Improbable Escapes: Seven Dwarfs: Mining Mission

By | February 9, 2021

Online, Nov 2020

Rated 4 out of 5
Toby says:

When things go wrong in a game, it’s always tricky to fairly judge to what extent that was an unfortunate one-off and to what extent it reflects problems that other teams may also encounter. I think our frustrating experience of Seven Dwarfs was more the former than the latter, and I suspect the game’s obvious strengths made it all the more disappointing that it didn’t go smoothly.
Seven Dwarfs continues the story of Snow White. The evil Queen has been defeated but – shades of of Tolkien creeping in – her poisoned apple must be taken to a volcanic furnace to be destroyed, to prevent her return.
The other avatar game I played at Improbable had an impressive set and this room looked even better, with added charm and cuteness. The pretty visuals extended to a detailed inventory system, which had the one drawback of needing players to manually enter passwords to unlock new sections but which in other respects was both well-presented and very functional.
Hosting an escape room is a difficult skill at the best of times, and with an avatar game it’s both more important and even harder to judge the line between too much help and not enough. We lost a lot of time early on struggling with a puzzle that looked solvable but wasn’t, until we realised that a particular part of the room was interactive. Given unlimited time, I’m not sure it would ever have occurred to me to tell the avatar to touch the relevant part of the scenery without a hint. Presumably many teams do in fact solve that step without problems. Still, it was the kind of step which leaves you thinking “how would I ever have known to try that” rather than “oh, of course!”; and that’s the type of puzzle where a host should offer help sooner rather than later.
The more blatant problem though was the wifi signal. Pretty much as soon as we reached the final stretch of the game, our avatar’s feed froze, then cut out. After a minute or two she reconnected from an earlier location, returned to the problem area and froze again; that repeated a few times while we tried to solve puzzles using only the inventory information as the minutes ticked by, and then she announced that our time had run out.
Given how severe the problem was I find it hard to believe that our group was the only one affected. Certainly many other groups have played the game without that problem, so most likely it’s a recent change to their wifi setup which will be addressed and fixed soon (or rather, has hopefully been fixed many weeks ago, given the delay between playing and reviewing). Unless we were particularly unlucky with it, it did leave me wondering whether they should really be running the game in the meantime, though.
Seven Dwarfs is a beautiful, clever original game that I’d love to play in person. Even if I write off the problems we had as being bad luck, I suspect it would still have given me a feeling of FOMO, due to being far better suited to in-person play. Several of its highlight moments were blunted by being played vicariously through a screen, and both visuals and puzzles worked a little less well in the remote format.
Although something clearly went wrong in our play-through, a great many people have played it without problems so I have to assume we were just unfortunate. Absent such issues, it’s a lovely room, although – even more than with most avatar games – your enjoyment will depend on how able you are to get vicarious pleasure out of seeing someone else navigate a game on your behalf. But then that’s also true of the venue’s Neverland game, which I played subsequently and which went far better, so I suspect some of the frustration I felt was specific to our experience. Your mileage may vary, but even with a play-through that went poorly the underlying quality of the game still stood out. 4 / 5

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