I want to believe
Something very secret has been uncovered. Now it’s up to you to learn the mysteries before they are buried once more forever!
Your mission should you choose to accept it:
You will receive a secured envelope containing all the documents from The Panic Room that will help solve the mystery. The government has tried to bury the truth: Aliens! Supposedly, an unidentified aircraft was seen flying through the sky and some witness reports mentioned it crashing. After their report, the individuals spoke in gibberish, stringing together words into a nonsense sentence that some of the best detectives have been unable to understand. The individuals who saw the crash have since been swiftly silenced. The trail is growing colder by the second, but we need to find where the UFO is hidden, and how to activate it. It must be a string of words, seemingly random, that we’ll need to send via radio. We’ll also need to be close enough to the transport to transmit it in the first place.
Supposedly, this message is the key to activate the vessel and we’re going to hijack an alien ship. I mean, after all, how often does the existence of Aliens get proven?
Find the codes, uncover the conspiracy, hijack a UFO. Simple. Are you in?
Almost exactly a year ago, we made the visit to The Panic Room Harlow to take on the game that launched a thousand more (just kidding, but only a little): The Panic Room. With their expansion into play at home experiences, it’s unsurprising that The Panic Room opted to put together a play at home experience based on their first physical game. While the technical title for the game is The Panic Room Puzzle Book Experience, it shall henceforth be known as The Panic Book, simply because I’m not writing that out every time I choose to refer to it by name, rather than “it.”
Unbeknownst to me when we played the physical game, The Panic Room, the story is not in fact related to psycho killers and keeping your cool to escape certain death, but rather uncovering the truth behind the murder of a consipracy theorist by piecing together the documents discovered in his panic room – hence the name. Unlike CSI: Mafia Murders, where the digital version was almost an exact replica of the puzzles in the physical version, The Panic Book does not mirror its real life counterpart, but has clearly taken inspiration from it for the narrative.
Puzzle books from The Panic Room are spiral bound, full colour A4 documents, and The Panic Book is no different. Of course, The Panic Book could also be purchased as a PDF that you print yourself, but then you lose out on the fun of actually receiving your secure envelope full of conspiracy theories in the post, and receiving it in the post does reinforce the narrative of the game.
One thing that is similar across all of the Panic Room puzzle books we’ve played is the structure; each is filled with puzzles that can be solved in a totally non-linear fashion, and The Panic Book stays true to form. As you make the initial flip through the pages, there is so much to take in, and at first glance it is totally overwhelming, as there’s no clear starting point. But the structure also makes the format a great option for a family game night, while still being a solid choice for the solo puzzler.
The Panic Book provides an online interface to actually allow for hacking into the UFO, but be prepared to use the internet for more than just that, as the game takes you out of the pages and into the world for a bit. The interface itself is similar to those used for The Exorcism of Isabelle and The Book of Grimm, as well as other Panic Room games of the same nature, in that it gives an indication of how many things you may be looking for, and will let you know if what you have entered is correct, but it is much more vague about exactly what those solutions may be, making The Panic Book just a little bit trickier than some of the others on offer from the company.
Truthfully, the first puzzle is figuring out where to start, and there are about 12 possible options for that. The open structure of the games is both a blessing and a curse, and a sharp eye for detail and the ability to connect the dots once you’ve sifted through all of the information will be a benefit to players.
Translating alien language, codes, spatial relations, logic, making correllations – they all come into play. The puzzles were varied, and generally quite fair. We had a few genuinely wonderful “Ah ha!” moments as we investigated the conspiracy theories throughout the Panic Book. Many of the puzzles were multi-faceted, with layers to them, while others were actually much simpler than they first appeared. And still a few others weren’t without their frustrations, requiring a nudge or two to ensure we were on the right track.
Of course, there’s a clue system, and it’s a welcome addition to the game for anyone that finds themselves unable to understand the aliens. The Panic Book’s hint system utilises the familiar format of laying out each puzzle and then offering a graduated series of hints to get baffled conspiracy hunters back to where they need to be; this also includes providing the final solution in the event that you just can’t wrap your head around a puzzle. Fortunately, each clue is hidden behind a button, so there is no chance of spoilers, and players can choose as much or as little assistance as required.
The Panic Room Puzzle Book Experience was similar to other games of a similar nature from The Panic Room, and had a few puzzling highlights, and a few tricky moments. Just remember: Don’t Panic!
- Device with an internet connection
|Value for Money|
Team: 2 players
Time Taken: 1hr 30mins (ish)
*Disclaimer: we weren’t charged for this experience, but this has not influenced our review.