Daydream Adventures – A Witchy Christmas

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

Location: Your Home via the Magic of the Internet!

Players: 1-8 (We recommend 4-5 players)

Price: Starting at $110 CAD for up to 4 players

Time to Escape: 90 minutes

Theme:

From the Daydream Adventures’ website:

Hilda, a mischievous witch, lives in a wondrous forest. There was a time when she had tricks and traps for humans sneaking into her home. After nearly a year of humans hiding away, Hilda has become very bored and lonesome, so she casted her magic to travel through a portal to find the humans.

The lights and snow, the joy and delight…it was all so frightful and magical. Although she is yet to understand, this witch has discovered Christmas. Hilda wants it all to herself. Back in the safety of her forest, Hilda seeks help from the forest creatures and spirits. Spirits of the forest, such as yourself, are very wise. Will you help this witch unravel the curiosities of Christmas?

First Impressions

Sequel to The Witch’s Forest? Heck yes, sign me up! I was glad to find that our team had the same Hilda from before (is there only one game master for Hilda?) leading us again on this adventure. I always love this twist on the holidays, and was excited to see how Hilda would make it her own. Back to Dreamlands!

Yay Points

Once again, Hilda set such a fun and great tone from the beginning. She took the time to greet each one of us individually before the game took off, and her banter was always on point. Her personality shined through, providing a unique experience. Her charisma and ability for improv is one of my favorite aspects, as she can really tailor the experience for each group. In addition, Hilda was able to make the logistics of our virtual experience easier. She started the game with a tour around the house, providing a smooth way to include puzzle introductions and places of interest. And there were small actions she took to help nudge us without overdoing it, such as stepping back to adjust the camera view when we needed to focus on a wider picture or the subtle suggestions she provided while describing something.

As a sequel, A Witchy Christmas made excellent use of the previous set. Naturally, this provided various easter eggs, but I was also impressed by how they were able to recycle some props and use them in a completely new way for the current game. (Also, hope this isn’t a spoiler, but I was super excited for the gnomes again!). The new puzzle and story elements that Daydream Adventures devised were very in-theme as Hilda learned about Christmas, and included some interesting surprises along the way. There was a particular animation aspect I especially enjoyed, and I found Hilda’s name for this character hilarious and adorable. The puzzles were interesting, and provided a lot of opportunities for interaction and audience choice/participation.

With The Witch’s Forest, I was impressed with the specific webpages associated with each puzzle or event that occurred. These pages had included relevant information about scenarios, as well as videos depicting what occurs when we solved puzzles, interactions with other in-game characters, and the magic Hilda was seeing around her. Not only were videos included for A Witchy Christmas, but also they were integrated directly into our Zoom experience without us even having to click on a different Zoom video to see it. Actually, our overall need to click on things was decreased as we didn’t have to enter passwords, and instead were able to focus on the visuals presented through Hilda’s camera. However, Daydream Adventures did thoughtfully sent us pictures of different puzzle stimuli so we could take a closer look without the camera having to zoom in or move back and forth.

Pondering Points

One puzzle in particular was a little confusing for me, though the other players in my team seemed to understand it just fine. Related to this though, there was a clue that I felt like could’ve been emphasized a little more, or at least lingered on a little longer as it wasn’t initially obvious to us that it was supposed to clue us into something.

There was one or two more puzzles where I feel like we could’ve benefited from pictures of the clues. We discussed this with the game masters after the game though, so this might be changed now!

Final Verdict

If you’re looking for an entertaining Christmas-themed virtual escape room, then you should definitely check out A Witchy Christmas! Don’t take my word for it though, you can see for yourself and book them here!

8/10 (Great)

Full Disclosure: Daydream Adventures provided our team with a complementary game.

Mystery Mansion Regina – D’Vile’s Curio Shoppe (Review)

Location: Your Home via the Magic of the Internet!

Players: 3-10 (We recommend 4-5 players)

Price: $25 CAD per person (About $19.73 USD at the time of writing)

Time to Escape: 75 minutes

It ain’t Cruella’s shop, that’s for sure.

