The Escape Game – Ruins: Forbidden Treasure [Hivemind Review]

Ruins: Forbidden Treasure is a digital adaptation of a real-life escape game created by The Escape Game, a national company based in Nashville, TN.

A view of a beautiful ancient ruins set.


Style of Play: digital adaptation of a real-life escape game

Required Equipment: computer with internet connection

Recommended Team Size: 2-4

Play Time: 60 minutes

Price: $25 per person

Booking: book online for a specific time slot


This is a live virtual experience in which an in-person avatar explores the physical room on your behalf, following your commands. While watching the first-person experience via Zoom, you also have access to a web app that presents a 360 degree view of the room as well as an inventory of the objects you have collected. Each team member interacts with the app asynchronously, which enables effective parallel exploration.

A video of Captain Mac explaining the "Secets of the Ehlari." It's closed captioned, "...managed to remain totally isolated..."

Hivemind Review Scale

Read more about our new Hivemind Review format.


I recommend this game to escape room players at any time.


I recommend this game to escape room players in quarantine.

I do not recommend this game.

Continue reading “The Escape Game – Ruins: Forbidden Treasure [Hivemind Review]”

Virtually Tour: Chernobyl’s Ruins

Chernobyl disturbs me like few things do. The mixture of hubris, human error, and authoritarian stupidity that led to that disaster has long been a source of fascination for me.

A massive, rusted radiation sign mounted outside of a ruined building in Chernobyl.

While the Paris Catacombs might be the living embodiment of macabre, I don’t find them disturbing. Maybe it’s the age… maybe it’s the fact that it was deliberately created… or maybe it’s that the Paris Catacombs are so over the top that they feel less real.

On the other hand, Chernobyl was recent, accidental, and haphazard… all of which is on frightening display. There’s nothing graphically disturbing here, but viewing these ruins hit me in a way that few things do.

These videos are captured in 360-degree VR. While they are playing, you can look around within them.

Via Dread Central

Thank you to Mark from Walnut Creek, CA for sharing this virtual tour.

Approaches For Reopening Escape Rooms in a Pandemic

Update: The following sections were added, or added to, a few hours after publication: Masks, Smarter Cancellation Policies, Gameplay Adaptations

As different regions slowly attempt to reopen, I’ve been putting together a collection of guidelines to help escape room owners think through their reopening strategies.

I honestly believe that escape rooms are well positioned as premium entertainment in this pre-vaccine era. Movie theaters, theaters, bowling, skating rinks, amusement parks, bars, and restaurants generally require large crowds to turn a profit. Escape rooms are intimate, small-group entertainment.

If our industry establishes a strong reputation for safety, fun, and low headcounts, I truly believe that we will bounce back faster and reemerge stronger than before.

I have done my very best to approach this apolitically.

My overarching advice to you is to pay attention to your community and its shifting needs as this pandemic continues to evolve. Smart escape room companies will ratchet up or down the intensity of their policies to meet their regional needs, which will likely change over time.

A mask and a bottle of hand sanitizer on a wooden table.

Adhere to Local Laws

Before we dive in, I want to make it clear that I am not a lawyer or epidemiologist. I’m not claiming that I am.

Before opening, consult with your lawyer and insurance provider. Make sure that you’re following whatever regulations your business is subject to.

Whom Are You Protecting?

When thinking about safety in this pre-vaccine era, there are two groups of people that escape room owners must consider:

  • Employees
  • Customers

Many of the measures that we will discuss apply to both. However, employees may face additional challenges and risks that your customers should not encounter.

Continue reading “Approaches For Reopening Escape Rooms in a Pandemic”

Lokey’s Escape Rooms – Trouble in Tinseltown [Hivemind Review]

Trouble in Tinseltown is a digital adaptation of an escape game created by Lokey’s Escape Rooms in Sarasota, FL.

Zoom view of a noir-ish desk. Everything looks like it's in black & white.


Style of Play: digital adaptation of a real-life escape game

Required Equipment: computer with an internet connection, pen and paper

Recommended Team Size: 1-4

Play Time: 60 minutes

Price: $19 per person

Booking: contact Lokey’s escape room to book, receive login code, and guide an avatar through the room


The now-standard Zoom meeting to control a gamemaster/ avatar through verbal instructions. The in-character gamemaster was good at managing and executing instructions from multiple players. He was also fairly autonomous; once the players figured out how to solve a puzzle, he would perform the manipulations without needing much input.

A collection of movie posters up on the wall.

Hivemind Review Scale

Read more about our new Hivemind Review format.


I recommend this game to escape room players at any time.


I recommend this game to escape room players in quarantine.

I do not recommend this game.

Continue reading “Lokey’s Escape Rooms – Trouble in Tinseltown [Hivemind Review]”

PostCurious – Emerald Flame [Review]


Location:  at home

Date Played: Spring 2020

Team size: 1-4; we recommend 2-4

Duration: 2-3 hours per chapter with 3 chapters

Price: back on Kickstarter at $69 or more to receive a copy of the game

REA Reaction

Emerald Flame is in a class of its own, from its art direction to its gameplay. Its three chapters had tight, creative puzzles. They varied in complexity, while feeling fair and innovative.

Emerald Flame felt like a successor to Post Curious’ first product Tale of Ord… but tighter and more refined in virtually every way.

An assortment of puzzle content and components with beautiful art.

Emerald Flame’s story was less ambitious than its predecessor’s but was still well structured and conveyed quite a bit of nuance. There was less content, and there were fewer tangible props than in Tale of Ord, but the overall level of quality was much higher… and at a far lower price point.

In short: Emerald Flame smoked Tale of Ord. It wasn’t even close.

The gorgeous gold and green stained glass box art of The Emerald Flame.

The art was beautiful, like, “I feel kind of bad writing on this” beautiful… and “I want a poster-sized version of the box art to frame on my wall,” beautiful.

Emerald Flame just went up on Kickstarter, so if you want to play this, head over there and back it. We played a nearly final prototype. There will be differences in the production version, so I cannot speak to the exact quality of what will be shipped. That said, I can assure you that the game exists, it’s incredibly refined, and it’s comfortably Lisa and my favorite tabletop puzzle game to date. For what I look for in a play-at-home puzzle game, it has no peers.

Who is this for?

  • Art lovers
  • Story seekers
  • Puzzle lovers
  • Players with at least some experience

Why play?

  • Approachable yet deep and beautifully designed puzzles
  • The best hint system in the business
  • The art, the art, the art


Our assistance had been enlisted in the study of alchemy. We needed to retrace the work of a medieval alchemist from Prague in order to solve the mysteries of his work and how they related to an unusual celestial event.

All Emerald Flame packages laid out. They seem to have been mailed from Prague.
Continue reading “PostCurious – Emerald Flame [Review]”