Please, Don’t Touch Anything VR | Review

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Please, Don’t Touch Anything VR Review | Covering for a colleague taking a bathroom break, you find yourself in front of a mysterious console with a green screen monitor showing a pixelated live image of an unknown city. Also present is an ominous red button with the simple instruction to not touch anything! Push the red button once or press it many times. Your choices and actions will lead to outrageous consequences and over 30 unique puzzle endings.

Developer: Four Squares, BulkyPix
Date Played: June 2022
Console: Oculus
Number of Players: 1
Time Taken: ~2 hours

Every time I saw a warning on this game that read “Not for the faint hearted” I thought “Hah! How bad can this be?! It’s just a game where you’re sitting in front of a console pressing buttons.” Then I found myself worshipping Satan, being scared out my mind by demon standing behind me, and watching the human race get wiped out… Repeatedly.

That said, I still wouldn’t describe it as a horror game. I’d describe it as a fixed perspective escape room game. Which is a fancy say of saying “button pushing simulator”. It’s just you and the console, and a lot of different outcomes. Where most escape rooms just have one (you escape), this has multiple. But the idea is the same, you’re solving puzzles and performing actions in a small 2x2m room to achieve them all. And let me just say… It was some of the most fun I’ve had in VR in a long time!

 

 

About Please, Don’t Touch Anything

The original “Please Don’t Touch Anything” was a short pixel art game released by a Russian indie studio Four Squares for PC way back in 2015. It received a large amount of praise and the studio, in collaboration with Escalation Studios then went on to release a 3D version of the experience just a year later with virtual reality support. Later the game was launched on Nintendo Switch, and has continued to be met with praise for many years since.

Skip forward to 2022, and I’m idly scrolling through the Oculus store with a 30% off voucher in hand looking for a new title to try out. I wanted something short, fun, puzzley, a little bit creepy. After punching those filters into the search engine, there was one title that kept coming back to me: Please, Don’t Touch Anything. Well, of course I wanted to immediately touch it.

 

 

“I’ll be right back, don’t touch anything!”

The game begins with you in a small room with a large console in front of you. Your colleague appears at the door and says he’s popping out for a quick bathroom break and for the love of god, he implores you not to touch anything on the console. With a wave, he’s gone. It’s just you and the room. Oh, and a giant red button.

Amusingly, on my first playthrough I didn’t touch anything. My colleague appeared back from the bathroom and thanked me for being so diligent, and the game ended. I was immediately respawned into the room and it begun again. This time, I hit the big red button and triggered a nuclear apocalypse…

So far so good.

If you can tell from that brief description, Please, Don’t Touch Anything is a game of many many endings. Thirty endings to be exact. It’s best played with no expectations – you walk in, you press buttons, or you don’t, and you get a curious ending. The game restarts and you’re immediately hooked on a need to uncover every single one. What happens if you push this button? How do you get the hammer? Is that a UV blacklight? With each playthrough a new facet of the world reveals itself. How will you destroy civilisation this time? Or will you simply press a switch 50 times and nothing will happen. Perhaps you’ll make it your mission to clean up this (very messy) room. All valid game choices all with unique endings.

It’s also a game packed with many pop culture references. From TV, from films, and from other video games. Delightful nods to puzzlers past and some very creepy moments I’d only seen on the silver screen suddenly brought to live in VR. I love it!

 

 

Button Pushing Simulator Now in VR!

If you’re familiar with the original 2D version, there are enough changes in the VR/3D version to make the game feel innovative and fresh. Endings are different and things have been added. For the whole part, it’s a game that works well in both 2D and 3D but as a big fan of virtual reality I think it works really, really well in this medium. For starters, you’re pushing buttons and toggling switches and this feels extra immersive in virtual reality. Want to pick something up? You can simply bend down in real life and pick it up and manipulate it in real life.

In terms of controls, it’s not perfect, but that’s to be expected for an early VR experience. My hands in the game didn’t always move to where I wanted them to be and I found it was often quite tricky to stretch over objects and reach things. For the best gameplay, you need a large space to play in at home so that you can move around freely. You can play this standing up or sitting down. It might be slightly more immersive (and easy on your legs) to sit down, but I played it largely standing up. If you don’t have a large space, you can stay rooted to one spot and use the in-game mechanic to teleport around fairly easily too. No motion sickness here!

 

 

Where are the Puzzles?

Like any good puzzle game the primary ‘puzzle’ is figuring out what to do. Then figuring out how to do it to get the output you want. For sure, there are plenty of ‘classic’ puzzle mechanics the escape room enthusiast will recognise, like Morse Code or binary inputs, but it’s largely a game of sequence memorizing and inputting a variety of data pieces into your console creatively. You might find a 4 digit code on one playthrough that you suddenly remember 10 playthroughs later and input it. You might spot a symbol which ends up being a map to guide you around a grid of buttons. There are a few ciphers, and some very fun uses of black-light, and so on and so on.

In short, I think it’s a fantastic game for the escape room enthusiast to play. It’ll push everything you know about solving escape rooms to the limit, and then some. A unique game that doesn’t quit fit into any category box, but definitely one I think you, dear reader, will enjoy. Puzzles a-plenty.

 

 

The Verdict

I really, really enjoyed playing Please, Don’t Touch Anything. It’s tongue in cheek humour was the perfect setting for a quirky little puzzle game like this. When writing about any VR game I like to consider whether such an experience would be possible in any other medium other than VR. There’s nothing in it that wouldn’t necessarily be possible in another medium – the example being that it’s also available as a non-VR title, but it’s so much better in VR.

I’d not hesitate to recommend this to any other escape room enthusiast and I think it’s got a rightful place in the Oculus catalogue as a game puzzle fans should definitely check out.

Please, Don’t Touch Anything can be purchased for Oculus Quest 2 on the Oculus store page here.

