Experiencing adventures underwater with a Submarine, seeking help Behind Enemy Lines after a helicopter crash and not being discovered in the process – that’s what the adventures of the Virtual Reality spin-off Escape Room The Game Virtual Reality is all about. You use your mobile phone to dive into the corresponding world. You can only solve the puzzles if you combine the clues on the game table with the clues from the virtual world.
Escape Room The Game Virtual Reality is a stand-alone game. The basic game with the chronodecoder is not needed, at least that’s what the game box says. But this is only partly correct. If you don’t have the basic game, you need at least two Android/ iOS mobile phones in your household. One of them will run the VR environment, the other will provide the digital chronodecoder. If you only have one mobile phone in your household that meets the technical requirements for VR, you will not be able to play the game. Sounds unlikely, but it is not. We also only have one android in our household, but luckily we have the basic game.
Of course, you can’t expect a real VR experience like you might know from expensive systems. But it was enough for an “Oh” and “Ah” when our children had VR glasses on their nose for the first time. It is a cardboard – Google says hello – in which you insert your mobile phone. However, one essential prerequisite must be fulfilled: Your smartphone must support Android or iOS and have a gyro sensor. This is used to register the position and orientation of your mobile phone, and thus your line of sight and movements.
If you don’t know if your phone supports this, you can download the free app before buying the game and simply try to start the VR environment. If your smartphone does not have such a sensor, the app will tell you.
Glasses wearers will still have problems with Escape Room The Game Virtual Reality. The cardboard is not really suitable for use with glasses, and if you take them off, there is no way to enter the correct dioptres anywhere to see a clear picture.
Off into virtual reality
The VR environment itself appears rather spartan. Very roughly designed worlds do not really allow me to immerse myself completely. If you turn too fast with the VR glasses, it can happen that the display starts to wobble. And even if you then stop, the picture often still runs after. This also makes the interaction with the VR environment very tricky. If you move too fast, the faded in element is faded out again, because it is already out of focus. If you move too slowly, highlighted elements in the focus are automatically faded out again. So I cursed myself more through the VR environment than I really enjoyed it.
In our case, this may also have been due to the fact that my mobile phone – upscale 2016 mid-range mobile phone – may not be powerful enough. An overview, as you know it from PC games, with the recommended features and the minimum requirements, is completely missing here. If you want to test this in advance, I advise you to download the free app and try the demo VR. If you don’t have VR glasses, the corresponding spatial effect is missing, but you can at least test if your mobile phone is powerful enough. You can find out that there is another way to do it, with a smooth image build up and without annoying tracing, with the Cardboard App from Google.
Submarine – Blubb and gone
Two adventures are included in the box. In the first adventure you find yourself in a submarine. What begins as a peaceful dive, ends in an emergency situation. The oxygen is only enough for one hour and we have to get the submarine back in shape manually. So get your VR goggles on and get the submarine ready for take off again.
The VR environment is primarily used to find clues that are then to be transferred to the analog material. The difficulty of the puzzles is not very high. One puzzle could even be solved without the VR environment, although the clues for the solution could be found there. For us it did not need a clue, in order to escape alive from the submarine. The trickiest part is to move around in the virtual environment and to pass on the information you see in the VR environment to your fellow players, because they don’t see the information.
What we liked was the oppressive feeling the story created: In the middle of the water and the oxygen is running out, that gave us goose bumps. Unfortunately, the adventure again contained puzzles that only served to waste time. These kinds of puzzles are found in all kinds of escape games and mostly consist of finding words or coloring boxes. In our opinion this works better. Just because the player who takes care of the puzzle is a bit cut off from the rest of the game. He simply doesn’t notice what the others are doing, because he is busy with the solution of the time-eating puzzle.
Thus, Submarine did not set the VR bar too high at first. Also, the course of the story was a bit confused at the end.
Behind Enemy Lines – Who flies high…
Let’s go on to the second adventure: This time we are on board of a helicopter, which moves deep into the enemy hinterland to take aerial photographs. But on the way back we get into a storm and a crash is unavoidable. So we get stranded in the middle of nowhere and try to make contact with our home base.
Like in the adventure Submarine everything happens in one room at Behind Enemy Lines. But this time there is more to see outside the room. The puzzles from part one are, like in the first VR adventure, rather easy and only the fiddly handling in the VR world makes the level of difficulty rise.
But the fun of the game was very much spoiled for us in part two. Here we had to download the walkthrough and consult it. It wasn’t that we hadn’t found the solution, we just couldn’t convert the solution into keys..
The third part of the adventure also made us ponder, but it wasn’t the riddles but the solution that made us frown. After all Noris/ Identity Games estimates a good half hour for the third part. You’ll need this time even if you follow the official solution. But if you use the more intuitive way, the third part is solved within five minutes.
So we managed to escape after 57 minutes, but we wouldn’t have managed it without a look into the official instructions. Thus, this Escape Room The Game Virtual Reality adventure left a bitter aftertaste.
A conceptual experiment
Escape Room The Game Virtual Reality did not really bring the big new breakthrough in the field of escape games. I still understand it more as a concept than as a real game. The puzzles are solid and also well-thought-out. Thematically they fit to what you just find in a submarine or helicopter. The VR environment itself and its handling did not really convince us.
On the one hand there are the technical difficulties, which are already described in the article. On the other hand, there is the player isolation from the one who is looking at the VR environment. It’s already not very easy that all players can see and solve all puzzles in an escape game. But now one player is taken out completely and takes care of the VR environment. But that’s not all, because everyone at the table wants to see the VR environment. Especially when you are hanging at a puzzle, the glasses are handed back and forth. This creates an unpleasant downtime, because only one player at a time has the possibility to explore the VR environment and search for the clues.
My expectations of Escape Room The Game Virtual Reality were not very high. Nevertheless, they were not fulfilled. For further parts of the VR series, some improvements have to be made here. I would have been annoyed if I had paid the full price of almost 40 bucks at that time. For the sake of completeness and because my wife likes every kind of escape games, the trip into virtual reality was a nice change.