Theme:

From the Mystery Mansion Regina website:

Local paranormal Youtuber, Estelle Jacobs, was searching for her missing boyfriend, Alex. Shortly after visiting D’Vile’s Curio Shoppe, Estelle vanished without a trace. It’s time to venture inside the Curio Shoppe through a live video feed and find out the truth about Estelle’s disappearance…

We recommend playing Night Terrors before playing this room for story continuity.

First Impressions:

Mystery Mansion Regina is one of the escape room companies out there who we recognize as doing an amazing job adapting to virtual play. They’ve created rooms that are specifically built from the ground up to be online experiences, and because of this, their games shine as few others can. It is always a massive treat to explore one of their rooms, and we were very pleased to be returning for D’Vile’s Curio Shoppe!

High Points:

As I mentioned, this room is tailor made for online groups. While the room can be played live, the online version has been adjusted for online play, and ties into their amazing Night Terrors room beautifully. It was brilliant to return to the world of The Sleepy Man, and with this room ending on an exciting cliff hanger, I can’t wait to see what comes next! Per usual, the acting from our avatar and special guests was fun and immersive, and they tailored their performance to our shenanigans. I always appreciate versatile GMs, especially those that don’t mind playing along with us, and Mystery Mansion Regina’s GMing is top-notch. The room itself was wonderfully spooky, using lighting and sound excellently in order to create a dynamic, creepy atmosphere for us to puzzle in from the safety of our own homes. The entire space feels lived in, and there was so much more than what meets the eye hidden in the dark crevices of the Curio Shoppe. The props involved were devilishly fun, and just soaking in the ambiance and investigating all the weird and wonderful items in the Shoppe was hugely entertaining. All this comes together with a seamless integration into Telescape to translate the game into one of the best remote experiences we’ve played!

Puzzles are fantastic, and have been tweaked from the original room to fit the modified theme, ensuring nothing feels out of place. Some of my favorite enigmas within play with the remote nature of the game fantastically, and I really enjoy seeing how creative the room can get. Mystery Mansion Regina really does an amazing job crafting interactions that work beautifully within the virtual space, and provide an experience that not only feels like an authentic escape room adventure, but is also a one of a kind mystery you won’t find elsewhere! The game is densely packed with puzzling, and there is more than enough included to keep an experienced team busy, ensuring players will receive a good value for the cost. Intuitive and smoothly flowing, D’Vile’s Curio Shoppe absolutely ups the ante for Mystery Mansion Regina’s virtual experiences, and ranks up there with some of our favorite rooms of all time!

Low Points:

Only one puzzle didn’t work flawlessly, and though we felt it was a little unwieldly, we like the idea overall. It definitely tries to play with the game’s tools in a way that is married well to the theme, but it just doesn’t quite work perfectly. A slight adjustment, though, and this is a flawless room!

Verdict:

D’Vile Curio Shoppe is one of those games that I couldn’t wait to play, was 100% enthralled with during, and would recommend to anyone! As always, Mystery Mansion Regina has done a beautiful job creating a one of a kind experience that combines excellent storytelling, creative puzzling, and masterful GMing. You should absolutely check this, and their other brilliant rooms out here!

9.5/10 (Excellent)

Full Disclosure: Mystery Mansion Regina provided our team with a complementary game.

Emergency Exit Escape Games UK – The Beast (Review)

Location: Your Home via the Magic of the Internet!

Players: Up to 6 connections (We recommend 2-5 players)

Price: £100.00 per room (About $128.06 USD at the time of writing)

Time to Escape: 90 minutes

The number of the Beast is 10/10

Theme:

From the Emergency Exit Escape Games UK website:

Exclusively play a unique experience – only available online – combining Conjure + Poltergeist! The game includes spoilers from both physical games. The rooms may LOOK the same online, but the game-play isn’t!

Deep in the forest of Crowley Manor lies a secret as dark as the house itself; maybe even worse?

