Wild Hare Escapes: The Comedy of Terrors review
|While getting ready to rehearse your play, one of your castmates uttered the one word you are not supposed to say inside a theatre. You have angered a spirit – the resident ghost of the Lincoln Theatre. He has locked the doors and windows, and has vowed to bring the building down on your heads… unless you can solve a series of puzzles and escape in 75 minutes. So it may not be curtains for you after all.|
|$25 per person|
|Play at home (based in USA)|
|Played by Daiman, Paul and Bharath|
|Escaped with 3 minutes remaining|
The cool feature here is that this game takes place in a fully explorable theatre location. Each player can control their own screen. At one point, we’d gotten something wrong and I volunteered to go back and check – it genuinely felt as though I was walking the corridors of this theatre by myself! To me, the location and feel is definitely a unique selling point – hardly any games that we’ve played sell the sense of location as well as The Comedy of Terrors does. Elsewhere, the design is clear and effective though I found the game to have minimal ambient effects which would have gone a long way to boosting the atmosphere.
The Comedy of Terrors is a web based point and click style puzzle game with a live host via a pre-arranged Zoom call. You each play the game on your own laptop or tablet, working together to find a way out of the sprawling haunted theatre. The graphics pay homage to the 90s point and click genre and are pretty decent in this respect. Don’t expect Call of Duty style visuals here! Incorporated into the game are humorous story updates and a couple of tame jump scares. Our host wasn’t in character though and the theming wasn’t extended to their webcam, which was turned off for the whole experience without even a logo taking its place.
There’s nothing stand out here but a nice set of fair and straightforward challenges. We had a slow start as we usually seem to but once we got into the swing of things, we were proceeding at a decent pace throughout the rest of the game. There was one particular puzzle that deliberately exploited our blind spots and there are a few other moments where the solution is blindingly obvious but the game knows how to cleverly conceal that fact. On the downside here, the interactivity is pretty low, all the puzzles are static images rather than items you can physically (virtually!) interact with. That aspect was sorely missing for me!
This is the hardest of their two rooms and I concur that the difficulty level is quite high with some challenging puzzles, culminating in us escaping with only 3 minutes to spare. Just finding my way around the virtual venue felt like a puzzle in itself! The puzzles are logic and observation based, with some requiring you to go back and forth between rooms to piece together all the information. Some have basic interactivity allowing you to complete them on screen. The puzzles are well designed, although one part of one game was a bit ambiguous as there are 2 possible numbers and as we saw the wrong one, we went down the wrong path until our host hinted that we should look again.
After we got into the swing of things, I warmed to The Comedy of Terrors. The exploration factor is really neat, making the game stand out amongst other online experiences. It’s also pretty immersive in that sense as you very quickly build up a map in your head and navigate the place as though you were actually there. The puzzles were perfectly pitched, there wasn’t a single iffy solution to be seen… The feature of each person being able to control their own screen worked a bit better here as someone solving a task on their screen wouldn’t automatically solve the puzzle on yours so it still promoted dialogue and the linear flow prevented too much divergence anyway.
Although it’s a collaborative mission, the games on our individual devices are not synched so it was hard to all keep together. We had to continually check what we were doing to make sure no one had wandered off, and to ensure we had each collected the items and entered the codes. I found myself falling behind a couple of times and rushing to catch up which wasn’t ideal. Maybe it would have been better if our games were linked together or if we shared one screen and all worked from that.
I enjoyed the actual puzzles though, and it was a different experience to what I have played before. I was disappointed they didn’t make much use of the live element, but the after-game walkthrough explaining the logic and steps was a nice touch.
This is where the game implodes for me… I didn’t realise until we talked about it afterward that the price was $25 per person. It’s an absolutely insane price considering the majority of games we’ve played have been below that for the entire game. I honestly think this needs to be changed ASAP as they are pricing themselves out of the market. You do get a live host but for a digital game this is unnecessary; if this is the source of the cost, it needs to be replaced with an in-game clue system. I could buy any number of PC point and click games for a fraction of this price and stream them with friends and we’d have a similar experience. I absolutely cannot advocate paying $25pp for this, no matter the quality of the game. It’s a tough pill to swallow in the face of everything else that is out there.
Wild Hare Escape’s USP is its combination of point and click online game with a live host. This understandably makes it more expensive than a self-play game, but with how little they made use of the live element, it isn’t worth paying 10 times more for. There’s no physical space for us to explore via an avatar, they aren’t in character and they don’t even turn on their camera! All they do is give you clues if you get stuck, which you could easily do yourself, and give you a walkthrough at the end.
With a fixed price of $25 per person, you could be stumping up a whopping $250 if there were 10 of you playing which is crazy! Not that I would recommend any more than 4 players anyway. The game itself is decent, but I can’t recommend it at this price. I think it would work better as a much cheaper self-play game.
Theming - 7/10
Puzzles - 6.67/10
Enjoyment - 6.33/10
Value - 2.67/10