Online, Aug 2020
There are very few podcasts I’ve ever tried, and so I’d not heard of Oblivity, an episodic sci-fi sitcom that seems to revolve around the crew of a research base on Pluto. This spin-off escape room takes the form of a web-based light puzzle hunt, with each section based around one of the main characters, whom you’re attempting to rescue from the teenage villain who has imprisoned them and set you the puzzles.
Each section is introduced by a video clip starring one of the characters. The graphics are lightly animated, but with a cartoon style that complements the audio and helps set the scene. Appropriately for a game based on a podcast, these are a substantial part of the game. If they’d been simple filler I’d have rapidly found the quantity of video becoming tedious; fortunately the clips are amusing and entertaining. The witty and whimsical style has a great many small touches of humour in the choice of words or in a turn of phrase. It’s not slapstick or heavy-handed, but it made me smile repeatedly throughout.
From the outset this game is pitched more at enthusiasts than at beginners, with a decent level of challenge throughout. There was only one puzzle I wasn’t keen on, and with that one we ended up trying several variations on the answer in hope of finding the right one – but when we found it, in retrospect it was the most reasonable of the options. While each step was introduced on the screen, each also used additional material from a PDF provided up front. This is thoughtfully provided in both colour and black & white versions, and you have the option of printing it off or referring to it as a digital file.
I’m sure there are plenty of references to the show for fans to enjoy; but playing it without having heard the podcast wasn’t at all a problem. As a set of puzzles it’s helped by a clear, consistent answer format, by the way that at each step it gives you two independent puzzles to tackle in any order, and by the quirky, lively presentation. And it builds to a finish that’s satisfying both as a metapuzzle and as an end to the story. With a substantial amount of content it also stands out from the crowd on value for money – it’s an easy game to recommend and might even nudge me to try the podcast on which it’s based.
Disclaimer: We played this game on a complementary basis. This does not influence the review or rating.