MindTrap Escape Room – Excalibur [Hivemind Review]

Excalibur is a real-life escape room livestreamed and played through an avatar, created by MindTrap Escape Room in California.

Game interface shows clickable buttons to travel between locations, an image of Excalibur in a stone, and a selectable scroll.

Format

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

Required Equipment: computer with internet connection

Recommended Team Size: 3-4

Play Time: 60 minutes

Price: ranging from $80.00 per team of 2 to $200.00 per team of 10

Booking: book online for a specific time slot

Description

This is a standard in-character avatar livestream game, where players see information and puzzles via the video and instruct the avatar in how to solve them. As players, we were helping “Sir Cries-a-lot” find the Excalibur sword. He was quite clumsy so he needed us to help him out.

A caged door with glowing lights beyond it.

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.

Brett Kuehner’s Reaction

Rating: 2 out of 3.
  • + The “Sir Cries-a-lot” avatar persona was fun to interact with and was the highlight of the game
  • – The avatar was a little too clueless at times, making us give overly explicit instructions for some things that would have been obvious in the room
  • – Camera moves around a lot, which is a concern if you are susceptible to motion sickness
  • + Sets look good and some of the lighting design comes across well, even remotely
  • + Game uses the space well, moving back and forth between different areas
  • +/- Puzzles are on the easier side, sometimes a little too easy to be satisfying
  • + Enjoyable variety of puzzles

Cara Mandel’s Reaction

Rating: 3 out of 3.

Excalibur was a perfectly enjoyable escape room experience. Our avatar host was very witty and remained in character throughout the game, while also responding with humorous improvisational retorts to our gentle ribbing. The room contained lovely production design, props, and lighting that I’m sure would be really enjoyable in person. Over handheld camera, it was a bit hard to make out all the detail, but the overall effect was certainly achieved. This room contained several moments of light puzzling, but much of the experience was searching for and deducing which clue pieces belonged together. Though the finale was a bit anticlimactic, I did enjoy the experience as a whole. This one is worth playing, but I suggest the team invest in some steadier/ higher resolution camera rigs for a more enjoyable viewing experience.

Matthew Stein’s Reaction

Rating: 1 out of 3.

Excalibur has a beautiful set housing an otherwise unremarkable game. I was consistently disappointed as most of the “puzzles” felt like just the ending sequences of actual puzzles. Rather than having to think or make connections, we were handed the answers directly on a silver platter and just had to input them, thus depriving us from earning any satisfying ahas.

It also turned out that this game has a nearly identical set to another game of the same name in the Bay Area, which I played last year – something I didn’t realize going into this game. While the puzzles in MindTrap Escape Rooms’ interpretation are mostly different from – and markedly less intricate than – those in the Bay Area cousin, certain props and set transitions which had potential to make this game special were all identical to the Bay Area game.

Excalibur translated ok-ish to the remote medium: the bumbling knight avatar was occasionally endearing, but mostly felt like a Monty Python wannabe, and the inventory system was all but useless. For some puzzles, the incompetent avatar trope proved particularly frustrating as we were required to describe step by step how to input certain combos. This level of process drudgery is justified only when accompanied by sufficiently engaging banter, which was not the case here. This game would likely be quite enjoyable for families brand new to escape rooms, but I would not recommend it to more experienced players, those looking for a game which is actively enhanced by remote play, or anyone who has already played the Bay Area cousin.

Joel Smileypeacefun Reaction

Rating: 2 out of 3.

This game was an interesting approach to bring a pretty hands-on experience into the digital world.

At its best, the in-game character was entertaining and showed a strong ability to improvise. The game also had a couple of cool interactions tech-wise, and the set looked adventurous and inviting to play.

At its worst, the game wasn’t strong on puzzles. It was more about finding things and figuring out where they belonged. Sure the input mechanisms were fun, but the puzzling aspect was too one-dimensional and lacking aha moments. The 360-view pictures on the inventory website were a bit dark. In one instance an important prop could not be seen in the 360-picture, but we got lucky seeing it in the actual livestream.

As a game/ puzzle designer myself, it felt a bit frustrating because the great set had a ton of potential that wasn’t fully used by the puzzles presented. But still, the game had enjoyable moments.

Editor’s Note: It appears that similar versions of this game exist under the same name at different escape rooms companies.

4 thoughts on “MindTrap Escape Room – Excalibur [Hivemind Review]

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