There’s a cabin in the woods with a legend of the supernatural. Long abandoned, there have been strange sightings and many people have disappeared, as reported in the news over the years, never to return.

You should NOT enter! The question is… can you escape parts 2 and 3 of the Crowley Manor story? There’s lots of puzzles to solve before you can.

Based in the same reality as our Exorcist game, Crowley Manor. You’ll be playing in the actual Conjure and Poltergeist rooms by controlling a Game Master.

First Impressions:

We have been anxiously waiting to play The Beast since the second we were told there would be a sequel. Exorcist was, and still is, our favorite virtual escape game we’ve done, and honestly, is probably one of the best escape games we’ve experienced, period. We could not wait to get back into the horror filled universe that Emergency Exit has created, and when the day finally came, we were more than thrilled to be returning to Crowley Manor!

High Points:

Emergency Exit continues to impress with yet another brilliant foray into the dark confines of Crowley Manor. Every facet of this game is polished, and impresses from start to finish. From the moment we entered our Zoom meeting, an intro video was playing, reacquainting us with Crowley Manor and setting the mood while counting down the time until the game would begin. The anticipation was absolutely palpable, and the production values were already high, and we hadn’t even entered the room yet! Once we were connected to our avatar, Ronnie, we picked up right where we left off at the end of Exorcist. From there, we broke back into Crowley Manor, (bad idea number one,) found our possibly possessed cameraman inside, (bad idea number two,) and began messing about with a bunch of creepy dolls, (you guessed it! Three’s a charm.) The set was beautifully well designed, and the videos and effects all work together to ensure that we were appropriately spooked, and that there was never any certainty as to what creepy happening was around every corner. An amazing attention to detail and beautiful design work is apparent in every room we visited, and though we were not physically in the room, the designers have done an awesome job of ensuring that the atmosphere and ambiance is preserved for the virtual experience through some of the best lighting and sound design we’ve seen in a virtual room. In fact, this is one of those rooms that just oozes immersion, combining the sound effects, music, and characterization of Ronnie and Liam, our avatar and cameraman, respectively. Truly, Emergency Exit has continues to set the bar for what a remote escape room should strive to be.

The game flow is wonderfully smooth within this room, and runs linearly, with subtle hints and clues to ensure that players never feel lost, but are still challenged to put together the pieces. The whole experience is intuitive, and filled with a variety of puzzle types that allows all different types of puzzlers to shine. There are loads of amazing interactions in The Beast, and it is honestly hard to pick a favorite moment. One section of the game near the midpoint that I really adored subverted our expectations fantastically, and allowed for a few minutes of unsettling uncertainty and scares while still presenting some great puzzles to solve. The experience is absolutely filled to the brim with immensely satisfying ah ha moments, and each puzzle is integrated into the room’s theme convincingly. I really loved how during our solves, bits of story and lore were drip fed to us by our host, who despite the creepy situation he finds himself in, still finds time to be a good ghost tour guide! Other bits of story were realistically integrated into the rooms via notes, radio broadcasts, and haunting happenings, and the mystery kept us guessing until the end. The climax of the story is an unexpected, yet fantastic conclusion to the saga, but leaves things open to interpretation, keeping us guessing even long after the game had ended. Overall, The Beast mixes immersive theater, escape rooms, and haunts together to create an experience that is second to none. Though The Beast caps off the Crowley Manor saga excellently, if Emergency Exit releases another remote game, we will be ready to book without question.

Low Points:

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Verdict:

I can say without hesitation that Emergency Exit has outdone themselves with The Beast. Exorcism was an amazing room that absolutely must be played by any escape room enthusiast, but The Beast is a worthy sequel and an evolution that somehow manages to be even better than its predecessor! I cannot recommend this one enough, and encourage players new and old to book Exorcist and The Beast as soon as you can, as these are without question the best remote escape games you will find. Book your return to Crowley Manor here!

10/10 (Phenomenal)

Full Disclosure: Emergency Exit Escape Games UK provided our team with a complementary game.

