Games played by Wei-Hwa Huang

Rating
Game
Company
Game
Location

An amusing set of hosted puzzles but I suspected that the physicality of the Crystal Maze couldn't really be captured in an online experience, and this mostly confirms it.  Some features are adapted to Zoom fine but some feel like they'd be better served with different technology.

Played: 2020-10-19 Team size: 3 Outcome: Successful escape!

The puzzles were less, um, puzzly and a bit more open-ended, which might be good for immersion but not so great for feeling like you're making progress.  We ended up skipping certain parts unintentionally because of an intuitive feel for where the story was going ... and the story didn't even quite end on a clean note.  The imagery is very professional and the host does a fine job with what they have.

It's all in one room, but with a good consistent sci-fi gadgetry theme.  

Played: 2020-10-03 Team size: 3 Outcome: Successful escape!

A fine Halloween game, but a bit inferior to Trapped's other audio-game offerings.  I felt like the visuals were just a little bit less fleshed out in this one.

Played: 2020-10-01 Team size: 4 Outcome: Successful escape!

Argh, I'm running out of stars to give the Agent Venture series.  The third game is better than the second, which is better than the first, which I gave five stars to.

Played: 2020-09-26 Team size: 3 Outcome: Successful escape!

Can't add anything to the other reviews here.  It's good.

Team size: 3 Outcome: Successful escape!

A few interesting puzzles and an above-average room in terms of set decoration and look-and-feel.

Team size: 2 Outcome: Successful escape!
Team size: 2 Outcome: Successful escape!
Played: 9/9/20 Outcome: Successful escape!

Excellent game that was designed specifically for remote play, and it shows.  

When you try to write an ARG but one of your goals is to make it finishable by a small team ... you end up with a pretty satisfying and story-driven puzzle hunt.

Not as good as their other game since it feels a bit cramped, but works well enough and the host is fun to speak to.

Team size: 3 Outcome: Successful escape!

A very nice build consider that it's a pop-up and portable room, with a few interesting mechanisms, and a super-friendly avatar.

Played: 9/9 Team size: 4 Time taken: 25:00 Outcome: Successful escape!

Based on the advertising and the promotion and the screenshots -- and the hefty cost! --  I was expecting an exciting SpaceTeam-esque app, with a lot of interaction between teammates, lots of video game elements, and cerebral challenges.


Instead, we got, um, 8 puzzles.  Most of which I would not be surprised to see in a cheap "MENSA test your intelligence" books.  Six of them were just static images.  One of them used a crummy AR that was unreliable and all it did was overlay two images.  And the last one was just a bunch of beeps.


And even that would have been fine, if the technical issues and interface hadn't been so horrible.  First off, the app kept crashing on my 1-month-old Android tablet without explanation.  Probably because didn't have any cell phone signal, not that I could tell because there was no useful error message.  No problem, I'll install on my phone.  First thing is that it tells me that my phone doesn't have a built-in compass (it does) and that this could severely impact my game experience.  Spoiler -- the game doesn't use the compass or location services in any way.


You need a QR code to start the game.  Except that the organizers didn't send us one.  No problem, they sent a "unique game code".  And each player has a "player code".  But the screens where you are supposed to enter these just say "enter code".  Which code goes where?  Well, probably the game code first, then the player code.  Okay.  Oh, now the screen tells you to take a "team photograph" and type in your "team name".  The preview image is scaled differently than the actual image, but you don't know this, so you carefully line up your face in the center of the image, take your photograph, and it shows everything from your nose to your neck.  No eyes.  Oh, and "team name" apparently means "your name, which will be visible to your team".  All of us got this wrong, which meant that team Vanish the Escape Goat had four team members, named Vanish the Escape Goat, Vanish the Escape Goat, Vanish the Escape Goat, and Vanish the Escape Goat.  Which of course means that if any of us sent a message through the app's messaging system, we'd have no idea which one of us sent it.  It takes four taps to even get to the message-sending box though, so why would we bother.


