Level Games – The Menagerie [Reaction]

We were booked to travel to Los Angeles back in mid-March… before the apocalypse shut everything down.

Level Games’ The Menagerie was on our list of top games to play on that trip.

We have generally avoided playing escape rooms in avatar mode if we thought that we would play them in real life eventually. When we learned that Level Games was closing, however, we booked The Menagerie immediately.

Shelves covered in jars and filled with animal specimines.

Should I play Level Games’ The Menagerie?

Let’s get this out of the way: yes. Yes, you should play The Menagerie while you can. It is only open for a few more weeks before the company closes completely.

An unusual wooden box covered in metal sockets.

Why should I play Level Games’ The Menagerie?

As an avatar game streamed through Zoom:

  • The streaming and avatar character were narratively a part of the game.
  • It managed inventory better than most.
  • The puzzles played particularly well through the camera.
  • The unusual structure of The Menagerie lent itself to interesting online play.

Beyond all of the mechanical elegance of The Menagerie, the biggest factor for me was how much fun I had while simultaneously wishing that I had had the opportunity to experience this game in real life.

Zoom view of a workbench with a model house, a statue of a lion, and a strange mechanical contraption.

In the end, I am honestly glad that I got to play it at all, in any form. This is a game and a company that will be missed.

Agent Venture – The Heist [Hivemind Review]

The Heist is a digital escape game, designed for livestream play, created by Agent Venture in London, The United Kingdom.

Theresa, Richard, Matthew, and Kathryn in Zoom with Dispatch.

Format

Style of Play: digital escape game with audio roleplaying, designed for livestream play

Required Equipment: computer with internet connection

Recommended Team Size: 4-5

Play Time: 60-90 minutes

Price: $13.75 per person

Booking: book online for a specific time slot

Description

The Heist is an audio roleplaying escape game with defined player roles, verbal NPC interaction, and extensive digital interactions. It is played over livestream. Communication and information sharing are keys to success. Interactions with the performer are all verbal and solving puzzles takes place through Zoom and PDFs.

A terminal screen

Hivemind Review Scale

Crow Solves an Escape Room

So… animals solving puzzles is gonna be a thing around here.

A crow gazing at a question mark.

Today we have a crow solving an escape room. It’s not labeled as such because the video is from 2014, but rest assured, if it were made today, they’d be rightly calling this a Crow Escape Room.

The thing that I find so remarkable is how the crow tests different tools throughout the process. There were moments in this video where I honestly related to the birdy…

Then I imagined this puzzle sequence in a real-life escape room and realized that some teams of humans would inevitably break the props.

Mystery Jigsaw Puzzle Game: A is for Arson [Review]

A Mixed Bag

Location:  at home

Date Played: June 14, 2020

Team size: we recommend 1-3

Size: two 500-piece 13 x 10 inch puzzles

Price: about $15

REA Reaction

This puzzle packed two gimmicks into one box.

Even as an avid jigsaw puzzler, the prospect of 2 different 500-piece puzzles mixed into the same box was a bit intimidating. As it turned out, that worked a lot better than I’d expected. In fact, this was easier to assemble than most of the 750 – 1000 piece puzzles that I’ve solved. The clever trick here was the different depths of field in each image.

A is for Arson box art, shows an ominous scene with various chemicals and a zippo lighter.

As an added twist, the story booklet set up a mystery that we could solve using the evidence we observed in the puzzle pictures.

So, how did this all come together? Well… it was a mixed bag.

The jigsaw puzzles were fine, even if the puzzle pictures were inelegant. (The box art was way more interesting.)

As a mystery game… it was also fine. The mystery was solvable, although some clues were a bit hard to read on account of the image quality.

The biggest stumble in A is for Arson was the narrative, which substituted cultural and ethnic stereotypes in place of actual character development.

A is for Arson was conceptually brilliant; I wish that it had stronger execution.

Who is this for?

  • Jigsaw puzzlers

Why play?

  • The unusual design of 2 different 500-piece puzzles mixed into 1 box
  • The additional story/ mystery content

Story

Investigators had been summoned to the charred ruins of a local Indian restaurant to investigate the origins of the suspicious fire.

It turned out that there were quite a few people with a motive for torching the place.

Continue reading “Mystery Jigsaw Puzzle Game: A is for Arson [Review]”

Escape Room Directory Updates: Please Contribute Local Knowledge

As we prepare to release this summer’s industry report at RECON, we are pushing a lot of updates to the Room Escape Artist Directory, located on our “Find a Room” page. This directory includes all of the brick-and-mortar escape rooms in the United States.

You can see last year’s industry report here.

How you can help

In order to provide this information, we rely on input from folks all over the United States who are playing and creating escape rooms.

Please check your local area for:

  • Newly opened facilities
  • Permanently closed facilities*
  • Mergers/ acquisitions
  • Outdated information (changed URL, changed name, moved location)

You are our best resource for escape rooms near you. Please send us your updates!

*Many facilities are temporarily closed right now. If the facility plans to reopen, we are currently keeping them listed in the directory.

REA logo with a photo of a pinned map of the USA in the background.

2020 Challenges

There are a lot of escape room companies struggling right now. As of this writing, different businesses are facing different challenges, depending on whether or not they can operate on location, and the comfort level of the public in their area.

We know that many escape room businesses have already faced insurmountable challenges, and have had to close their doors. Our hearts go out to these business owners and their staffs.

Other businesses are working hard to increase their visibility at this time when they can service customers, for any customers who want to experience these games in person.

It continues to be a challenging and unpredictable year. Please help all of these businesses by sending us updates about your local area. You know your local market best.

Thank You

Thank you to our team of map maintainers, especially Melissa from Connecticut, who dedicates a large amount of her time to keeping this directory accurate.

Thank you to the players who send in local updates and the companies that share their changes with us.

We can’t do this without you.