Location: Breda, The Netherlands (on the Up the Game show floor, available for license by escape rooms & VR arcades)
Date Played: May 8, 2018
Team size: 2-4; we recommend 2 or 4
Duration: 60 minutes
A major video game publisher created a VR escape room:
Set in the world of Assassin’s Creed Origins, Escape the Lost Pyramid placed us at the base of a beautifully rendered ancient Egyptian pyramid where we puzzled and climbed our way to the top… along the way convincing me that I could comfortably do pull-ups.
Ubisoft Blue Byte demonstrated thoughtful escape game design by creating a collection of collaborative puzzles that could not work in the real world. Their stated intention is to continue to create virtual escape games set in their own intellectual property, for license by escape room facilities and VR arcades.
I hope that this concept takes off. I encourage escape room players to play Escape the Lost Pyramid if you are anywhere near a facility that acquires the game.
Who is this for?
- Adventure seekers
- Puzzle lovers
- Scenery snobs
- Any experience level (with VR, escape rooms, or Assassin’s Creed)
- Fantastic collaborative puzzles
- Beautiful graphics
- Massive set pieces
- Puzzles that aren’t possible in a real-life escape room
Set in the ancient Egyptian world of Assassin’s Creed Origins, we began at the base of a pyramid and had to work our way up to the top to earn the artifact that we sought.
Played on an Oculus Rift and wired into a PC, our gameplay area was 7 square feet with a recommended play area of 10 square feet. The controls were straightforward; we could grab/ hold items as well as teleport using one button on either controller. We wore headphones with microphones so that we could hear both the game world and one another.
Ubisoft Blue Byte’s Escape the Lost Pyramid was a virtual escape room. Core gameplay revolved around observing, making connections, and puzzling.
Escape the Lost Pyramid had us puzzling and climbing our way through a pyramid. Most of the puzzles required collaboration with another player. Video gamers will recognize the concept of navigational puzzles as current mainstays of the adventure puzzle genre. Traditional escape room players might struggle to recognize the pathfinding challenges as puzzles… but I assure you, they are.
Let’s start with the elephant in the room: Ubisoft decided to make an escape room and created a puzzle tower-climbing game. Gamers will know that tower climbing has become an Ubisoft cliche over the past decade. Ubisoft gets a lot of grief for this…
and has even made fun of themselves for it…
When I first heard that Ubisoft had made a virtual escape room, I unknowingly and sarcastically suggested to a friend that “it’s probably a tower climbing puzzle.” When I say that this concept really worked, I do so knowingly.
+ Escape the Lost Pyramid worked because Ubisoft Blue Byte presented a series of challenges that a real-life escape room could not create. They used fire, projectiles, and a ton of climbing. There was only one puzzle that could be completely recreated in a real-life escape room.
+ Ubisoft Blue Byte made great use of verticality. The vertical scale of Escape the Lost Pyramid was imposing. It was brilliant, once again, because this sort of grandeur isn’t possible in real-life gaming.
+ Escape the Lost Pyramid leaned heavily on immersive adventure. The puzzles were in trying to maneuver our avatars through the virtual space. It was less puzzley in a traditional escape room sense. This format, however, played towards the strengths of a virtual space.
+ The challenges required teamwork. We enjoyed figuring out how to work together, from different spaces in the VR, using the tools each had at our disposal. It was exhilarating.
+ When we shot arrows in VR, it felt like we were shooting arrows.
? I didn’t get a lot of Assassins Creed out of Escape the Lost Pyramid. There were whiffs of the mythology in the briefing and conclusion, but it was more environmental. I didn’t see this as an issue. In fact, I felt that it made the game more approachable for those unfamiliar with the series. If you’re looking for a lost chapter of Assassins Creed Origins, however, you won’t really find it here.
– We did a lot of climbing. Climbing was initially deceptive. With each motion, it felt like moving the world rather than moving my own body. This took some getting used to. Climbing was also too easy, as it didn’t have any weight resistance. This was weirdly off-putting. And thus, we might as well have been moving the whole world.
– Escape the Lost Pyramid was missing a culminating puzzle or a finale scene.
+ The vertical movement didn’t cause motion sickness. Even Lisa – who is generally motion sick in all VR – was happily moving up and down.
? While motion sickness wasn’t an issue, vertigo or a fear of heights could be a factor.
– The VR equipment was a small obstacle, especially the wire. We’d constantly step on it, or get tangled in it. To compensate for the small physical space in which we maneuvered, we needed to teleport a lot, even across small distances. This wasn’t initially intuitive and took some getting used to. We did, however, get used to it.
+ Players could select an avatar and make small aesthetic customizations with hats, masks, and other props. While I couldn’t see my own avatar in-game, I spent a lot of time looking at my teammate’s avatar.
+ Overall, the equipment was easy to use, comfortable to wear, and worked well. The controls made sense.
+ The world of Escape the Lost Pyramid was beautiful and detailed.
Finally, Escape The Lost Pyramid is a licensable game that will only be available through escape room and VR arcades. Ubisoft Blue Byte intends to release new virtual escape games set in other Ubisoft worlds. If this is their starting place, I’m eager to see what they build next.
Tips for Playing
- If you have a fear of heights or are prone to vertigo, this may not be the game for you.
- You may have slight motion sickness early on. Lisa almost always gets motion sick in VR, but she was mostly comfortable in Escape the Lost Pyramid.
Connect with Ubisoft Blue Byte to license the Escape the Lost Pyramid, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.
Disclosure: Ubisoft Blue Byte offered free play-throughs of this game on the show floor at Up the Game.