Last year some of the City Adventurers signed up for Red Herring Games virtual cruise. It included a murder mystery spread over two days, a cookery demonstration, an art workshop, a talk by three eminent mystery writers plus a Virtual Escape Room run by Simon Conrich from WildGoose.
At the time we had not played a Virtual Escape Room and were worried how it would work. The instructions told us to download a free app onto our mobile devices before the game and that the app worked on i-devices and android, tablets but NOT PCs.
Having never played such a game on our phones before, we were worried the screen on a phone may be too small to see the puzzle details. Plus, I’d just got a new phone and was still learning how it worked, so Ian elected to use an android tablet to play, as it had a bigger screen and familiar technology.
On the day we clicked on the zoom link we had been sent to join and found we had been pre-allocated to a team of players and a break out room. Simon asked us to select a team captain, who would input the answers for the team. We had to solve the puzzles together, and share the answers as everyone had to input the answer to move their screen on through the game. However, only the captains answer would count towards the team time so we were not to get ahead of ourselves.
Our team made themselves known to each other and Ian was elected captain.
So far, so good.
We set off on our mission really well, and solved the first puzzle with ease.
That is when it all went wrong.
It seems that a phone/tablet was needed to input the answers but anything that needed scrutiny could be viewed on a computer. So the good news was that we could see everything we needed to scrutinise with ease.
The bad news was you needed new(ish) technology to input the answers. While my phone, being new, accepted the answers no problem, Ian’s tablet, being older, did not. The rest of the team moved forward and were offering solutions to the next puzzle while Ian was still trying to get the app to accept our first answer.
After a lot of frustration, we managed to call Simon back and explain the problem. He moved us on, but in doing so, we missed one answer. Yes, we’d got it right, but it had not been registered against our score.
The same thing happened with the next answer, so again we had to call Simon back. This time we asked to make me captain instead, as it was obvious the tablet was going to keep having this problem.
Once we’d swapped roles, it was back to our team……..who had solved the next puzzle without us and were ready with the answer.
We continued working through the puzzles and were just entering the last answer when we found ourselves dragged back to the main zoom room.
Turns out we had done incredibly well and had the leading score……but as we had not technically “escaped” the room, victory was denied. Had we been allowed time to input the final code (considering all the technical problems with the app not accepting the tablet’s answers and having to change captains) we would have won. Simon suggested we could claim a moral victory, but the actual victory went to our opponents.
The Virtual Escape Room had some very good puzzles that were fun to do.
We worked well as a team, even though most of us had not met prior to being allocated to that break out room.
It would have helped knowing in advance that anything detailed would be available on a (large) computer screen, not just a phone screen.
There was a problem with the technology and app interface. As noted above, we needed the new smartphone to input the answers rather than an old tablet. This problem cost us time and meant we were on the last code when the game cut out.
Yes, we felt robbed of victory, especially as we’d have won by a big points margin compared to the other teams. However, we accept the result.