Mystery Escape Room – Nancy Drew [Hivemind Review]

Nancy Drew is a digital escape game created by Mystery Escape Room in Salt Lake City, UT.

A spiral staircase in a stately manor.

Read more about our new Hivemind Review format.

Format

Style of Play: light puzzle hunt

Required Equipment: computer with internet connection. Note, a computer (not a tablet) is necessary for the experience. The game will need to be played with multiple tabs open, a Google Doc, and Google Hangouts simultaneously.

Recommended Team Size: 2-4

Play Time: 60 minutes

Price: $85 for a private booking of 4-8 people

Booking: book online for a specific time slot

Description

You play via a website interface where you explore different rooms in a mansion by clicking around a series of images that make up a house. As you find clues and items, you add them to a shared Google Doc. Solving puzzles unlocks doors to other rooms. Each room opens in a new tab. (Don’t close them!) There is a gamemaster available to help you navigate through the mansion and give hints. The narrative is driven mainly through the game itself and not the gamemaster. Communication is key.

A large room in a stately manor.

Hivemind Review Scale

REA's hivemind review scale - 3 is recommended anytime, 2 recommended in quarantine, 1 is not recommended.

Read more about our Hivemind Review format.

The exterior of a stately manor house.

Crystal F’s Reaction

Rating: 3 out of 3.

I really enjoyed the format of Nancy Drew by Mystery Escape Room. It felt very much like an actual escape room. There were several rooms to explore, items to find (and miss), and connections to be made. The puzzles all made sense and were varied. As with an in-person escape room, not everyone got to be a part of every puzzle, and some felt lost at times. If you are ok with that then I would highly recommend this game. I do, however, feel that this game could benefit from a more structured game inventory system. Even a labeled Slides presentation might help with keeping the game organized. For me, these were minor inconveniences in what I thought was otherwise a very authentic feeling experience.

Peih Gee Law’s Reaction

Rating: 2 out of 3.

The natural limitation of playing escape rooms via Zoom is usually that we are limited to one view point, and thus the games tend to follow a fairly linear path, with the entire team working together on one puzzle at a time. Nancy Drew was innovative in allowing each player to follow their own path through a mansion while gathering clues and sharing them with each other to solve various puzzles.

On the one hand, it was really fun being able to work independently, but cooperatively. However, I found the inventory system very disorganized: basically everyone just cut and pasted the clues they found into a Google Doc. As a more methodical type player, I found it disjointed and confusing to follow some of the clues because they were pasted haphazardly in what grew to be a 12-page document.

I also wished the rooms in the mansion were easier to navigate. It was slow loading for me, and each room opens in a new tab. It wasn’t made clear to me that we would have to keep that tab open to have access to the room. So to “enter” a room, I found myself constantly having to interrupt other players to ask what was the code to enter, so I could explore, since many times it was a room I didn’t work on.

I think the concept and puzzles were very fun. I just wish the execution was smoother. However, this experience has come the closest so far to replicating the chaos of having multiple people playing an escape room together.

"Winner" screen depicts a police officer escorting someone in an orange jumpsuit.

Tammy McLeod’s Reaction

Rating: 1 out of 3.

This game is apparently normally run as a corporate team-building activity, which, given its design, makes a lot of sense. While its theme is very escape room-like, I felt that our group of 5 experienced players was expending most of our game time and effort in accumulating and coordinating the discovered puzzle pieces. It was a huge exercise in team management. The puzzles were fun and the game would be fairly enjoyable for a single player, though the interface is not as polished as many other similar games that I’ve seen.

Theresa W’s Reaction

Rating: 2 out of 3.

Nancy Drew had a lot of content jam-packed into an hour-long point-and-click adventure game. The puzzles were fun and spread throughout a mansion, with plenty to keep our team of 5 players busy. The system did not allow teammates to affect one another’s experience, so each member had to type the answers and communicate what they had solved. The team was encouraged to use a Google Doc to share relevant information, yet this felt clunky and unorganized. Throughout the game, there was a Wix banner that was odd and distracting. This experience could benefit from some polishing, but was overall enjoyable.

Andrew Reynolds’ Reaction

Rating: 3 out of 3.

Nancy Drew is a frenetic point-and-click game set in the official Nancy Drew-niverse. Just like a physical room, the team split up and explored different areas of the Forsyth Mansion, collecting clues and puzzles along the way. This information was shared in a document that the gamemaster provided to us. While the components were easy to find and share, organizing them and making sense of what other people found was initially challenging. Once we had a handle on the system, it worked – but we had to put some effort into making it work. This is one area that could use a little polish. Apart from that, it was a lot of fun exploring the house, forming small groups to solve puzzles, and coming together for a team solve at the end. If you’re okay with not being a part of every puzzle, Nancy Drew is worth playing.

Disclosure: Mystery Escape Room provided the Hivemind reviewers with a complimentary play.

Mystery Escape Room – Cthulhu’s Library of Horrors [Review]

Cthulhu waits dreaming.

Location: Salt Lake City, UT

Date Played: January 8, 2018

Team size: up to 12; we recommend 3-5

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: $29.95 per ticket

REA Reaction

The writings of H.P. Lovecraft are filled with curious and adventurous minds driven to madness. Cthulhu’s Library of Horrors replicated that. Its design was highly ambitious but bumpy execution and lighting problems kept some great ideas from reaching their potential.

Who is this for?

  • Adventure seekers
  • H.P. Lovecraft fans
  • Players with at least some experience
  • Players who don’t need to be a part of every puzzle

Why play?

