DarkPark Games – Never House is included in our recommendation guides for Remote Horror Games and Tabletop Escape Games . For more of the best remote escape games in these styles, check out the recommendation guides.
If you enjoy Never House, we hope you’ll check out our interview with creator Gijs Geers on The Reality Escape Pod.
Home is where the horror is
Location: at home
Date Played: October 7, 2023
Team size: 1-4; we recommend 1-4
Duration: 90 minutes
Price: about $47.21 plus $27.02 for shipping to the US. Shipping varies by location.
DarkPark Games again delivered a well-constructed, cohesive experience with Never House, the third in its series of at-home games. The game offered a simple, yet compelling storyline supported by a trove of well-designed, robust multimedia materials that fit well within the narrative and helped advance gameplay in an intentional way. The most impressive among these pieces featured a common ghost story trope that DarkPark Games transformed into a standout in terms of interactivity and puzzle design.
The premise of the story meant that a lot of information was delivered to us all at once, and a few of the puzzles could have benefited from stronger gating. However, this ultimately did not cause major issues with gameplay.
DarkPark Games bills Never House as a horror game, which is fitting for the DarkPark brand. While I wouldn’t classify its content as outright scary, the game does take place within an eerie, supernatural world with sinister elements underpinning it. If you are sensitive to this sort of content, this game may not be for you.
As with Witchery Spell, Never House was comparatively expensive for an at-home game, and the international shipping isn’t cheap. DarkPark Games offers a refill kit for Never House at a greatly reduced price so you can split the cost of the original box plus the refill with other players. You can also save a few dollars on international shipping by ordering Never House and Witchery Spell at the same time.
The quality of gameplay, storytelling, and artifacts in Never House makes it well worth the cost and a must-play for fans of tabletop escape games, ghost story lovers and, of course, fans of DarkPark Games’ real life games.
Who is this for?
- Adventure seekers
- Story seekers
- Mystery mavens
- Puzzle lovers
- Wannabe ghost hunters
- Fans of DarkPark’s real life games
- Best for players with at least some experience
- Cohesive experience
- Intricate, tactile and weighty components
- Puzzle/ story integration
- Eerie ambiance
We had received a mysterious, misdirected package containing a collection of photographs and documents related to the peculiar and ominous Sterling House, a.k.a. Never House, located in Halifax, Canada. Enclosed was a letter from the sender saying the house had locked him and his wife out and was keeping his young children captive. We had to piece together the clues and work with helpful ghost hunters (the original intended recipients of the package) to confront the evil unfolding in front of us before disaster struck.
DarkPark Games provided photographs, drawings, maps and other detailed documents, along with a few more substantive items for us to explore as we solved individual puzzles to unveil the bigger picture. We interacted regularly with several websites where we inputted answers to the puzzles and also accessed new media and clues that advanced the story.
DarkPark Games’ Never House was an immersive play-at-home escape game with a moderate level of difficulty. Core gameplay revolved around interaction with a variety of both physical and virtual game mechanics, observation, deduction and decryption.
➕ Never House’s well-structured story showed a lot of restraint and did a lot with a little. DarkPark Games cleverly justified why we – the players – were involved in the story.
➕ The game materials had presence and told their own story. They were detailed and weighty and all of them made sense within the game world. They were so realistic that it was easy to imagine them in a real-world setting.
➕ One component deserves its own shout out because it was, to quote one of my teammates, “really f***ing cool.” It was a superbly-designed, interactive play on a well-known method of communication. I played this game with David and Lisa, who almost never keep artifacts of tabletop escape games, but were both excited to display this one as part of their well-curated collection.
➕ Puzzling in general was strong and supported the story. One puzzle in particular was a worthy adversary, blazing a path to a great aha.
➖ Two puzzles could have been gated more strongly to better clue when their solutions would need to be used.
➕ The digital content production (videos and websites) was excellent and there was one instance in particular where I was blown away by the amount of detail DarkPark created and incorporated. It was a delight exploring this section and using its information to solve one of the puzzles. Interactions where we had to input answers to a website were largely seamless.
➖ While the websites were well designed, it got tedious having to navigate to multiple locations. Since we were using mobile phones in addition to laptops to visit to these sites, it was hard for other players to follow what was happening. You can avoid this by designating one main laptop for everyone to look at, or even connecting it to a monitor. One of the websites also called for a cumbersome interaction, but the result was well worth the effort.
➖ One puzzle jumped clumsily from digital answer input to tabletop engagement and took us a few minutes to get back on track.
➕ The finale took an unexpected turn and revealed a ghastly secret that brought the already-ominous story to an even more chilling conclusion.
Tips For Players
- Space Requirements: a medium-size table so you can arrange the numerous game components
- Required Gear: pen or pencil, paper, computer or mobile device with internet access
- Shipping: DarkPark ships internationally. We suggest ordering Witchery Spell at the same time as Never House if you would like to play both, as this will save you a few dollars on shipping.
- Some of the elements are destructible, but you can purchase a refill kit from DarkPark and reset the game for another group to play.
Buy your copy of DarkPark Games’ Never House, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.
Disclosure: DarkPark Games provided a complimentary game.