Daydream Adventures – The Witch’s Forest (Review)

Kara’s Note: This review was brought to you by me! 😊

Location: Your Home!

Players:  We recommend 1-4

Price: $95 CAD + tax (flat rate, up to 4 players; $10 CAD + tax per extra player)

Walking in a Witch’s Wonderlaaaaand! 😀

Theme:

From Daydream Adventure’s website:

In a realm of dreams and magic, a trickster has upset the witch who lives here. Hilda has been away from the forest. Upon returning home, Hilda discovers someone has mischievously interrupted what she was working on. She is locked out of her cabin. She suspects a human may have done this, as she knows many humans detest her.

In this realm, spirits often watch and listen. Spirits of the forest, such as yourself, are very wise. A witch calls upon forest spirits for guidance. When Hilda calls for your help, your spirit can tell Hilda exactly how to undo the trickster’s mess.

First Impressions

I had my fingers crossed that the game would be as good as the pictures on their website, because they looked stunning!

Yay Points

This game’s theme and aesthetic was definitely a departure from our usual MO for escape rooms (read: NOT horror-themed :D) – and was right up my alley! If The Witch’s Forest is any indication, “Daydream Adventures” is an absolutely apt description for this escape room company. I was in utter awe of the beautiful setting of this game. The attention to detail in the decorations was astounding and really created a wonderful aesthetic. From the grasses to the trees to the inside of Hilda’s cabin, everything seemed very captivating. I was super sad I couldn’t experience it in person!

I enjoyed how cute many of the puzzles were (especially the first one; the in-game characters were hilarious!). The riddles were presented linearly and were relatively straightforward in nature, though they did level-up in complexity after you moved into the second “room” of the game. We were pleasantly surprised by the way the game incorporated some player choices/interactions – these added nice touches and I feel like they would be fun for players who enjoy those types of things.

Additionally, the game design very effectively included videos to reveal the plot or show what happens when puzzles are solved or things are opened. These were fun to watch and really helpful in making sure we didn’t miss anything. We also appreciated that the site had specific pages dedicated to each stage of the game. Thankfully, this helped us avoid a lot of unnecessary searching or guessing at what might be needed, and ensured that we were able to focus on what was actually relevant for a given puzzle.

Our avatar, Hilda, was extremely on-point. We always appreciate when game masters/avatars are interactive and can adapt to our team’s – shall I say “unique?” – personalities. Hilda did a great job playing off of us and making the experience all the more entertaining. Because this game seems more naturally inclined to be both beginner- and family-friendly, Hilda’s character seems like the perfect way to tailor the experience to groups. In addition to providing a more immersive experience, our Hilda was able to provide as much or as little direction as we needed.

Pondering Points

Some of the puzzles may make a little more sense in person, and some seem to be of the “you get it or you don’t” variety. They were pretty straightforward overall, but there was one puzzle that was a little unclear for some of us. It wasn’t hard to figure out what we were supposed to do process-wise, but the instructions seemed to (unintentionally) include a red herring in what format the answer would be. It was also a little confusing (for me at least) to figure out certain reference points based on how the instructions were presented.

While the game was generally full of new surprises behind each door, we were surprised when one path seemed to end abruptly.

Lastly, while I liked what they did with the ending, it does rely a little bit on chance. This is not necessarily a bad thing, but it might be neat for players to be able to make more choices for this interaction.

Verdict

While I think this game would be all the more fun in person, Daydream Adventures did a great job in turning it into an online experience. The Witch’s Forest is beginner-friendly, and is definitely geared more towards those who are looking for family-friendly fantasy genres. If you’re at all into such dreamland experiences like me, then I highly encourage you to check it out! Book your time in Hilda’s Forest here!

8/10 (Great)

Full Disclosure: Daydream Adventures provided our team with a complementary game.

Virtual Escape – Ben’s Big Heist (Review)

Location: Your Home via the Magic of the Internet!

Players: We recommend 3-4 players

Price: $45 AUD per person (About $32.05 USD at the time of writing)

Time to Escape: 60 minutes

Needs the more money! All the more!

