“I feel you will have to deal with this matter in the harshest possible way, Mr. Torrance.” -Grady
Location: at home
Date Played: December 18, 2020
Team size: 1-6; we recommend 2-4
Duration: 100+ minutes
Price: about $29
The Shining: Escape from The Overlook Hotel was a beautiful disaster.
This is only the second game that we’re reviewing that we didn’t complete… and if you’re new here, we’ve played a silly amount of escape games in every imaginable format. It simply wasn’t fun in spite of a great effort. I’m going to examine why.
Nailing The Brand
From a creative direction standpoint, The Shining: Escape from The Overlook Hotel was a triumph. It looked and read perfectly. Narratively, this was a brilliant adaptation of the film’s world.
I have to imagine that there is a brand manager out there who has this thing mounted on their wall like a trophy.
Unfortunately, this wasn’t an aesthetic piece; it was a game.
Bad Feels & Confusion
Initially we were sucked into the beauty and cleverness of the presentation. As we explored, however, the problems became far more unnerving than the story’s horror.
I attribute most of the issues to sloppy systems. Interestingly, The Shining used the same system as Scooby-Doo: Escape from The Haunted Mansion (which we loved). The key difference between the games was theming and severity. Scooby felt playful, chaotic, and childish. The rules felt loose, like they were there to keep the game on rails. The Shining felt severe and punitive. It appeared to do everything that it could to dissuade us from exploring the world. I assume that this was intentional to create atmosphere, but there’s such a thing as too much.
In the end, we reached a point where we got stuck. All options seemed to lead nowhere. We started over, and found ourselves bound up at the exact same place. It was at that point that we decided that this wasn’t enjoyable.
The Shining: Escape from The Overlook Hotel felt like it was undertested. We’re not the best puzzlers in the world, but we’re well practiced and reasonably skilled. If we got lost in the game twice, and felt that quitting was the best option, then something still needed to be ironed out before mass production.
There’s something great here; it just needed more time in the oven. In its current state, this was raw, and I don’t recommend consuming it.