Escape SC: Union of Recorded Lives | Review

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Union of Recorded Lives: we posses the secrets of eternal life. Solve our series of puzzles and you will be welcomed into the URL community. Prove your worth. Join us.

Rating: Unique!
Completion Time: 1hr 30 mins
Date Played: 2nd August 2021
Party Size: 4
Recommended For: Solo Players who want a creative ARG

Union of Recorded Lives was not at all what we expected! After previously playing Science Splice, Union of Recorded Lives came onto our radar as an earlier game by the same student society but one generally accepted to be a real hidden gem. But to be sure, it is nothing like Science Splice. This game blurs the boundaries of what is real and what is fiction, pushing players to question the very fabric of reality around them as they play. To say it’s impressive would be an understatement, but here’s why you should check it out.

An Escape Room on TikTok, Facebook and Twitter

Union of Recorded Lives is tricky to find. Put simply, your adventure begins on an unassuming Facebook page and a cryptic Facebook post with a list of rules:

  1. Use a computer and make sure you have access to the internet
  2. Don’t be afraid to ask for hints – the puzzles are hard
  3. You may work in groups
  4. When taking the personality test, only two traits need to be developed
  5. There’s no time limit
  6. Follow the spiders

We decided to play in a group of 4 and once all of us had found the ‘start page’, the adventure began like a big online scavenger hunt looking for spiders appropriately on the world wide web. This led us down a rabbit hole of more Facebook pages, Twitter profiles, TikTok videos, and WordPress blogs – combining the best of what each social media platform does.

I chime in “Haven’t you people ever heard of…”

One of the things we rarely comment on in our reviews is the question of “how appropriate is this game for it’s target audience?”. Union of Recorded Lives is created by a group of Gen Z students aged around 18 – 21. I think they’ve nailed their target audience perfectly with a mix of sound and technology puzzles that’ll feel second nature to those in their peer group.

That said, even for less digital-native players, the team have woven in some ‘alternatives’. Aren’t familiar with all these mobile apps? You should be able to find a YouTube link with all the required audio/visual content.

Being in our mid-20s, we were very pleased to encounter a Panic! At the Disco song as an integral part of one of the puzzles and yes, I’ve got it stuck in my head now. So there’s a little something in there for us millennials too. Hah!

Overall, there were more than enough puzzles in the game to suit all different types of players, it just felt like a refreshingly unique use of technology to deliver them! In particular, audio puzzles combined with meta data puzzles, hidden things in long paragraphs of writing, and needing to interact with chat bots was particularly fun.

The puzzles largely were quite difficult, with a fair few really stumping us. In the end we used a couple of hints and due to a difficulty with a US mobile number, used one answer too.

The Personality Test

Let’s talk about my favourite moment in the game: the personality test!

Towards the end of the game each player took part in a personality test. From this point, the game splits into two different directions which I assume leads to a different ending. I have to assume as amazingly, all four of us had the exact same result, making it easier to collaborate remotely.

But this isn’t your grandma’s personality test – it’s a live RPG game in which your little hero has a choice of objects to pick up and directions to travel in. The designers went all out on this section of the experience with a brilliant browser-based video game sequence including slider puzzles, snake games, and maps to explore.

Here are my results:

Skillful Adaptability Score: 107.5

Creative Logistician Score: 65.5

Those who possess strong skillful adaptability tackle challenges head on, compete against the timer, and have a competitive nature. This type of person might be interested in buffing their creativity and logical analysis skills to progress further in their journey.

Escape SC – The Student Escape Room Club out of USC

Escape SC as a team are a really interesting group of people. I had the pleasure of chatting to them in an interview for Telescape and found out that they’re a student group dedicated to creating escape rooms on the USC campus. At the time of writing there are more than 15 in this student society – although membership is by application only, to keep the group intimate.

Union of Recorded Lives was created back in April 2020, so the team is not exactly the same as the Science Splice team, but one thing is incredibly clear – this group has buckets of creativity! Someone needs to go hire each and every one of these talented students.

Photo (c) Escape SC

The Verdict

We had a lot of fun playing Union of Recorded Lives. Once again, Escape SC have made something really unique and the best part? It’s completely free. For at least an hour (more like two hours) worth of fun, you can step into the wacky and wonderful world of the Union of Recorded Lives and see if you too can uncover the secret to immortality.