  • Because Cthulhu calls
  • Dramatic moments
  • The gamemaster

Story

The Old Ones, the horrors born of H.P. Lovecraft’s mind, slumbered dreaming of their ascendance. We had to puzzle through the madness and lore to prevent them from rising and destroying all.

In-game: A skull on a strange table with a book covered in protruding eyeballs behind it.

Setting

We found ourselves in a sporadically lit library amidst skulls and the lore of H.P. Lovecraft.

The set design was uneven. Some of it looked great; other portions were uninspiring.

In-game: a dimly lit bookshelf with a skull and books resting on it.

While there were moments of intensity, this was not a scary escape room.

Gameplay

Cthulhu’s Library of Horrors was a standard escape room with a bit of searching and a heavier emphasis on puzzling and interpreting lore. We struggled to navigate the gamespace without blocking another teammate’s light.

Much like Dracula’s Castle, our in-character gamemaster introduced and vocally oversaw our game… and, oh my, was he a character.

In-game: An old grandfather clock beside a book shelf.

Standouts

Mystery Escape Room opened Cthulhu’s Library of Horrors with an engaging and hilarious introduction. It added excitement to the adventure ahead.

Our gamemaster was a character in our experience. Although offstage for the duration of the game clock, his verbal interactions were helpful and amusing. He was an integral part of Cthulhu’s Library of Horrors.

Cthulhu’s Library of Horrors included an unusual and entertaining Lovecraft lore manual.

The most thematic puzzle had us accept the madness of Lovecraftian lore and unexpectedly triggered an effect.

I’d been waiting for a Cthulu-themed escape room for a long time now. Mystery Escape Room delivered. I was happy that I got to play it.

Shortcomings

In attempting to stay true to the lore, Cthulhu’s Library of Horrors didn’t deliver the intensity that Cthulhu demanded.

The dark gamespace quickly became the most prominent puzzle. We were always in each other’s light… which kind of drove us insane.

There was a lot of reading material, and not within the library books. This was especially frustrating given the lack of lighting.

While Mystery Escape Room built some interesting tech-driven opens, we saw them coming a mile away. To enhance their dramatic effect, we recommend hiding wires and concealing the technology.

We bypassed the final puzzle through a combination of observation and knowledge of Cthulhu lore. We recommend Mystery Escape Room modify the puzzle flow such that teams cannot miss the climax of the adventure.

Tips for Visiting

  • Mystery Escape Room is located in The Gateway. There are plenty of restaurant options in the complex.
  • There’s a paid parking garage in The Gateway complex.
  • At least one or two players will need to crawl a short distance.
  • Mind your gamemaster for hints and entertainment.

Book your hour with Mystery Escape Room’s Cthulhu’s Library of Horrors, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.

Disclosure: Mystery Escape Room comped our tickets for this game.

 

Mystery Escape Room – Dracula’s Castle [Review]

Sanguine.

Location: Salt Lake City, UT

Date Played: January 8, 2018

Team size: up to 12; we recommend 4-5

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: $29.95 per ticket

REA Reaction

Dracula’s Castle was a search-and-puzzle escape room with a narrative twist: from introduction to conclusion, our gamemaster was an off-stage character in our experience. Mystery Escape Room had some shaky execution, but their inventive and humorous game delivery was impressive.

Who is this for?

  • Adventure seekers
  • Puzzle lovers
  • Dracula fans
  • Any experience level
  • Players who don’t need to be a part of every puzzle

Why play?

  • The puzzles
  • Dramatic moments
  • The gamemaster

Story

Who knew Abraham Van Helsing wasn’t a closer? He thought he had slain Count Dracula, but the legendary vampire continued to draw blood. We were asked to invade Dracula’s castle under cover of sunlight to finish what Van Helsing couldn’t.

In-game: A vase sitting in a glowing stained glass window.

Setting

Dracula’s Castle was dimly lit and lined with stone walls. Most of the light entered from a couple of stained glass window and our lanterns. Count Dracula’s coffin rested in the middle of the space.

In-game: a black stone wall and armoire in the background.

Gameplay

Dracula’s Castle had a standard search-and-puzzle escape room structure with an emphasis on narrative and magical happenings.

All of the gameplay was overseen by our incredibly attentive and hilarious in-character but out-of-room gamemaster. He remained a regular audible presence throughout the experience.

In-game: a large, ornate, silver lever lock.

Standouts

Our introduction to Dracula’s Castle was phenomenal. It was informative, engaging, and humorous.

Our gamemaster was a character in our experience. Although offstage for the duration of the game clock, his verbal interactions were helpful and amusing. He was an integral part of Dracula’s Castle.

The puzzles flowed well.

The dark set was appropriately ominous and felt castle-y.

The conclusion balanced intensity and humor. It worked well.

Shortcomings

The set was too dark. The perpetually inadequate lighting turned otherwise fun puzzles frustrating.

When we solved a puzzle, we couldn’t always find the resulting open. Especially given the darkness, Mystery Escape Room could build more feedback into tech-driven opens, in the form of lighting, sound, or movement.

We had to stop and read a lot. We would have preferred more variety in clue structure and more clueing born of the environment.

One involved puzzle overstayed its welcome.

Tips for Visiting

  • Mystery Escape Room is located in The Gateway. There are a few restaurant options in the complex.
  • There is a paid parking garage in The Gateway complex.
  • Mind your gamemaster for both help and amusement.

Book your hour with Mystery Escape Room’s Dracula’s Castle, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.

Disclosure: Mystery Escape Room comped our tickets for this game.