M.A.R.V.O Archives: Online Escape Room Adventure is a point-and-click adventure game created by Marvo Mysteries in Bournemouth, United Kingdom.
This is a review of the “Director’s Cut,” which combines phases one and two as a continuous experience.
Style of Play: point-and-click adventure game
Required Equipment: computer with internet connection
If playing with multiple people over a videoconference, players should use headphones. Game sound plays for all players, which causes echo.
Recommended Team Size: 1-4
Play Time: 1.5 hours (for both parts combined)
Price: £25.00 (for both parts combined)
Booking: purchase the game and play at your leisure
It looks like you’re navigating in a real escape room, but it’s actually a point-and-click adventure game. One person in the group should handle the interface, but it will update for all players. Along the way, everyone also downloads PDFs with additional information to help with solving puzzles.
Hivemind Review Scale
Matthew Stein’s Reaction
Many stellar remote games have gone to great lengths to give players a high degree of control over a live avatar and consequently over a physical escape room in real time. To the contrary, M.A.R.V.O. Archives is a play-at-any-time game which concocts a satisfying and at times magical illusion of live control over a robot and physical environment – but using pre-recorded video and seamless tech, demonstrating that in many cases actual live control of an environment is an unnecessary and even inefficient model for remote games. As long as the player feels like they have instantaneously reactive agency within the game space, it doesn’t matter whether or not a physical interaction is happening live over video. M.A.R.V.O. Archives is filled with cute – though not particularly challenging – puzzles, and felt most cohesive as the “Director’s Cut,” which includes phases 1 and 2 of the game back to back.
Tammy McLeod’s Reaction
The description did not give me a good idea of what to expect, but the way this game is implemented is quite effective. The interface works seamlessly enough that I could almost suspend belief and pretend that this game was happening in a real play space. At its heart, it is a fun little escape game.
Sarah Mendez’s Reaction
Figuratively speaking, this game oscillates between two modes: “Controlling the Robot” and “Reading the Manual.” For me, one of those was a ton more fun than the other.
Controlling the Robot: Playing this game from the vantage point of a remote-controlled robot convincingly brings the story to life. I could totally imagine that I was controlling the adorable little robot, helping it troubleshoot its way through a hostile environment. I also loved the idea of equipping different robot attachments and capabilities and then watching the robot act out my commands. From an immersion perspective, this game is top-notch.
Reading the Manual: As part of the authentic storytelling, the robot’s user manual and other forms of documentation play a prominent role in the game. As a former technical writer myself, I felt professionally validated by this design. If anything ever gave a tech writer purpose, it is indeed the hope that their useful and well-organized content might help a spy somewhere to efficiently do spy things!
Alas, from a puzzling perspective, the role of the documentation was almost too authentic. Because the robot’s interface essentially told you which gadgets to use and when, much of the solving amounted to looking up lots of information in the appropriate places and then following instructions. Although these tasks were mostly realistic given the situation, they left me performing actions more than reasoning through solutions. In real life, I want a manual to give me the answers as straightforwardly as possible. In a game, I prefer to read less and think more.
Cara Mandel’s Reaction
M.A.R.V.O. Archives was the best executed autonomous play puzzle hunt/ escape room I’ve seen yet. The technology was so impressive that our team was spending more time analyzing how they executed it at times than actually playing the game. The story is delightful and simple enough to follow without confusion. The puzzles were complex and rewarding. But really, it was the seamless integration of technology, audio/ video, and web design that made this a must-play for escape room and puzzle enthusiasts alike!
Disclosure: Marvo Mysteries provided the Hivemind reviewers with a complimentary play.