Room Escape Digital – Impact [Hivemind Review]

Impact is a browser-based digital game created by Room Escape Digital, the digital extension of Room Escape Ottawa and Room Escape Boston (reviewed here).

3D rendering of Nebula Station orbiting Jupiter.

Format

Style of Play:

  • Online native experience (can NOT be played IRL)
  • Play on demand
  • Includes video segments
  • Browser-based digital game

Who is it For?

  • Puzzle lovers
  • Best for players with at least some experience

Required Equipment: computer with an internet connection, mouse

The game highly recommended using a mouse as well as a large screen to play. Some puzzles required paying close attention to tiny details.

The game did not include a conferencing feature for multiple players.

Recommended Team Size: 2-4

Play Time: about 90 minutes (but no timer)

Price: $34.99 CAD per team of 2-4 players

Booking: purchase and play at your leisure

Description

We were a ground crew frantically trying to remotely navigate an incapacitated space station out of the path of an asteroid. The game provided us with controls for managing the spacecraft as well as an ongoing text chat with the astronauts stranded aboard the station.

The astronauts guided us to each task necessary to fix the space station. We had to locate the relevant controls, solve the displayed puzzle, and perform necessary interactions, which ranged from entering codes to rapidly clicking different parts of the screen.

Each player had a unique instance of the game, so entering a solution on one computer did not advance the game for other computers. Instead, players who solved the puzzle received a code to share with other players who wanted to skip the puzzle.

You’ll need to have a separate video call running next to the website so you can communicate with your teammates.

Sarah Mendez’s Reaction

Impact struck me as a light puzzle hunt dressed up with believable space theming but hindered by some aspects of its user interface and game design. Many individual puzzles were fun to work through and felt like impressively reasonable steps in repairing and managing a spaceship, though the bulk of the work was tasks rather than ahas. The puzzles also covered an admirable variety of skills at a moderate difficulty level, but some won’t be for everyone. (Mouse speed, math, and microscopic searching activities come to mind.)

The most controversial issue for us was the lack of synchronization among our instances of the game. This made the game feel like four individual games rather than one holistic team experience. On one hand, it allowed everyone to tackle every puzzle if they wanted to or, with the use of skip codes, to skip forward as a team when one player finished. On the other hand, aside from a few split-information puzzles, most puzzles weren’t very conducive to collaboration, leaving them to feel like races against each other.

The shared experience was also undermined by the complexities of the user interface. There were many panels to interact with, and it seemed like an unintentional(?) puzzle to figure out which ones were displaying relevant information at any given time. This provided an opportunity to communicate with teammates, but redundancies in the labeling made this frustrating. We had many conversations of the form: “Are you looking at the main communications panel or the communications panel on the mainframe?” We got the hang of interacting with the panels after a while, but the UI certainly muddled our first impressions.

If you’re easily excited by space games, patient with unintuitive controls, and fond of working the same puzzles in parallel, you’ll find many things to enjoy here. If you’re hoping for a highly collaborative team experience, l’d look elsewhere.

The Lone Puzzler’s Reaction

The game involved helping a crew of a space station avoid the path of an asteroid by remotely restarting numerous systems. The game interfaces were impressive, but the game play was tough to follow and included several paths and puzzle interactions that were cumbersome or tedious in nature, making the puzzles not enjoyable. There is a good framework here, but the game is hard to recommend playing in the current form. The difficulty of the puzzles in the game was pretty high, and with the added steps needed to get to a solution, these are likely to make a casual player/ group need numerous hints or become disinterested in the game. The game also expected a player to read and play very fast or miss things in a few sections.

Note, the list of codes to enter to bypass a puzzle included a button to get an emergency code. Early in the game one of our players clicked on that button thinking they would get the code to catch up with the team. Instead that button – no matter when pushed – released all the codes for all puzzles. Not answers, just skip codes. One of our players entered the wrong code and was skipped to almost the end and had to restart the whole game to fix this (which luckily can be done). I recommend a “provide next code” option.

Brett Kuehner’s Reaction

  • + Interface looked quite nice
  • – Some interface elements required players to click in a specific region that wasn’t clearly marked, which was a problem for timing-sensitive puzzles
  • -/+ The puzzles had unpredictable difficulty levels, though the hint system compensated a bit.
  • – Only a few of the puzzles had a real story connection
  • + The bypass code system worked well for keeping the team in sync
  • – One puzzle reversed starboard and port (based on the fore and aft provided)
  • – Conclusion lacked drama

Joel Smileypeacefun Reaction

We were astronauts who got locked out of our control station. So we had to find our way back in before an asteroid would collide with us.

At its best, most puzzles were interactive, diverse, and thematically fitting. Some clever team tasks required our group to work together. We could also easily keep track of our progress. As my internet connection failed at one point, I had to restart the game, but I got to use a «bypass-code» to instantly pick up where I left off.

At its worst, the interface is unintuitive, annoying to navigate, and easy to get lost in. Additionally, some puzzles relied on a tedious time limit. The not-so-present story and video sequences seemed like an afterthought. The introduction felt over-explained instead of providing a learning-by-doing approach.

The puzzles in this game could shine a lot brighter if they weren’t overshadowed by clunky design decisions. But overall we got through and had some fun.

Disclosure: Room Escape Digital provided the Hivemind reviewers with a complimentary play.

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