Ubisoft announce their latest VR escape room: Save Notre Dame on Fire

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If any of your local escape rooms or VR cafes offer “VR escape rooms”, there’s a chance you’ll have spotted a game or two by the video game developer, Ubisoft. Well known in our industry for creating the (fantastic) Beyond Medusa’s Gate, The Dagger of Time and Escape the Lost Pyramid, Ubisoft have a reputation for high quality, cinematic escape experiences set in the video game universe(s) of Assassin’s Creed and Prince of Persia. Which is why when they announced last month that their newest VR escape room experience was set in present day France, we were surprised! Surprised, but still excited.

 

Save Notre Dame on Fire

In 2019 the Notre Dame cathedral in the centre of Paris, France caught fire and was almost destroyed by the blaze that lasted 15 hours. In their latest adventure, Save Notre Dame on Fire, Ubisoft have created a virtual reality puzzle experience that puts players in the shoes of the first responders and firefighters who were sent to the scene to put out the flames and save the historic building.

The player’s mission (should they choose to accept it), is to venture into the building and recover the “crown of thorns”, an incredibly precious relic stored within.

Where previous games in the Ubisoft VR experience were based on video games, this one is based on the film “Notre-Dame On Fire” by Jean-Jacques Annaud. The experience is supported by first hand accounts of the firefighters on the scene, and experts on the building’s architecture, history, and the events that unfolded in 2019.

 

 

After extensively researching the Notre Dame’s structure in order to recreate the building in Assassin’s Creed Unity, the video game developer had been actively involved in the reconstruction effort. After hearing of this, the film’s director Jean-Jacques Annaud contacted Ubisoft with a proposal to use their vast library on Notre Dame to create a new kind of virtual reality experience.

In an interview, Ubisoft’s Senior Vice President Deborah Papiernik explained that the company made the choice to create the game as an escape room VR experience rather than an at-home VR experience as a move to bring the game to the general public. She explained,

“Home VR is still growing, and we wanted to do something for the larger public… The social aspect is central to the experience”.

This also ensures that players who don’t have at-home VR equipment can still head to their local escape room and experience the game.

On Ubisoft’s website, they indicate that part of the profits will be contributed to the Notre Dame’s reconstruction:

“Part of the benefits will be donated to the organization in charge or reconstructing Notre-Dame de Paris, giving everyone a chance to contribute to its rebirth.”

 

 

Solve Puzzles, Escape the Building

Save Notre Dame on Fire is a virtual reality experience for 2 – 4 players and will last up to 1 hour long. Unlike traditional escape rooms however, there’s no timer. No big clock looming over the team. Instead players will be forced to work fast on their feet as the building quite literally collapses around them. Players will not only solve puzzles to rescue the crown of thorns, but they’ll also need to work together to extinguish the flames and escape the building once they’ve recovered the precious relic.

Throughout the game payers will explore the choir with the altar, the transept, the gallery of Chimeras, and the bell tower. Players will be expected to climb, run, jump, toggle switches, and use everything they can find to navigate the space. In deciding where to send the players around the physical experience, Papiernik recounted a story of one of the firefighter’s experience. He had grabbed the crown of thorns where it was exhibited, made it out, and then the cathedral told them “That’s not the real one, that’s the copy”.

“The real [crown of thorns] was hidden in a safe, unknown to most people, and retrieving it proved to be a puzzle worthy of an escape game!”

 

 

Where to Play Save Notre Dame on Fire

Presently, it is the intention of Ubisoft that the new game, Save Notre Dame on Fire will be a game available at all existing escape room and VR venues that offer Ubisoft escape games. This roll out has begun with a few companies around the UK already offering the new game, including Chesterfield VR. We expect to see the name pop up at a lot more escape rooms around the company, and if in doubt you can check out the full list on Ubisoft’s website here.

The Altas Mystery (VR) | Review

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The Atlas Mystery Review | Explore the haunted halls of the infamous Atlas Theater, a 1940’s era movie palace that played host to a shocking Hollywood tragedy. Solve intricate puzzles, discover startling artifacts, and evade sinister forces to uncover the twisted truth behind the theater’s dark history.

Developer: Top Right Corner
Date Played: April 2022
Console: Oculus Quest 2
Number of Players: 1
Time Taken: 3 hours

The Atlas Mystery… Just, wow!

This is one of those games that I’ve been aware of for a long time. As frequent readers might know, I’m a game developer in my day job so I spend time on (read as: doom-scroll) “game dev twitter” a lot. Given the overlap with “escape room twitter” it wasn’t long before I spotted The Atlas Mystery. Let’s just say it ticks a lot of boxes for me. Virtual reality, 1940s noire, an old abandoned movie theatre, a grisly murder… And ghosts?! Ugh, a thousand times yes please!

 

 

The Atlas Mystery is a classic escape room game in every sense of the word. Whereas other ‘escape room VR games’ do things in virtual reality that simply would not be possible in real life, The Atlas Mystery takes another approach: it pushes the players to do exactly things they would do in real life, but in a virtual setting. Funnily enough, this style of gameplay was oddly refreshing. I found myself pushed to gently twisting dials with a shaky hand, holding up film negatives to the light, unplugging and rewiring complex panels, and even using a handheld shovel to scoop freshly popped popcorn into a cup. Yes, really!

 

Alone in the Atlas Theatre…

I’ve played many real life escape rooms that don’t even come close to the spooky atmosphere that The Atlas Mystery creates. It’s a vast space, and no matter how much you squint there are certain dark corners that remain eerily shrouded in shadow. In particular, near the start of the game I found myself standing behind a counter faded with a completely dark, unknown space beyond the barrier. Having replayed the game a few times now, I’m sure there’s nothing out there in the dark – but there’s no other feeling quite like it standing there, convinced shadows of bad omens are just inches away if only you reach your fingertips out into the dark.

*shudders*

In particular, I loved being about to run around such a huge space uninhibited. Okay, okay, spooky shadows aside, this video game truly felt like you had an enormous space to play around with. A whole lobby area, plenty of side rooms, a lift taking you to other floors with winding corridors, and film rooms a-plenty. The best part? None of this space felt dead in any way whatsoever. Even the long stretches of corridor felt well placed to build up nerves to a state of heightened tension. Then, at the end, each new room was packed with exciting puzzles and objects to interact with.

