Tonight, my wife, six other family members, and I played Mystery Escape Room's online escape room Return to Treasure Island. It was a great experience.
Mystery Escape Room is a a small chain of physical escape room that also offers online escape rooms. Their rooms are fully digital and feel a lot like the The Room app or the old Myst games. They use Google Hangouts Meet (Google's version of Zoom) for teams to communication with each other and the game master. They suggest that each player has his/her own computer (not phone), and that was very helpful.
Each player is able to navigate the room independently. That is helpful for exploration, but the downside is that when one person opens a lock or solves a puzzle, it doesn't affect the game on other computers. The solver has to convey the correct code/solution to the rest of the team, and everyone has to enter the code. That required a lot of communication.
When you unlock a door or box, a new tab will open up on your computer. You will need to leave all the tabs open so that you can quickly navigate back to previous areas. By the end, you will have a lot of tabs open, but on my browser the tabs were nicely labeled for navigation.
Quality headsets and internet connections are very important. Make sure you don't have multiple players in the same room so that the echo doesn't keep players from communicating. Even muting won't totally solve that problem.
We did discover halfway through the room that the room is sometime glitchy on Safari. I wish they would have instructed us before the game to just use Google Chrome.
For anyone who is comfortable using tabs in a web browser, the navigation was quite simple and logical. I like how they label each room with the directional view (Storage Room - West View). I like how some of the clickable items are obviously clickable and others require some exploration.
The game master created a Google Sheet for us to share information, codes, and other discoveries. My recommendation is that teams use the Google Sheet tab much more than we did. Rather than repeat a code over and over again as people navigated to a lock, we should have written the solution on the Sheet with a clear label and made it clear that if you are looking for a code for a lock that has already been solved, look at the Sheet.
Return to Treasure Island
Mike’s Difficulty Rating: 2 (out of 5)
Their Difficulty Rating: 35% Success Rate
Return to Treasure Island was very fun. The theme and story line weren't incredibly unique, but they were consistent and believable throughout. The host was helpful and clear, but the experience would have been better if she would have more fully embraced the character she was meant to play. In her defense, I think she was caught off guard when she entered a room with a few loud personalities.
I appreciated how the designer added a clue for just about everything. The focus of the game was solving puzzles and riddles rather than on trial and error. It wasn't just a click party. The riddles were clever, but not so clever that we couldn't understand them. The puzzles were logical and not repetitive.
In the beginning the room was quite linear, but by the end, we were all spread out. Because of that, the room requires a lot of communication and teamwork. You'll find a clue in one room that will point to a clue in another room, and you will need people to spread out and listen as their teammates describe what they are discovering so that you can connect your discoveries to theirs.
Even though the graphics were good, I wish the room could have been a little more immersive. Unfortunately, the only way to pull that off would have been with an epic soundtrack, but an epic soundtrack would have overpowered our communication, so they probably did as well as they could.