Online, Jun 2020
The majority of the online escape games available are actually perfectly well suited to solo completion. A few involve team elements of some sort, where different players need to do different things at the same time or have different sets of information. The Pyramid is wholly based around taking that idea to the next level, where the players are divided into three different teams, each with different information.
That means you need at least three people to play this. (A larger number of people is fine, though in that case you’ll be grouped into three different teams.) Be careful when using your activation code – we misunderstood the interface and on the first attempt registered all of us in a single team, which doesn’t work.
Before the game starts the instructions suggest using an online collaborative drawing app to facilitate communication. However, we utterly failed to notice that suggestion until after we’d finished, and played the whole thing using purely verbal communication. While that doesn’t reflect well on our group’s observation skills, the game works perfectly well like that.
The interface is a pre-existing platform which I think is designed for puzzle hunts. It’s worth being aware that it’s not tailored to this specific game, which is why, for example, it doesn’t enforce that you play with exactly three teams. I’d also classify The Pyramid as a light puzzle hunt much more than as an escape game. There’s some flavour text, involving ascending through and thereby escaping a pyramid, but narrative isn’t important here – it’s all about the communication puzzles. And it follows puzzle hunt conventions in other ways, such as expecting outside research in some places.
For a game based very heavily on communication, it’s rather kind in what it makes you communicate. That is, it’s usually very clear what information you need to convey to the other teams, with no time spent speculatively describing details that might or might not turn out to be relevant. I also thought the difficulty gradient was done well, starting out with a very straightforward opening and becoming much more tricky and interesting by the end.
A certain puzzle near the end was a clear stand-out for me, for being both clever and subtle. Another was straight out of left field with unexpected humour. For the most part it’s very much centred on the core idea of sharing information between the three teams, but does that with clear, logical puzzles that resolve neatly and avoid repetition. It was particularly pleasing when we tried something plausible but not quite right, and instead of gibberish it resulted in something that nudged you in the right direction.
The Pyramid is definitely one of the more expensive games currently available – though less so if you’re splitting the cost across three different teams, and it has the advantage of being entirely printless. For hardcore puzzling I’d point you at some of the cheaper, longer and tougher puzzle hunts instead; but its idea of a three-way communication puzzle game is a clever concept, implemented skilfully. If the price tag doesn’t dissuade you, it’s a good puzzle games that gets extra credit for the unusual setup.
Disclaimer: We played this game on a complementary basis. This does not influence the review or rating.