Since I was a little kid, I’ve always had a thing for mysteries and trying to solve them. Whether that be in the form of tv shows like CSI, detective novels like Sherlock Holmes or board games like Cluedo. I even chose to study a degree in forensic science because of my love for problem solving! So of course when escape rooms became a thing, I had to give it a go and suddenly I was obsessed! Since I couldn’t get my fix this year, I decided to try a virtual escape room instead.
My sisters and I have always played escape rooms together and we have done several so far. We pride ourselves on having solved every one of them so far other than the first we ever played where we were about 30 seconds too late! Each time the three of us meet up, we try to do at least one escape room like the secret studio when we visited London for Jessie’s birthday. We have even played a few different spins on the classic escape rooms such as HiddenCity and Questo which are real-world adventure games. These type of games involve the clues being sent directly to your phone and you are required to find the answers in real life to find out where to go in the city you’re in next. However, while these are not actual escape rooms, they have still involved finding physical clues whereas this was our first ever fully virtual escape room.
In the interest of full disclosure, I was gifted a free room pass for Christmas Party Conundrum from Trapped in the Web in exchange for an honest and impartial review of the game. All views expressed are my own.
How it works
To play the virtual escape room, head to the Trapped in the Web website, create an account and pick the game that you want to play. There are several different set ups for the rooms and they range between beginner level, intermediate level, advanced level and genius level difficulties. We played the Christmas Party Conundrum room which is advanced difficulty.
Once you’ve picked your game, there is a one off payment of £8.99 and then you will have unlimited access to it to play as many times as you like. There is no time limit on your game so if you don’t want to play right away just log back into your account at a later time, head to the escape rooms page and click play now on the game your purchased. You can play each escape room solo if you would like but I often find these type of things are better if you’re playing as a team. There is no limit to how many people play but it is recommended that you play with 2-8 people.
The game works on all devices that have internet but the bigger the screen you can play on the better as some of the images can have a lot of small details in that you really need to focus in on. The formatting can be a little fiddly to control as the game is played on a screen within your internet screen so there are multiple scrollbars on the page and depending on your device you may need to use them both to see the game. To play the virtual escape room with friends and family that you aren’t with, you must set up a separate video call to talk to them about each puzzle. You can either purchase a room pass for each person playing then work through it at the same pace or you can use a video call system that allows you to screen share and one person only controls the game. Obviously, the second option would save you money since you’d only pay for the game once.
The Set up
Christmas Party Conundrum is based around an office party that has gone horribly wrong. You have woken up the morning after (still in the office lobby), realise that you had been blind drunk the night before and while inebriated sent a very embarrassing email to your boss! Now, you must break into the boss’s office before they read your email or risk getting fired!
We really enjoyed this concept and there were a few funny moments within the game that we could have a laugh at. It was a little different from other escape games as we were required to break in rather than breaking out. It is also a more believable situation than some of the escape rooms that we have played before although I can’t say the same for some of the gameplay. There were a few puzzles where the set-up was a little far-fetched but this is quite common with other escape rooms too. There is often no real reason for a lock or puzzle to be there but when you are physically there you don’t really think about the reason for this kind of things.
The majority of puzzles in the game are set up to give an answer to unlock some kind of door. There were various types of locks in the game similar to physical escape rooms, which had different types of answers including directional, numerical and word codes. Finding these codes involved a lot of back and forth between different screens and sometimes it could be a little confusing about which clues were for each lock. Certain things were obviously clues but without the hints, it wasn’t always clear what they were for. A few times there were prompts, for example the text may say something like ‘there is a sticky note on the floor, maybe this is a hint’ which did help a lot.
Some of the puzzles were a little difficult, in particular, the code for the till in the bar room, although this is an advanced difficulty room so that is to be expected. What also didn’t help is some of the images had a lot going on in them so it was sometimes a little tricky to see exactly what you were looking at. The puzzle that took us the longest to figure out involved an image with name tags on it. We spent ages trying to work it out only to realise that we had read one of the names wrong since it was in a handwriting script. Overall though, the majority of the puzzles were difficult enough to be a challenge without being frustrating and we only had to use the hint sheet a couple of times.
We played the escape room on my laptop and did a Zoom conference call with screen sharing so we could all see. There were three devices on the call and we had no issues with doing it this way. Everyone could see the screen perfectly fine and we could easily work together over zoom to solve the problems, although I did get yelled at a few times for moving the screen around too fast or too slow! I do think this is a better option than each having your own game pass as it prevents people from working stuff out by themselves and pushing ahead without the rest of the team.
It can be a little more difficult than an actual escape room since its not so clear. You couldn’t lay all the clues out in front of you to work out what you’ve got and what you still need and it was a more complicated to navigate between different screens to see different clues than it would be just to go that thing in real life. I also found there were more distractions while at home so it wasn’t as easy to focus on what you were doing. It especially didn’t help when my dog decided she wanted to join in the conference call by sitting on my latptop screen!
It took us around an hour and 40 minutes to complete the game and it is recommended that all Trapped in the Web games take around 1-2 hours to complete so we did it in pretty good time. It was also a great way to spend a bit of quality time with the family while we can’t see each other and is something a bit different than a pub quiz which everyone seems to be doing right now! And at only £8.99 per game, it is great value for money too. It might not be quite the same as a physical escape room but I do think Trapped in the Web’s virtual escape room is the next best thing.
Overall, the escape room experience was a great way to do a little bit of family bonding in these hard times. We had to work together to solve some of the clues, pooling information through the video call. It was unique to other escape rooms we’ve done as we were attempting to break in rather than break out but the concept was good although could be a little unbelievable at times. It was also a little hard to understand which clues were relevant to certain locks without being prompted by the hints. A little more direction would have been good but overall it was a nice way to spend a few hours with the family.