The Escape Game – The Mysterious Benedict Society [Hivemind Review]

The Mysterious Benedict Society is a free avatar-led escape game to promote the Disney+ show of the same name. It was created by The Escape Game in Nashville, TN.

An ornate hallway with portraits and many curious objects.

Format

Style of Play:

  • Online native experience (can NOT be played IRL)
  • Avatar controlled by the players
  • Web-based inventory system

Required Equipment: computer with internet connection

Recommended Team Size: 2-4

Play Time: 45 minutes

Price: This was a free event, promoting an upcoming Disney+ series.

Booking: book online for a specific time slot

Description

This was a typical livestreamed escape room, played via Zoom with the gamemaster as the avatar. It included a separate custom inventory interface that kept track of locks in a separate list, and played game-related videos.

Closeup of a bell in a box.

Hivemind Review Scale

District 3 Escape Rooms – Interrogation Room [Hivemind Review]

Interrogation Room is an avatar-led, livestreamed adaptation of an in-person game created by District 3 Escape Rooms in Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada.

Two people opening a briefcase in an interrogation room viewed through a black & white security camera.

Format

Style of Play:

  • Adaptation of an in-person game (can be played IRL)
  • Avatar controlled by the players
  • Web-based inventory system

Required Equipment: computer with an internet connection

Recommended Team Size: 3-4

Play Time: 60 minutes

Price: $22 CAD per person

Booking: book online for a specific time slot

Description

You play through Zoom as usual, with a Telescape inventory website and an avatar. There is also one bonus puzzle and other achievements you can earn.

Hivemind Review Scale

Exit: The Game – The Sacred Temple (with Jigsaws) [Hivemind Review]

The Sacred Temple is a tabletop escape game created by Exit: The Game.

Exit The Game: Sacred Temple box art depicts a south east asian landscape.

Format

Style of Play: tabletop escape game with jigsaw puzzle component

Required Equipment: scissors, pen & paper

A phone is not required, but there is an app with a timer and background sounds.

Recommended Team Size: 1-3

Play Time: 2-3 hours

Price: about $25

Booking: purchase and play at your leisure

Description

You are on a quest to prevent a band of treasure hunters from stealing ancient artifacts from a sacred temple. To navigate to the temple, you must complete a series of jigsaw puzzles that not only reveal new locations on your journey but also provide clues and other tools to help you solve riddles along the way. For each riddle, you enter a 3-digit code into a decoder wheel. If the code is correct, you gain access to a new pamphlet and/ or jigsaw puzzle that provides additional narration and instructions for the next riddle.

4 sealed bags of puzzle pieces.

Sarah Mendez’s Reaction

The alternation of jigsaw puzzles and clue-based puzzles in this game introduced intriguing gameplay but also led to odd pacing and collaboration awkwardness. The four jigsaw puzzles were murky and sometimes nondescript, leading us to question our household lighting choices. Because the puzzles are small, it’s difficult to gather around them and collaborate, especially without blocking the light. It was also a jarring change of pace to jigsaw then solve, jigsaw then solve, a pattern that interrupted the momentum of the game at times. Finally, a significant portion of the game is jigsawing, so if that’s not really your thing, there’s more than you will likely enjoy.

Aside from what you think about the jigsaw puzzles as jigsaw puzzles, they do open up a new world of game mechanics for a series that already prides itself on using game pieces in unexpected ways. I enjoyed experimenting with solutions here. However, I found that some of the more difficult aha moments were early in the game when I had less awareness of the possibilities. This not only deprived us of the joy of discovery as we relied on hints but also led to overthinking later puzzles. Additionally, one early puzzle led us to hyperfocus on a number of red herrings later in the game, and the last puzzle was fairly anticlimactic. Individually, the puzzles were interesting enough, so a different ordering might have been a better onramping experience.

Even though I thought there was a lot to improve upon here, this format still shows potential. Inasmuch as the jigsaw puzzles are used for creative purposes, they add a fun new dimension to the Exit: The Game series that I’m excited about. When they’re just a different medium for presenting clues, they mostly slow down the game without much benefit. I look forward to seeing how later games will refine this balance.

Assorted game components including a paper snake and a solution wheel.

Cindi S’ Reaction

The Sacred Temple brings completely new mechanics to the well-regarded Exit: The Game series. Instead of the regular items we are used to seeing, four jigsaw puzzles and a new riddle and hint system are now the star components of the game. As we’ve come to expect with Exit: The Game installments, the props are integrated in unusual ways, and the thematic jigsaws result in a multi-level puzzling experience. I did find a few of the game elements hard to see due to the dark images, leading to a few “pixel hunt” situations I had to resolve with hints. The pacing of the game was unusually strong, as each jigsaw introduces a new dramatic situation for you to confront. There is a lot of story in The Sacred Temple and the excitement builds as you make your way through the jungle adventure (although it ends rather abruptly). I really enjoy playing Exit: The Game installments and it is refreshing to see them exploring off the beaten path.

