A Christmas Challenge!
Scrooge was a cold uncaring man, he was happiest being unhappy and even happier when others were miserable. On Christmas eve, Scrooge is visited by three spirits to teach him to mend his ways. The fate of Scrooge lies in your hands…
Back in June, when the UK was languishing in a state of are we in lockdown, are we not in lockdown, RC Escape’s first game, The Sapphire Project was a breath of fresh air in the world of digital escaping, with collaborative gameplay, a unique interface, and not to mention the ending that was a total nostalgic delight. The Curse of Amberly Manor appeared in the midst of Lockdown 2.0, and again, added another solid option for teams to play together from afar.
And now, RC Escapes are back – and this time with a festive game. Charles Dickens first published A Christmas Carol over 175 years ago and has appeared in various incarnations throughout that time, so the story is unlikely to offer any surprises. I’ll be honest here, my favourite version of the classic holiday tale is the one told by Muppets, but I’m always happy to make an exception for escape games.
If you’ve experienced the story of Ebenezer Scrooge in any other form, be it Muppets, novel, play, or ballet, the story should be rather familiar, and RC Escapes have stuck close to the source material. The game is a completely self contained point and click digital offering, with an interface that allows multiple users to log in together; a useful feature given the nature of Christmas this year. If you’ve played the Curse of Amberly Manor, you’ll be familiar with the interface, although this has been improved, and players no longer need to be in the same room of the simulation and can truly explore independently.
What sets RC Escape’s games apart from other offerings in the genre of totally digital point and click games is the firm time limit of 60 minutes, giving their games a greater sense of urgency, and a feeling similar to a live escape game, as you watch the clock count down. There’s very little to indicate how far along you are in the game, but thanks to the familiar story, it’s not too hard to gauge.
In addition to solving the issue of needing to explore the same space, A Christmas Carol has introduced mechanisms that felt even more interactive before, with items that can be moved and rearranged included as challenges and puzzles. This continued with the finale of the game, which we’ve come to expect from the RC Escapes games, as both The Sapphire Project and The Curse of Amberly Manor both delighted us with an unexpected, but totally wonderful mini game.
A Christmas Carol provided a variety of puzzles and challenges, that were all perfectly on theme for the source material of the story. Scrooge is an accountant of course, so expect a fair number of (reasonably simple, but layered) maths puzzles, alongside some escape room staples: pattern recognition, a bit of logic, some wordplay, and a fairly hefty amount of observation. As an extra layer to the puzzles, both of the previous games from RC Escapes utilise communication to great effect, and A Christmas Carol is no different. A number of the puzzles are made infinitely simpler if you work together as a team, as we would often find information in one place, that correlated to something elsewhere, and communication is key.
Alongside the puzzles, there was at least one obstacle that I would deem a “challenge,” and it’s the sort of thing that I detest coming upon in an escape room, as it just feels like a massive time-suck, and this particular one was no exception. It’s not something that can really be solved cooperatively but, fortunately, the semi-open structure of the game did mean that Gord was able to solve some things while waiting for me to finally give up (we ended up skipping the puzzle. Had we not, we would have run out of time.)
On the bright side, RC Escapes collect stats on their games and make tweaks where necessary to improve gameplay. So while we struggled with a couple of puzzles, we’ve been informed that this particular challenge has already been tweaked, and is now reportedly much simpler, and therefore less likely to cause subsequent players any headaches or major panics as the timer counts down and you realise you’re only halfway through the game.
It appears that the Review the Room Curse of the Christmas Games has resurfaced, as we found that we did not get on well with at least three of the puzzles and struggled more than was strictly necessary. (Granted, some of that is my inability to do simple maths and a refusal to use a calculator for simple maths.) Of course, that means that at least this time we actually managed to use the clue system, and can confirm how it works. Clues are always available should you need them and are delivered in a granular fashion to hopefully get you back on track. And if they don’t, then you do have the option of requesting the solution, and in the case of some challenges, you can even opt to skip them entirely. (A definite necessity for us in the case of one challenge we encountered.) But be warned, you will receive a time penalty for clues, solutions, and skipping. This won’t affect your playing time of 60 minutes, but it could result in a time similar to ours of -19 minutes and 35 seconds (imagine my grimacing face here, at that shameful showing.) The flip side is that if you are stuck on something, you may find yourself running out of time entirely….
We weren’t massive fans of a few puzzles, but Christmas wouldn’t be complete without a visit from the Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present, and Future, and thanks to RC Escapes, we can all now enjoy the Dickens’ classic as an escape game. Plus, in true RC Escapes’ fashion, the finale is a delightful little surprise, although I’ll be honest, their first game is still my favourite.
- Desktop / Laptop (sound turned on)
- Note taking implements
|Value for Money|
Team: 2 players
Time Taken: 54:25 mins (in real time)
*Disclaimer: we weren’t charged for this experience, but this has not influenced our review.