Staines, Sep 2018
Xscream’s second game has you locked in the house of a serial killer, a straightforward premise that different companies interpret in a huge variety of ways. This one has created the feel of a rural house, and mostly avoids cheesy gore and Halloween nasties in favour of a subtler approach that combines the mundane and the ominous.
As in their other game, it’s clear that Xscream have worked hard on choosing lighting that creates the atmosphere they want, reinforced by other tricks of the decor such as the artfully damaged ceiling; and again we were equipped with torches for any places where the dim lighting would otherwise have got in the way of the game. In style Corpsewood is more traditional and more physical than their other, with more padlocks and a greater number of puzzles that are just there to be solved without a narrative justification.
Our team also struggled with it more, particularly in the earlier parts. I’d say that’s down to some of the puzzles needing some more fine-tuning: one needed us to spot something that struck me as just a bit too well-hidden, a couple more had minor ambiguities in the sense of two possible ways to extract a solution, and another just felt a bit unintuitive. The structure also makes it quite likely that teams will spend some time investigating things they can’t immediately solve before opening the first lock and getting into their groove.
That said, we played when the game had been open less than a month, and there was evidence that the owners were actively listening to feedback and adjusting puzzles to make them run more smoothly; so by the time you try it there’s every chance that the friction points I noticed will have been eliminated. I can only rate the game based on the version I saw, but even with some remaining rough edges it was easy to enjoy, partly thanks to the way our host was quick to send nudges where needed to keep it flowing well. It also benefitted from the physicality of some of the puzzles, and creative use of some familiar household items.
The ending struck me as needing more context – I knew that the final step would end the game, but only because of something we’d been told by the briefing video, and it wasn’t clear how that step linked to the rest of the game. There’s an opportunity there to add more setup in a way that gives the conclusion more meaning and drama.
Although at the moment I’d recommend Bedlam ahead of Corpsewood, the latter is still worth including when visiting the venue; and it seems likely to improve further with time and ongoing refinement.