The Laboratory (Virtual) is a real-life escape room converted to digital play, created by Escape One Algarve in Portimão, Portugal.
Style of Play: real-life escape room converted to digital play without an avatar, using Telescape
Required Equipment: computer with internet connection, pen and paper
Recommended Team Size: 2-4
Play Time: 60-90 minutes
Booking: purchase and play at your leisure
In this, the virtual format, The Laboratory was a point-and-click game played in Telescape.
Hivemind Review Scale
Matthew Stein’s Reaction
Escape One Algarve’s multiplayer point-and-click version of The Laboratory was a disappointingly clunky digital implementation of an unmemorable, basic escape game. Particularly in contrast to their other two avatar-led games (Atlantis and Final Call), which stood out to me for their creative handmade charm, this game was lacking in character and narrative. With an excess of padlocks and somewhat sparse “generic science lab” theming, the set wasn’t all that interesting to explore. Characteristic of many early escape rooms, the gameplay was an unconnected pile of random puzzles, including a tedious, though straightforward, mega arithmetic “puzzle.” (Side note: as an enthusiast of puzzles involving actual mathematics, I’d love to see the escape room community’s discourse shift to calling order of operations or system of equations puzzles what they are: arithmetic tasks.) I unfortunately can’t recommend this game, as I don’t find it holds up even to the many free point-and-click escape rooms available online, but do check out Escape One Algarve’s other offerings!
Peih Gee Law’s Reaction
This is one of those rooms that seems like it might have been fun to play in person, but I don’t think it was ported well into a virtual version. I’ve played other games by Escape One Algarve; their rooms tend to be solid, average escape rooms. I think their avatar-led versions of other rooms are much more fun.
Immersion: The room was nicely decorated for the most part. Not much of a narrative, or if there was one, it wasn’t that notable.
Puzzles: Mostly classic puzzles. I don’t know why I signed up to play a game called “Laboratory,” knowing full well that I hate science-themed rooms because there are always chemistry and math-themed puzzles. But if you like science-themed rooms, then this is right up your alley!
Avatar: This version of the game was played without a host, via Telescape. The main benefit is being able to play on your own schedule; however, I think Escape One Algarve’s games lose a bit of their charm without an avatar.
Functionality: I don’t like when there are lots of red herrings in rooms, and I don’t like how they included a lot of “clickable items” that didn’t seem to have anything to do with the puzzles. It made the room seem much more cluttered. I also wish the items were featured on a sidebar so you could view everything at once.
Theresa Piazza’s Reaction
The Laboratory from Escape One Algarve reminded me of those IRL escape rooms where there was so much going on and I didn’t know where to look exactly and I missed out on a lot of important solving moments. While there’s a lot of content in this room, there are also a fair amount of tedious puzzles, and I didn’t enjoy virtually revising a cardboard box to retrieve found items, or typing in two items names in order to combine them. If you’re looking to play this room, I recommend playing with just one other person or two, in order to fully take in all the puzzles it has to offer.
Theresa W’s Reaction
With the games that Escape One Algarve released prior (including Final Call and Atlantis, which I recommend) I really expected more from The Laboratory. This game, to put it bluntly, felt like homework. Many of the interactions were tedious, math-filled, and clunky. Telescape rooms have the potential to be fantastic, but this game really felt stunted by the medium. There were a handful of cool interactions and satisfying solves scattered throughout, and the game kept our team busy for an entire hour. If you’re looking to try one of Escape One Algarve’s games, definitely go play Atlantis instead.
Disclosure: Escape One Algarve provided the Hivemind reviewers with a complimentary play.