Deadlocked’s first two online games are much loved by enthusiasts, so the release of their third was much anticipated. And this one is released in support of the charity Movember, with a third of the price going to the charity.
You might wonder (I certainly wondered) how an escape game might be based around the concept of growing a moustache for men’s health – perhaps track down an unusually hirsute criminal? In fact it’s a tongue-in-cheek adventure based around getting a razor to its owner, where the mission is an excuse to tie together the puzzles with a whole stream of jokes, silliness and Easter Egg references to elements of the shared world that all Deadlocked’s games are set in. There was an enjoyable sense of the designers having had a great deal of fun when putting Movember together.
Deadlocked’s games are reliably eclectic, and this one is no exception. Gameplay criss-crosses between a dizzying variety of different interfaces – videos, faux computer screens and machine panels, social media accounts. (As with their previous games, you do need a Facebook account to play.) The design builds on the technology they used in Insiders and Cyphstress and adds additional sophistication.
When you begin you’re given a choice of difficulty levels. The simpler level is definitely not easy – although aimed at beginners it still seems to expect fairly smart beginners. There are relatively subtle differences between the easier and the harder level, except that the latter presents a significantly tougher challenge early on in a way that could certainly be off-putting for novice players. Deadlocked aren’t shy about using puzzles that involve quite a bit of process work; if that doesn’t appeal, consider picking the non-enthusiast option even if you’re an experienced escaper.
Movember is shorter than their huge previous games, but still comes with a stated play time of 90 mins, and if anything that might be a slightly low estimate: allow plenty of time to play through it.
Of their three digital games (so far!), Cyphstress remains my favourite, but Movember is close behind, and each new game from the company shows increased polish and experience with the format. Where their games really shine is in immersion, the ARG-style elements that at times make it feel halfway to a live hosted experience – and also of course in the quantity and variety of the content. That variety of interfaces and technologies increases the chance players will get confused, and sometimes their game style can involve a relatively high level of process work; but then there are extensive help options available if needed. Basically, if you liked their previous games then it’s a pretty sure bet you’ll like Movember too; and if you haven’t tried their previous games then you ought to.
Sophisticated challenges is how I would described Deadlocked’s previous two online games, and their latest brainchild “The Movember Virtual Moscape Room” proved again the creativity of the game designers. A collaboration between Deadlocked and Movember, 1/3 of the cost of every game contributes to funding projects raising awareness of male cancers, supporting mental health and suicide prevention, which is critical especially when 2020 is a year of surviving, not thriving.
Deadlocked’s online games have a pretty distinctive style. If you are a noob at escape games or have a personality where you’d rather wing it than read an instruction manual, you might struggle at the very initial stage and be somewhat confused at various junctures. After some faffing and frustration (primarily due to my reluctance to read at half one in the morning), we cruised through to the end unscathed and hint free. En route to the final puzzle, I did find one particular moment to be a leap or perhaps trial and error, and might have sat there brooding, but fortunately my teammate solved it. Having said that, all brains work differently so what I may consider a leap might be entirely logical for another.
The game designers injected their quirky sense of humour and created quality content that are not your typical run-of-the-mill online puzzles. Besides, knowing that a portion of the proceeds will be contributed to worthy causes should nudge you to give this entertaining game a shot.
Disclaimer: We played this game on a complementary basis. This does not influence the review or rating.