 

 

Is that a gun?!

One of the absolute best reasons to play The Atlas Mystery however has a clue in it’s name.

Yes, that’s right… The ATLAS!

No, no, I’m kidding. The MYSTERY.

This game has a really well-thought out storyline in it that, whilst I glazed over at the start, I found myself retracing my steps to pick up every little scrap of paper I found to piece together the story in my head. It’s an eerie sort of murder mystery, and I won’t go into spoilers, but I will say it’s well worth the read. There’s been a terrible and grisly Hollywood tragedy, will you be able to figure it out?

 

 

Crack the Codes, Unlock the Doors

In terms of difficulty, I personally found The Atlas Mystery definitely to be on the hard side. I believe a well-seasoned escapist may solve this in around an hour, but I took well over 3 hours over a couple of days. I found the game so difficult in fact there were a few moments I thought I might put the headset down and call it quits. But no sooner than I’d wake up the next morning, I’d already find myself itching to return to those eerie, empty halls of the film theatre in search of a clue I may have missed.

Some of that ‘difficulty’ comes down to the controls however, which is an issue hard to overcome in virtual reality. On more than one occasion I’d have the correct tool but be unable to ‘place’ it carefully enough that the result would trigger. A good example of this are the keys, and there’s a fair few keys in this game. Encountering these hiccups, I’d assume I’d got the puzzle incorrect, and move on trying many more things before returning to try again. With many interactable objects in this game there’s a certain “sweet spot” to touching them that I found very easy to miss. Despite that, I congratulate the development team on their originality in this space. VR is not an easy medium to create a game in (take it from me, I’ve worked on plenty!) and their commitment to making each object feel real within your hand is fantastic.

Besides, once you get the hang of the little movement quirks in the game, it’s easy enough to pick up.

As a final note on control and movement, since you can move around either by teleportation or with the joystick, I’d probably also put this at the “medium” risk of motion sickness. Remember – teleportation is often a lot more comfortable for new VR users, so if you plan on spending a long time in The Atlas Mystery, it’s best use the teleportation function!

 

The Verdict

For a while, I wasn’t sure where The Atlas Mystery’s dice would fall for this review. It was a slow burning game that took a while to get me hooked on it, but once it did I kept coming back for more. The puzzles were challenging, but immensely satisfying once you finally figure them out and by the end of the game… Could it be… I actually wanted more?! A lot more! More floors, more environments, more story, and most of all more puzzles.

I would say it’s not a perfect game. But I think the developers still did an exemplary job creating a fun and lengthy escape room that felt full of- well, life is the wrong word, but full of unease. I enjoyed spending time in The Atlas Mystery and I definitely think it would appeal to the average escape room enthusiast. With a lack of really good VR escape room games out there, The Atlas Mystery will fit well into the existing catalogue and will be sure to be a cult favourite among enthusiasts.

 

 

The Atlas Mystery can be played on Oculus, and Steam VR. To chose your platform, head to their website here.

VRCave: Space Station Tiberia | Review

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Space Station Tiberia Review | Become a member of the Space Station Tiberia crew and to save the planet from a unavoidable catastrophe in this free-roaming VR Escape room! Enjoy the unprecedented level of immersion: walk around the room (up to 4 people) and use your logic and teamwork to succeed. Don’t expect this to be an easy task. The clock is ticking and the challenge you’re about to face is very real.

Date Played: November 2021
Number of Players: 2
Time Taken: 35 minutes
Difficulty: Hard!

Space Station Tiberia is free-roam virtual escape room that is available at a number of locations across the UK (and the world!). We originally played it at DNA VR, a fantastic little VR arcade located in the new build near Battersea Power Station. You can read more about this venue in our guide here. In this review, I want to reflect both the general experience of this game (that’s likely identical wherever you play it), and our specific visit to DNA VR.

Image (c) DNA VR

About DNA VR

DNA VR is one of London’s first VR arcades and is home to a whole host of arcade games, including one of the most impressive escape room suites we’ve seen in the UK! including a range of original, free-roam titles.

On a quiet Monday evening in November, we visited their brand new site in the beautiful riverside arches at Battersea Power Station to find out what all the hype is about. We were greeted by Games Master Chris our enigmatic host for the hour. As the previous group was just finishing off their session, it gave us a chance to explore the venue and find out all about the exciting games they have on offer.

As well as all of the Ubisoft escape room games, you can play a number of other free-roam and fixed position VR experiences, including this one.

About Space Station Tiberia

Space Station Tiberia is an exciting, fast-pace virtual reality ‘escape room’ that places you, a team of astronauts on a space station, in the unenviable position of stopping a meteor from crashing into Earth and destroying the planet. You have just 35 minutes, but the only problem is your Meteor Defense Platform is broken – no pressure, hey!

Throughout this experience you have two goals:

  1. Fix the space station!
  2. Stop the asteroid

The game begins inside a very clean and clinical space station. A lot more high tech and comfortable than the ISS – so we must be living in the near future! After an initial ship-fixing first 20 minutes, you spend your last 10 outside the ship in a very cool outro sequence fighting off asteroids.

The best thing about Space Station Tiberia is that it is free roam. normally in VR escape rooms you’re fixed in one spot. Sure, you can sometimes teleport location but largely the puzzles come to you. In this game, you could move freely throughout the room in any direction. We had to crouch down, stretch up, and peer around corners to succeed in this room. oh- and of course we bumped into each other quite a fair few times! Haha!

But let me tell you, it is hard! Though unfortunately, not in a good way where we walked out satisfied that we’d solved a lot of puzzles. It was obtusely difficult. For starters, outside information was required which is a big no-no in escape rooms. I was lucky to be playing with someone who knew the answer, but otherwise we may have needed to skip that puzzle. Secondly, it made use of VR in an unconventional way. Small spoiler incoming – one of the puzzles required you to balance objects on top of each other to reach a high up place, a nearly impossible feat in virtual reality and didn’t really quite us to ‘solve’ anything either.

