YouEscape – Magnum Opus (Review)

Location: Your Home via the Magic of the Internet!

Players:  We recommend 2-5

Price: $30 per team

Time to Escape: 60 minutes.

Escaping together even while apart!

Theme:

From the YouEscape website:

The greatest alchemist of all time has mysteriously vanished. It rests upon you, his loyal apprentice, to discover the reason behind his disappearance. Your alchemy guild allows you to access his rooms for 60 minutes, before sealing them completely to prevent the misuse of his secrets.

First Impressions:

At the time of this writing, the world is currently in the middle of the COVID-19 Pandemic, and many of us are still in lockdown. YouEscape seemed like the perfect remedy for our current situation, providing a live puzzle experience via the magic of Google Hangouts. As we had not been on one of our escape room marathons with our regular team, Keyed Up! in over three months, we were excited to get the band back together for a puzzling adventure!

youescape-1-2-compress

We had a live screenshot, but it unfortunately did not survive the computer shutting itself down. Thanks Windows!

High Points:

I can say with certainty that YouEscape does a fantastic job bringing escape rooms directly to you in the comfort of your own home. I’m sure all of us have been feeling isolated during this pandemic, and the ability to see friends and puzzle through an adventure like this with them in real time was wonderful, especially knowing we may not be able to get a new escape marathon together for a while yet. YouEscape’s format is unlike anything we’d seen before, but does an excellent job of mixing together an online puzzle experience with the feel of an escape room. Our GM, Jared, sent along a Google Hangouts call, and once we had all connected, he went over the rules with us via a concise, but informative introduction. We were given a link to a google drive that would contain pieces of the puzzles, and were also informed that we would use anything we could see on his screen to work our way through a series of locked boxes and ultimately unlock the Alchemist’s greatest secret! Jared was an amazing GM, and worked brilliantly with our group to ensure we had an excellent time.

The game flow is very linear, but works well within the format and conceit of the game, ensuring there isn’t too much visual overload while still allowing players to discover all the secrets of the game for themselves. (Even those players, like ourselves, who are still absolutely horrible at finding hidden objects when there are only like, three to five things on screen. We wear the cone of shame.) The difficulty curve is very smooth, starting off the game with a fairly simple win to get players used to the format and jump start the experience, and slowly ramps up towards the final, multilayered conundrum that had us really thinking to unlock that final box! At no point did anything feel frustrating, and moments of revelation were just a few logical steps away. Puzzles ensured that we needed to work as a team, especially during the latter stages of the game, when it truly took all of us working together to crack the final locks. My favorite puzzles involved some cool interactions that played with perspective, as well as a couple of puzzles that, had they been set up in a normal escape room, would usually be solo endeavors, but had been expanded to allow for a more team focused interaction. Everything included within the “room” is important, and all props are used effectively to deliver a great run of puzzles throughout the game’s run time.

Low Points:

There is one specific interaction that doesn’t quite have an on screen “clue,” and though it does make sense on the back end, it would be nice to have a subtle marker on screen to denote that the action that needs to be taken is available. It was still a very clever puzzle, however, I felt there could have been more of a visual representation in order to ensure players know that this is an option. The set is also very basic, so those looking for something flashy may be disappointed. We thought everything was used effectively however, and in the overall scheme of things, this is a minor detail. The story itself is a good framing device, but generally is fairly basic and feels secondary to the puzzling, which we don’t necessarily mind, but a well integrated storyline would elevate the game even higher.

Verdict:

YouEscape is the perfect antidote for lockdown boredom, and is a brilliant way to get together with your favorite group of escapists for an escape! Using everyday props to deliver an exciting, smoothly produced and excellently designed game experience, I heartily recommend giving YouEscape a shot, and cannot wait to try out another of their adventures. Book your time with YouEscape here!

8.5/10 (Great)

Full Disclosure: YouEscape provided our team with a complementary game.

 

 

 

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