District 3: Haunted

The family of this home is searching for a good trustworthy group of people to housesit their manor for the Winter. During your time there, you learn about the caretaker and the family, the manor’s secrets, and that maybe this isn’t the dream stay you were after.

Rating: Brilliant!
Completion Time: 46:57
Date Played: 2nd April 2021
Party Size: 4
Recommended For: Everyone!

I’ve been recommended District 3 in Saskatchewan, Canada by a LOT of people (including my own family!) so being able to play their escape room games online all the way from over here (6,640KM away in the UK) is AWESOME!! First stop for our team: a mysterious manor house in the middle of a forest hiding secrets…And ghosts. WoooooOOOOoo

Despite the name Haunted and the allusions to ghostly denizens from beyond the grave, Haunted is rated PG and it’s not too scary. No jump scares, only a lingering light tension and the occasional splatter of blood. If you do want jump scares though, I’ve heard the prequel (incredibly, set in the exact same room) Arca Malum is full of them.

So here’s how we got on…

Photo (c) District 3

The Story

Haunted has won awards for it’s narrative and I totally get why. It’s not your typical “you find yourself locked in a place” > find some keys > get out. No, the story is absolutely central to the experience and to escape is to unravel the threads and find out what happened here.

In the remote experience, your control an avatar who suddenly finds themselves in a mysterious room. They’d seen an advert to housesit a large manor for the winter and had come along to check it out. But when the mysterious caretaker locks the door behind him, he realises the situation is… Bad. So, he dials a bunch of numbers on Zoom in the hope of finding help and- oh! Fantastic! He’s connected with us – myself, and the Escaping the Closet team. Well, that’s lucky 😉

From herein, the ghosts take over. Dearly departed spirits of the house still rule the domain and creepy things begin the happen – furniture moving, items dropping from out of nowhere, and blood oozing down walls. Those spirits really didn’t want us there – but not all is lost! If you and your team can find out what happened and set history right, you might just make it out of there alive.

The Experience

Haunted as a digital game is fuelled by Zoom and Telescape. In the former, your host will guide you around the room as the eyes and ears on the ground. In the latter, everything you pick up goes into your inventory which other members of the team can explore and read at their leisure. There’s a 360 degree view of the room too, so you can double check anything you might have missed on camera.

Our avatar was the FANTASTIC David, who’s acting and comedic relief made the whole experience an absolute joy! More like an active participant in our team than a ‘host’, David reacted to everything live and the swap between camera angles throughout the game really worked well. For most of the time it’s POV, but for some puzzles you’ll get to watch your host moving throughout spaces, in others he turns the camera on himself (for example, to freak out at ghost shenanigans and hide in a corner!).

Host: Argghhhhh!! I don’t wanna die!!
Us: *pause* hahahahahahah ok lets get up

Yeah maybe not the best way to react to a poor host being traumatised by ghosts, but it was funny.

The Puzzles

I don’t want to give away too much about the room, as it’s best experienced first hand! That said, players can expect to encounter some locks (for example keys, digits and letters), and many more non-lock puzzles, also some listening puzzles, cipher puzzles, puzzles where you need to rearrange things, question puzzles where you’ll need to remember a detail from earlier, a few creative directional puzzles, and plenty of letter/word puzzles.

In particular, I enjoyed a puzzle involving a black light which would have been good already in real life but worked really interestingly via Telescape! Not just your typical “oh shine a light here and find a thing” but it incorporated details from earlier events to make it a really thorough multi-part puzzles. That’s all I’ll spill about that – but watch out for this one if you plan to play Haunted!

There’s also a bonus puzzle players can complete. As you explore the room you might come across a literal Easter Egg with a tie-in puzzle to the room. It doesn’t affect the room at all, but it’s a fun extra puzzle that gives someone something to do if the rest of the team are concentrating elsewhere and worth a bonus achievement.

The Cool Stuff!

Some extra details about the game I absolutely couldn’t not-mention but deserve a big shout out:

  • The clue system is really cool in this game. If you need a clue you’ll have to ask out loud and a mysterious entity *cough* ghost may help you. Yeah, you heard that right!
  • As the clock ticks down, the room visibly changes and gets darker and darker as a storm rages outside. Very atmospheric and very creepy! I love it!
  • I mentioned it before but I’ll mention it again – the prequel to Haunted is set in the same physical space which absolutely blows my mind. Since they’re set in the same Manor it makes sense, you start in the same location and have more areas to explore. In any case it’s seriously impressive how the creators manage to not leave any red herrings between the two games!
  • As you play Haunted you can earn points and achievements. Our team earned just 2 achievements: Complete the Game, and No Hints, with a respectable 88 points!

Overall

Overall? LOVED THIS GAME. I say this a lot on the site but my reviews are based 100% on my personal experience, with all the nuance and circumstance that comes with that (well tbh, that makes sense right?). But what it means is that a ‘meh’ escape room might still get an awesome review if I played it on a sunny day with a great team, or a host made something special and conversely an awesome escape room might get a ‘meh’ review if I was feeling a bit under the weather.

There’s no question where Haunted sits for me. It’s has everything! It’s an excellent escape room experience and I had such a stand out good time that I’m giving this a no question 5 stars: incredible host, fantastic customer service from start to finish, great theme, immersive story, enjoyable puzzles, awesome use of technology… Plus, playing on a Bank Holiday Friday with sunshine outside and brilliant teammates has it’s perks too!

There’s probably a hundred more things I want to mention about this experience that I’ll remember the moment I hit ‘publish’, but for now, I’ll round up the review by saying you should definitely play this. Plus, if you’re reading it and it’s April, it’s 30% off your ticket too!

Haunted (Remote Edition) can be booked for $15-$22 CAD per person via District 3’s website, but you can get 30% off this April!

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