Gather x Raid the Room – Escape the Island [Hivemind Review]

Escape the Island is an online escape game created in a collaboration between Gather and Raid the Room.

A beautiful 16 bit island environment rendered in Gather. The Hivemind team is on the island and can see on another in video chat.

Format

Style of Play:

  • Online native experience (can NOT be played IRL)
  • Point-and-click
  • Interactive NPCs

Who is it For?

  • Puzzle lovers
  • Could be a good choice for a mixed group of novice and experienced players

Required Equipment: computer with internet connection

Recommended Team Size: exactly 2 or exactly 4 players

Play Time: 60 minutes

Price: free

Booking: play at your leisure

Description

Each player is a character in a video game and controls their own on-screen character to solve a series of puzzles and escape being stranded on an island after a shipwreck.

Using Gather in an unusual non-proximity chat mode, players explore a pixel-art world and interact with puzzles by picking up and dropping items in specific locations.

The game has a 2-person and 4-person mode, effectively adjusting certain puzzles to require two or four collaborators to complete a puzzle.

The Lone Puzzler’s Reaction

Fun video game meets escape room. Escaping the island through a series of puzzling video game sets was largely enjoyable. The game interface allowed for pretty seamless integration between the team members, especially after getting used to the mechanics of the game. The game still had some video game-like qualities – mainly needing to do certain tasks with precision and speed to move forward. Even when the team had effectively solved the “puzzle,” it took extra time to beat the video game aspect. That is either a plus or a negative based on your opinion of video game versus escape room. It was not overwhelming either way, but was a noticeable departure from most escape rooms. We had a good time with four remote players. We were all engaged and could keep up with the action pretty well based on how the puzzles fit together.

Brett Kuehner’s Reaction

  • + Tasks required meaningful cooperation between players
  • + Used the Gather platform well, including custom extensions for better puzzle capabilities
  • + “Walkie Talkie” mode made it possible for all players to see and hear each other even when not nearby, a good design decision for this game
  • ? Designed to be played by exactly 2 or 4 players
  • – Several tasks required video game skills with timing that was very tight, requiring multiple attempts that became tedious and frustrating
  • + Pixel art graphic design was well done
  • + Had a good variety of puzzle types, including word puzzles, which was surprising for a Gather game

Joel Smileypeacefun Reaction

Stuck on an island with our boat engine not working, we went off to explore the lands. This game was built on the online platform Gather and we played an unreleased test version.

At its best, the game ran smoothly on Gather for the most part. I particularly enjoyed that we all got to design our little avatars beforehand. The game itself surprised me with some fun interactions and teamwork moments.

At its worst, the overall time limit was a bit off and the maps we walked around on felt unnecessarily too big at times. The last segment had a puzzle with some especially tedious timing. Also, the storyline got a bit lost on me.

It’s amazing to see what can be built on Gather. The team is still actively working on implementing feedback before it launches. I’m sure the released version will be even more fun.

Matthew Stein’s Reaction

Escape the Island was a proof of concept for the range of interactivity that’s currently possible within Gather. Each of five levels showcased a completely different environment and a different style of gameplay, with a very loose narrative throughline of “making our way to the other side of the island.” The game included a variety of puzzle types, with a focus on puzzles involving observation and collaboration.

Over the past couple of years, Gather — with its customizable maps and proximity-based video — has emerged as one of the leading creative alternatives to Zoom and other standard video chat apps. As such, Gather has been home to a slew of immersive theater shows and some pseudo-escape rooms, and while these experiences included novel ways of interacting with actors, the constraints of the platform seemed to only allow for trivial environmental interactions.

With Escape the Island, it’s apparent that the Gather API has taken some large leaps forward. No longer just a novel video chat platform, Gather is now a rudimentary game engine, with the ability to transport items, affect environmental state, affect player state, and much more. The platform still has a ways to go — many core escape room elements required somewhat hacky, laggy workarounds that might not be intuitive to other creators following suit, and moving items around especially felt somewhat clunky. Nonetheless, after playing Escape the Island, I know I’m excited both to play more escape rooms in Gather and also try making my own, and I suspect many other players and creators may feel similarly.

Disclosure: Gather provided the Hivemind reviewers with a complimentary play.

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