Poor little Isabelle
We received some documents from a friend, who was researching the history of the house he just bought. The history is pretty disturbing. People who lived in it previously were convinced the house was haunted.
The strangest thing is, that as soon as these people tried to combat whatever it is that lives in the house, they soon start to exhibit some erratic behavior and slowly lose their mind. Three previous owners committed suicide within a month from the first time they talked to someone about the “spirits” that possess the house. Our friend got close, closer than anyone, to the secret of the house. He is sure that it’s not about the house itself, but… a doll…
The Panic Room is a company that is synonymous in the UK escape room enthusiast community with escape room binges, with roughly fourteen experiences (at the time of writing) across three venues. And that’s not even counting their location in Harlow. And it seems as though they’re aiming to carve a similar niche into the play at home market, with a plethora of offerings, from the purely online digital games, like My Dearest Emily, Mansion Impossible, CSI: Stranglehold, and more, to print and play games, and now puzzle books.
*We’ve classed this an ‘escape box’ as it is sold as a complete game and you don’t need a printer, so it seemed to fit this category better than the others.
While many of the print and play games and puzzle books currently available from The Panic Room cross over, The Exorcism of Isabelle is not one of these. (At least, not yet, anyway.) Full disclosure, however, we were invited to give the game a try prior to its official release and received it as a downloadable PDF, rather than in the final, printed format, but I can see the potential bonuses to be had by presenting the game as a book.
The Exorcism of Isabelle lends itself to the puzzle book format well, particularly if you’re a player that pays attention to the backstory of a game, providing a level of immersion that wouldn’t be present if the game didn’t have any physical components. In the case of The Exorcism of Isabelle, the underlying narrative seems to be loosely based on the story that inspired The Amityville Horror. (There’s even a photo of 112 Ocean Ave. within the game.) While the similarities are present, there are a number of notable differences of course, and although some things in the game could be disturbing for very young children, as far as horror themes go, it’s very light, and not scary, thanks to the format.
The game structure is completely open, with puzzles able to be solved in any order, as you work your way through the puzzles to identify and exorcise the demons. Unlike some puzzle books, and even a few print and play games, that we’ve come across, the Exorcism of Isabelle doesn’t rely solely on the information in the pages. While there is no outside knowledge required, the game makes use of the internet, not only to provide a means of submitting the names of the demons for their exorcism, but also to further the immersion aspect of the game by purposefully taking the player out of the pages.
Thanks to the open structure of the game, at first it feels as though you’re presented with an overabundance of information, but as you work your way through the pages, things begin to jump out at you, and solutions begin to present themselves. A keen eye for details will certainly aid players, as well as an ability to make correlations. Codes, deductive reasoning, spatial relations, observation skills, pattern recognition, and of course a bit of logic will all aid you in your goal.
Puzzles are well signposted, incredibly fair, and making some of the connections needed to solve them resulted in quite a few wonderful “Ah-Ha!” moments. As far as difficulty goes, veteran escapers are unlikely to be stumped, and players of all experience levels should enjoy the game. In fact, the only issues we encountered with the puzzles could even be attributed to our ancient printer in desperate need of new drivers.
According to the story, we’ve received our friend’s documents from a local priest after the friend falls from a window in the house in Amityville. Should you need any assistance, the priest has made some notes and can be contacted through a website.
The clues follow the same structure that seems to be the standard for most play at home games, be they completely digital, print and play, puzzle book, and even boxed. I.e., a series of gradually less cryptic clues are available for each puzzle, followed by the solution if absolutely necessary. The clues are all hidden by a clickable button, so there is no chance of spoilers if you complete the puzzles in a different order to the list of clues provided.
The Exorcism of Isabelle was our first foray into the world of The Panic Room’s puzzle book/print and play options, and it was not a disappointment. With some mechanics that were vaguely reminiscent of the games in the Exit the Game series, and satisfying puzzles, The Exorcism of Isabelle could be a perfect choice for a game night.
- Device with an internet connection
|Value for Money|
Team: 2 players
Time Taken: 43 minutes
*Disclaimer: we weren’t charged for this experience, but this has not influenced our review.