Paruzal – Trapped Under Water [Hivemind Review]

Trapped Under Water is an audio escape game created by Paruzal.

A shipwreck with divers approaching.

Style of Play: Audio game with visual aids

Required Equipment: Computer with internet connection, pen and paper

Recommended Team Size: 2-5

Play Time: 75 minutes

Price: $15

Booking: Book online for a specific time slot

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Hivemind Review Scale

REA's hivemind review scale - 3 is recommended anytime, 2 recommended in quarantine, 1 is not recommended.

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Paruzal gameplay explaination. Desciption of surroundings, observing vs interacting, explore, no special knowledge, no need to guess.

Cara Mandel’s Reaction

Rating: 3 out of 3.

Paruzal’s format might best be described as a cross between an escape room and an RPG campaign. The game took place over Zoom with an invisible gamemaster narrating our gameplay. We had considerable agency within the game setting and were tasked with searching, interacting with, and solving a series of puzzles. Though not the most advanced sequence I’ve played to date, the combination of clever mechanisms and a fun story setting made for enjoyable escape experience overall!

Brett Kuehner’s Reaction

Rating: 2 out of 3.
  • + Friendly GM who described things well and had a sense of humor
  • + It was clear which items were needed for each puzzle, though more subtlety would have been better in one case
  • +/- Puzzles were on the easier side, in some cases too easy to be satisfying
  • + Pacing was good. We didn’t stall or need to rush
  • +/- In-game diagrams were clear and useful, but would benefit from better artwork
  • – Design did not take full advantage of the format. With no physical constraints, I want interactions (magic! explosions!) that would be impossible in a physical game.
  • + Subject matter and difficulty level would be good for novices and family play
The layout of the ship.

The Lone Puzzler’s Reaction

Rating: 3 out of 3.

This was a fun alternative online experience. I struggled a bit with whether to say “play anytime” but in the end, it would be good to play if you wanted an escape room-like experience with a group of long-distance friends or could not travel to a real-life escape room.

Unlike some online games, this one did not show pictures of a real room or follow an actor around the room. It relied on relatively simple drawings to set the stage for gamemaster interactions. At the onset I thought that would limit the game, but it really did not and the voice interaction with my team and the gamemaster was very fun. The puzzles were moderate – the setting was limited – but it was a good escape. One of my teammates said it was escape room-meets-Dungeons & Dragons – and that was the perfect description.

Peih Gee Law’s Reaction

Rating: 2 out of 3.

Paruzal’s style of escape room was very fun and definitely a step in the right direction towards that feeling of being in an escape room with your friends. I loved that it was a private room with a live host, and the puzzles were fun and themed very well. I would say it was about medium difficulty for experienced puzzlers. This style of game felt very similar to playing an audio escape room where the rooms and puzzles are described to you. I do feel the graphics and images could use a little bit of polish – they were a bit simplistic. It was fun being able to roleplay a bit and the host played along as well. Fun way to spend an hour.

David Spira’s Reaction

Rating: 3 out of 3.

I’ve long felt that verbal and image-based escape games are at their best when they put the player into a situation that can’t be built into a real-life room. Trapped Under Water did just that… as a longtime scuba diver, I appreciated the attention to detail. The puzzling was engaging and the trapped-in-a-wreck dive situation was entertaining. The in-game art was useful, but there was ample room for improvement.

Would I play this over a real-life escape room? Probably not. However I’d happily play this with friends at a distance at anytime.

Format Description

Trapped Under Water was an escape room/ roleplaying game hybrid, akin to Escape This Podcast, but with many more visual aids. It was played over Zoom. The gamemaster talked us through the scenario with the help of diagrams. We asked to examine and manipulate objects to solve the puzzles. The gamemaster reacted to our requested actions by telling us information, showing us a new image, or drawing on an existing image.

Disclosure: Paruzal provided the Hivemind reviewers with a complimentary play.

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