The Adventure is Real – Agent Venture (Review)

Kara’s Note: This review is brought to you by me! 😀

Location: Your Home via the Magic of the Internet!

Players: 4-5 (We recommend 4 players)

Price: £8.00 – £10.00 (About $9.89-12.36 at the time of this writing.)

Time to Escape: 60 minutes

Your mission, if you choose to accept it…


From the The Adventure is Real website:

Become a team of secret agents, and execute a daring heist from the comfort of your own home. ​ With a live cast, and digital clues to guide you, all you need is a computer and phone to play online. Can you and your friends pull together to save the day and expose the crimes of an evil corporation? Every Secret Agent needs a world class support team, and this time, that’s you.

First Impressions:

We were excited to once again partner up with the Escape the Roomers for this heist game! When they emailed us about choosing a character role (with specific tasks that we would be individually doing), I was a bit apprehensive. It was not a game format I have personally played in our recent string of online games, and I did not seem to clearly fit any of the role descriptions we were provided. But, I was determined to do my part!

High Points:

We were introduced to the game by our “on-site” avatar, Agent Venture, who started off by going over all the player roles and setting up the format of the game. To my great relief, the description for my character role – the Hacker – was actually quite on point in creating expectations. We had all received a link to our character’s materials, and after hearing our Agent’s explanation, I found it easy to navigate the files due to their helpful instructions and formatting. I also really appreciated how easy it was to figure out what information was needed on each page and what information from the puzzles would produce the answers my team needed from me.

This was a choose-your-own adventure type of game-play, and our experience was largely guided by our own decisions. This provided quite a bit of flexibility of options, and (after discussing the game afterwards) the creators seemed to have been fairly thorough about the different avenues we could choose. Thus, this game design allows for multiple re-plays if you are interested and want to see the different ways the story can lead.

Of course, this takes a lot of adaptability on our game master’s part, and our Agent Venture turned out to be a fantastic guide. He was crucial to making this online experience immersive and I thought he did a fantastic job. He reacted naturally to any decision we made without seeming to miss a beat, and provided game-relevant roadblocks if we ever came up with something that would not work – all the while staying in character. It is definitely not an easy thing to do! He provided us with some great and funny interactions, and showed us through quite an enjoyable story.

This game design also encouraged (read: required) a lot of teamwork and communication from each player since our characters had distinct sets of knowledge and abilities. Though it was a little bit of unknown territory in the beginning, we quickly realized what type of information each of us had and were able to put our different pieces together to figure out what to do. Our Agent was good at helping to guide us if we need any help interpreting or putting ideas together as well.

I found my character’s role to be quite balanced in terms of playtime and the puzzles I had to work with. For the first two-thirds of the game, our team’s decisions led to a large reliance on the Hacker. I really appreciated the difficulty curve, as I am not used to these type of puzzles and was happy for some simpler ones to introduce and get me used to the solving method. (I do admit needing to screen share on some of the harder puzzles though.) When we got to the last third of the game, I was happy that the Hacker’s involvement became more of a supporting role. Prior to this, most of the Hacker-specific puzzles involved a lot of the same solving method, but the latter puzzles allowed for more varied support to the other characters without excluding me completely.

Agent Venture

Pondering Points:

As all choose-your-own-adventure, roleplaying type of games are, your experience will be – you guessed it – heavily based on your own choices and your character role. While this certainly produces many positives, it is important to keep this interactive design in mind with how it might affect your game experience.

I actually lucked out quite a bit in choosing the Hacker character because I seemed to have the most involvement throughout all the game activities, even if I was just providing support. I think this could have been just as easily something another teammate could have experienced instead if our team had made some different choices. However, given my involvement in the multi-player component puzzles, I wonder if the others could have had more “screen time”, even with the Hacker-heavy activities. Admittedly, it is possible I just took a long time to solve things so the downtime for my teammates was more noticeable. Though, this did give them the opportunity to read over all the materials their characters were given.

One thing everyone missed out on was seeing what everyone else could see in their character’s materials. Of course, I definitely understand why the game is setup in this way (and it helps provide a really great and unique experience!), but as the Hacker I didn’t get a lot of the interesting story information that I think my teammates were privy to. And apparently, had we chosen different routes along the way, we could have unlocked some more fascinating details about the non-player characters. (Though, this does add to the re-playability incentive!) If your team dynamic is compatible with it, I might suggest taking advantage of screen sharing with any of the characters – at the very least at the end of the game to see what type of information each of you are/were working with.


Agent Venture was a fun and immersive game, and provided a great platform for each player to make their own unique contribution. I would certainly recommend them for anyone looking for a outside the box way to connect during the pandemic or across long distances! Book your time guiding Agent Venture here!

8/10 (Great)

Full Disclosure: The Adventure is Real provided our team with a complementary game.









BrainXcape – Room 228: Do Not Disturb (Review)

Location: Your Home via the Magic of the Internet!

Players: 2-6 (We recommend 2-4 players)

Price: $49 for up to 2 devices, $15 for each additional device

Time to Escape: 60 minutes

You may never want to leave!


From the BrainXcape website:

Locked in the hotel by a madman. Trapped and tormented me for days Thank god you picked up. Please, tell me what to do.  Help me, HELP ME.


First Impressions:

BrainXcape is one of those spots we’ve heard a lot about, and really have wanted to check out, but haven’t gotten the opportunity yet. Luckily, even though we’re stuck at home due to COVID-19, we are able to virtually travel to New York and try out their new virtual escape!


