Emergency Exit – Exorcist [Hivemind Review]

Exorcist is a real-life escape room livestreamed and played through an avatar, created by Emergency Exit in Greater Manchester, England.

A posessed priest with black fluid flowing from his mouth and dead eyes.

Format

Style of Play: real-life escape room livestreamed through a cameraman who is not the avatar

Required Equipment: computer with internet connection, maybe a pen and paper

The game worked well without an inventory system. Pen and paper for personal notes helped.

Recommended Team Size: 2-6

Play Time: 60 minutes

Price: £80.00 for up to 6 connections

Booking: book online for a specific time slot

Description

This was a remote version of an existing escape room, played entirely in Zoom (no external inventory system). In Exorcist, our avatar was a paranormal tour guide escorting us on a live-streamed video tour of an infamous location when strange things happened. The game was presented with a third-person perspective rather than the typical first-person avatar vantage point. This enhanced the playability and believeability of the game. Both the avatar and the cameraman were in character and had a narrative justification for being present. There were also several impressive pre-recorded video moments with high production value.

A person in a headset behind the wheel of a car as seen over Zoom.

Hivemind Review Scale

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

Read more about our new Hivemind Review format.

Matthew Stein’s Reaction

Rating: 3 out of 3.

Exorcist is an impressive tour de force in remote escape room design and adaptation, embodying everything I look for in an immersive puzzle experience and transcending, at times quite literally, the physical realm. Remaining vague to avoid any possible spoilers of this sensational must-play, this game stands out in the following areas:

  • A consistent and believable justification for and direct acknowledgement of our team being remote;
  • An actor who needed our help but wasn’t helpless, who gave us sufficient space and agency to solve puzzles but fluidly stepped in when appropriate, who was a substantiated character – more than just a corporeal avatar – and provided adaptive narrative commentary beyond what could be naturally presented in a traditional in-person escape room;
  • A steady and clear video feed from a cameraman (who was also a character!), which freed up the main actor’s hands and provided more cinematic perspectives than what’s possible from a first-person camera perspective;
  • Surprising magical effects, both digital and physical, which elevated this game far above its player-in-room implementation (which already seems like a stellar game, based on our post-game discussion); and
  • Genuine reactions of fear, surprise, and discovery from the actor-avatar who was experiencing certain game elements for the first time along with us, the result of a creative design team, which is constantly innovating and iterating to make their game even better.

Nearly half a year into this forced “remote puzzle experience renaissance,” it is invigorating to see a game set such a high new bar for what’s possible in avatar-led experiences. I look forward to playing future games that are informed by this game’s strengths!

Tammy McLeod’s Reaction

Rating: 3 out of 3.

I have a low fear threshold and was slightly apprehensive going into this game. As it turns out, I did not need to be. It was spooky, but never crossed into scary territory for me. I had an excellent time! Our host played his character splendidly. The small but crucial difference of a separate cameraman made the scenario so much more believable, and changed the dynamic in a fundamentally different way. The puzzles were fair and straightforward. Technology was incorporated in an understated manner, but it was used perfectly. Overall, a great game!

A person wearing a headset investigating a cross.

Joel Smileypeacefun Reaction

Rating: 3 out of 3.

Escape rooms with scary themes range from not at all scary up to filled with haunting effects. You often don’t know where on this scale your adventure will be. This one wasn’t that scary, but still a fun experience.

At its best, Emergency Exit went to great lengths to bring video quality to the virtual stream. So much so, that there was an extra cameraman besides the gamemaster, including entertaining video sequences before, during, and after the game.

At its worst, the gamemaster talked too much for my taste. While getting more background story when finding new objects is a nice idea, it dragged our flow. Whether it was on purpose or not, our gameplay felt stretched to a full hour. There were also just one too many padlocks. Some could be replaced by electronic triggers.

With such an enthusiastic gamemaster I truly think this rather “old-school” puzzle room still made for an amazing experience.

The Lone Puzzler’s Reaction

Rating: 3 out of 3.

Despite not being there in person, this game had me on the edge of my seat the whole time. I found it very immersive and while not as scary as it might have been in person, it still had horror movie qualities. A very nice job was done of the cinematic opening and closing to the game. I also enjoyed the avatar having a role in the story – it made sense. It was enough of a puzzle challenge to be interesting but not overly difficult. There were plenty of story and motive to stay interested. It was great with a group of friends. It should also be noted that the horror aspects can be toned down so families can play – referred to as more of a Casper the Friendly Ghost experience.

Theresa W’s Reaction

Rating: 3 out of 3.

I didn’t think that the bar could be pushed any higher for remote avatar-style games, but Exorcist seriously took the genre to another level. The game was done from a third-person perspective — our avatar had a ‘film crew’ with him, lowering the risk of motion sickness greatly. I don’t want to spoil any of the mechanics of the game, but they did some incredibly clever things through audio and visuals. The acting and storytelling were spot on, adding depth to the room even beyond what you would get in person. The game lacked an inventory, which ended up being a smart move, as it would have taken your attention away from the performance aspect. This was more than just an escape room; it was an interactive puzzle performance. I genuinely can’t recommend this game enough and I truly can’t wait to play Emergency Exit’s other remote games.

Richard Burns’ Reaction

Rating: 3 out of 3.

I trust my fellow reviewers will tell you how fun and well done the game was, because I want to focus my section on what I took away from the experience:

The third-person perspective is the next evolution in remote avatar games. The addition of a dedicated camera operator means that our host is no longer an avatar; they become our teammate – a teammate who can turn to us so we can see their facial expressions and hand gestures. The depth of communication is much better than other avatar-led games. It feels so natural. Even the camera operator can become a character who can interact with both the host and the remote players.

Because the host is not in control of the video feed the players see, we can notice things in the room that they don’t see. We later learned the host is not aware of everything the other game operators are doing. When we shout “watch out behind you!” the host is able to react with genuine surprise.

This game is a very fun remote horror experience, but what excites me most is that it takes a step forward for the medium of online escape rooms.

Disclosure: Emergency Exit provided the Hivemind reviewers with a complimentary play.

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