aMazed Games: Alternate Reality Lab: Nemesis review
|This is not a video game, app or escape room. Alternate reality games (ARG) use the real world fused with multimedia as a game platform. We produce a story using multi channel narrative where the story develops in accordance with player’s decisions. Each game evolves with the choices that you make. No script. For about 2 weeks you will live through a whole movie grade story that takes place in real life as a part of your everyday routines. Immerse yourself into a mystery and give in to excitement. You decide how the story develops because you are the protagonist.|
|About 2 weeks|
|Difficulty level not stated|
|€50 per person|
|Online (based in Finland)|
|Played by Jenny, Paul, Bharath|
|Completed in around 2 weeks|
From beginning to end, the whole experience is an immersive journey that delves you into a mysterious story. I was a little nervous when signing up as the application form requested a lot of personal information and I was worried how this would be used. Without giving too much away, it’s only used to add to the intensity of your game. After you’ve signed up, you’re warned that your game can start at any point, so be vigilant. I believe mine commenced five days later when I received a phone call. I was then emailed my mission and the game began.
Unlike an escape room, the job at hand is to research data from the internet and use it to find a way to proceed. At each stage you choose a path which can lead to different stories/endings. With each stage you feel the story grow and get more intense. The characters you come across really come to life and if you’re like me you may start to look over your shoulder at some parts of the game.
Alternate Reality Lab did a phenomenal job in the creative planning of this experience. Everything you faced on the journey kept to theme and the dedication of the whole team involved really made the theming faultless for me.
This is a truly immersive experience, taking 1-2 weeks to complete. Yes, weeks. Instead of playing it in one go like normal, you receive information piecemeal. It means the game becomes part of your day-to-day life for a while. Without going into detail and ruining the surprises, you’re enveloped into an intriguing situation full of twists and turns, where your decisions could influence how the real-time story develops. I was contacted via assorted methods by people who remained in character throughout. There’s a rich mix of content to discover, including well crafted websites, social media profiles and videos. You will need WhatsApp and Facebook to play this game.
Nemesis uses various social media platforms during the gameplay. Various characters are introduced during the game and you need to work out who to trust as they pit you against each other. They will find out information on you and you will wonder how they got it. The great thing about this game is that it is not all on your computer, there was a point where I had to leave my house.
Whilst the theming stayed strong throughout the gameplay and tasks, I felt the puzzles really let this game down. As this is a solo game, unlike other experiences where you can use your fellow players, all answers and decisions are to be made solely by you. Unlike the other Goats, I’ve not played many online games so found it quite difficult using the information I’d found to move on to the next stage. At times it was due to my own flaws as I was overthinking the task at hand, but at other points I found certain images/colours very difficult to read. On several occasions I had to use my phone rather than my laptop so I could zoom in better.
The other issue others may have with the tasks is that there is a lot of reading involved. Whilst others may skip this, I found I read everything to feel more immersed in the story, but sometimes I felt frustrated as I found myself taking in too much information but not seeing the simple answers. Unfortunately I can’t go into detail on the puzzles as it would spoil your experience. However I will give you the advice of playing the game in a more literal since as opposed to a difficult solution.
Lastly, I found the clue system to be quite poor. You can play this game at any point day or night so if you get stuck on a puzzle and ask for help, you will have to wait until the host is available to help you move on. At one stage I emailed to say I’d given up on the game as I got so frustrated at waiting after not hearing anything for over 12 hours. I only managed to continue as my fellow Goats had passed this stage and helped me.
Whilst I struggled on many of the tasks, some were clear and were fun to play. I am very glad I continued to play until the end. For me though due to the delay in the clue system, and the poor visual images in some stages, my score had to reflect that.
Nemesis involves logic puzzles, detective work and observation. Some tasks forced me to use my initiative and think on my feet, which is something cool that I rarely encounter in an escape game. The tasks were varied and the number of puzzles roughly equated to a standard one-hour game. A sizeable chunk of the time is taken up by scene setting and waiting.
