Online, Nov 2020
Having previously released an online digital escape game as a promotional tie-in for the TV series Hanna, The Escape Game are now offering a live avatar style game to promote the series Truth Seekers, which has a premise somewhere between Ghostbusters and the X-Files. Even though this is a game with a live host it’s free to play, and while they scheduled a large number of slots there are only a handful left at time of writing, so you may need to move fast to get one.
Truthseekers uses the physical space of TEG’s Heist room, and although I believe there’s no overlap in the puzzle content you could describe this as a heist game given a supernatural sheen. Your mission is to recover a grimoire from a museum of magical artefacts – there’s a back story video explaining why this is needed, spiced up with clips of Nick Frost taken from the TV series, but basically it’s break in, get the item and escape.
The Escape Game are a glossy and professional outfit, and this is a glossy and professional game. As with their other avatar games it uses a custom inventory system that’s about as slick as they come, including an auto-updating item list and a 3D visualisation of the currently available part of the room, so that each player can explore without bottlenecking on the avatar’s attention.
Puzzles were varied and solidly designed, though with ideas that experienced players will have seen in plenty of other games before. Some struck me as being tasks that were included because they’re fun in person, and while they’re perfectly okay via a teleconference link they don’t have the same thrill; play-from-home games are still at an early stage and I think there’s plenty of room for experimenting and finding new ideas that work well specifically for this format.
As it happens, Truth Seekers does in fact play with one such idea, which I won’t spoil but which ties into the supernatural setting. This idea was probably my favourite thing about the game, and I’d have liked them to do more with it and make it an integral part of the gameplay rather than essentially a decorative extra. Speaking of the setting, I should clarify that this isn’t a frightening game, perhaps except for particularly nervous players.
The classic puzzle style and not particularly challenging difficulty level make this well suited for beginner players – which seems entirely sensible, given that it’s a marketing vehicle with a broad target audience. But enthusiasts should find it enjoyable too, if on the short side (it has a 45 minute limit and we finished under half an hour). It has the good design and high production values that I’m starting to expect from The Escape Game, plus some nice extra touches just for fun, and since it’s free there’s little reason not to grab a slot while you still can.