Project Avatar (Hypno Dive) – Mystery Hotel [Hivemind Review]

Update 11/29/22: If you enjoy Mystery Hotel, we hope you’ll check out our interview with creator Tasha Tarkhanova on The Reality Escape Pod.

Mystery Hotel is an avatar-led online escape game created by Project Avatar of Hypno Dive based in Ukraine.

Card reads, "This escape room created in Ukraine."

Format

Style of Play:

  • Adaptation of an in-person game
  • Avatar controlled by the players
  • Includes video segments

Who is it For?

  • Adventure seekers
  • Any experience level

Required Equipment: computer with internet connection

Recommended Team Size: 2-8

Play Time: 60 minutes

Price: $100 for a team of 4 players plus $25 for each additional player

Booking: book online for a specific time slot

Description

Mystery Hotel is a first-person avatar-led escape game with graphic overlays and cut scenes that give it a videogame style.

First person view, with a HUD. Hands reaching out to open an ornate book.

Andrew Reynolds’ Reaction

Based on their previous virtual escape games, Mystery Hotel from Project Avatar was a must-play. Mystery Hotel was a bit of departure from Project Avatar’s highly regarded and novel format, but it was still time well spent. The team took a well-deserved break from the massive scope and physical footprint of the Avatar Stalker series and made an escape room with a much more standard look and feel. All the puzzles – save one – worked very well in the online format, and our team thoroughly enjoyed playing. But it’s not just the physical space that has defined Project Avatar’s games; their camera work, cutscenes, and overlays have been integral parts of the experience. Mystery Hotel did not back down in that regard. Important information and symbols typically found only on in-game items appeared clearly on the screen when they were introduced and when they were part of an active puzzle. It’s nothing short of a huge quality of life improvement. As a Ukrainian company, it’s amazing that Project Avatar is not just turning out games right now, but also that the games continue to be high quality.

Brett Kuehner’s Reaction

  • + Good introduction and explanation of game goals and mechanics
  • – One puzzle that was originally designed for in-person play needed better cluing to adapt it for remote play
  • -/+ A puzzle that was hard to see on camera led the avatar to do some entertaining gymnastics so we could get a better view
  • + Fun atmospheric video effects and cutscenes
  • ? If you are sensitive to camera motion, the first-person, head-mounted camera might make you queasy
  • + Even though the avatar is silent and you only see the avatar’s hands, the avatar interactions are funny and very engaging
  • + An “energy level” mechanic is well done, adding some gameplay without being tedious or overly stressful
  • + Graphic overlays for status and inventory are smartly done, keep the focus on fun, and remove the need for note-taking and screenshots
  • – The ending could benefit from additional energy and drama

Joel Smileypeacefun Reaction

Entering a mysterious hotel, we encountered angry ghosts. Only by finding a hidden artifact could we stop them from haunting the building.

At its best, the game had a well-balanced energy mechanic. Our non-talking actor had surprisingly good communication skills. The gameplay flowed generally well and I found one or two puzzles to be cleverly clued. The intro and outro videos were beautifully produced.

At its worst, the previous games from Project Avatar were award-winning and highly praised as being very unique. Therefore I went in with some false assumptions. It turned out that this game was much more like a standard remote escape game. The set looked rather basic, most puzzles were far from innovative, and the storyline ultimately didn’t matter.

They somewhat make it clear on their website that this is not quite like their larger previous games, but I was hoping for something more wowing. All in all, it is still a good game if you go in with the right expectations.

Cara Mandel’s Reaction

Project Avatar was one of the early standouts during the pandemic remote-play renaissance (as I’m now coining it). Whereas other companies were simply strapping a GoPro on and playing first person pov-style, they elevated the genre adding personality, slick graphic overlays that made us feel as though we were in a video game come to life, high quality video production, and an incredible setting with seemingly endless possibilities. To be clear, Mystery Hotel is not the same type of expansive game as their early offerings. It does, however, employ many of the same techniques that truly set them apart from standard avatar-style games. From their signature graphics and power-up mechanisms to the fun and interactive avatar and slick cutscenes, the game still felt fresh and unique from other online options. This was a more traditional escape room format, but the puzzles were enjoyable and intuitive and we had a good amount of activity to keep us racing through to the final moment. Worth playing, for sure!

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