The Escape Network: Armageddon

By | December 28, 2022

Online, Oct 2021

Rated 3.5 out of 5
Toby says:

Armageddon is a point-and-click game set in Kelvedon Hatch nuclear bunker. Those familiar with the location may recognise that that’s the site of Clue HQ Brentwood, which runs a large-team game with the same name, on which this game is I believe at least partially based. The bunker is a genuine military bunker, now decommissioned and turned into a tourist attraction.
That’s relevant here because Armageddon uses the Telescape interactive platform with real-life photos of the bunker used as the backdrop. The story is that somewhere in the bunker is the mechanism to prevent a rogue nuclear detonation, and naturally it’s your job to find it. That’s not an unusual premise for an escape game, but being able to use images of an actual military bunker gives it a nicely authentic feel.
Telescape is set up well to allow multiple people to interact with the digital environment simultaneously; you can each explore independently, and can see other players’ cursors when you’re both looking at the same section. The downside is that you may not see when someone else solves something, and that can be disconcerting when it causes a change or moves players to a new area. With two players, and with a parallel Zoom window for communication, that wasn’t too bad, though is a reason to keep your team size small.
Games designed for play in a space used for other purposes, like a museum, tend to be heavily based around padlocked boxes, since those can be easily packed away, and it also reduces potential confusion between what is and is not part of the game. Armageddon is a digital game, but still shows that design style, with a sequence of locks to open. There is however very little overlap of lock types, and each type lets you spin the dials or interact with it in its own way, and each time one pops open it’s satisfying in the same way as opening a real-life lock.
Point and click games are sometimes infamous for the ‘hunt a pixel’ problem is finding the hotspots. Armageddon avoids that entirely, by having big clear areas that react to a mouseover, meaning we didn’t have to worry that maybe we’d missed some tiny detail. The game also uses a number of in-game text notes, which help tie the background plot into what you’re doing. It also provides a big reference manual of ciphers, both digitally within the game and beforehand as a downloadable PDF, which was a nice touch.
The puzzles here are very much classic escape room in style, and I imagine some players may wish the game did more with the bunker environment than populate it with padlocked boxes; and for enthusiasts it’s likely to be a shortish experience. But while it may not be the most ambitious game, it’s a thoroughly satisfying one, a frustration-free blast of puzzle solving that we enjoyed all the way through. 3.5 / 5

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