SCRAP – Escape from the Science Lab of Shifting Rules [Hivemind Review]

Escape from the Science Lab of Shifting Rules is an avatar-led game, played in Zoom, and created specifically for digital play by SCRAP in Japan.

Promo art shows a chaotic lab with a shark and the words, "Alter the rules and save the world!"Alter

Format

Style of Play:

  • Online native experience (can NOT be played IRL)
  • Avatar controlled by the players

Required Equipment: computer with internet connection

Recommended Team Size: 2-6

Play Time: 60 minutes

Price: about $192 per team of up to 6 players

Booking: book online for a specific time slot

Description

Escape from the Science Lab of Shifting Rules is an avatar-led game that uses wordplay and critical thinking to move the story along.

Standard avatar interaction. Non-standard physics interaction. Players control a machine that changes reality and – as a fortuitous side effect – helps them solve puzzles.

This game is played entirely in Zoom with no additional interface. It was specifically designed as a remote game and can not be played in real life.

Escape from the Science Lab of Shifting Rules is also available in Japanese, but we played the English version of this game. You need a strong grasp of English to succeed.

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Farmington Underground – Enchanted Realms [Hivemind Review]

Enchanted Realms is an actor-driven scavenger hunt created for families by Farmington Underground in Farmington, ME.

7 illustrated characters from Enchanted Realms: Little Bread Riding Hood, Singerella, Jackie Beanstalk, Rhyme-punzel, Captain Book, Prince Farming, & Sleeping Foodie."

Format

Style of Play:

  • Online native experience (can NOT be played IRL)
  • Video-based experience
  • Interactive NPCs (actors in Zoom rooms)

Required Equipment: computer with internet connection and lots of random items from around your house, including from the kitchen

Recommended Team Size: You can play with any size family/ household. This experience is designed for families with children.

Play Time: standard ticket is 1.5 hours, VIP tickets is 2.5 hours

Price: $35 per household for a standard ticket, $55 per household for VIP experience

Booking: This show runs again on April 10, 2020.

Description

This game is more of a scavenger hunt than an escape room experience. Your mission is to solve a who/ where/ how mystery by gathering information from various storybook characters. To earn information from a character, you first watch a pre-recorded video of the character explaining a task for you to complete. When you complete the task, you dial up the character on a live, personal Zoom call and present your solution. If the character approves of your solution, they give you a piece of information for the meta-mystery and then send you on a second quest.

Each quest is a simple STEAM activity that uses materials from around your house. These activities cover a range of interests and skills, from dancing to building to cooking. Each activity also comes with differentiation options that let participants choose their challenge level. However, there are very few “correct” answers in this game; it’s mostly about completion.

The game mentions that you’ll need common household objects. Players should rest assured that there are no specific items that are required. You will be able to complete the tasks as long as you have objects in your house.

A character in an elf hat, greeting us.

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The Virtual Breakout – Operation Apex [Hivemind Review]

Operation Apex is a live-hosted, point-and-click escape game created by The Virtual Breakout in Arcadia, CA.

A computer desktop with a background insignia that reads, "I.D.I.O.T."

Format

Style of Play:

  • Online native experience (can NOT be played IRL)
  • Point-and-click
  • Interactive NPC (in-character, non-avatar gamemaster)

Required Equipment: computer with internet connection

Recommended Team Size: 3-5; but probably best with exactly 4, as there are 4 player roles

Play Time: 60-minute game clock

Price: from $30 per player for teams of 2 to $20 per player for teams of 4+

Booking: book online for a specific time slot

Description

Operation Apex was a point-and-click escape game with video content and a few actor interactions in a Zoom call. We’d hacked a computer, which acted as our main game space. There, we clicked through different files, solved puzzles, and entered passwords.

In-game spy character with an eye patch.

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SCRAP – Escape from the Lockdown: The Demon Fortress [Hivemind Review]

Escape from the Lockdown: The Demon Fortress is a digital puzzle game created specifically for online play by SCRAP in Japan.

Promo Image of a tower with 9 heroes trapped within.

Format

Style of Play:

  • Online native experience (can NOT be played IRL)
  • Play on demand
  • Video-based experience
  • Light puzzle hunt

Required Equipment: computer with internet connection, pen and paper

There were a few puzzles where it was especially helpful to digitally draw on the images.

Recommended Team Size: 1-3

Play Time: about 3 hours

Price: $29 per player

Booking: purchase and play at your leisure

Description

We encountered 9 characters, a party of heroes, displayed in a Brady Bunch 3×3 video call grid. They delivered story and clues to a larger mystery in these scenes. After they resolved, we solved a series of well designed yet generic puzzles and gained access to a boss battle.

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Les Enfants Terribles – Sherlock Holmes: An Online Adventure – The Case of the Hung Parliament [Hivemind Review]

Sherlock Holmes: An Online Adventure – The Case of the Hung Parliament is a digital theatrical game, designed for digital play, created by Les Enfants Terribles in London, England.

A beautiful old desk covered in documents, artifacts, and a pipe.
Image via Les Enfants Terribles

Format

Style of Play: digital theatrical game, designed for digital play, combining point-and-click adventure game, audio-visual experience, and Zoom

Required Equipment: computer with internet connection

Multiple screens were helpful during this experience. We also recommend the use of google drive to coordinate intelligence among team members.

Recommended Team Size: 4-6

Play Time: 80 minutes

Price: £15 per person / £90 for a private group of up 6 people

Booking: book online for a specific time slot

Description

We were hosted live by Watson over Zoom, then let loose in a series 360-degree photos of crime scenes. We had to discover clues, interpret their meaning, and determine the suspect, their methods, and their motivations. This was not an escape game. Also, web searching and outside knowledge are encouraged.

Sherlock Holmes smoking his pipe.
Image via Les Enfants Terribles

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