Scott Weiss’s Virtual Escape Rooms – Communing With Nature [Review]

Imagine Bearded Dragons

Location: At home

Date Played: September 17, 2019

Team size: best with 2 (including an adult), but up to 2 additional kids may be added

Duration: 45-90 minutes

Price: $15 per group with option to donate the fee to suggested charities

Ticketing: By appointment

REA Reaction

Communing With Nature was an enjoyable hour full of audio gameplay that included entertaining mental images and solid puzzles.

Inspired by Escape This Podcast, Scott Weiss has created two virtual escape rooms that are played over Skype or Google Hangouts and geared toward families.

While Communing with Nature required a lot of initial note-taking, as we learned about the setting, it soon got rolling with well-crafted puzzles and fun moments.

Check it out if you’re looking for a convenient at-home puzzle fix that’s great for the whole family. Added bonus: no risk of random people joining. Scott is a seasoned puzzle creator with a patient disposition. You’ll be in good hands.

Who is this for?

Why play?

  • An escape room from the comfort of your home
  • No ticking clock
  • Good value

Story

It was our first day volunteering at the Waterstone Park Nature Center. Our stern supervisor was Ms. Turner. Our task was to feed Matilda, the albino tree python.

Setting

Scott painted a vivid picture of the nature center though his description of the many animals found there. The design of the center was clearly well thought out and clued in such a way that we could see in our minds how pieces of the overall puzzle went together.

A screenshot of a Google Doc puzzle: "Count the Animals!". It involves illustrations of animals. The image of a single bear has been selected.
One of the visual aids for a puzzle.

Gameplay

Communing With Nature was a virtual escape room geared towards families, with a moderate level of difficulty. The puzzles will likely require one adult to assist.

This was a primarily audio experience. After we said hello to Scott and heard the rules of the road, Scott turned off the video feed on his end.

He started with a setup of the story, including dialogue from the nature center supervisor. We also received a simple diagram of the room via Google Docs. With the basic layout in front of us, we navigated the room and interacted with objects by verbally stating our intent. Scott responded with the result of our actions, D&D style. When we encountered puzzles through our exploration, we received them via Google Docs. Scott monitored the progress of our puzzle-solving conversation and interjected as needed.

Core gameplay revolved around observing, making connections, and puzzling.

Analysis

➕ There were word, math, logic, and lateral-thinking puzzles. The variety ticked every part of our brains.

➕ Scott offered hints at appropriate moments and walked us through puzzle sticking points with the patience of my favorite elementary school teacher.

➖ Most of the puzzles had an associated Google Doc that contained the information we needed. Their appearance was basic. With a little dressing up, they would help with the immersion of the virtual world.

➖ We spent a lot of the early-game walking from cage to cage in the room and hearing about the contents of each (as well as the books on the bookcase.) There were a lot of details we needed to keep track of and we spent substantial time writing. We would have welcomed a written description of each cage for reference after we’d heard about it.

➕ Scott rolled with the punches. Like any good 1980’s computer adventure, when we tried to do something unexpected, he improvised a funny response to get us back on track: “As you attempt to open Ms. Turner’s desk drawers, she crosses her arms and fixes you with an icy stare. You decide to stop doing that.”

➖ Because a virtual escape room doesn’t require an actual set, we’d love to see an even more ambitious story and surprises.

➕ The nature center was an ideal setting for kids, most of whom love animals to begin with.

Tips For Visiting

  • Have multiple sheets of scratch paper on hand.
  • Scott’s website lists times and dates that he’s available. Choose one and fill out the form at the bottom of the page to book your appointment.

Book your hour with Scott Weiss’s Communing With Nature, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.

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