Eliviascape – Abstraction [Review]

“Can’t tell if this is true or dream…”

Location:  Québec City, Québec, Canada

Date Played: October 23, 2022

Team size: 2-6; we recommend 3-5

Duration: 70 minutes

Price: $34.75 CAD per player

Ticketing: Private

Emergency Exit Rating: [A+] No Lock

Physical Restraints: [A+] No Physical Restraints

REA Reaction

Abstraction was one of the strongest escape games that we have played in North America.

From story to puzzle design, to the sheer scale of the game world, Abstraction was packed with originality, coherence, and grim beauty. The last act had a puzzle interaction that was as big as it was unique.

Abstraction was expressly inspired by top-tier Dutch escape rooms. It succeeded at drawing inspiration from one of the strongest escape room communities in the world while being its own distinctive and impressive experience. I cannot think of a better way to get a feel of Dutch escape rooms in the Western Hemisphere.

An old, worn sign for CHDQ Hospital. It looks dingy.
Image via Eliviascape

While there were some opportunities for improvement, most of them were derived from the big risks that Eliviascape took in their interaction design. For some, these leaps will land; in our case, a big one sort of broke down because we didn’t react in the intended way. Eliviascape can iterate and improve upon these issues and I fully expect them to figure this out. It was clear that they have a vision and know how to achieve it.

On the subject of Eliviascape, we also played their earlier game, The Longest Night (review coming soon). It was a fine game, that I recommend you play before Abstraction, if only to see where they came from juxtaposed against where they are heading. Our hats are off to the entire Eliviascape team. It is rare to see a company make a game on this level, and rarer to see a company make such a massive leap in scale, ambition, and quality. Abstraction is worth traveling to experience. I hope that you get to play it.

Who is this for?

  • Adventure seekers
  • Story seekers
  • Puzzle lovers
  • Scenery snobs
  • Any experience level

Why play?

  • Gorgeous set design
  • Gameplay that facilitated a narrative journey
  • To interact with the final set

Story

We found ourselves in an old, creepy hospital waiting room. We had no idea how we’d arrived in this place. Our only way forward was to search the environment to learn our story.

Setting

Abstraction began in an abandoned hospital. The beautifully weathered walls took us back to past era. It was an unsettling (but in no way frightening) set.

When new sets opened up, they were nothing like the hospital… yet, they had a place in our narrative. Each set was carefully crafted to transport us.

A dingy corner of a hospital with a large door.
Image via Eliviascape

Gameplay

Eliviascape’s Abstraction was a standard escape room with a moderate level of difficulty.

Core gameplay revolved around observing, making connections, solving puzzles, and thinking critically about our environment.

Analysis

Abstraction was composed of 3 sets that couldn’t be more different from each other. Narratively, however, these worlds came together beautifully. The stark transitions were captivating.

➕ Each set was beautiful, and realistic… to the degree that realism made sense. The weathering in the first set did a lot to establish the dirty, clinical game world and the journey that started there.

➖ In the second act, there was room for aesthetic fine tuning to make the mechanisms feel part of the environment.

➕ The first puzzle was the perfect on-ramp to Abstraction. It was just unusual enough to be intriguing, not so long as to lose our attention… and as such, elegantly provided organic backstory.

➕ The first act gave us a tour of standard escape room gameplay using a variety of puzzle types that flowed well and were tailored to this world. For example, Eliviascape made their own directional lock, one that facilitated a layered spatial puzzle and moreover, belonged. We also especially enjoyed a dexterity puzzle that incorporated a layer of spatial reasoning and thereby engaged multiple teammates simultaneously.

➕ In act two, Eliviascape used a dexterity puzzle without the typical visual components to amplify the threat while simultaneously helping us take in the new scenery.

➖ We struggled when in-room audio competed with prompts from our gamemaster. We couldn’t always tell where the gamemaster’s audio was coming from and couldn’t understand the hints.

➕ Conceptually, the third act was brilliant. We’ve never circled this idea in this way. We loved how Eliviascape required us to move about the set in order to interact with it.

➖Although most puzzles gave good feedback, one late-game puzzle was confusing to interact with. We didn’t immediately recognize there was an input mechanism, nor did it provide confirmation. This puzzle also relied heavily on perception; additional cluing could mitigate this by lessening variation in perspective.

➖ In the last puzzle sequence, we struggled to connect information that was illuminated in different ways. A more unified aesthetic would clue these timely connections.

➕/➖ Abstraction broke convention with a premature “escape” sequence. It was a complex scene, with narrative justification that used space creatively. It was exhilarating, and so clever. Unfortunately, as seasoned escape room players (and immersive theater goers) we chose “yes, and,” which backfired; the moment fell flat. A character had to break the 4th wall to get us back on track. With a few more scripted lines during this scene – from either of two characters – and/ or additional sound and lighting cues, we would have understood the appropriate interaction for our story.

➕ The storytelling delivered. Additionally, upon exiting the escape room, Eliviascape always offers an explanation of the story to help players understand how the gameplay connected to and facilitated their journey.

Tips For Visiting

  • There is a parking lot.

Book your hour with Eliviascape’s Abstraction, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.

Disclosure: Eliviascape comped our tickets for this game.

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