Daydream Adventures – The Witch’s Forest [Hivemind Review]

The Witch’s Forest is a real-life escape room livestreamed and played through an avatar, created by Daydream Adventures in Toronto, ON.

Intro screen for The Witch's Forest, a Virtual Experience. Depicts a colorful magical forest.

Format

Style of Play: real-life escape room livestreamed and played through an avatar

Required Equipment: computer with internet connection

Recommended Team Size: 2-4

Play Time: 60 minute game clock

Price: $110 CAD for four players plus $15 CAD per additional player (plus tax)

Booking: book online for a specific time slot

Description

This is a standard avatar-led escape game through a forest setting. Video vignettes are sprinkled in throughout to advance the story.

The witch’s home had been intruded by humans who’d left all their trash. We had to help the witch bring everything in her home back to normal and then cast a spell on those rude intruders.

A clock and a mirror hanging from a tree.

Hivemind Review Scale

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

Read more about our Hivemind Review format.

Fro’s Reaction

Rating: 3 out of 3.

This game was a lighthearted, whimsical experience through a colorful woodland world filled with magical surprises. A video sequence with seriously adorable characters drew me into the story right away, and several laughable moments sustained the energy and humor throughout the experience. Our avatar really added to the game and played a relatable and endearing character. One of the final puzzles didn’t speak to me and it caused the ending to drag a bit, possibly because it contained props that I would have had more fun handling in person.

If you’re looking for a solid, story-heavy experience that begs you to have fun and not take yourself too seriously, give this one a go.

Andrew Reynolds’ Reaction

Rating: 2 out of 3.

The Witch’s Forest is an interesting take on how to run a virtual escape room. Daydream Adventures took an existing set and retrofitted it with new puzzles for online play. They also took advantage of the format by adding between-puzzle cutscenes. While the cutscenes themselves were entertaining, they felt less like progress checkpoints to me and more like scene changes. The overall effect made the game feel choppy – more of a series of set pieces than a continuous stream of puzzles. The puzzles themselves were varied; most were straightforward but a couple gave us pause as we worked through multiple solution paths.

The titular ‘witch’ is the charming gamemaster Hilda. Hilda brought the right blend of humor, helpfulness, and dedication to the role to be a memorable avatar. Through Hilda, we got to do a few things that no gamemaster would let us do in an in-person room – including one neat effect that could only be done digitally. Halloween may be behind us, but that doesn’t mean you can’t stop by and pay this witch a visit.

Joel Smileypeacefun Reaction

Rating: 2 out of 3.

The witch’s home had been intruded by humans and we had to help get everything back to where it belonged.

At its best, I enjoyed the gamemaster. It was fun to joke around with the witch who always stayed in character. There were also cute video sequences between puzzles. They added charm and also guided us to the next puzzle.

At its worst, the game felt very linear. While it makes sense for the online version of an escape room to not present too many challenges at once, it lacked exploration. The puzzles also felt a bit simple. I wish they would have been more layered.

Daydream Adventures changed most of the puzzles for the online version, so for families or puzzle beginners it’s definitely worth a try.

Matthew Stein’s Reaction

Rating: 3 out of 3.

Daydream Adventures has concocted a magical experience in The Witch’s Forest which I believe would be a worthwhile play for all audiences, but especially families and newer players. While this game takes place on the set of one of their physical games, we were told that the puzzles and story are new for the remote game. The Witch’s Forest creatively checks all the boxes for what makes a memorable remote escape room: an amiable actor-avatar who plays a distinctive character, remote-friendly puzzles and interactions which don’t make you regret not waiting to play the room in person, and a clear, steady, reliable live feed. (Not included in this list are fancy in-room tech or an expansive set, which I’ve found often convolute remote adaptations.) The Witch’s Forest also interspersed prerecorded video segments throughout the live interactions. Aided by smooth transitions anchored around discovering certain physical objects in-game, these clips significantly strengthened the narrative arc and allowed for some really cute, stylized moments.

To briefly wax theoretical, this game is a fascinating case study for the illusion of agency in most online escape rooms. In standard avatar games, even when multiple puzzle or search paths are open concurrently, your team is throttled by the avatar’s ability to only do one thing at a time. An online inventory system sometimes allows you to solve multiple things in parallel, but I’ve found this can actually disrupt game flow if you’re then waiting for the avatar to input three different combos you’ve queued up. In contrast, The Witch’s Forest embraces this linearity implicit to the remote medium as you’re essentially only presented with one puzzle at a time, sandwiched by narrative transitions. Nonlinear storytelling is really hard to do well, and this game effectively harnesses a fully linear structure to communicate a coherent story.

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