Emergency Exit – Virtual Dr. Becker [Hivemind Review]

Virtual Dr. Becker is real-life escape room livestreamed and played through an avatar, created by Emergency Exit in Greater Manchester, England.

The game host looking into the camera intensely. He's wearing a headset with a microphone.

Format

Style of Play:

  • Adaptation of an in-person game (can be played IRL)
  • Avatar controlled by the players
  • Includes video segments
  • Interactive NPC(s) (other than a player-controlled avatar)

Who is it For?

  • Adventure seekers
  • Story seekers
  • Any experience level

Required Equipment: computer with internet connection, pen and paper

It also helped to have a note taking device handy.

Recommended Team Size: 2-4

Play Time: 60 minutes

Price: £80 per team

Booking: book online for a specific time slot

Description

You are invited to spend an hour with the famous Dr. Becker at Boleskine Lodge Practice… but do not dig too deep. Dr. Becker has a past which is questionable at best and not everyone agrees with his methods.

The game was livestreamed through Zoom. Emergency Exit added some amazing video sequences to transition between scenes. There were also two people running the game: our gamemaster and an additional cameraman. There was no inventory website.

Andrew Reynolds’ Reaction

This long into playing virtual escape games, a company has to do something very special to break away from the (somewhat thinning) crowd. The folks over at Emergency Exit continue to iterate on what makes them special with their newest game, Virtual Dr. Becker. Emergency Exit’s games have many things going for them, not limited to: a continuing interesting storyline, characters that are easy to grow attached to, and a lot of pre-recorded video cutscenes that they blend seamlessly into the live camera feed. Combine those with live actors that are genuinely funny and fun to work with, and you’ve got a winning formula. This particular game felt less puzzle-heavy than others in this series, but it was enough to keep us entertained for our entire hour.

Matthew Stein’s Reaction

Emergency Exit’s The Exorcist and The Beast were two of my early pandemic favorites. Picking up where The Beast left off, Virtual Dr. Becker delivered a thoughtful, narrative-centric piece of interactive puzzle theater that more than lived up to the virtual Emergency Exit hype.

Virtual Dr. Becker began with a well-produced intro video that clearly recapped the story of the previous two games (an essential for episodic escape room content, especially when spaced so far apart) and then transitioned into a live video feed. Compared to its predecessors, Virtual Dr. Becker stood out in three main ways: 1) a greater focus on narrative interactions over puzzle density, 2) high attention to detail in maintaining narrative continuity, and 3) nearly invisible transitions between prerecorded and live video, aided by clever audio timing and CCTV views.

Virtual Dr. Becker’s fairly straightforward escape room-style puzzling facilitated a range of endearing, amusing, and mildly creepy character interactions, and the acting and video content are really what made this game stand out. If you enjoyed Emergency Exit’s previous experiences or are just looking for a new quality avatar-driven escape room, I’d recommend giving Virtual Dr. Becker a play.

Joel Smileypeacefun Reaction

We intruded on Dr. Becker’s office for mentally unstable patients. We had to rescue two friends before they became the doctors’ next victims of questionable practice methods.

At its best, this game comes with a high production value of video sequences and special effects. The transition between cutscenes and the live feed was seamless. Two actors are telling an interesting storyline with some funny adult humor. We even found some Easter eggs hinting at their other games.

At its worst, the puzzles were a bit basic. It was mostly about putting things in the right place. The final puzzle, while fun to watch, was underwhelming to solve. Additionally, there were some continuity errors in the video sequences (which will be fixed soon).

In total, it did not entirely live up to the hype of their previous livestreamed games. Don’t get me wrong; it was still clearly an above-average escape experience. If they can create more exciting puzzles, I’d truly call it as good as its predecessors.

Cara Mandel’s Reaction

Emergency Exit is three for three in my book. They blew me away with their first game, Exorcist, and I really loved its sequel, The Beast. So, when I heard there was a third installment in this live-action horror film-meets-escape room, I had high hopes. And thankfully, the game did not disappoint. Using a slick combination of cinematic tricks, live actors, and pre-recorded footage, as well as a robust and creepy narrative that draws upon true facts, this game immerses you in its twisted world and takes you on an unsettling but comedic ride. Hats off to the gents for another fun installment! I will include a disclaimer, though. This one isn’t for the squeamish (some blood effects) and there is some brief/ mild nudity, which was actually rather surprising. (I can honestly say I hadn’t seen that in a virtual game yet!) As usual, the team at Emergency Exit is pushing the boundaries of the virtual escape game medium and challenging themselves to create engaging experiences for players around the world.

Richard Burns’ Reaction

With Virtual Dr. Becker, Emergency Exit has once again proven why they are one of the best producers of online, live avatar escape games. And I say producers for a reason. This game is a production. It features intro music, a “previously on….” style story recap, near seamless recorded video segments, a dedicated camera operator, special effects, proper film-like credits, an epilogue, and even a gag reel. It really feels like there is a large team of people operating behind the scenes.

Virtual Dr. Becker is a story-based game. The puzzles rely on escape room logic at times. There are some spooks and scares and shocks. There is also comedy and interplay between the characters who are now familiar to us repeat visitors to the Crowley Manor… maybe even too familiar, even as they somehow look different. Players function as voices in the head of a troubled avatar in a tough spot. Our avatar operated in a very player-friendly manner – sometimes actively searching the rooms unprompted and discussing things with us, suggesting ideas that were sometimes right and sometimes wrong, just like another team member. In reality, he was expertly controlling the pacing and tension of the experience and ensuring the story was reaching its audience.

Emergency Exit was an early leader and innovator in the online escape room scene. I am so happy that they continue to produce outstanding offerings like Virtual Dr. Becker.

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