TrapDoor Escape Stream: Cure Z

By | October 25, 2020

Online, Aug 2020

Rated 2.5 out of 5
Toby says:

Cure Z is a different kind of beast to other avatar rooms. TrapDoor were one of the very first companies to produce a remote play experience, and they’ve forged their own path – sort of a separate branch on the evolutionary tree of escape room formats. I’ll state up front that their game format doesn’t do much for me.
Rather than a videocall over Zoom / Hangouts / Discord / whatever, TrapDoor use a YouTube livestream. This is a broadcast system – as players you can see and hear the host in real-time, but the host can’t see or hear you and you can’t see or hear your teammates. Instead, you communicate by typing into the chat window.
TrapDoor have used this system to run games with dozens of players simultaneously; and it’s true that it scales in a way that a Zoom call would not. On the other hand, that’s also the main reason for some of the very low ratings players have given them on this site and elsewhere. However, for Cure Z it was just the five people in our team.
That certainly made it smoother than a public game would have been. Even so, I found the level of engagement noticeably lower than in a normal avatar game. That was partly because of the small delay in transmitting instructions to our host, but perhaps even more so because of the reduced connection to my teammates. In addition, most of the game is simulated with pre-recorded video. They make some effort to blend the video clips into the live video, but the joins are hard to ignore nonetheless.
All that left me without much investment in the game. That was a shame, because it had considerably more narrative than a typical escape room, and also took advantage of the format to include elements that wouldn’t have been possible in a normal live game.
The rating is more a reflection of the game format than how well or otherwise they’ve implemented it. With a couple of painful exceptions, the puzzles were fine, though it felt like they’d mostly limited themselves to four digit solutions for no particular reason. At the low points, it felt like the host was slowly nudging us towards the expected answer while we waited awkwardly until we had enough information for the puzzle logic to make sense.
Our game ended up taking close to two hours, which definitely helps on the value for money front. If I try and judge it for what it is, it’s a mixed bag – there’s lots in the puzzle design that could be smoother or more sophisticated, but the story and size of it were points in its favour. Still, although it was an interesting novelty, there’s no question that for most players I’d recommend a normal avatar style game ahead of this one. 2.5 / 5

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