I look forward to seeing whatever this team come up with next, and have no doubt it’ll be just as special as this game!

Union of Recorded Lives is free to play. Simply head to this link to get started.


Ratings

Will Die Alone | Review

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Some memories aren’t meant to stay. We are our memories and our experiences. What happens if you delete some of them? If you change your past and, thus, your future?

 

I discovered the indie video game Will Die Alone by pure chance one day zoom-scrolling Twitter: A brand new game from Arianna Ravioli, a Game Design Masters student at IULM Italy. I was immediately pulled in by the trailer – call it morbid fascination at the title or just a sense of “wow this is different”, and couldn’t hit the download button fast enough.

 

Blessed are the forgetful, for they get the better even of their blunders…

Will Die Alone is a little bit like stepping into the sci-fi world of Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. It’s a world where people can choose to erase certain memories from their lives – harmful ones, such as after a breakup, or forgetting a particularly rough childhood. This time you’re playing as the corporation that performs these procedures, but with riots at your doorstep things aren’t as peachy as the marketing would have it.

You play a lowly employee logging into their computer each day to perform the tiring task of erasing your customer’s memories. In this way, the experience was a little bit like Routes (a performance from Bath Theatre that premiered last month). You play via a computer screen, with the following:

  • The Daily News Bulletin
  • Memos from your boss (ugh leave me alone!)
  • A calendar counting down the days until you can quit (haha nice!)
  • Each day’s case file

 

 

Right or Wrong Choice?

With just a few days of ‘work’ to tell the story, Arianna does a wonderful job. Each day a new news bulletin sets the scene of the world, and periodic messages from your boss in increasing levels of emotion tell a counterpart story of the company itself. You’re trying to keep your head down and finish your work, but your character cannot shy from the truth that with each memory deleted a life is irreversibly changed forever.

Whilst you can see a projection into your client’s futures to find out if you made the right choice, often there is no right choice. A client is doomed from the start and no amount of deleted memories will change that. Forcing you to question the procedure entirely! What good does it do?

On my first playthrough, I’m confident I chose the ‘correct’ choices, but the ending was no less painful, in a different way, than on my second where I decided to make all the wrong choices and see what difference it made.

 

 

Powerful Storytelling Through Simple Graphics

One of the best things about Will Die Alone is it’s storytelling with such a simple user interface. You don’t need the flashiest of graphics, and this game does wonders with simple illustrations and a computer screen.

From start to finish Will Die Alone was a joy to play. A powerful short story from an extremely creative and talented game designer. The game also had a special magic for me, it’s no secret I’ve got a large tattoo from Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind on my right arm, and logging into my Dewitt Corp console to erase memories felt like being at the centre of a similar story.

Whilst not the typical ‘escape room’ style of video game we typically cover on this website, Will Die Alone is a game full of surprises and choices that will stay in your mind for a very long time after.

You can play Will Die Alone for free (*donations appreciated) on itch.io

The Cabin

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The family cabin is the traditional location for all Christmas dinners. Arriving after a long drive from the city through a snow storm, you find your family is missing. You must search the cabin and unravel this mystery.

Time Played: 6 minutes
Console: Computer
Recommended For: A quick puzzle!

I spotted The Cabin trending on itch.io this morning and, with a description like this, I couldn’t resist downloading it and giving it a go! A mysterious cabin, Christmas trees and a missing family? Sign me up!

The Cabin is actually the result of a 48 hour game jam by 3rd year Game Design student @HNewtonGD, submitted to the Yogscast Game Jam 2020 under the title of “Surprise!”.

Surprising? Yes it is! The ‘puzzle’ isn’t much – in fact, the game play revolves around finding 4 keys hidden around a sinister looking cabin, avoiding the jump scares and rummaging in around drawers. Once found, you finally unlock that tantalising door to reveal a twist ending.

As a free to play game, it’s good fun! But don’t expect anything hugely in depth, or difficult. It’s a fun way to while away a couple of minutes. Just be sure to avoid that snowman!

The Cabin can be downloaded for free on itch.io.