we needed to do, but we just couldn’t figure out how to input it into the external tool that we had been directed to, and none of the hints helped with this issue. A simple, “Input Code XXX using Dial YYY,” would have immediately fixed this problem, but there weren’t even instructions on the website we had been directed to. Perhaps we were just being silly, but it was exceedingly frustrating.
The translated version of Quarantine is not without its flaws, but with a mixture of complex, varied, and engaging puzzles, and over two hours of content, that can be played in one sitting or broken into multiple chapters, at $2.50 per person, it’s incredibly good value, and definitely worth playing if you’re up for a challenge.
- Device with an Internet connection
- Paper and pencil for note taking
|Value for Money|
Team: 2 players
Time Taken: 2hr 10mins