Anyway, we realize our mistake and try to exit the game to see if that lets us change our name.  Okay, "Leave Game" works.  But now to join it says "enter code".  Is this asking for the "game code" or the "player code"??


Finally we get to the part where there are puzzles!  Ah, but the puzzles are on this giant image, which you can't read on a tiny phone screen.  No problem, they have two ways to solve this.  Method one is that you can pinch-expand to zoom in.  Method two is that in the lower left corner of the screen is a shrunk-down version of the giant image, and you can drag in that image to move the main screen around, or tap on it to zoom out to fit the whole image on the screen.  Oh wait, did I mention that the "shrunk-down" version takes up 40% OF YOUR SCREEN?  So, hope you don't have to zoom in on the lower-left of the image, because getting to there is literally impossible.  And when you are zooming the big screen, make sure you don't accidentally venture into the "shrunk-down" version, because it will suddenly go "fit image" and you'll lose all your zooming.


Okay, so we solve a puzzle and there's a separate screen to enter the answer we got.  Which is a bunch of letters.  The answer entry is FIVE SEPARATE PASSWORD FIELDS, ONE FOR EACH LETTER.  And it's case-sensitive.  So, if the answer is "HELLO", you need to type "H" in the first field, thank god it auto jumps to the next field, type "E" in the second field, and so on.  So it can tell you your answer is wrong.  It doesn't tell you the reason that your answer is wrong is that you submitted it in lower-case.  No problem, we're smart, we can double-tap the shift key to turn on CapsLock.  There.  HELLO.  Nope, still wrong.  Because each field is a SEPARATE field, the CapsLock TURNS OFF when it goes to the next field.  So, yep, the right way is Shift H Shift E Shift L Shift L Shift O.  On your tiny phone, because the game doesn't run on a tablet.  You know what would've made this just a bit less frustrating?  If I could ACTUALLY SEE WHAT I WAS TYPING but nooooo, these are PASSWORD FIELDS so everything I type just shows up as a round dot in the center of the cell.  Because wow, these folks are so concerned about my security, since, oh, some SPY from a DIFFERENT TEAM might be LOOKING OVER MY SHOULDER and evilly STEALING THE ANSWER TO THE PUZZLE.


One player has an important job. They are the Team Captain. Based on the explanations given, we originally thought that the Team Captain was the only person who could submit answers. This quickly disproved itself as we all discovered we could submit answers. Ah, maybe the Team Captain is the only one who will get their answers checked for correctness?  Nope, the app does that for everyone too. What is actually going on is that the Team Captain is the only person who can GET POINTS for a correct answer. You'd think this would be done by having the Team Captain's correct answers give you points. Nope. Instead, when the Team Captain enters a correct answer, they unlock another submission box, with instructions to "Enter 200 into this box to get 200 points".  So Team Captain has to tap the box, tap 200, and only THEN does your team get the points.  My best guess is that the designers couldn't figure out how to have a submission box give points for some players but not others, and they didn't want to force everyone on the team to submit the same answer to get points, so they came up with this crazy system.  


Okay, I've now spent more time typing up this rant than it took me to solve all the puzzles (not counting the time it took me to INPUT THE ANSWERS) so I'll make the other complaints brief.  Some trivial errors in the puzzles -- if the puzzles weren't so easy and copied from cheap intelligence tests those errors might have actually worried us.  The server is smart enough to figure out if you have the right solution to a puzzle, but for some reason isn't smart enough to give you points for the solution. One puzzle so badly translated that three out of the four players had no idea what the text was saying and the fourth player mostly got it out of image context. (It probably has to do with the translator not knowing that "digit" and "number" have different meanings.)  The "shrunk-down" version containing an image that doesn't match the main screen. Instruction pages come with "Later" and "Done" buttons, where "Later" means "I may or may not be reading these instructions now, but I definitely want to see them later", and "Done" means "I don't ever want to see these instructions again, take them away so that I can't get to them even if I want to come back and check them." Some puzzles have the submission box accessible on the same screen but some require you to submit elsewhere. A "quest" that is basically "download this PDF from this DropBox account and print it" ... wait, who the heck prints PDFs from their PHONE???  Maybe at least of just having a link, you could give the URL to the DropBox account?  Or a QR code?  Or a share button, or ANY reasonable way of actually getting the URL to a desktop computer?


