Online Escape Rooms Ireland: O’Brien’s Cottage | Review

Eddie O’Brien bought a plot of land in the hills of West Clare. Against the advice of then locals, Eddie chopped down an old Hawthorn tree to make room for his cottage. His neighbours warned him that the Hawthorn tree was a Faerie tree and a curse would befall anyone who cut it. Since then, every generation of O’Briens to live in that cottage has suffered a sudden and unexpected death. It happens always on a night with a strange and sudden storm, and the locals report hearing the wailing of a woman in the wind.

Rating: Quaint and Curious!
Completion Time: ~35 minutes
Date Played: 8th May 2021
Party Size: 3
Recommended For: People missing escape rooms in lockdown!

The first thing to explain about O’Brien’s Cottage is that it is available in three formats:

  • A real life escape room in Ennis, Ireland, which you can book in person once they’ve reopened!
  • Remote Avatar, where the host guides you around the room and performs actions on your behalf
  • Digital (Telescape), where you get a 360 degree view of the room and each interaction triggers a video

We played the latter style of game! No live host, but a room we could explore at our own pace and a pretty nice inventory system to boot.

I tackled this digital game on a dreary, rainy morning with Escaping the Closet! Our usual 4th team member was away for the weekend and so we got together for a back-to-back escape room marathon, starting in Ireland with O’Brien’s Cottage.

The Story

The story of O’Brien’s Cottage is spooky to say the least! After chopping down a mysterious old tree and placing his cottage on the site of it, a curse befell the O’Brien house passing down from generation to generation… A banshee curse! One cold and spooky night the locals hear wailing from the cottage and it’s up to you to go and investigate.

What you find inside is a mysterious series of locked cupboards and shelves and a major spooky vibe – tied in with local history, historical photographs, and eerie paintings. It’s up to you to see if you can figure out the mystery of O’Brien’s cottage and break the curse once and for all… woooooooOOOOOOOooo 👻

The Experience

As mentioned, we played O’Brien’s Cottage entirely in a piece of software called Telescape. What this means is that we logged in, could see each other’s mouse on the screen, and were able to seamlessly navigate around a 360 degree view of the real life escape room. At various points in the game you can zoom in on items and click them to examine them further. This is how you might find locks, or hidden items to add to your inventory. It also lets you take a closer look at items you might need to read or physically manipulate.

As a step away from remote avatar hosting, once we successfully completed a puzzle we were presented with a short video of us ‘solving’ that. E.G. Inputting a correct code, or twisting a lock to open a door. The game also had some interesting physical manipulation of items and puzzles, for example good use of the click and drag and drop functionality in Telescape, triggering correct answers once successfully solved.

The Theming

When you first enter O’Brien’s Cottage, if not for the eerie intro video, you’d think it were actually quite a warm and cosy environment to be. You’ll find yourself face to face with a cosy arm chair, some interesting pictures on the wall, some cupboards and shelves – essentially, everything you’d normally find in a real cottage living room. Just don’t look behind the- ARGHHH!

The Puzzles

O’Brien’s Cottage was a kind of hybrid between linear and non-linear. You can read that as: I don’t remember if we did things in a particular order, but that’s what happens when you play with the powerhouse Escaping the Closet team (haha!) we all just kind of jump in and start tackling puzzles head on.

What you can expect though is that there are a good amount of codes and keys. If I counted correctly, around 5-6 padlocks to unlock and behind each of those were items you needed to collect and tidbits of information to be used to solve the next puzzle.

Overall the puzzles weren’t too difficult and, with the exception of a puzzle about wheels, we weren’t tripped up! In particular, I really enjoyed a puzzle that reminded me of a jigsaw, and I loved a logic puzzle they included too! Gimme a logic game any old day! Woohooo!

The Company

A new heading I don’t normally use in my reviews *gasp*. But this company deserves it! I wanted to highlight that one of the best parts of the escape room experience was the customer service we received. From the first point of contact, through to playing, to listening to feedback (and constantly improving their games), it was an absolute joy to chat to and get to know Sarah, the owner. Props to escape room owners who love what they do and care!

Overall

Such a delightful room to play! I pictured myself in the eerie cottage perfectly – as the wind howled and rain fell outside my own window here in London! This game has buckets of charm and really scratches that escape room itch whilst we’re all still stuck at home in lockdown. I’d recommend this game to anyone!

O’Brien’s Cottage can be booked on Online Escape Rooms Ireland’s website here.

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