Update 12/13/22: If you enjoy Crime Stories we hope you’ll check out our interview with creator Lukas Rauscher on The Reality Escape Pod.
Crime Stories Part 1: Back to the Congressman is a digital game created by Crime Runners in Vienna, Austria.
Style of Play: point-and-click adventure game
Required Equipment: computer with internet connection
Recommended Team Size: 1-2
Play Time: less than an hour
Price: €15, which includes a €10 voucher for an in-person game
Booking: Upon purchase, a code will be sent to you via email. Simply enter this code into the website to begin.
Back to the Congressman was an escape room adapted as a classic point-and-click style game. Click around, find clues, and solve puzzles. Escape rooms have come full circle by returning to their roots.
Note that you and your remote teammates will share a single instance of the game and one person’s clicks control everyone’s screen.
Hivemind Review Scale
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Sarah Mendez’s Reaction
This game is a well-done translation of an escape room to a non-live online format, pleasantly mimicking the searching, collecting, and connecting that form the foundation of escaping. A haunting atmosphere and gratifying interactions ground a solid but simple puzzling experience, overall making this game an approachable (if not challenging) evening of fun. My team was comprised of both new and experienced “escape artists,” and we all were glad to have played. Only complaint: the ending did not live up to the rest of the game, but it cued the way for another installment…and we’re here for it!
Crystal F’s Reaction
Back to the Congressman was a solo or team point-and-click escape game with a low level of difficulty. I played with one other player and we were each connected to the same game. The other player’s actions affected what happened on my screen and we were not able to move in separate directions. Initially it felt like only one of us was truly playing the game, since the puzzles were simple enough that collaboration wasn’t really needed. Eventually we got into a nice back-and-forth of who was clicking into puzzles and changing locations in the game. That, paired with the slight increase in puzzle difficulty, made it feel a bit more collaborative. I would have liked to see more challenging puzzles and some “aha” moments. I was also surprised to encounter a puzzle that used outside knowledge. That only happened once in the game and it made me question whether we had missed something. I’m still unsure if we missed cluing on this puzzle, as it did not fit with the rest of the game. Initially I gave this room 2 stars since overall I did enjoy playing this room; however, when I take the price into consideration I do not think the value is there to warrant that rating.
Andrew Reynolds’ Reaction
The most interesting thing about Back to the Congressman is the style of play. Instead of the typical setup of two players having incomplete information, Back to the Congressman has each connected device use a shared version of the game. If your teammate clicks an item or moves around the map, your screen updates as well. For two people who know how to share, this can work very well. I cannot imagine having more than two people playing this at once, or even just two people who don’t like to give up control. The game itself is very linear, and most of the puzzles are simple. Back to the Congressman included one of the clearest audio puzzles I’ve worked with, which is a pleasant change of pace. The biggest issue I had was the sudden turn to needing outside knowledge after not needing it previously. We had to stop and think for a while if we were just missing some information embedded in the game elsewhere. While this game had its fun points, it lacked moments and reveals that would have made it feel special.
David Spira’s Reaction
Back to the Congressman was a well-produced point-and-click escape room. The audio was solid, the environment was easy to navigate, the clickable items were generally easy to identify, and the puzzles were entertaining.
While it’s typically easy to get lost in point-and-click experiences, Back to the Congressman never gave us too much to work with, and it was always clear where to go next. Overall, I really enjoyed my time playing Back to the Congressman. I want more of it. More depth and more character development. This was a strong first chapter.
Disclosure: Crime Runners provided one Hivemind reviewer with a complimentary play.