Live Escape Salisbury: POD

By | August 23, 2020

Online, Aug 2020

Rated between 3.5 and 4 out of 5
Toby says:

Firstly, note that at time of writing POD is due to close as a remote play game in a week or so, so if you want to catch it you’ll need to move swiftly. I was in fact in two minds about whether to play it, since I believe it’s going to be adapted into Live Escape’s next physical room, and I wouldn’t want the remote experience to spoil the physical one; but the plan is apparently to have no overlap in the puzzles.
Set on an alien spaceship, your job is to prevent it from opening a portal to the alien homeworld. The briefing video explains that although the spaceship’s owner is just innocently trying to return home, the unfriendly chaps at the other end are preparing to blast Earth to stop him doing so.
POD’s spaceship is compact but atmospheric and dramatically lit. Some escape rooms are cluttered, some are cleanly minimal. Appropriately for a spaceship, this one is firmly in the latter category. Despite the many consoles and screens and buttons, at the outset of the game it took a few moments to find a loose thread of clues to start tugging on – but once we got going, the game’s structure soon became very clear.
Despite the high-tech stylings, most of POD is very much based around padlock codes. The plethora of locks might be confusing, were it not for a colour coding scheme that makes it very clear which puzzles go with which locks. Had we been playing in person that might not have worked – because the game room was bathed in a sci-fi blue glow, which often made colours near-impossible to distinguish. And yet that wasn’t a problem, because we were playing via an avatar who described items in terms of their colours; and so even if we couldn’t see in the screen that an item was red or green, we always knew what it actually was.
The inventory system is unusual, in that it’s very selective. Most of the items you find never appear in the inventory; it’s reserved for a specific category of clue. Having found inventory systems in other games sometimes a bit too much of a distraction and organisational hassle, I thought this approach worked very well.
When booking, you have the option of selecting ‘hard mode’, meaning there are slightly fewer nudges in the game to steer you in the right directions. I’m of two minds whether to recommend taking this option or not. If you don’t, then be warned that POD is a beginner friendly game that enthusiasts may find unchallenging, partly thanks to the clear structure and colour-coding. On the other hand, in the harder mode one or two of puzzles are subtle in a way that might feel too much of a stretch. The two of us went for hard mode and were very glad we did, despite being stuck on one puzzle for quite a while; it made it that much more satisfying to solve it. But your mileage may vary.
Although well presented it’s not as ambitious as Live Escape’s original physical game Spectre. Nonetheless, I found it an unalloyed pleasure to play. Since it’s also significantly cheaper than most of the remote avatar games currently available, I’d encourage you to catch it before it closes. 4 / 5
Pris rated this:3.5 / 5

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