We took 25 minutes of in-game time to finish.  Of that, I estimate maybe 6 minutes of actual puzzle-solving and 19 minutes of wrestling with the app. 25 minutes does not include the 20 minutes of trying to figure out the login. 


The folks who run this claim that the game can run for 1000 people. I sure would like to see that happen, it'd be like watching a forest fire...

Team size: 3

Wow, there is a lot of content here.  The puzzles definitely lean towards the meatier "puzzle hunt" style.  Based on the other positive reviews here I'm guessing the hint system must be pretty good because I can't imagine non-puzzle-hunters doing this without aid.  The variety of challenges is amazing -- one section was a bunch of paper puzzles, one section was an interactive timed game; one section was a lot of Internet sleuthing, and so on.

Team size: 3 Outcome: Successful escape!

The biggest problem with this game is that the video is *very* grainy, which means it's really hard to read anything on camera.  Maybe the real room is kept dark or something.  This issue is exacerbated by the fact that there is a very nice-looking but impractical frame on the webpage you're using to access this.  Which means that 20% of your screen space is spent looking at your teammates' faces (kinda useless), 20% is on an inventory area that is hard to navigate because it's so small, and 20% of your space is graphics and frames.  So... that leaves 40% for the camera, and that just feels too small.

My older computer also had trouble showing the video at all, but YMMV.

The room is otherwise fine and looked like it would be fun in real life.

Felt like they were still working out the kinks, but the hosts were enthusiastic.  The set design and props are definitely upcycled and, well, feel a bit cheap to me.  The puzzles and story work fine, although nothing really stands out as must-see.

Team size: 3 Outcome: Successful escape!

A fancier experience than the '80s workout video, but a more generic premise and it seems like there are still a few tech issues to be worked out.

Team size: 3

At a fair price this unhosted experience would probably be 3 to 3.5 stars, but you get an amazing amount of content and slickly-produced materials for an insanely low price.

Team size: 2 Outcome: Successful escape!

A decent set of puzzles, generally harder than escape room puzzles but not at puzzle hunt level.  For a free game, there's a LOT of content.

Team size: 4 Outcome: Successful escape!

Very similar to their free offering, but with a veneer of a story there, as well as an ending.  It's only worth a half-star less because this one costs money 🙂

Team size: 3 Outcome: Successful escape!

The "actor" isn't even playing a role; they're just there to give you hints if you need them... and if you don't need hints, like us, they might as well not be there at all.  A mildly amusing set of puzzles but with only very loose cohesion to the story.

My notes said I played this, but wow, I don't remember it at all.  Must have been dead average.

Team size: 3 Outcome: Successful escape!

Average puzzles, but I thought the story was somewhat original.

Team size: 4 Outcome: Successful escape!

I wanted to like this game because of the artwork and structure, but the inventory system had lots of issues with not updating consistently and there were even missing images (at least in the English version).

Team size: 5 Outcome: Successful escape!

ETR's official review has it right.

Team size: 4 Outcome: Successful escape!

An slightly above-average virtual puzzle event, but the earnestness and humility of the host, the attention to detail in the game materials, and the price point, really elevates this experience.

An arthouse deconstruction of escape rooms in the disguise of a remote-play escape room.  If your experience with real-life escape rooms is that there is a lot of random searching, that solving puzzles often requires reading the mind of the room designer, that it's more about socializing and getting to know the other players than it is about playing with the room, and that a good imagination is enough to make up for inadequate set design, I'm glad to tell you that this game manages to emulate all those aspects from the comfort of your own home!  

