Month: December 2017

Room review: Trapped: The Purge

This room was attempted in collaboration with Escapist X from Singapore Escape Room Reviews.

Their description: It’s Purge Night, and your group is being held captive by a demented torturer…with only 60 minutes before the start of The Annual Purge

As with Trapped’s other rooms, The Purge is advertised as a horror room but isn’t particularly scary, so it’s perfectly playable by cowards such as myself.

There isn’t much immersion, whether in setting or in narrative, but the room manages not to be boring. An early puzzle is tough for arguably the wrong reasons (so do consider asking for help); in contrast, a later puzzle is pleasingly layered, though context-free.

There’s one room aspect that you might either find clever (as I did) or somewhat unfair — either way, it’s a good example of how Trapped’s rooms reward exploration in a way that few other rooms do.

Nothing spectacular, but not a room you need to avoid — in other words, it’s WORTH A TRY if you keep your expectations in check. Though you might want to prioritise Trapped’s other two rooms, which are somewhat more interesting.

Puzzle difficulty: 2/5
Puzzle logic: 3.5/5
Multimedia aspect of puzzles: 1/5

Atmosphere and setting: 2/5
Exciting flourishes, use of technology or physical aspects: 2.5/5
Storyline integration: 1.5/5

Their suggested number of players: 8
My suggested number of players: 2 to 3. You really don’t need more.


Room review: Trapped: The Mental Ward

Their description: It is your first day as an intern in the Mental Hospital. During your lunch break, you and your colleagues decide to explore the codorned ward. Rumour has it, the most notorious mental patients were in that ward before it was shut down. You have an hour to find out if the rumours you heard about the ward are true, before you have to report back to your superior.

The Mental Ward provides a more comprehensive experience than the room it replaced, and is probably Trapped’s hardest and most engaging room.

First, the usual reassurance: despite the advertising, this is not a scary room — creepy, at most — so it’s perfectly playable even if you’re a coward like me.

The room starts off without much plot, but with some clever use of the space and of technology (for puzzle-solving, not special effects). As you advance, the puzzles remain largely context-free, but the narrative surfaces and there’s an attempt at strengthening the theme. I found one stretch interesting as it had a nice (albeit only initial) sense of world-exploration rather than puzzle-solving.

There’s a risk of technical malfunction midway through, so don’t be afraid to call for help if you think you should be getting something that you’re not. The finale, while underwhelming, is at least somewhat novel.

My reviews for Trapped rooms sound lukewarm even though I generally enjoy them; I suppose they lack stand-out moments that would lead me to recommend them. Nonetheless, when I say The Mental Ward is WORTH A TRY, I don’t mean that in a bad way.

Puzzle difficulty: 3/5
Puzzle logic: 4/5
Multimedia aspect of puzzles: 3.5/5

Atmosphere and setting: 2.5/5
Exciting flourishes, use of technology or physical aspects: 2.5/5
Storyline integration: 2/5

Their suggested number of players: 8
My suggested number of players: 2 to 4

Room review: Virtual Room: Omega Team

Their description: The year is 2217.

These are dangerous times. The Alpha team, responsible for time exploration, has disappeared. A temporal rift has been detected in the past, which may cause humanity’s disappearance from the Earth – forever.

Your mission… Choose your Omega team (two to four people) from your most loyal companions and set off into historical periods of time such as ancient Egypt and the medieval ages to solve the puzzles and challenges – and save the future of the world!

Be careful, you have a limited amount of time! You are humanity’s last hope!

Good luck Omega team!

Virtual Room Singapore offers an experience distinct from escape rooms, but with aspects that escape room fans will recognise and enjoy. While there aren’t “puzzles” of the code-solving variety, there’s certainly an element of puzzling out what you’re meant to do. You’ll have to explore your environment, come to intuitive realisations, communicate with teammates and execute fun tasks.

If it were simply the VR version of a regular escape room, though, it wouldn’t be very interesting. Instead, this game shines most in allowing for experiences that are simply impossible even in the best-designed physical rooms, whether it’s seeing the effects of low gravity on the moon, or taking part in certain exciting sequences — to say more would be to spoil the surprise.

I think the Virtual Room works because it gets both the hardware and software right, resulting in a high level of immersion that helps you quickly forget that you’re in an empty room, and creates a true sense of adventure.

Firstly, the physical equipment doesn’t get in the way. Despite being bulkier than simple VR goggles, the headset is comfortable (I wear glasses and didn’t have any issues) and doesn’t feel cumbersome. The controllers are easy to use — it’s surprising how quickly you start feeling as if your virtual ‘hands’ are your own. (Which is important, because you’ll be using them a lot.)

Then there’s the digital side of things: smooth graphics, multiple (!!) detailed environments, and appropriate sound effects. Interaction with the environment felt natural, and it was easy to pick up and manipulate objects. Haptic feedback from the controllers was used to great effect, adding to the sense of realism.

All this tech is in service of solid gameplay, with a variety of ‘aha’ moments and tasks. An overarching storyline holds everything together, provides an easy-to-follow game structure, and has a fun narrative payoff. There are also cool moments and surprises — these are triggered by players’ own actions, increasing the sense of immersion and engagement.

The room is pricier than most escape rooms, but for good reason. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, both as a unique experience and as a really fun time — just don’t expect a puzzle-heavy, escape-room-style game. They’re apparently introducing a second, tougher game in early 2018, and I’m already looking forward to it.

My usual rubric doesn’t apply, so here’s a modified version:

Game difficulty: 2.5/5
Game logic: 4/5
Gameplay variation: 3.5/5

Atmosphere and setting: 4.5/5
Exciting moments, effective use of VR: 4/5
Storyline integration: 3.5/5

Their suggested number of players: 2 to 4
My suggested number of players: 3 to 4; due to game structure, it’s more fun with at least 3 players.