The Escape Game: Gold Rush (Remote Adventure) review
|For nearly two centuries, the hope of gold has lured people to the hills of Northern California. No one was captivated more than Clyde Hamilton, a greedy gold prospector who loved to gamble. Clyde made too many bets with the wrong crowd and now he’s missing. You’ve been tipped off to where he stashed his gold… but so has the mob. Find it first!|
|$25 per person|
|Online (based in USA)|
|Played by Daiman, Paul and Bharath|
|Escaped with 6 minutes remaining|
If we ignore the fact that we played this virtually for a second, this game was pretty neat! You start off ‘outside’ in the woods and have to find a way into an empty cabin. Once inside, solving a few puzzles leads to a third area, completely different from the last two. It’s extremely varied in that sense and the experience has been constructed with care – these are interesting spaces that appear well-crafted. Downside for us is that we couldn’t explore the environment in person but playing online was a decent second place.
There’s a cool addition to aid online play – an item inventory which is basically a collection of images pertaining to the object that you collect. This way you can inspect pieces that you find in a way that you would if you were physically present. An appreciated feature is that once an item has been used, it disappears from the cache to maintain the focus in the correct place. It was a great workaround to some of online play’s deficiencies.
This is a real physical room that they’ve reworked to be playable remotely. They provided us with a Zoom video link where we joined our host who briefed us on the game and showed us an online dashboard which contains our live inventory and interactive 360° images of the rooms. We were then joined by ‘the prospector’, who’s inside the room with a camera strapped to them. The host updated our inventory and images in real time, whilst the prospector guided us through the spaces and followed our orders.
As I’ve come to expect from The Escape Game, it’s a slick operation and the decor is excellent too. It’s high quality and detailed, cleverly giving the illusion of both indoor and outdoor spaces.
This one’s a bit tricky as although I think the puzzles were, by and large, fun there were a couple that didn’t feel suited to playing virtually. One task early on required you to count the number of a certain object in the space. Such a heavy-leaning search objective is tough to conduct when you’re not actually present. The camera has limitations with what it can see along with the fact that directing it (via game host) is onerous.
I’ll say that we didn’t really struggle with it but there was some subtle assistance and, also, it’s just not that fun to ask someone to visually scour the landscape! This is something that should’ve been adapted as I’m not sure searching will ever fully translate, there’s a definite difference between physically exploring every nook and cranny versus watching someone else do the same thing!
There was another puzzle that, to me, lost something in the digital world as it relied on perspective which is another tough concept to adapt. But, all that aside, those elements would work fine in a real room I’m sure and the rest of the puzzling flowed well. There was a great sense of logic to everything and there weren’t any leaps required. I would say this was a solid, if unspectacular, game as far as puzzles went.
There were plentiful tasks ranging from observational, hands-on and logic, and all linked well to the theme. There was a heavy reliance on matching items, as well as quite a few locks.
Some tasks worked better remotely than others. The search based ones in particular don’t translate so well into an online game as you only have one point of view. Their 360° images helped negate this but it wasn’t ideal having to switch between the live feed and their website as you then risk missing something important. Their online inventory helped to remind me which items we had found but not yet used, but I got so engrossed in the feed that I found myself often forgetting all about it!
As mentioned before, it’s a well-crafted, fun experience. Clear and logical through to the end it offers an enjoyable 60 minutes of adventuring. I would say though that, theming aside, the game isn’t revolutionary. Don’t expect great innovations here, it’s an old school style escape game with a very nice lick of paint. Not that any part of this game is bad, go for the setting than for the gameplay.
I find live remote escape rooms like Gold Rush to be the best of all the play at home puzzle approaches, but they still lose some of the fun and adventure of being there in person. But being in lockdown and over 3,000 miles away from the actual premises, it’s allowed me to play a great room that I probably wouldn’t have been to otherwise, helping satisfy my escape room fix.
Our host was very friendly and welcoming and I liked the fact we had two people looking after us for our whole game as I expected only one. The 360° images were a great idea as they allowed us to individually split up and look around the spaces which is something that is usually lacking with remote rooms.
At $25pp, I think the price is fair compared to other online experiences (the dreaded PDF packs!!), you get a live game which is halfway towards replicating the feel of an actual room. The fact that the price is flat per person means that the game will cost the same however many players there are. Considering that the maximum capacity is 7, you would expect an increasing discount as per regular games though this is probably a remnant of the US style of booking games.
The website suggests that per person slots are sold so it’s unclear whether this game could result in mixed groups. Nothing in the FAQs seems to call this out (there is some mention but seems to specifically point to physical games over digital). That could possibly alter your opinion on the value of the game!
Ultimately, I think the value in these types of game is in their ability to deliver the closest facsimile to the real thing. For an hour you do actually forget that you’re playing a virtual game and, with a ticking clock, get all the associated (good) stress that comes with it!
At $25 per person, it’s around $8 cheaper than their physical alternative. It’s still a lot of money for a play at home game, but as their overheads will still be similar, I can see why. The price per person is the same no matter how big your team is, so it’s not great value for larger groups who will end up paying the same for less puzzling per person.
Gold Rush is a great room with fantastic theming and a wide selection of puzzles. I just wish I could have been there in person to get the full experience and get involved with the fun hands-on games. But this is perfect for those in lockdown, those with mobility issues or those with distant friends they want to puzzle with.
Theming - 8/10
Puzzles - 6.67/10
Enjoyment - 7.33/10
Value - 6.67/10