East Grinstead, Aug 2017
Twisted Undertaker is Randoms’ second game, and instead of one of using one of the rooms in their sports centre location, this one is out back inside a converted shipping container.
That might sound cramped and make-shift and… well, I guess it was, though no more cramped than some other games. It did lend it an industrial grittiness that suited the story though. It’s roughly the usual horror game plot, where your team is investigating a maniac only to find yourselves about to become his latest victims.
Many horror games start with the players restrained in some way, and so does this one. It’s only a partial restraint though, and the team is expected to begin solving the room while still restrained. That has some novelty value and potential for amusement, but quickly became my least favourite aspect of the game, primarily because it left half our group essentially as bystanders, unable to do much beyond make verbal suggestions, for the first 10-15 mins of the game.
We could definitely have freed ourselves from the restraints much sooner, which would have made that far less of a problem. However, that depended on having the good luck to focus on the right puzzle first. With most restraint puzzles, players are physically unable to work on anything but the puzzle that will free them until they succeed, or until another player helps them out. With Undertaker we had multiple possible starting points and no shortage of might-be codes to try, and we blundered around for far too long before we happened to try the thing that got us loose.
I’d like to say it was plain sailing thereafter, but actually we continued to struggle with the room, though eventually escaped successfully. There were a few other elements I thought needed improvement (some pieces that looked promising but turned out to purely be decorative, some ways in which items or information was reused for different purposes), though I found those much less frustrating than the initial restraints.
A thread of detective work combines with the various mostly hidden number puzzles. As with the venue’s other room there are a couple more fun and novel pieces mixed in, although less so here than in Locker Room. We managed to open the exit door with a couple of puzzles remaining unsolved and after a moment’s embarrassed shuffling checked with the host over the walkie-talkie whether we should have been able to; since the answer was no, we pretended the door was still locked and finished off the rest.
Of the two games at Randoms, even without the initial restraints I’d describe Twisted Undertaker as slightly weaker than its sibling game; with the frustration of that start, I found it a definite step down.