Kate Wastl’s Reaction

The Sacred Temple is a perfect fit for groups of 2-4 people who are natural jigsaw puzzlers, adding in a fun dimension to the Exit: The Games series. While navigating an island to search for a professor, we came across four distinct locations to explore, each represented by a different jigsaw puzzle to assemble. This new format allowed the creators to introduce refreshingly new gameplay dynamics that would not be possible with the use of cards alone. There is also a new, streamlined answer-check feature that I hope will be adopted across the Exit: The Games series as a whole. Fair warning to those who did not realize that they rely on reference pictures to assemble jigsaws: it can be a humbling experience and it might be wise to break this game up into two sessions.

Puzzle pamphlets that look like leather journals with geometric symbols laid on a table.

Theresa W’s Reaction

The Sacred Temple took the format we know and love from the Exit: The Game series and implemented it pretty flawlessly into four jigsaw puzzles and some strange objects. The jigsaw puzzles do a great job at portraying the story through showing detailed visuals that follow along with the small clue pamphlets (that replace the storybook from normal Exit: The Game installments.)

In terms of puzzles, this may have been one of the stronger installments in the Exit: The Game series. The puzzles weren’t difficult, but they were all satisfying to solve. Exit: The Game was able to design so many tangible puzzles that weren’t just paper-based and truly used the medium to the utmost extent. This game would be pretty easy to reset if you wanted to hand it off to someone else, assuming they don’t mind that you cut one or two things! I’m really looking forward to playing more of these jigsaw puzzle Exit: The Game installments, as they are filled with so many new ideas and mechanics!

David Spira’s Reaction

This was a regular installment of Exit: The Game, but they’d removed a few journal pages and turned them into jigsaw puzzles.

I generally enjoy the Exit: The Game series and I am an avid jigsaw puzzler. Thus Exit: The Game with jigsaw puzzles is not something that I’m going to argue with. The price was increased, but so was the playtime.

From an execution standpoint, the puzzles felt well tested, and played like a strong installment of the series.

My knock against The Sacred Temple is in the jigsaw puzzle design. Jigsaw puzzles are a unique art, and a lot goes into getting the coloration, textures, patterns, and depth correct so that the puzzle is engaging. Some of the jigsaw puzzles in The Sacred Temple got there, but not all of them.

I’m excited to see Exit: The Game opening up new design space, and eager to see where they take this new format.

Disclosure: Exit: The Game provided the Hivemind reviewers with a complimentary play.

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Virtual Escaping – Underground Murder [Hivemind Review]

Underground Murder is a collaborative point-and-click game created by Virtual Escaping.

An old, rundown subway platform that is the scene of a crime.

Format

Style of Play:

  • Online native experience (can NOT be played IRL)
  • Play on demand
  • Point-and-click

Required Equipment: computer with internet connection, pen & paper

Recommended Team Size: 2-4

Play Time: 75 minutes, but experienced groups will complete it much more quickly

Price: $28 per team

Booking: purchase and play at your leisure

Description

This is a point-and-click game with built-in video chat, allowing for team members to collaborate via a browser-based system. Solve puzzles by searching, using inventory items, and opening locks. At the end, use the evidence to figure out who the killer is and why they committed the murder.

How to play was a bit confusing. As it turned out, one player purchased the game and received a code that was shared with the other players. There was a location on the site to enter a “voucher” for the game and then everyone was in the same instance and the team could “press start” to play the game.

Hivemind Review Scale

Wizards Against Lizards [Hivemind Review]

Wizards Against Lizards will offer this experience as part of the Game Hall at RECON (August 22-23, 2021.) If you’re interested in playing this game, or any of the other amazing experiences offered, grab yourself a play pass here. Hope to see you there!

Wizards Against Lizards is a blend of immersive theater and escape room-style puzzles.

A wizard on zoom.

Format

Style of Play:

  • Online native experience (can NOT be played IRL)
  • Interactive NPCs
  • Immersive theater

Required Equipment: computer with internet connection

Recommended Team Size: 3-6

Play Time: 90 minutes

Price: £100 per team (~ $140)

Booking: book online for a specific time slot

Description

You are roleplaying as trainee wizards drafted into a secret mission against the lizard people, who are bent on destroying the world and increasing human misery.

You will need to solve puzzles and infiltrate the lizard people by tricking them via conversation. Multiple puzzling styles are used along with a good amount of character interaction and improv.

A lizard person on Zoom.

Hivemind Review Scale