That said, if we look at the experience less like an escape room and more like a general VR game, then it makes a little more sense and becomes more enjoyable. It’s a fairly solid first-generation (if such a thing exists in the VR world) escape room that challenges small teams to perform quite manual puzzles around a space ship. There are more than a few action-centric scenes of shooting asteroids and lifting and throwing things around, but mostly it’s enjoyable to be in a sci-fi environment unlike anything else you can play ‘in real life’.

After Space Station Tiberia…

We finished the ‘escape room’ with a little extra time on the clock and were invited by our games master Chris to play another, much shorter experience: The Hospital of Horrors

“Not sure I like this”, my player two uttered from the other side of the room as we descended a rickety old lift into a pitch black basement. As the lights came on we realised we were surrounded by spiders…

Overall we both loved Hospital of Horrors a lot more than Space Station Tiberia. It’s a truly creepy experience that really pushes what is possible in VR and one we’d definitely recommend everyone try. So not quite an escape room but if you’re looking for something unique in VR then this is where it’s at!

Player beware, you’re in for a scare!

The Verdict

We had a great time at DNA VR, it’s a great venue and our host was fantastic. Did we love Space Station Tiberia? Honestly, not particularly, but I do like the genre of escape room in VR and I really, really liked that this one was free roam. It gives the player a chance to do some very cool actions and solve puzzles that simply wouldn’t be possible in real life. But hey, there are better experiences to try out in VR (some of those also available at DNA VR!) if you want to do something very special.

If you want to book an experience at DNA VR, head to their website here.

A Fisherman’s Tale | Review

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A Fisherman’s Tale Review | Playing as a tiny fisherman puppet, you live alone in your tiny cabin, oblivious to the world outside. When your radio broadcasts a storm alert, you have to climb the lighthouse to turn on the light! As you leave your cabin with the help of some uncanny sidekicks, you realize what’s waiting outside is not at all what you expected…

Developer: Innerspace VR
Date Played: December 2021
Console: Oculus
Number of Players: 1
Time Taken: 2 hours

In my day job, talking about VR comes up a lot. Big words like “the metaverse” are thrown around, but really what people want to know is what is VR and what kind of thing can you do with it. When these conversations come up, there’s one game I return to over and over again.

“If you want to see what VR can do, play the puzzle game A Fisherman’s Tale”

It’s a phrase I say a lot when talking about video games versus real life brick and mortar escape rooms, but Fisherman’s Tale is a fantastic example of something that simply would not be possible in any other medium. You shrink down and look up at a giant version of yourself in an infinite tessellation of wooden fishermen solving puzzles in synchronised movements. And let me tell you: It… Is… Wild!

Tiny Fisherman Lighthouse Inception

A Fisherman’s Tale is a classic escape room game. You’re quite literally, in a room. Your goal is quite simply to escape. Beyond this, the rest is purely details. But oh what delicious details they are!

The game begins with a lighthouse keeper who wakes up every day and does the same thing. He brushes his teeth, washes his face, and then he sits down at his desk and carves a tiny wooden version of himself and puts it in a tiny wooden version of the lighthouse. That tiny wooden lighthouse keeper wakes up, brushes his teeth, washes his face, and then he sits down at his desk and carves a tiny wooden version of himself.

It’s like Inception, but better.

The whole game’s mechanics from that moment onward centre around the central premise that whatever action you’re doing in your lighthouse, there is a tiny model in the middle of the lighthouse with a model fisherman doing the exact same thing. And, if you look outside your window, there is a giant model version of yourself performing the same actions.

The puzzles are therefore solved with some clever thinking outside of the box. If an object is too small, hand it to your tiny doppelganger, and your giant self will hand it to you. Need water? Flood your model and your own room will become flooded, and so on.

Reality is bended, and to be honest, so is my mind as I play.

Small Actions, Big Consequences

But what’s the hurry little fisherman? Well, there’s a ship stuck in the storm outside and if you don’t get your lighthouse lit in time it could crash into the waves. But what can you do as a tiny wooden lighthouse keeper? Well, you’ll find out just how powerful your small actions can be!

The puzzles in A Fisherman’s Tale were just delightful and the whole experience was made all the better for existing in virtual reality. You have the ability to walk around your space, open cupboards, unlock boxes, and hand things back and forth to the infinite versions of yourself. For the 4 hours you play, you forget it’s a game (until your hip bumps into the edge of a table in real life – OW!).

Like a lot of video games and unlike a lot of escape rooms, although the goal is to escape the puzzles are quite search-and-find. In VR this is a lot of fun and works well, but ultimately you’re rushing around and looking for the correct equipment to achieve your goal. Whether that be opening a can of tuna, building a boat, or reaching a high up shelf.

It Feels Like A Modern Fairy Tale

My favourite thing about A Fisherman’s Tale are the vibes. Or, in common English, the atmosphere and general feeling. There’s something about the game that is so indescribably magical and engrossing, like you’re the main character of your own whimsical fairy tale.

The whole game is a beautifully coloured cell-shaded experience. This is both to be comfortable in VR and to look ‘wooden’ – you are after all made of wood. Each level in the game is structured like a chapter – Chapter 1, the beginning and so on through to beginning, middle and end. Along the way you meet other characters and you even made friends with the gentle, French voice over narrator of the story.

The Verdict

Despite my gushing about the game, A Fisherman’s Tale has one major problem. A huge huge problem…

It’s not long enough.

At around 3, maybe 4 hours if you take your time, it’s over all too quickly. I could happily play this game for months and emerge with a scraggly beard down to my ankles having not encountered a real human being in a lifetime and still be beaming with happiness.

The company is rightfully named “Vertigo” and that’s a little of the feeling you get playing the game. Looking down upon a tiny version of yourself who is also looking down on an even tinier version of himself is a wild feeling. It’s like falling, but falling over and over into a world you very much want to be in.

Once the novelty of sticking your giant head through the roof of your own cabin wears off, what’s left is a beautiful and whimsical tale of a little fisherman in his lighthouse trying to save a bot stuck at sea. I cried, I laughed, and I regret it ending too soon.