Theme:

From the Virtual Escape website:

Ever wanted to rob a bank? Now’s your chance! You’ve got 60 minutes to steal as much loot as you can.

Bypass security, crack vaults, fill the loot bags and safely escape.

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First Impressions:

We always enjoy knocking over banks… in escape rooms, of course! As a puzzling team of Bonnie and Clydes, trying to rob a vault blind is always an intense and exciting adventure. Virtual Escape looked to be a bit different than a usual virtual escape, as it would be played through WhatsApp, which I downloaded especially for this game. I was interested to see how the game would flow through a texting based platform, as we were very much used to seeing our Game Master live and working through puzzles through Zoom. Thanks also to EscapeTheRoomers for inviting us along!

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High Points:

For Ben’s Big Heist, we were contacted by our Game Master through WhatsApp, acting as Ben, who was just about ready to get started breaking into his first bank! He needed our help however, as he, like so many other escape game avatars, was completely unable to solve the puzzles on his own! The first couple interactions were straightforward, helping us get used to how we interacted with the game, and then the real challenges began. While some of the starting puzzles threw off the difficulty curve a bit, later puzzles flowed supremely well, and once the game found its footing, the linear puzzling provided some great ah ha moments and clever enigmas! Almost all of the challenges presented by the game are teamwork based, ensuring that every member of the team remains fully engaged with the experience, and allows for multi-level solving that keeps things interesting. Even one of the more banal interactions still created a sense of teamwork that elevated it somewhat over basic math.

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Later on in the game, things become much more intense, as time began to run low and we still had a vault to clear! Once we cleared out the bank, (setting a, at the time, record of $4,845,000,) the game wasn’t over, and we had to solve a couple more conundrums before the police arrived. This end game run of “boss level” vaults and a daring, if somewhat silly, escape truly ramped up the stakes and delivered a fantastic level of intensity to the adventure. The final vaults are a choice between the easier level vault for a smaller reward and a more difficult vault for a much bigger reward. Luckily we had time to take on both, and I can definitely confirm that both are a satisfying bunch of multilayered puzzles. Though I liked the more difficult vault more for its truly satisfying solves, the easier vault was still a lot of fun and a close second. Speeding away from the bank was highly satisfying, and receiving our final score was a fantastic way to cap off the experience.

Low Points:

One particular puzzle involved some translation that would be a bit more cumbersome than usual. Our team was very lucky in that one person was able to quickly translate for us, but had we been on our own, this would’ve been a fairly clunky puzzle for us. There were a few math based puzzles, which were banal for us. I know some folks really love math puzzles, but the majority of the people I play with tend not to enjoy them unless they’re really well integrated with the room. If the math was somewhat more interactive, it would be a little more interesting, and while it does present a good teamwork challenge, the presentation leaves a bit to be desired. The game itself started out a little rough, and most of the issues presented in this section are overcome by the second half, so a smoother introduction would definitely help. One puzzle required the use of a QR code, which, as I was already using my phone for WhatsApp, was not readable by me. Luckily, one of our teammates sorted it out and sent the link, but it may be better if the GM could just send the link along. Finally, WhatsApp isn’t quite the best method of presentation for the game, it was fairly wonky overall, and felt like more of an impediment to overcome than anything. Most of the time, I was translating links onto my desktop in order to better experience the puzzles. Zoom or other web conferencing sites have chat functions, so it wouldn’t be hard to change over to a somewhat more intuitive platform.

Verdict:

Ben’s Big Heist has some hurdles to overcome to become truly a great game, but it is still a solid time, and fun to work through on the whole. Enthusiasts who enjoy bank heist rooms that measure how much you can steal will enjoy this the most, but newcomers can still enjoy the room’s clever puzzling and heist based excitement. I recommend checking it out if you’re looking for something a little bit different from the norm. Book your time helping Ben liberate some cash here!

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7/10 (Good)

Full Disclosure: Virtual Escape provided our team with a complementary game.