Team size: 3 Outcome: Successful escape!

Not that much different than "Morse Code", but without the impressive ending.

The build is not amazing (if you look carefully you can still see the rented office space) but the puzzles are solid and flow well, and the avatar player cooperates well with the players.  The room also uses the features of liveescape pretty well and a bit better than other rooms that have used it.


EDIT -- came back to give an extra half-star for the "Wilson the Volleyball" easter egg.

For a click-and-play game this game has a lot of quirky charm.  The way multiple players can step on each other's toes is perhaps not the best thing to have simulated, though.

Team size: 3 Outcome: Successful escape!

A lot of interesting things, but it shows the seams of being a game adapted from a travelling game instead of a fixed build.

Surprisingly good considering the cost of the room.  His hardest room, so expect quite a bit of challenge making sure you have everything organized.

Surprisingly good considering the cost of the room.  Evocative descriptions and some rather innovative puzzles.

Mostly pretty good, but has a very weird property which makes me dock it a star-and-a-half.  It's about the endings to this game.  I'll put it here in ROT13 code to avoid accidental spoilers:  gurer'f ab erny "tbbq raqvat"!!  Rira gur "orfg" raqvat va gur tnzr vf fbzrjung ovggrefjrrg.

As first-person horror video games try to simulate real life, this game does the opposite -- real life trying to simulate a horror video game.  That's something that the live version doesn't give you, which makes this a rather unique experience.  (Including the video-game trope of often frustratingly having no actual control over the player avatar during "cutscenes".)  The area of the space is amazing.  Make sure to watch this in a dark room with headphones for the full effect.

Team size: 3 Outcome: Successful escape!

Fun activity that does a good job of making you feel like you're actually controlling a little robot.  But it feels just a bit too short.  Combine this with Phase 1 and I think this is a 4-star experience.

Team size: 3 Outcome: Successful escape!

A nice variety of puzzles and a decent avatar.  Really only a 3.5 or maybe 4 star room but I'm going to give them 5 stars because they're closing soon and this will make them feel good.  Oh, and there's an exciting ending that is pretty uncommon to see in rooms.

Team size: 2 Outcome: Successful escape!

A rather linear room with zero story (the ending is literally you find a sign that says "you win") and sometimes too many combo locks.  Really a two-star room, but I gave it an extra star because I liked the colorfulness and cleanliness.

Team size: 3 Outcome: Successful escape!

An Alice-in-Wonderland themed room that never stops looking like decorated office space.  The inventory system isn't used to its full capabilities.

Team size: 3

The experience is fun, but feels a bit too short.  The immersion is pretty good for what it does.

Team size: 3 Outcome: Successful escape!

Just a bit better than their other rooms, in that there's a bit more  story and personality with the avatar.

Team size: 4 Outcome: Successful escape!

I gave the first Agent Venture experience 5 stars, but this sequel is actually a better game!  They improved on some problems with the first game that I didn't realize were there until I played this second one (for example, often having too much information to figure out what to look at).  The first one was actually originally two 30-minute games whereas this one was designed at the start to be a full 60-minute experience.  The player interface is also slightly slicker.

Team size: 3 Outcome: Successful escape!

Average room.  Our avatar seemed awkward but that could be a language barrier.  Room has one puzzle that we found frustrating because it required noticing something that would have been obvious in person but was really hard over a camera.

Team size: 3

Played a bit sluggish and rather annoying how there's no option to turn the ambient noise off.  For Chapter 1, it was not clear to us that the goal was to fill out the entire map; we thought we would be journeying to different places.  Still working on Chapter 2, although we might not come back.

Team size: 4 Outcome: Successful escape!

Simpsons theme is very colorful and fun for a game.  Objectively, only a 3-star room, but I liked the theme.

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