Russ Builds: Endgame review
|A cold war inspired remote escape room.|
|Difficulty level not stated|
|Free (donations accepted)|
|Online (based in UK)|
|Played by Daiman, Paul and Bharath|
|Escaped with 19 minutes remaining, with no clues|
|This game has since been re-opened and improved, now costing £5 per person|
I’m in two minds about this. On the one hand, strictly speaking, there was little in the way of theming with the gameplay centering around a chessboard, a box with several locked compartments and one of those big, ominous red buttons you just know has the capability to ruin someone’s day! These are accompanied by a PDF file where the majority of the puzzling really happens. You solve some puzzles, it’ll correspond to the code on a lock whether it be a day, 4 digit combination, or something less seen like a padlock akin to the mechanism you’d find on a safe.
The other side to this though is that this has all been created and designed by Russ, a hobbyist by his own admission. Will this compete with things like Time Run? Clearly not but for a completely non-commercial product, it’s a laudable effort.
Where this could be improved is in simple areas such as simply having an ambient backing track throughout gameplay, there are definitely ways of amplifying the immersion without amending the physical product at all. I think a few things like that would go a long way with the limits this game obviously has.
Endgame is an amateur cold war inspired remote avatar escape room. We gathered around our individual laptops and joined our prearranged video call where we met Russ, our host and the creator of the game. It looks to be a self-built creation situated on a table in his house. He was our hands and followed our instructions when we needed to control the physical space.
There’s a suitcase, box with a chessboard, timer, big red button and varied locks. No searching is involved, everything you need can be seen on camera. We were also given a PDF file containing the puzzles. This had a cold war theme to it, but the physical space didn’t really. Although the theming is basic, the build quality isn’t bad considering it’s a homemade affair and is only around for a few months.
This is a difficult one – I don’t think I was personally on the best form during this game (despite the team’s surprising result!) and there were two or three moments where the others had landed on the solutions whilst I was still working through them! We ran through everything after so I caught up and I don’t really know if there’s any solution to this – the others were on particularly good form during this one! That said, everything was fair in retrospect and well designed – my one tip would be to pay attention to the little details, if anything seems odd, there’s likely a reason for it!
The puzzles are mostly non-linear and it took us over 10 minutes to solve the first one. But once we got going we sped through the rest quite nicely. This is a medium difficulty game and you need to focus on every little detail. Each solved logic puzzle rewarded us with a chess piece. These then helped us open the final box, allowing our escape. You get an overall score based on your finishing time and the number of clues used. We were the 15th team to play Endgame and the first not to need any clues, although we came close to using them. We scored 12 points, the second-highest result at the time of writing.
Again, this is a bit of a difficult one to score as I got a bit left behind here! I don’t blame the design of the game though… That said, the game is well designed and we didn’t really get stuck anywhere so the difficulty and pacing seemed perfectly pitched. Russ had mentioned that this game had been through a lot of beta testing and I think that’s very evident in the fact that the game holds its own against other virtual/play at home games that we’ve played over the past few months.
This was a fun game to play. It was the right level of challenge with good progression and some new ideas. Plus a live avatar room is far more interesting than just looking at a plain PDF document. I liked the fact Russ made it extra competitive by giving you an overall score that he posts to his Instagram page, allowing you to see how you compare to other teams. See if you can beat our score!
For donations, with a live host, this is pretty unbelievable value really! I’m not sure what else to say here – not only is this a solid attempt at distance escape game but Russ is someone who is taking this very seriously and that goes a long way. Putting this much time and effort into a passion project and then running it for donations, it’s an insane level of dedication and it really does shine through. That considered, this is worth your time. Take a break from putting money into a national escape game company, and consider playing Endgame and supporting someone who genuinely loves what he is doing.
There’s some free self play online escape rooms out there, but this is possibly the only gratis live hosted one. It must be a passion project for Russ who is creating and running Endgame for the fun of it, although he does accept donations. Understandably under the circumstances, it’s not the most polished of games, but it’s well designed and well worth playing. It’s not sustainable to do this as a one-man hobby if it gets too popular, so if you’re interested in playing, DM him via his Instagram page quickly whilst you have the chance! He’s also planning on replacing Endgame in mid-October with a new more high tech creation so another reason not to dawdle.
Theming - 5.67/10
Puzzles - 7/10
Enjoyment - 7.33/10
Value - 10/10