High Points:

Room 228: Do Not Disturb has a beautiful set, the same one that is used for their Haunted Hotel live game. In fact, this is one of those games in which we would love to be there live, as the whole experience from a set design standpoint was astounding! This game is completely different from the live version, allowing even those who have visited before to enjoy a brand new run of puzzles and story. The game itself is very immersive, and almost feels like live interactive theatre, as no pre-game rules or briefing was included, and our experience started with the in room avatar reaching out to us for help in escaping his captivity. The avatar was our only line to the game world, with no dedicated game master beyond them, but he assisted in searching the room and helping reveal certain key points by subtly guiding us around. They played an excellent character, though at times I did think it felt somewhat less interactive than we were used to. The inventory system is great, and ties into the immersion of the room as well by also providing some backstory on the hotel, as well as integrating into puzzles seamlessly. Game flow was mostly linear, and it was fairly intuitive, minus some late game interactions, and all the puzzles followed a stream of logic that didn’t fall into the territory of enormous leaps or red herrings. The immersive theatre nature of the game was definitely the selling point however, as most puzzles felt secondary to the storyline.


Low Points:

Though the climax of the room was interesting, the game just ended, cutting off our zoom meeting and falling sort of flat overall. One of the best part of escape rooms is having a chat with the game master or owner after to ask questions about the rooms and generally debrief with your team, but in this case, we were suddenly cut off. The puzzles included were fairly simple, and there weren’t a huge amount to work through, so as an experienced group, we blew through the experience quickly. This game, as it stood when we played it, would probably be great for new players, but enthusiasts might be disappointed with the simpler nature of this game. One escape room cliche was used a few times, and wasn’t terribly well clued, leading us to perform a few aimless actions in order to get certain parts of the game to trigger.


Room 228: Do Not Disturb is a fun diversion built specifically for a virtual audience, and we had a fun time working through the puzzles, but I would recommend a few more interactions and some debrief time after the game in order to round out the experience for more experienced players. New players are going to have an excellent time here, but I’d recommend enthusiasts go in with tempered expectations overall. I do think the game is still worth checking out for the story and room design alone, however. Book your time in Room 228 here!


7/10 (Good)

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




Travel Quest – The Pyramid by Lee Ballan (Review)

Location: Your Home via the Magic of the Internet!

Players:  We recommend 6, 2 for each team.

Price: €13 per person

Time to Escape: 60 minutes

Let’s split up, we’ll cover more ground that way!


From the Travel Quest website:

 Welcome to The Pyramid – an online puzzle game for three teams! Each team can be one person, a couple, a family, or a group. You will be between three paths in the pyramid – the red track, the green track, and the blue track. In each puzzle, each team will only get a part of the information. In order to advance in the game, the teams need to communicate between them and cooperate, in a journey to the top of the pyramid. Since each team has their own information, you can play the game through Zoom/Skype/any other platform you’re comfortable with!

blue pyramid

First Impressions:

We were invited to scale the Pyramid with our new friends at EscapeTheRoomers and Society of Curiosities, (you should check out SoC’s fantastic first by mail puzzle game, which we’ve reviewed here,) and were excited to try out this Game Masterless, team based at home game!

pyramid status

High Points:

The Pyramid began with a quick story about how our teams had stumbled across an ancient pyramid. Finding three entrances, we split up to seek the treasure inside! From there it was up to us to work together to overcome the ten levels of the pyramid in order to reach the top and claim the treasure! We weren’t sure what to expect, but this game exceeded our hopes, delivering a truly enjoyable, team based experience. The game flow was beautiful, and while linear, ensured that each member of our expedition was involved somehow, with each team receiving a part of the whole puzzle. In the early stages, the difficulty was low, and we initially thought we may just blow through the game, but as we worked our way up the pyramid’s levels, the challenge continued to increase, leading to some fabulously clever conundrums to solve. These puzzles were wonderfully varied as well, even subverting our expectations and allowing some of our more artistically creative teammates to shine during one really great interaction. The puzzles near the end were my personal favorites, as they worked all six of our brains until we were able to reach some beautiful moments of revelation! One in particular demanded good teamwork, and presented a code type I’d never seen before, and it wasn’t the first time I was amazed by the developer’s creativity either.

Each path seems to be equally important, as since each is given a part of the singular puzzle for each level, there’s no “curse of the less interesting room” to be found within the game. Every puzzle in intuitive, and the logic is wonderfully clean between clues and solutions, even during the most challenging bits. It’s also wonderfully simple to verify a code is correct, as it’s always incredibly clear whether you’re on the right track or in the weeds. I appreciated how excellently the puzzles wove between the paths, and I think the game’s variety ensured each team played an integral part during the adventure. This was easily one of my favorite at home experiences during our quarantine, and we cannot wait to see what the developer comes up with next!


Low Points:

The difficulty curve is very smooth, but some of the puzzles may be very difficult for newer players due to the puzzle hunt-y nature of the beast. The ultimate puzzle especially is one I could see giving new players problems, as we were on the cusp of taking a hint before having a breakthrough. This puzzle in particular may feel overly vague and leave players frustrated if they don’t have prior experience with this sort of game. Luckily, there is an ability to take hints during the game, so as long as folks aren’t overly reticent to take a few to kickstart things, it shouldn’t be too much of an issue. It would be nice to have a subtle hint nearer to the start regarding certain mechanics that come into play later, but I’m not sure how this could be implemented without giving a fair amount of the challenge away. It’s a balancing act, to be sure.


The Pyramid is a brilliant new team based game that we had an absolute blast with! Very rarely have we come across a game that demands quite the level of teamwork that this one does, and the experience is a joy to work through. I recommend this one without reservation, and think puzzling veterans will love the challenge it contains! New players will enjoy this as well, though it may prove a bigger challenge than some other available experiences. Book your quest to the top of The Pyramid here!

9/10 (Excellent)

Full Disclosure: Lee Ballan provided our team with a complementary game.