Stitch Media – Flow Weaver [Hivemind Review]

Flow Weaver is a narrative-driven adventure game in VR with puzzles, created by Stitch Media.

Flow Weaver title art, set in a 3D rendered VR world.

Format

Style of Play:

  • VR
  • Play on demand

Required Equipment: VR headset – It’s only available to be played on Oculus headsets (Rift, Quest).

Recommended Team Size: 1

Play Time: about 3 hours

Price: $19.99

Booking: purchase and play at your leisure

Description

Flow Weaver is a narrative-driven adventure game with puzzles. This is a seated VR game (no actual walking around the space.) You can pick up objects, examine objects, place objects to solve puzzles, teleport, observe the environment, and watch cutscenes.

Hivemind Review Scale

Professor Layton Game – Honest Trailer

Somehow we’ve never written about the anime-puzzle adventure-video game series Professor Layton here on Room Escape Artist.

Layton "Puzzle Solved!" screen.

This prolific series has had 9 different installments since its debut in 2007, all of them intensely puzzley.

This Honest Game Trailer really captures the highs, lows, and quirks of the series. These games really are one of those love-it-or-hate-it scenarios.

The Layton series seems like it was probably an early influence on SCRAP, the first escape room company. I feel like most of the people that I know who adore Layton also love playing SCRAP games.

If you’re interested, the latest in the series was Layton’s Mystery Journey: Katrielle and the Millionaires’ Conspiracy (iOS, Android, Nintendo 3DS, Nintendo Switch)

Support Room Escape Artist’s Mission

There are lots of ways to support Room Escape Artist, like buying from Amazon or Etsy after clicking into the links included in this post or backing us on Patreon.

The money that we make from these helps us to grow the site and continue to add more value to the community that we love so much.

Playing “Dead” Flash Escape Games with Flashpoint

Flash Player is Dead! (Or is it?)

If you haven’t heard yet, Adobe’s Flash Player plugin has been permanently sunset. That brings down every Flash game on the Internet. While Flash developers had plenty of notice before their games became unplayable, many didn’t have the time, resources, or interest to transport their 10+ year old games to a new platform. To save the utmost amount of games from getting lost in the void, Flashpoint and a handful of similar projects were created.

Many different teams are attempting to archive the vast array of Flash Player games. Newgrounds has developed a way to play their collection of Flash games from over the years, including a smaller yet substantial repository of ~20,000 titles.

While other smaller projects exist, Flashpoint is by far the leading platform in game preservation efforts.

BlueMaxima's Flashpoint website.

What is Flashpoint?

A reader tipped us off recently about this project aiming to preserve tens of thousands of games that used Flash Player and other deprecated web software. Flashpoint is a non-profit, open source project with over 70,000 web-based games included in its extensive database.

The developers of Flashpoint are constantly adding new webgames from various websites and plugins requested by users. If there is a game you loved and cannot play anymore due the death of Flash Player, you can submit a request to revive your cherished Flash game memories.

Flashpoint's launcher, loaded with point & click escape rooms.

The database alone has more than 9,150 games that include the word “escape” in the title, so you’re bound to find almost every escape and puzzle game made in Flash that your heart desires.

How to Get Going

Flashpoint has two options for downloading: Ultimate (download the entire repository of games off the bat) and Infinity (download games individually, as you please).

Compared to playing the games in-browser back in the day, Flashpoint offers an impeccable gameplay experience. Every game feels flawless, and setup is incredibly easy. While running the games, you can even be directed to external links, i.e. clicking on the walkthrough button in-game will open your web browser and show the walkthrough (cue terrible early 2000s web designs).

Every game I’ve played so far has run identically to the old web-based versions. Flashpoint is guaranteed to work on Windows 7 and up, and has experimental versions for MacOS and Linux. The FAQ goes over these requirements in more detail.

Not Sure Where to Start?

The launcher includes a Hall of Fame with the most popular games, as well as a “choose a random game” button that displays 5 choices. They also have a handful of categorized game lists including Flash Food, Puzzling Pursuits, and Escaper’s Encyclopedia.

Some of my most memorable non-puzzle favorites include the original Thing Thing Arena, Super Crazy Guitar Maniac Deluxe, Stick RPG, Bowman, and Amateur Surgeon. (I’m not sure if these games are actually good or I’m just nostalgic.)

An escape game running in Flashpoint.

In the realm of escape rooms, some notable classics include Crimson Room, Cube Escape (from the Rusty Lake team!), and the AN Escape Series.