A Fisherman’s Tale can be purchased on the Oculus shop here.

The Best VR Escape Rooms on PSVR

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When in-person escape rooms are closed, or you simply prefer the option of playing escape rooms in your pyjamas – the PSVR is here! As a long standing Playstation fanatic (wait, it isn’t normal to collect and display every console back to PS1 in your living room?), I couldn’t wait to get my hands on a PSVR. Several years later, I’ve played through and rounded up a collection of some of the most fantastic escape room style games you can find on the PSVR.

Prefer Oculus? Check out this list.

Last updated January 2022.

The Room VR: A Dark Matter

If you ask anyone in the escape room industry to recommend you a video game, chances are you’ll hear the name “The Room” thrown around a lot. It’s the quintessential escape room game now available on PSVR. Players are transported into a series of steampunk-come-Victoriana spaces to solve escape room puzzles. The premise is deceptively simple, yet Fireproof Games does it so well. Read more in our review of The Room VR: A Dark Matter here.

Statik

Challening but not too frustrating, Statik is a perfect example of a well balanced escape room game. Statik is a VR game about solving puzzles in a place you don’t know, with a person you don’t recognise, and hands that aren’t completely yours. Good luck!

A Fisherman’s Tale

Play as a wooden fisherman doll living in a lighthouse, who goes about his daily routine and builds another wooden lighthouse doll in an even smaller lighthouse. It’s basically Simulation Theory: The Game. Now with extra maritime references. But jokes aside, A Fisherman’s Tale is a fantastically charming escape room puzzle game that blurs the boundaries of fiction and reality. Read more in our review here.

I Expect You To Die (1 & 2)

Speaking of dying… No list of VR escape rooms would be complete without mentioning the iconic I Expect You To Die and it’s sequel from Schell Games. Play as an international super spy and solve puzzles to collect information from the enemy. But one small mistake and you’ll definitely die. Good luck!

Floor Plan

If you prefer your escape rooms a little more absurdist, then it’s definitely worth checking out Turbo Button’s Floor Plan. More puzzle game than escape room, you play a new employee at Puzzl Corporation and must travel between floors exploring and most importantly, solving bizarre puzzles.

Red Matter

Setting a new standard when it comes to immersion and graphics, Red Matter is a tense space-horror escape room adventure and one of the most highly rated puzzle games on the PSVR. Take on the role of Agent Epsilon, an astronaut of the Atlantic Union dispatched to an abandoned Volgravian base on Rhea, one of Saturn’s moons. Your mission: to investigate a shady top secret research project.

Have we missed your favourite VR escape room on this list?

Let us know in the comments below!

DNA VR London: The Complete Guide

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DNA VR is one of London’s first VR arcades and is home to a whole host of arcade games, including one of the most impressive escape room suites we’ve seen in the UK! including a range of original, free-roam titles.

On a quiet Monday evening in November, we visited their brand new site in the beautiful riverside arches at Battersea Power Station to find out what all the hype is about. We were greeted by Games Master Chris our enigmatic host for the hour. As the previous group was just finishing off their session, it gave us a chance to explore the venue and find out all about the exciting games they have on offer.

DNA VR Battersea Front (c) Mairi Nolan

Ubisoft’s VR Escape Rooms

How to play Ubisoft’s VR Escape Rooms

Ubisoft’s VR escape rooms are played standing in one spot and pointing your handheld controlled to teleport to different locations. You can spin around 360 degrees to view things around you, but it’s important not to get excited and run off towards an item as you are plugged in!

Prince of Persia: The Dagger of Time

The story goes that you and your intrepid band of adventurers must journey in this virtual reality simulation to ancient Iran, to the brink of a beautiful kingdom quite literally falling apart at the seams. Your guide, the Empress of Time Kaileena gives you a mysterious dagger to help you. This dagger can turn back time, literally! You can freeze time, speed it up, reverse it all in one go. Falling rocks? No biggie for me and my dagger. I’ll just pause that right there.

In particular, this game is fantastic in terms of puzzles! It felt as close to a real life escape room as any other VR game I’d ever played, but with the added bonus that you can do things in VR you could never do in real life. Such as scaling enormous heights, crawling monkey bars over ravines, rummaging through cupboards to find clues… Oh wait, that last one you can actually do in a real escape room. But hey! It was twice as fun rummaging in VR.

Beyond Medusa’s Gate

Beyond Medusa’s Gate takes you, in a team of 2 or 4 players, back to Ancient Greece via the Animus (a device from the video game franchise which allows you to simulate the lives of adventurers past through their DNA). This time you’re in search of a mysterious and long lost artefact – a ship! Rumour has it the ship is buried somewhere inside a vast cave… Beyond (you guessed it) Medusa’s Gate.

It’s a very linear room with one puzzle needing to be completed before your team can move to the next area, with many mechanics relying on a little trial and error before figuring out how to do them. Between each puzzle area is at least one or two action scenes where you’ll find yourself doing other things – jumping from platforms, firing arrows, doing battle with monsters, or crowding round at the front of the boat pretending to be in Titanic.

Escape the Lost Pyramid

Finally, the third Ubisoft VR game available at DNA VR is Escape the Lost Pyramid. If Ancient Egypt nor controlling time are your thing, then stepping into an old pyramid might just tick the box. It’s a classic escape room scenario but few do it as well as Ubisoft.

VR Escape Rooms

If Ubisoft isn’t your thing, DNA VR Battersea also has 9 standard VR escape rooms available to play for teams of 2 – 6 players.

  • Huxley – 3007 AD: The world, as you know it, is gone. Mankind was replaced by machines. What was once green, is now destroyed. You are the last, remaining survivors, with one mission: to help HUXLEY. With your first step into the virtual reality, you have 44 minutes to reverse the apocalypse.

  • Mission Sigma – Dismantle a nuclear warhead with your squad! Secret services have located and neutralized a known terrorist who has been hiding out in a deprived area of the city for the last ten years. This is where the good news ends. It turns out that on the roof of an abandoned high – rise the maniac has installed a nuclear warhead with a timer on it. The rest is down to you. Can you get past all the traps and preempt a nuclear attack?

