Escape New Haven – Wreck Havoc: Global Catastrophe [Hivemind Review]

Wreck Havoc: Global Catastrophe is a digital megagame created by Escape New Haven in New Haven, CT.

Japan's HQ in Gather.

Format

Style of Play: digital megagame

Required Equipment: computer with internet connection

Recommended Team Size: The game supports team sizes from 24 to 240. We played with 32 (8 groups of 4) and this worked well.

Play Time: about 2 hours

Price: $38 per person

Booking: Fill out the contact form on Escape New Haven’s website to set up a booking for a large private group.

Description

A global catastrophe has occurred and nations must sort out how to address the problem. Each player was assigned a team named for a country. Individual countries had to solve puzzles in order to earn currency. The currency could be spent on tools to help solve the crisis. Your country will need to ally with other countries.

Virtual world in Gather. A central meeting place with the Room Escape Artist logo and many character avatars.

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.

Theresa Piazza’s Reaction

Rating: 2 out of 3.

Wreck Havoc is a fun hour and a half that successfully solved several problems I’ve seen in other online megagames. The most notable solved problem is that Escape New Haven does not require a human liaison to negotiate and broker deals between teams. The platform used, Gather, gave off real-life megagame vibes. Walking around the map was a frenzied and sometimes chaotic experience and in your travels, you could overhear other conversations (sometimes stealing information not meant for your ears!). Light puzzles added urgency and risk to the adventure, but at least two solutions are easily found with a quick Google search. Escape New Haven should consider whether or not Googling is encouraged for this experience, or if it’s intended that teams solve the puzzles without the aid of the internet. Wreck Havoc concludes nicely with a quick debrief of how each team fared and which team won. Get a whole bunch of friends together and see if you can successfully sail into the sunset!

Peih Gee Law’s Reaction

Rating: 3 out of 3.

Wreck Havoc was kind of like a cross between playing Settlers of Catan and Survivor, and solving puzzles. It’s a complex megagame with mechanics including resource management, social alliances and manipulation, and of course, puzzles.

There’s a lot to learn – a new gaming platform, new game mechanics, and certain restrictions and rules (like having finite resources). Having such a complex game can make it more fun, but also more confusing, and my only issue is with the onboarding. I wish we had a more thorough pre-game email explaining how the game worked, and what our actual goals were.

I ended up feeling quite frustrated and confused through a large portion of the game because I felt like our objectives weren’t that clear, and it’s even more difficult when you know the other teams are actively trying to sabotage you. I probably would have preferred this more if it was fully cooperative, instead of competition style.

I feel like this game has enormous potential to be really fun and there aren’t that many games designed for large team play, so I’m still recommending it as an experience that you should try for yourselves.

Cara Mandel’s Reaction

Rating: 2 out of 3.

Wreck Havoc was akin to a virtual adaptation of a strategy-based tabletop game taking place in the web-based social platform Gather. The game hinged on the ability to quickly solve puzzles, ascertain items needed, then run around making deals with other teams to secure safe passage on our ships at the end of the game. Unfortunately, my personal experience was marred by technical issues with Gather, a platform that I admittedly have some pre-existing bias against, which was certainly not improved during this game. The interface repeatedly froze and booted me out. I tried reconnecting in various ways (without camera on, in an incognito browser) but the issue persisted. I’m told I wasn’t the only one who experienced this. Now this is certainly not a reflection on the game makers who are not responsible for the fidelity of the platform; however, I’d be remiss in not mentioning what an incredibly frustrating game play experience this created for me and my fellow teammates. In the end, our group wound up on the winning ship so the frustration faded and was replaced with a bunch of dancing snow-people named Theresa. (Don’t worry about it!) Tabletop strategy/ puzzle fans will likely enjoy this very much. Wishing you luck with your connection!

Brendan Lutz’s Reaction

Rating: 2 out of 3.

NOTE: Due to some personal tech challenges, much of my experience was more passive and observational, and I wasn’t able to solve many of the puzzles.

With that said, one of the more impressive things about Wreck Havoc is that it’s clear Escape New Haven focused on building a game based on the online tools they had at their disposal. This is different from most other large online team games I’ve played where typically it feels like puzzles and actions are created first and later compromised to work with the tech.

Interestingly, this also led to feeling the most like an in-person event I’ve been to in a while as well. The avatar-based interface forces you to digitally walk from one room to another to speak with people, truly mimicking real-world limitations when trying to negotiate alliances and trades.

Overall everyone seemed to enjoy the experience.

David Spira’s Reaction

Rating: 2 out of 3.

Wreck Havoc: Global Catastrophe was an interesting approach to the large-group game because it both blended and blurred the line between cooperative and competitive play.

Broken up into teams that we had to trust and surrounded by teams that could be friend or foe, we had to both puzzle our way to individual puzzle solutions and use the resources gained from those solves to overcome a large set of problems. It was a cool concept.

The puzzles themselves were good, even if they were only sort of blended into the fiction.

Wreck Havoc struggled in the early onboarding of players, and in the late-game keeping competitive play fluid. The mechanics seemed biased heavily towards inertia – which is better than biased towards chaos, but still felt like there was room for rebalancing.

Disclosure: Escape New Haven provided the Hivemind reviewers with a discounted play.

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