The game was very difficult with minimal signposting so it wasn’t at all obvious what I needed to do to progress. Puzzles were often subtly hidden within the provided information. There’s no help page, but I could message my contact when stuck and they gave me subtle pointers, sometimes too subtle, although I had to wait up to a day for a response. I needed a lot of help. I don’t know if it’s because I was being stupid, because I was working alone so couldn’t bounce ideas off the others, or if the puzzles were too difficult.
The puzzles were not too hard once you knew where to look. The hint system is tied into the characters you meet in the game. They will point you in the right direction without giving the answer away. The puzzles were well structured and tied into the game. I did find one section frustrating though, as I spent a little while on it only to find the magnification on the image did not work well. With a lot of the puzzles, you must think outside the box and think, “what would I do in this situation”. There are also side missions during the game, which I particularly enjoyed.
This game completely stands out as a new experience of gaming, in the fact that it took two weeks to complete and that the whole journey was themed excellently. I loved how the game intensified as you played, especially the twists and turns that happen in the final stages. The finale is an intense experience which really added to the drama. What did disappoint me was that after the drama your screen goes blank and I found myself thinking what happens now? It wasn’t until the next day I was told my game had ended. That let me down, I feel I should have been told straight away to have kept the fun element.
Taking the issues I had with the puzzles and the delayed notification in the game ending, I still enjoyed Nemesis. My fave part was the coordinates mission I was sent on, but I won’t say too much as not everyone will get the same story. I would definitely recommend this game to experienced gamers.
I was very excited by the unique premise to this game, but that quickly turned to frustration when I got continually stuck. By the midpoint it started showing promise and I was enjoying it. But then I missed a pre-planned phone call and they abruptly ended my game, causing me to miss what the others said was a fun pressure-filled finale! Instead, I got an extremely anticlimactic end, with me not using some of the information I had garnered. Yes, it was partly my fault for missing the call, but I didn’t know it was a one-time chance.
Although the premise of Nemesis is brilliant and there were some great ideas, it didn’t really work for me. This was partly because my work and life commitments got in the way, and partly because of the game itself. It’s a very stop-start game because you’re often waiting for information or to find out if you’ve got the right answer. But on the flipside, it made it more realistic. I didn’t enjoy playing on my own as much, I prefer being in a team.
I had to give them an alarming amount of personal information to play this game, which I wasn’t comfortable about. In the end, some of it seemed unnecessary and I think they should reduce this. They also mysteriously ask for a friends details. I recommend you choose a close friend who lives nearby.
I thoroughly enjoyed this game as it felt more comparable to real-life compared to other online games I have played. The intensity is brought up a notch near the end. The more you involve yourself into the storyline, the better experience you will have.
At €50 per person, this will seem like a large expense for an experience. However as many online escape rooms are at least £15 for a couple of hours I feel the cost is justified as it takes two weeks. The experience involves a great story and cast which is unlike anything else I’ve played. If they could just fix the delay in responding to clues, which could be done by stating opening hours or something, and the images on a couple of tasks, then my scoring would have been almost perfect. That being said, you can’t help but appreciate the work that has gone into this.
Nemesis is a unique real-time adventure where you can influence how the story unfolds. This bespoke solo game also combines real world elements where possible, reaching new levels of immersiveness. This is reflected in the price which is very expensive, especially for an escape game. It’s been created by a Finnish escape room company, but has been translated well for the English market. It has a lot of potential and with a few tweaks could be great. However my experience wasn’t worth the asking price. But if you can give it your full attention and are capable enough to solve the hard puzzles by yourself, you may really enjoy this.
Even though different players get essentially the same storyline, you decide how to tackle it, so everyone will end up with a different experience. There can be a couple of days where you are waiting on a response, which is why the game can last between 2-3 weeks long. At €50, it is on the high end of the price scale for online games, however with 2-3 weeks of gameplay and the amount of work the games masters put into your game, I still think it is worth playing.
Theming - 9.67/10
Puzzles - 6.67/10
Enjoyment - 7/10
Value - 6.67/10