  • Cyberpunk – Cyberpunk is set in the beginning of the 22nd century. Society has collapsed amid rapid technological progress. Corporations fight with one another over data, which has become ever more valuable. You are a group of cyborgs equipped with special skills who need to steal data from the archives of an influential corporation. Infiltrating the complex unnoticed, you must get to the archives and download everything you need. But there won’t be anything easy about that task.

  • Prison Break – Get out of the Prison and prove you are innocent You are a group of police officers. Or at least you used to be. Now after your recent investigation you ended up behind bars yourselves. While the case is obviously fabricated you have no-one to rely on. Will you get out of the jail and clear your name?

  • Alice in Wonderland Stories – Jump into the Rabbit Hole! Team-based VR adventure for 2-6 players. Fallen through a rabbit hole, you will find yourselves in a fantasy world full of family-friendly puzzles and challenges.

  • Alice in Wonderland 2 – Plunge into the world of real magic! Uncover secrets of the Queen of Hearts, drink a shrinking potion and follow the White Rabbit through the twisted maze where everything is turned upside down. Help the Hatter sort out the mess at the mad tea party. The Cheshire Cat will guide you through the enchanted Dark Forest.

  • Sanctum – Something truly sinister is happening in this abandoned temple and it is up to you and your team to find the missing people and discover the evil secrets these ancient walls are hiding.

  • Chernobyl – If only we could change the past, or witness the events that changed the world… Is it possible to change fate? Travel back in time to see if you can change the situation from which, it seemed – there was no way out.

  • Jungle Quest – During a walk in the park, you found a portal that leads to a mysterious world. An amazing sanctuary populated by animals appears in front of you. But how do you get back? To find the way home, you have to solve a series of puzzles and explore the mysterious world of flying islands.

  • A Christmas Story – Help Santa get home and deliver the presents on time! Christmas is in jeopardy! Santa got caught in a blizzard, lost all the presents and can’t find his way home… Only you can save Christmas now! And with Santa’s best reindeer hurry to revive the first Christmas tree!

Free Roam VR Escape Rooms

Our absolute favourite experience at DNA VR however was the free roam escape games. At DNA VR Battersea they’ve set aside a huge room at the top of the building which is dedicated to ‘free roam VR’. What this means is you are not plugged in to anything and are free – no, you are required to move around the entire space to achieve your goal.

Since the Free Roam VR escape rooms are scaled to a specific size, there are very few places in the UK offering these particular games. That’s right – you won’t be able to experience anything quite like this anywhere else!

Photo (c) DNA VR

How Does Free Roam VR Work?

On arrival, your Games Master will help you get set up on the Vire headsets, and you’ll be required to tuck a receiver in your pocket for the duration of the game so that the sensors can find you in the room. From here, the whole room materialises in front of you and you can move freely throughout the space in teams of 2 – 4 players.

It’s incredibly difficult to remember that what yo’re seeing isn’t actually real. Don’t be tempted to sit down on one of the boxes or lean on a desk!

We had limited time at DNA VR and so only experienced the two following games:

Space Station Tiberia

Space Station Tiberia is right in the middle of DNA VR’s difficulty scale at 2 padlocks. It puts you and a team of up to 4 players on a distant space station floating high above planet Earth. An asteroid is set to destroy the planet, and you’re humanity’s only hope!

But you’ve been hit, and hit badly. First, players must repair their ship and get the systems back online. Then you must head outside the ship on a space walk and try to turn your weapons online. The clock is ticking but with any luck you’ll be able to target the asteroid and save the planet once and for all. Saving the world is tricky business though. With all our rushing around and lifting (virtual) objects we made it with mere seconds to spare on the clock for a real show-stopper finish.

Space Station Tiberia manages to combine arcade style gameplay, for example stretching and crouching, dodging asteroids and finally using that angles maths you learned in high school to solve a puzzle. This makes it a fun, well balanced game that would be good for players comfortable in VR, or simply wanting to try something exciting and new.

Space Station Tiberia

Hospital of Horrors (Short)

With a few minutes on the clock to spare, our Games Master Chris invited us to try out a short, 5-10 minute version of their full game Hospital of Horrors.

“Not sure I like this”, my player two uttered from the other side of the room as we descended a rickety old lift into a pitch black basement. As the lights came on we realised we were surrounded by spiders…

Overall a truly creepy experience but it really pushes what is possible in VR and one we’d definitely recommend everyone try.

Player beware, you’re in for a scare!

Besides Space Station Tiberia and Hospital of Horrors (the latter of which isn’t technically an escape room but gets an honourable mention for being so fun!), you can also play the following 40 minute long escape games:

  • Dragon Tower – Uncover the mysteries behind the old alchemist’s lab and fight off a real (well virtual) Dragon in this free-roaming VR Escape room!
  • Manor of Escape – The mad count Malin has been running evil experiments with dangerous creatures in his creepy manor. It’s up to you to get inside, investigate — and make it out alive.
  • Depths of Osiris – You are a team of deep sea archaeologists. Years of dangerous missions, months of planning and finally you are here. You almost found the lost temple of Osiris. Your journey starts on the Deep-sea platform Oceanus 5. From here the task is quite straightforward. Or is it?
  • Time Travel Paradox – Ever wondered what it would be like to walk around with dinosaurs? Travel to the distant future and come back safe? You finally can do precisely that in our new Free-Roaming Experience: Time Travel Paradox!

DNA VR Battersea: The Verdict

Overall, DNA VR is the kind of place you can live out your wildest escape room fantasy – whether it be controlling time, moving freely throughout an enormous space station, or descending into the bowels of a creepy hospital. On our visit, we had a lot of fun – and we’ve only just scratched the surface of what is available. You could spend a whole week here and still not get round to playing all their escape games available!

We thank DNA VR for inviting us to come and play fantastic evening out at DNA VR and are already counting down the days to when we’ll come back and play the rest of their games with friends and family!

If you want to book an experience at DNA VR, head to their website here.

