Not an ordinary mission for the AVATAR, but his friend UTYA DUCK is in trouble. He cannot get home because his AIRDUCKTER is broken. He needs artifacts to fix it. But they can only be found in the Magic Pawnshop. This a the problem…because in this reality…the manager of the Magic Pawnshop is CHICKMAN the BIG BOSS CHICKEN!!!!
Completion Time: 60 minutes (2,300 pts)
Date Played: 26th December 2020
Party Size: 4
If you live in the UK, you’ll probably know that Christmas in 2020 was… A little different. With almost no notice, many major cities suddenly went into extra lockdown and those with plans to see their family had to stay home instead. “No worries” I said to my parents, “Let’s just do an escape room for our big Boxing Day activity! I know just the one!”
That ‘just the one’ was the FANTASTIC “Stalker” by Project Avatar. Their first experience called, relevantly, “First Mission” was voted 9th best play at home escape room in the world on TERPECA 2020 – I had to check it out! Compared to all the other horror-adjacent titles (*shudders in scaredy-pants*) on the leader board this year, Project Avatar sounded just the bonkers, slap-stick ticket for a remote family ranging from 11 – 80 years of age. Besides, it’s not even really an escape room. It’s so much more!
In the end, grandad respectfully chose not to take part (I think he fancied peace and quiet for an hour instead!). Which left the four of us to fend for ourselves, avoid the dastardly Chickman, collect brightly coloured objects, navigate a labyrinth of mysterious rooms, and save Utya Duck. Simple? Right?!
Your goal in Stalker is essentially to solve puzzles, collect objects, to craft artefacts, to help repair your friend Utya Duck’s airplane. If you go into the game only knowing that, you’ll be alright – but of course, it’s also not quite as simple as that! This first-person comedy adventure is like nothing else I’ve ever played before and I think possibly the first in it’s genre of what I’d describe a “live videogame”.
As well as searching for objects, you have a UV light to help find hidden objects. Doing or interacting with certain environments often triggers cut scenes which either give you a helpful clue, or just make you laugh! Throughout the game, you have 3 lives. It’s imperative not to be ‘caught’ by the proprietor of this wacky workshop: Chickman. Do so and he’ll spring from the shadows and beat you up, *cough* I mean you’ll lose a life and go back to your last area. You may also lose a life by gambling on any mysterious box or door labelled with a white question mark. This may give you extra items, or cause you to lose a life.
Towards the end of the game, you’ll gain access to the crafting room. Here you use everything you’ve collected to craft those artefacts which will help Utya Duck repair his plane. Each crafted item is worth points, and these points determine how well you did overall.
Our team scored a very respectable 2,300 points which I’m pretty chuffed with. Especially considering the absolute maximum you can earn is 5,000 (and this is impossible given the time constraints). We also only accessed around 2/3 of the map. Apparently there was a whole extra floor we hadn’t yet discovered!
Having finished (and already itching to play it a second time – yes, it’s replayable!) I sit back now and I try to make sense of the whole game. Set in an alternate reality, all characters (except for yourself – I assume! I haven’t seen the Avatar up close) are anthropomorphic birds. It’s dystopian and otherworldly too. But if I had to describe it as one genre and one only it would be COMEDY in capital letters with flashing lights around it.
Gosh, is this game hilarious. It’s just my type of humour and quite often I couldn’t even concentrate for giggling so much. It’s exactly what I wanted to feel on Boxing Day and I’m so glad I picked this game to play with my family.
For sure, there is a lot to get your head around. But if anyone is reading this and wondering if it’s too complex – I wouldn’t let that put you off. For starters, you get a lot of help. Not only is the Avatar themselves (although silent) extremely helpful in pointing you in the right direction, but you also have a very friendly Games Master on hand too.
The second thing I would advise about this game is absolutely not to take it too seriously. If you go in determined to complete everything, you’ll be disappointed. There is too much to do, too many puzzles, too many cut scenes – each as brilliant as the last. Think instead of this game as a gift that keeps on giving. You can play any way you like, as many times as you like, and if you don’t even find a single object you’ll still come out with a big smile on your face. It’s light hearted fun! If you want to play competitively, by all means! But Project Avatar: Stalker is only what you make of it.
Overall, without a doubt one of the best experiences I’ve done in 2020! Worth every penny and I cannot thank Project Avatar enough for such a fun Boxing Day afternoon with my family.
Project Avatar: Stalker can be booked for 100 EUR for a team of 4 by heading to Project Avatar’s website.
Mairi is the editor-in-chief and covers escape rooms/immersive theatre in London, play at home games, and video games.