Flash Player’s History with Escape Rooms

While escape room predecessors include adventure puzzle video games (Myst), text adventures, and UK game shows (The Adventure Game, The Crystal Maze), the escape room genre really took off with Flash-based ‘Escape the Room’ video games. Crimson Room was one of the best known escape the room games, and truly paved the way for the industry as we know it. Check out David’s 2017 article A Quick History of Escape Rooms for more on this history.

Thank You, Flashpoint

Flashpoint is an incredible effort to preserve many fantastic games that otherwise would have been just a lost memory. Thank you, from escape room fans to the folks behind this amazing journey and accomplishment. Without Flashpoint, an important part of our history could have been forgotten.

If you have any fond memories of Flash-based games, please share them in the comments for all to play!

Thank you to the REA reader Andrew Nicholson, who let us know about Flashpoint.

We Were Here [Review]

Keep Talking and Nobody Freezes

Developer & Publisher: Total Mayhem Games

Dates Played: January 2021

Platform: PC & Mac on Steam, XBox One

Duration: about two hours

Price: Free on Steam, $5 on Xbox One

REA Reaction

Despite the fact that We Were Here didn’t break any ground in either the cooperative or video game escape room arena, it was a very good example of both. I came away from the experience generally satisfied and interested in trying the two follow-up games.

This was a two-person only, cooperative, first-person POV escape room game. My teammate was Hivemind Writer Theresa Piazza. An escape room veteran, she was an excellent partner as this experience was all about communication. Because we were in completely separate digital locations, we had to constantly describe our surroundings through an in-game walkie-talkie, providing information that would help the other person advance.

It’s clear to me that Total Mayhem Games understands escape rooms and how to keep players engaged. The look and feel was polished, but in the end, lacked a certain specialness that would have elevated it to a “must-play” recommendation. The ending, in particular, was a bit baffling.

That said, it was time well spent thanks to the atmospheric environment, the moments of tension, and the communication skills of my teammate.

Who is this for?

  • Escape room teammates who miss live two-person escape rooms
  • Fans of Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes
  • Streamers looking for something to entertain and engage their audience

Why play?

  • The cooperative escape room concept translates well to this medium
  • This first one is free! (on Steam)

Story

I played one of two members of an Antarctic expedition. We had followed footprints through the snow to a mysterious estate. Once inside, we were knocked out by an unknown figure and separated into two locations. My role was “Librarian” and Theresa’s role was “Explorer.” Our goal: help each other escape.

Continue reading “We Were Here [Review]”

Farewell Flash Escape Rooms

Today Adobe Flash is officially dead, and I’d be remiss if I didn’t take a moment to celebrate what Flash meant in the history of escape games.

As a community, we often recognize the television shows like Legends of the Hidden Temple and The Crystal Maze as well as the early 1990s video games such as Myst, The 7th Guest, or the catalogue of material put out by companies like LucasArts and Sierra Entertainment, that paved the way for escape rooms. However, there was a massive chapter in between all of those and what we came to recognize as real-life escape games.

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A Little History

In the pre-iPhone days, Adobe Flash was the go-to toolkit for amateur game designers. It was easy to learn, well supported, and you could make everything from animations to actual games.

In the late 1990s and early 2000s, Flash was the beating heart of the indie game scene (not that I can recall anyone calling it that). Flash became this weird behemoth of a platform that was serving enterprise needs and independent creators. It was resource intensive, but it was what we had.

One game genre that was relatively easy to get started in was the point-and-click adventure genre. Images and animations were generally static, and the interactions were straightforward. Creators told all sorts of stories, but over time one sub-genre that emerged was known as “escape the room,” a term that originated with Mystery Of Time And Space (MOTAS).

Before escape rooms were escape rooms, they were Flash video games.

A Fond Farewell

Flash had a ton of problems ranging from its dependence on Adobe, to performance issues, accessibility, and most importantly, security… but it was easy. While I had been guiding my design clients away from it since the pre-iPhone days, I still don’t believe that anything has emerged to fully take its place.

Flash has been on life support for a long time. Steve Jobs effectively killed it when he disallowed it on the iPhone, but by that point it was on borrowed time. Honestly, it borrowed a lot more time than I ever expected it would.

Flash had a good run. I wish that Adobe would have open-sourced it back in 2011. Maybe it would have had a fighting chance if a community that understood it could have improved upon it.

Tragically, with Flash dying out, we lose a lot of escape the room games. Most of them might not have been special, but some truly were, and they are all part of the history escape rooms. A history that will be largely forgotten.

If you have a favorite, please share it in the comments, or better yet, a video of a playthrough if you can find it.