The Panic Room: My Dearest Emily | Review

My Dearest Emily Review | Months go by and John sends his letters back home to his dearest Emily...

Rating: Fun
Completion Time: 45 minutes
Date Played: 7th of May 2020
Party Size: 1.5

Nick’s Thoughts:

This online experience is really like nothing else. You will not be disappointed!

My Dearest Emily is based on the love letters between John and Emily, as John departed to secure their future during the 1889 Land Rush in America. You follow their relationship during their separation with an ever evolving love story and series of riddles. Not the kind of story line you would expect with an escape game, however stop your judgement right there! 

Being so used to being pressured in escape room games this was a refreshing break from the norm. The calm, relaxed atmosphere of this game, provides a sense of empathy with the characters. As a player you become attached to their story. Never did I think that you feel a real sense of emotion playing an online game, but the guys at The Panic Room have really nailed it.

In addition to their love letters, further emotion is applied by a beautiful soundtrack which provides for an atmosphere like no other. Sitting calmly in the background, this well written orchestral acoustic score accompanies the puzzles perfectly. In addition, you have the option to listen to Emily reading the love letters which is a lovely touch.

The puzzles in this game vary in complexity, however fit very well with the story and stay strictly on theme. First timers may find a handful of the games tricky, however well placed hints sit nicely at the bottom of each page and provide the right level of guidance without spoiling things too much. If completely stuck, you can reveal the answer in order to move on, however please only do this as a last resort! The sense of achievement in answering the riddles will add to your joy in this game. 

In terms of who I would expect to play, this is really not aimed at big groups of friends. I would expect this to be for couples wanting to sit down, enjoy each others company and exercise the grey matter! Likewise, newcomers and experienced gamers alike will certainly enjoy this ever-evolving love story. 

As ever for an online experience, I was worried that their would be no real pay-off at the end of the game. No spoilers, however, I am pleased to say in this game I was wrong. The finale completes this experience beautifully and leaves you with that warm fuzzy glow that I didn’t think possible with an online game. 

Its safe to say, I was hugely impressed with this experience and there was very little I could fault. A beautifully appointed, atmospheric experience, with well placed puzzles, great flow and very individual yet interesting theme. 

Mairi’s Thoughts:

My Dearest Emily really surprised me – it feels less like an escape room and more like a beautiful story told through the medium of letters.

John, separated from his sweetheart Emily, ventures off to the USA during the Oklahoma Land Rush in search of a place where the two of them can be happy. John writes her one letter a month and includes a little puzzle for his dear to solve. Skip to today, you come into possession of these 12 letters.

There isn’t really an ‘end goal’. The goal is very self-driven, if you want to learn the story you just have to play. For this reason it reminds me more of videogames like Dear Esther, or Whatever Happened to Edith Finch. Sure, you can ignore the plot. You can whiz through it and solve the puzzles and go “yes I’ve finished!” but the beauty in games like this is taking time to listen to the story. And let me tell you, it must be hard weaving puzzles into letters without ruining the integrity of the story, but The Panic Room does it very well!

The puzzles are clever and enjoyable! At least two of them were enormously tricky, but there’s a good balance in there for everyone.

You’ll notice at this point I noted the number of players as 1.5 – we started the game as a couple but Player 2 soon got distracted by a phone call and so I powered on without him. It was still just as fun playing solo as it was in a couple and not too challenging in either case.

If I had just one tiny negative it would be that this game is best played on a screen, not printed (don’t let my photographs mislead you!). This is due to the need for passwords at each stage. But that’s definitely just a personal preference. My tiny laptop screen makes it hard to crowd around, so any more than 2 players I’d recommend plugging into your TV to play together!

But any negatives are easily redeemed by how lovely the ending was. Did I mention there’s a beautiful little song you get to keep? Album launches of the future should be like this! “My Dearest Emily” (the song, this time) was recorded by a professional musician based on the story. The whole game’s soundtrack was then worked by a composer so that when you finally hear the end tune, it’s comfortingly familiar, even though it’s the first time. This time, effort and attention to detail deserves all the praise in the world!

Overall, I’m rating this 4 stars!

My Dearest Emily can be purchased for £15 on the Panic Room website.

Author

  • Mairi

    Mairi is the editor-in-chief of The Escape Roomer and covers escape room news and reviews across the UK's South.

The Panic Room: My Dearest Emily | Review
4.5

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