Gravesend, Nov 2018
As junior bomb disposal technicians, you’ve been assigned some routine practice – which definitely won’t escalate into a more dangerous situation, no sirree. Resurgency is located in the space that once housed two player game Million Dollar Date Night, and while it appears to be more than twice the size that that was, it’s still not a huge game area. It is, however, very efficiently used with a wealth of gadgets and puzzles everywhere you look.
Two important warnings before you play, both of which were covered in the briefing. The first is that it involves semi-strobe lighting, in a mild form but for a potentially extended period of time. Exactly how long depends on your solving speed, or more importantly on whether, in a poorly lit room full of distractions, you manage to focus on the right thing first.
Secondly, opening the wrong thing early risks ending your game prematurely. Being terrible at listening and following instructions, we did in fact make that mistake – though that just meant the gamemaster came in to reset the thing in question, not an abrupt ending. While our host had been thoroughly clear about it, it does seem odd that the game design makes it possible at all – making something inaccessible until players have reached a suitable point in the game is bread and butter escape room design.
One distinctive feature of the game is that it makes much use of computer-generated text to speech artificial voice, with an effect both amusing and creepy. Puzzles are imaginatively created from a variety of familiar electronic devices used in sometimes unfamiliar ways. One of the great strengths of The Panic Room is how distinctive each of their many games is, with the theme reflected not just in the decor but also in their puzzles and the resulting style of play. Resurgency’s style is all electronics and wires and gritty pressure under flashing lights, which is exactly as it should be for a game based around bomb disposal.
If that style appeals, you’ll likely have a great time playing this game. There are a few things that could put you off, though. One cool physical mechanism seemed just a bit too sensitive to its inputs, in a way that made it too trial-and-error. I thought some of the interactions with familiar devices were made more frustrating than they should have been by the ways those devices did and did not react in the ways you’d normally expect them to. And what was initially the game’s coolest puzzle became tiresome by going on too long. I think we completed it relatively rapidly, but typical solving time is apparently around eight minutes after the players have worked out what to do. That’s just way too long for a single task, particularly since the groups who struggle with it most will likely end up taking longer still.
If those don’t interfere with your enjoyment – and I’d expect that for a majority of teams they won’t – then Resurgency is a compact but high-energy game full of nice ideas. Even if the non-linear puzzle structure will probably leave you confused at times, the creative design includes several memorable moments that are likely to impress.
This game felt distinctly okay. The extended lighting sequence at the beginning of the game, with strobes and no real clue as to which of the several visible puzzles was (a) completable, and (b) going to help us with the light, was a bit of a downfall. Finding things in flickering light is a bit of a headache, and left me feeling like the game needed a little refining (pronounced ‘grumpy’).
Other parts of the game were fun to play – but I couldn’t help feeling like I was in a big old dusty room that had been converted into a puzzle game sequence, rather than an actual villain’s lair. As Toby mentions, the space is put to good use – and packed full of gadgets, but ultimately the game lets itself down with a few key puzzles simply taking too long (even when going at a good lick). Progress isn’t really measured anywhere, so other than identifying puzzles left to complete we didn’t really have a way to know if we were close to the final ‘defusing’ or not. Perhaps that’s a feature some enjoy, though – as it does create a degree of anxiety which can sometimes be mistaken for excitement.
Bring back Million Dollar Date Night!