A Rogue Escape (VR) | Review

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A Rogue Escape Review | Your plan was simple: steal a giant, crawling mech, also known as a Nauticrawl, evade capture, and make a break for freedom. Find clues to unravel your whereabouts, but know – this is only the first of your many problems…

Developer: Spare Parts Oasis
Console Played On: Oculus Quest
Time Taken: 6 Hours +
Difficulty: Hard
Number Of Players: 1

Escape the Planet… Or Die (and Die, and Die) Trying

When trying to describe A Rogue Escape to friends and family, I settled on the following anecdote:

“You know when you start a new job and they load up some shiny new software on your computer and you’re like “Sure I know how to use this, how hard can it be?” and it turns out very hard indeed. You spend your first few weeks at the new job sweating at your desk pushing buttons on the software and hoping for the best.”

…Yeah, that’s kinda how A Rogue Escape went, and that’s exactly what the developer’s intended! You find yourself lost on a completely alien planet, and so in order to escape you take control of the Nauticrawl, a machine designed for traversing the foreign landscape. Except, you have no idea how it works. It’s built for an alien creature that looks nothing like you, and there’s an overwhelming amount of buttons and levels to push, dials to balance, and screens to keep an eye on. The game is trial and error. You will die, and you will die a lot. But heck, what do you expect? This is alien technology we’re dealing with and nobody is an expert at anything the first time they pick it up.

In some ways, it’s less of an escape room and more of an alien submarine simulator. On the other hand it’s the truest and most raw form of an escape room I’ve ever encountered. The developers have created a punishing and brilliant experience that would not be possible in real life. Like nothing else you’ll ever play.

The Evolution of A Rogue Escape

A Rogue Escape didn’t always start as a VR game however, the idea has gone through a lot of iterations in the past few years.

In September 2019, Spare Parts Oasis launched a PC game called Nauticrawl: 20,000 Atmospheres on Steam which was met with wide praise. Essentially, the concept was the same – pilot an alien Nauticrawl machine and escape from the inhospitable planet.

Last month in September 2021, Nauticrawl made it’s debut on iOS with another iteration of the puzzle game.

However, neither the PC nor iOS versions of the game are a direct port of one another. For sure, the idea and some of the puzzles are the same, but the games are different enough to give a whole new experience each time. The VR version in particular has been rebuilt from the ground up with a series of virtual, 3D environments to explore.

Mercilessly Difficult, Immensely Rewarding

So what exactly is A Rogue Escape? It’s an hour long escape room experience designed to challenge even the most veteran escapists! I say ‘an hour long’, then in truth I took around six hours to ‘complete the experience’, but this is mis-leading as each time you die you return to the beginning and must start again. From start, to finish, with skill and practise you’ll take no more than an hour… It’s the weeks (and months) of frustration learning the ropes and getting to that point that is at the core of A Rogue Escape.

Escape room players who are looking for pure puzzles may be slightly disappointed with A Rogue Escape. Put simply: the puzzle is figuring out what to do. If you enjoy this, you’ll be in your element, but if you prefer a little more signposting then the game may feel very frustrating.

One of the core gameplay loops is actually one of my favourite game mechanics ever, and I call it “plate spinning”. Some other games loosely in this genre include Don’t Feed the Monkeys, Papers, Please and Will Die Alone. Here, this takes the form of the sheer number of dials and meters you’ll need to keep an eye on. The visual clue of a dial slipping into red is followed by blaring alarms and, quite often, death. So as well as figuring out how to pilot the machine, players are also expected to keep a close eye on everything. One wrong move and it’s game over!

For sure, there are pros and cons with a game like this. On the one hand it’s realistic and tough like escape rooms typically aren’t. Your average escape room often contains irrelevant puzzles like “solve this cipher to give you a digit code to unlock a cupboard”. When was the last time you locked a cupboard shut with a 4 digit code, eh? A Rogue Escape’s puzzle experience is closer to what I’d actually expect a real alien submarine to be like. You never once need to break immersion, you’re just pushing and poking things and ‘solving’ the game without ever coming across anything like a traditional puzzle.

The downside is, it’s hard and I did struggle! I imagine a lot of people would not complete the game- and I only just managed it by spacing out my gameplay over weeks and months. This means it pitches at a more patient, forgiving, and enthusiast player – but that may not be a bad thing!

The Nauticrawl: A Virtual, Alien Space

A Rogue Escape uses Oculus’s roomscale settings to create a rather large, 3D space to play in. Quite literally, your living room is converted into an escape room, so you’ll need to be standing up and able to move freely around! Those levers and buttons aren’t going to push themselves.

Despite the large play area you’ll need, the experience is very claustrophobic. From the moment you don your headset you’ll be utterly immersed in the alien world, without a single porthole to look through. It’s anxiety-fuelling, sweaty, and oppressive. Everything beyond your Nauticrawl was left up to the imagination and I love that!

All you know is that you’re running for your life from aliens… But what do they look like? What did they do to you and your people? What even is this world?

The Verdict

I’m scoring it low on puzzles, but very high on immersion. In fact, so high we’ve decided to award A Rogue Escape our “I Believe” award for being outstandingly immersive. Every time I donned the headset on I was transported to this creepy, eerie and very tense world. I’d emerge 30 minutes later sweating, and occasionally shaking, doubting what was real and not. It’s so true to what a ‘real’ escape room should be, it almost goes beyond the genre entirely and for that we’re impressed!

Personally, I think the game might have been a little easier. Yes, yes, it turns out I am one of those people who prefers more signposting in my escape room experiences. But if you take a step back and take the game for what it actually is and not by the standards of what we’re used to, it’s clear it’s something special!

The Room VR: A Dark Matter | Review

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The British Institute of Archaeology, London, 1908: The disappearance of an esteemed Egyptologist prompts a Police investigation into the unknown. Explore cryptic locations, examine fantastic gadgets and uncover an otherworldly discovery which blurs the line between reality and illusion.

