THE PANIC ROOMS (ONLINE) – The Overseer (GIFTED)

This online experience was given to me free in exchange for a review (this review, to be precise). The Panic Rooms put out requests for anyone interested and I immediately put my hand up, knowing how fantastic the company is, and that they’ve done a great job of getting online experiences up and running. Having already completed a couple of their rooms previously we decided to tackle this one as a pair, via Skype. With previous experience we found that having 4 people was too much, due to the simple limitations of the experience meaning they tend to be very linear.

The ‘set’

When you purchase this game you are given to URLs and two passwords…and I’m not sure why. I went to the first url and put the password in, then clicked on a button there to take me to the second link. I simply sent this URL and password to my teammate, who was able to join the game with no issues.

After that, your experience is fairly straightforward – complete a puzzle on the page, input a password, unlock the next step. All the pages have a plain white background, which made it nice and easy to read the text and focus on the puzzles. The buttons for revealing hints and entering passwords are also clear to see and stand out.

However, it did get clunky at times. The loading time wasn’t the best, you had to have multiple tabs open, and navigating back and forth between screens could get confusing and annoying. When you wanted to enter a password you were also taken to a new screen, and if you didn’t have the password you needed to move backwards using your browser, rather than a prompt on the screen.

The game

You are thrown straight into the game…which isn’t necessarily a good thing. There is an intro video, but without any context. Essentially, you are currently in jail (I think) and someone has offered to break you out if you get them some blueprints…or something like that. You then proceed to “Start” and are given code cracking instructions, again with no context, and a prompt to open the first folder (again, no context to what this folder may be). You are also unable to see these instructions again unless you move all the way back, or start opening multiple tabs (same goes for anything in the game).

Unfortunately, most of the puzzles are like this. Your first challenge when opening a page is trying to work out what the puzzle is! Then what to do to solve it…then what little twist they’ve added…then how you should be forming the answer. Luckily, there are hints available, as well as the answer, which we greatly appreciated. There were certainly a couple of puzzles where we would’ve been stuck without it (and that I still can’t understand how they got to the answer!). In general we found it quite complicated and frustrating – many of the puzzles were difficult just due to lack of clarity, rather than being things we could figure out.

However, there were a few puzzles in there which we did enjoy working out, and worked well. This particular ‘room’ also required you to split in two at one point/have two tabs open, which is a bit different to what we’ve seen previously and a nice touch.

Accessibility

This is played fully online, with no physical elements, or puzzles requiring dexterity or mobility. There is a puzzle requiring colour identification, but there is a ‘colour blind’ friendly version (although as this just labeled each colour once, and not the parts where they overlapped, I’m not sure how much help it would be).

Unfortunately for me, there was also an audio puzzle, which I struggled with. There is no way round this, or any alternatives offered. The audio is not the clearest, but we managed to work through it slowly (and with the aid of the hints). If you have hearing issues, you will just need to use the answer and move past it.

Was it worth the money?

I received this for free in exchange for this review…so yes! If you wanted this for yourself it is only £15 for a key, which isn’t bad and is a good hour’s worth of entertainment. I’d also advise checking out the other online rooms available on their site, and considering a bundle deal!

TL;DR

Pros: Some more in-depth puzzles, 2 paths

Cons: Unclear puzzles/instructions, frustrating

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