Pebble Escape Rooms – Gothic Horror Escape Bundle (Review)

Location: Your Home via the Magic of the Internet!

Players:  We recommend 1-2 players

Price: £25.00 (About $32.75 USD at the time of writing.)

Classic Monsters Return!

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From the Pebble Escape Rooms website:

Enjoy our classic Gothic Horror Escape Bundle as you Escape from Castle Dracula, Defeat Mr Hyde and create your own monster with Dr Frankenstein. Puzzles and brainteasers await you in this triple game bundle.

This Gothic online escape room bundle is available now! You can play at home, solo or with a group of friends over video chats such as Zoom or Microsoft Teams. This game works best on a laptop or tablet but it can also be played on a mobile phone.

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First Impressions:

I always enjoy a good point and click adventure, as the genre has been a favorite since I was a kid in the 90s. Pebble Escape’s Gothic Horror bundle seemed to be right up my alley, with adventures inspired by Frankenstein, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, and Dracula! We tried all three out one weekend, and were impressed by the 90s adventure game aesthetic!

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High Points:

Pebble Escape has created these games to appeal to families and puzzlers looking for an introductory experience, and I think they are perfect for this target audience. The puzzles are simpler, introducing young puzzlers to some basic code breaking and solving, while serving up some puzzle hunt style meta puzzles that are accessible to novice solvers. The presentation is intuitive, and reminds me of late 90s early 00s adventure games, like Dark Fall or The Crystal Key, which brought back some nostalgic feelings. Interactive areas are responsive, and some of the more intricate puzzles have intuitive machines to play around with. The sense of place exuded by the artfully constructed backgrounds is excellent, and we enjoyed spotting the buried clues integrated into these scenes. In scenes that are dependent on searching for hidden objects, an optional magnifying glass is included, which is greatly appreciated. The games are strictly linear, but do have important clues woven through each scene, and players will need to carefully search each area for items they’ll need to ultimately overcome the final puzzles. The difficulty curve is gentle, but does ramp nicely towards more complex solves as players work through each scene, and the finales presented some interesting mechanics to ensure they remain engaging. Puzzles within each game are varied in order to ensure there’s several different puzzling concepts to explore, and I think families will have a great time working through them together!

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Low Points:

One thing that would really help bolster the experience would be the addition of a soundtrack and perhaps sound effects when interacting with items. The immersion falls strangely flat when the game remains silent at all times. Even the addition of a suggested Spotify playlist could help players get more immersed within the world of the games. Enthusiasts aren’t quite the target audience, though if they’re looking for a game to play with their kids or family that is new to puzzling, this one will serve as a great introduction. Between the games, there are a few puzzles that repeat, which is alright overall, but the bundle does feel somewhat repetitive at times if played back to back.

Verdict:

Pebble Escape Games has created a fantastic little bundle of escape adventures for families with their Gothic Horror Bundle, which will introduce basic puzzling concepts and villains from classic literature in an accessible, spooky but not scary way! I definitely recommend this to enthusiasts who want to share their puzzling obsession with their children, as well as less experienced folks who are looking for a family focused adventure. Work through the puzzles and escape the monsters here!

8/10 (Great)

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

 

 

 

Complex Rooms – Legends of Canada (Review)

Location: Your Home via the Magic of the Internet!

Players:  We recommend 1-2 players

Price: $15.00 CAD per connected device (About $11.27 USD at the time of writing.)

Oh, Canada!

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From the Complex Rooms website:

As proud Canadians we at Complex Rooms believe that our stories deserve a world stage in a venue that rivals the richest kingdoms of all time! Since we don’t have that sort of budget… We built an escape room instead!

This game replicates the in-room experience and challenges you to explore the legends, solve the puzzles and escape. No knowledge of Canada is required but, if you learn a thing or two… don’t blame us! So how would you like to play?

First Impressions:

A lot of businesses have created online point and click escape rooms in order to provide escapists with a fun outlet during the pandemic, but I hadn’t come across one that was based off a physical escape room just yet. I was interested to see how Complex Rooms converted their Legends of Canada room to this format, and I’m happy to say it translates pretty well!

High Points:

Legends of Canada is based off Complex Room’s live escape experience, and it definitely shows within the online version. The puzzles are a lot of fun, and certainly feel like they belong within a physical escape room. There’s a large variety between each puzzle, and things are never bogged down within repetition of the same style of puzzle. With this sort of variety, multiple folks can take on the enigmas that appeal to them, and enthusiasts will discover a wide range of engaging interactions to solve. The set up is simple, but well implemented, and we really loved how players are subtly encouraged to search the room, and then begin making connections between the locked boxes and the displays throughout the experience. These displays include some fantastic subtle cluing, and the signposting is well implemented, ensuring that while the puzzles are a challenge, determining where the solutions are to be entered is streamlined and easy to determine. The displays are also densely packed with interesting Canadian facts, which are all well incorporated into the puzzling threads, making the room educational without feeling banal.

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Making connections is a major theme within this room, and there are several points at which things just click together, revealing a satisfying moment of revelation. I played this game solo, and thought it worked perfectly for an enthusiast, but the puzzles also work well as teamwork based interactions as the group comes together to figure out how everything interacts together. The game flow is mostly non-linear, ensuring there aren’t any choke points, and the hint system further alleviates any worry about being stuck by providing increasingly revealing nudges for players. The hint system is also very directed and graduated, ensuring that you only get help with what you’re looking for, when it is needed. The difficulty curve works fantastically, with a few quick wins to get things going, building towards some more challenging puzzles as the adventure progresses.

Low Points:

One particular puzzle wasn’t very intuitive overall, there were certain extraneous bits as well as a couple similar pieces that could go in a couple different places which threw us off a lot. It is overall a good puzzle however, but a little bit of tightening up of the cluing would make this one a bit more intuitive without sacrificing the challenge. Enthusiasts might blow through this one, so $15 CAD might seem a bit steep for an online point and click game that cannot be replayed, but I think the price is on the whole, fair for new players or folks looking to scratch the escape room itch on their own time. Some boxes have a question mark button on them, and it seems like they might tie into a puzzle, but the boxes are triggered via a different method, leaving these buttons to be red herrings. The removal of these would prevent players rushing down unintended rabbit trails and remove some frustration caused by red herrings.

Verdict:

Legends of Canada is an enjoyable experience that will appeal to escape room enthusiasts and new players alike. I think this one works best for a solo enthusiast or a group of newer players, but either way, there’s a lot of fun to be had in this Canadian focused room! As someone who enjoys a good point and click adventure, it was very satisfying to work though the room, discovering the surprises Complex Rooms has implemented, and absolutely recommend giving it a shot. Book your time discovering the Legends of Canada here!

7/10 (Good)

Full Disclosure: Complex Rooms provided our team with a complementary game.