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: Beyond Medusa’s Gate | Review

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In an age of eloquent philosophers, merciless gods, and death-promising oracles. Somewhere on the Peloponnese peninsula, in a vast Aegean coastal cave, an old artefact has been hidden. It could be the legendary ship of the Argonauts… Using the Animus simulation program and our database of recorded genetic memories, we will send you back to Greece. Find the ship, if it exists…

Rating: Immersive!
Completion Time: 50:02
Date Played: 3rd June 2021
Party Size: 4
Recommended For: Fans of Assassin’s Creed, Ancient Greece, and VR

So if you remember back to my 30 Before 30 post:

16. Introduce ALL my closest friends to the joys of escape rooms!

It took me exactly 2 days from writing that to booking Beyond Medusa’s Gate at clueQuest for 2 of my best friends (who have never done an escape room) to experience. I think Ubisoft’s escape room games are ‘gateway escape rooms’, ideal for a team of experienced video game players to get into the vibe. And how was it? SO MUCH FUN!

*excited screaming in Ancient Greek*

About the Game

Beyond Medusa’s Gate is part of the Ubisoft Escape Games series. They’re all short (around 1 hour) VR escape room experiences set in the worlds of Assassin’s Creed. Unlike Assassin’s Creed, you can’t play these at home so you’ll have to find an escape room near you to play them at. In my opinion, the best place in London is clueQuest, but if that’s a little far to travel you should check and see if there’s anywhere closer.

The other games in the series are:

  • The Dagger of Time (based on Prince of Persia)
  • Escape the Lost Pyramid (based on AC: Origins)

I’m quietly hoping they make an escape room on my favourite in the series, Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla so that I can live out my Viking fantasy life and scale some cool mountains whilst solving puzzles. But a girl can dream!

The Story

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.

Even though this location is lost to time, stepping into the shoes of puzzle solvers from thousands of years ago enabled us to seek out this treasure. So who were our Animus counterparts? We emerged in the bodies of…

3 bald old men and one strapping young lad.

This is entirely by choice, of course. How could we possibly resist going for the ‘old man’ in the character selection!? To me, it just makes the story even more immersive. Perhaps we are three gay dads taking our son on an outing? Or perhaps it’s a day trip from the old folks home? The story is whatever you make of it!

The Gameplay

Any VR game is really hard to get into it if you’re not used to it, and one of our team had never played any VR before. Thankfully the introductory part of your quest is all about communication and finding your feet. The team were also super patient with us past any technical hitches.

Once we’d found our feet, we were off to a flying start through the game and it is a LOT of fun. Having now played all three VR experiences at clueQuest I would rank this one as probably the best for beginners as it’s got a great story, not too difficult puzzles, and some great game mechanics (what can I say, I love a bow and arrow).

Beyond Medusa’s Gate can be played in a team of 2 or a team of 4 as you’ll have split into two groups at various points throughout the game and complete tasks on opposite sides of the cave in tandem. The game begins, after a brief customisation area, alone inside a dark room. This is a kind of ‘demo’ area which helps you get to grips with the controls – teleporting, grabbing, sliding, pushing, setting fire to yourself. You know, typical VR game stuff. Once you’ve cracked the first area, you’re reunited with your teammates and the journey toward Medusa’s Gate begins.

The Puzzles

Less the puzzles, the real stand out is the mechanics of this game. VR allows you to do things not possible in a physical space. For starters, the area is HUGE. You can clime to incredibly high locations and fire bows and arrows at moving targets and even interact with magic. Most of the puzzles you’ll encounter are literally impossible in real life, unless you have a billion pound budget and a set the size of my entire block of apartments.

In terms of difficulty, Beyond Medusa’s Gate isn’t terribly hard. Again, this makes it great for a beginner team, or a team more accustomed to playing video games than escape rooms (though now I’m quietly hoping a ‘real life’ escape room won’t be a letdown for my friends when they ask “Where’s the waterfall and 100 ft drop?”).

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.

For a casual Wednesday evening before a pub trip, the difficulty was just right!

clueQuest

Since Beyond Medusa’s Gate is available at lots of escape rooms and VR cafes, I’ll take a moment to also mention our experience specifically at cluequest! We were hosted by Games Master Josiah *cough* I mean our Agent Handler was Josiah. Despite some technical issues with the VR halfway through, he was super professional and helpful in both keeping us on track and reassuring members of our team less familiar with VR.

I always have a fantastic time at clueQuest, from the moment you spot the sign as you walk down the road, to waiting in the bright lobby, to interacting with the team – I love it! Today was no different and a huge thank you to them for making us feel so welcome.

Beyond Medusa’s Gate can be booked at clueQuest for £25 – £30 pp on their 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.