Online, May 2020
As you might or might not have guessed from the name, Escape Works Denver’s first remote play game is inspired by the 80s Matthew Broderick movie involving a military computer at risk of triggering World War 3 – I don’t know if it’s intentional, but that’s a particularly appropriate plot for a game played by dialling in from a distant location!
The story broadly follows the movie, with your job being to find a way to shut down the computer system and prevent a nuclear missile launch, and the room is full of small references and homages to the film.
This remote play game manages without any separate inventory system. While it would definitely have been improved by using one, it still worked reasonably well without, despite our fairly large team. It helped that the game was mostly linear and not that huge. It was also helped by our gamemaster giving us a quick tour of what was in the room before starting the clock – although personally I struggled to take in all the details in that quick initial pass, so would have been pleased to have a floorplan or room photo to refer back to during the game.
The set benefited from good use of switches and panels and other paraphernalia that conveyed the feel of a missile command centre. They’d clearly adjusted a few of the game elements to make them work better with remote play too, I suspect including making the handful of search tasks easier. The role of avatar is prone to either, on one hand, accidentally pushing players towards the answers and, on the other, insisting that players laboriously spell out every step of what they want done; in War Games our host successfully avoided both extremes. I’d recommend a smaller team than the one we played with, at least until/unless they introduce some kind of inventory system, but that didn’t get in the way of enjoying the game.
Disclaimer: We played this game on a complementary basis. This does not influence the review or rating.