Time Played: 4 hours
Console: PSVR / Oculus Quest
Recommended For: An exceptional VR escape room game, and fans of The Room series

If you ask anyone in the escape room industry to recommend you a video game, chances are you’ll hear the name “The Room” thrown around a lot. It’s the quintessential escape room video game, transporting you into a series of steampunk-come-Victoriana spaces to solve a series of escape room puzzles transposed into the video game world. The premise is deceptively simple, yet Fireproof Games does it so well.

When I finally got my hands on a VR headset (the PSVR if anyone is interested), The Room was my very first download. In fact, I’d even go so far as to say that I only bought the PSVR in order to play The Room VR. It did not disappoint.

Victorian London & A Curious Case

The Room VR: A Dark Matter begins with you, a Victorian detective working a rather curious case. An Egyptologist has gone missing and your team of bobbies have rounded up and collected the evidence at your station in Bloomsbury. But late one night something starts whispering to you.

You discover this Egyptologist had on their possession an artefact that allows one to travel in time and space. This artefact you stumble upon is a piece in a far greater mystery than the one assigned to you. Following in the footsteps of three treasure seekers, you’ll explore an old museum, a peculiar church, and a witch’s cottage.

Your goal ultimately is to solve the case of the missing Egyptologist but in doing so you may just uncover more than your wildest imagination ever suspected.

An Eyepiece for Every Puzzle

The gameplay is based on a nodal system, meaning you can point and teleport to various locations around the room. On the one hand, it’s great for keeping you focused on the task and hand and not missing important details. On the other, the world’s Fireproof Games have created are beautiful, and I’d have loved to explore some more. At each location you can move the camera angle left and right, to avoid craning your neck around to see something behind you, or flailing your arms in the wrong direction.

A moment’s silence for all the cups I’ve knocked off my table whilst playing other VR games.

At each location, you’ve the option to interact with your surroundings as-is, or don a mysterious eyepiece. Fans of the Room will recognise this from earlier games. The idea is simple – the eyepiece reveals the unseen. Another dimension the ability to become very small, or mysterious floating orbs that must be dragged into place to proceed. You know, just typical other-worldly interdimensional stuff.

The eyepiece also adds a supernatural element which I really enjoyed. At times, activating the eyepiece reveals a memory of an action that occurred. The action often sets the scene, but in other cases merely hints at where players should look first.

The Verdict

The only problem? It wasn’t long enough! Excluding the intro and the outro, there are really only three spaces to explore. In a haze of excitement at finishing, I’m not entirely sure how this compares with it’s non-VR counterparts, but the whole experience did fall rather short. I found myself artificially waiting before picking up the headset again just to be able to say “oh, it took me a week”. But the truth is most players will complete this in under 4 hours. So one, to two sittings at most.

That said, if you’re a fan of the series you won’t be disappointed. The Room VR: A Dark Matter is every bit exciting, and twenty times more immersive than any in the series before it.

The Room VR: Dark Matter can be played on PSVR or Oculus. Find out more on Fireproof Games’ website here.

ClueQuest: The Dagger of Time

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You and your friends are summoned by Kaileena, the Empress of Time to stop an evil being. She restores and gives you the Dagger of Time, an incredibly powerful artifact that contains the very essence of time itself. The dagger contains the Sands of Time, and with it’s power, you’ll be able to manipulate the time to your liking: slow, stop, or even rewind it! Reach the Hourglass Chamber and stop the Magi!

Rating: Incredible!
Completion Time: 1hr 7mins
Date Played: 18th October 2020
Party Size: 2
Recommended For: Videogame Enthusiasts, 16+

The Dagger of Time is HERE! After being teased quite early in 2020 (before *gestures at the world* all this happened), it finally launched this month at ClueQuest! After dabbing our way to victory through Escape the Lost Pyramid back in 2019, I was pleasantly pleased to say the dabbing mechanic is the same … No, improved in The Dagger of Time!

The story goes that you and your intrepid band of adventurers must journey in this virtual reality simulation to ancient Iran, to the brink of a beautiful kingdom quite literally falling apart at the seams. Your guide, the scantily clad Empress of Time Kaileena gives you a mysterious dagger to help you. This dagger can turn back time, literally! You can freeze time, speed it up, reverse it all in one go. Falling rocks? No biggie for me and my dagger. I’ll just pause that right there.

At the end of your adventure is a deadly magi is threatening to destroy time. Or destroy the world. I’m not sure but he’s out to cause a lot of problems for you and your team.

The series has come a long way since it’s arcade debut in the 1980s! I’m a big videogame fan and any sort of VR (or escape room) experience that ties in with a popular game franchise is a huge win for me. The Dagger of Time was thoughtful and respectful to the game origins with some cool new mechanics that only work well in a VR setting.

In particular, I enjoyed this game for its puzzles! It felt as close to a real life escape room as any other VR game I’d ever played, but with the added bonus that you can do things in VR you could never do in real life. Such as scaling enormous heights, crawling monkey bars over ravines, rummaging through cupboards to find clues… Oh wait, that last one you can actually do in a real escape room. But hey! It was twice as fun rummaging in VR. You can also throw things at your fellow players without risk of hurting them.

In terms of puzzles, the feeling of playing Dagger of Time was just like playing a puzzle based videogame. So a little different from your usual escape room experience. This is also recommended as the hardest of the three VR games available at ClueQuest – so perfect for veteran escape room players or gamers. You must do a lot of looking and searching, you must twist dials into place, you must rewind time and freeze it in order to solve several chambers, and there are some interesting colour mixing puzzles I was pleasantly surprised to play!

Overall, we really, REALLY enjoyed it! I’ll let you in on a little secret. My blog is called “The Escape Roomer” because Player 2 (my partner) isn’t really an escape room player. I’m a soloist. Yep, I’ve played rooms before as a team of 1. But you know what Player 2 is? An avid gamer! We really bond over VR escape games. It’s the best of both worlds for somebody not that enthusiastic about escape rooms, but willing to try something exciting and new.

Shout out to our Games Master Miquel!

The Dagger of Time can be booked for £25 pp on ClueQuest’s website.
If you’re not based in London, you can find an escape room that does it near you.