Online, Dec 2020
Curio Shoppe is set in between Mystery Mansion’s horror game Night Terrors 1 and Night Terrors 2 (of which I believe only the first has ever been available for remote play). Although it therefore fits into the narrative of their Sleepy Man games, the titular bogeyman doesn’t feature directly, and you’re instead investigating a scary occult shop looking for a missing person. So although some story references will no doubt make more sense if you play Night Terrors first, I jumped straight in with this one and thought it worked perfectly well stand-alone.
Right away the game up-ended expectations, which was an excellent sign. That set the tone for a game that was somewhat more theatrical and story-driven than most; and those were absolutely the elements I enjoyed most about it.
This is another game that uses Telescape for its inventory system, and does so with sophistication, providing a 360° model of the room with hotspots that you can explore, as well as optional atmospheric audio. That certainly helped our large team tackle the game without too much bottlenecking; although I noticed that the 360° room had the effect of discouraging us from exploring the room via our avatar as much as we normally might.
The majority of the puzzles felt more traditional in style, and were fine but not what lifted the game for me. I didn’t notice any particular ambiguities or logic flaws, though it felt like we struggled at some points to find the thread of the game; but some of the more overtly maths- and cipher-based puzzles felt like a step away from the very good immersion the game achieved in other respects, despite all the suitably occult theming.
However, what I loved about D’Viles was that it left me genuinely uncertain what might be about to happen. I don’t mean nervous that there might be a jump scare – rather, they managed to convey a feeling that our host’s character was in an authentically risky situation, where I was invested in the story beyond simply not wanting to fail the game.
D’Viles was a good remote escape room, and an excellent remote experience. In places I thought the puzzling worked against the immersion in small ways rather than enhancing it, but even so, the result is a quality game with some particularly memorable moments.