Airlock • @RussBuilds On Instagram • Mobile Tabletop Escape Game Review
Game Website | Company Website | Based In: United Kingdom
💪 Difficulty: Not specified.
⏲️ Time duration: 60 minutes limit.
🔢 Capacity: Not specified, but 1 connection only usually. Private booking.
💬 Hints: Hints given by host at user's request. Unlimited hints, but 0.5 point deducted from final score for each.
📝 Careful--note potential time difference between your location and the host's when booking.
🛒 If you BOOK due to this blog, please give EscapeMattster.com a shout-out! ;)
💪 Difficulty (as perceived by Mattster): 4 or 5/10 (team of 2), becomes much easier once hints are provided, though!
🔢 Ideal team size: 1-2 players. Puzzles are more complex this time, but also less in number, so best enjoyed by a few.
AIRLOCK - a space-themed escape room over Zoom. "Mission... Mission Control. Come in. Come in, Mission Control... I've just awaken from what seems to be long period of unconsciousness. I am in the escape compartment of the ship... Looks like the oxygen supply fell everywhere else but here. I think everyone else is dead. I need your help... The mechanism is locked... Help me escape."
"Airlock" is my second escape game experience with British hobbyist Russell, and though there are similar and different things this time around, my verdict remains the same: it's puzzle-focused, fun, and totally justified why his popularity has steadily and relatively quickly risen within the community.
At the core, Russ didn't alter what makes his games signature and successful. "Airlock" retains the same format as his previous title "Endgame". The session revolves around players' challenging and solving compartmentalized puzzles laid out on a desk, and once every "gadget-y box" is conquered, you hit a intuitively big red button and the game ends. I categorize this as a mobile tabletop escape game; and since it's played via Zoom, a remote one, specifically.
Now, both his previous and most recent offerings are not immersion-heavy. There are storyline and theme for each game that would roughly guide the appearance and the presentation of puzzles, but I would say they are more light suggestions than strong motifs. However, with "Airlock", there is one big, immediate discernable difference, an improvement really, and it's a premise audio file included in the pre-game email.
This short but effective sound clip informs the players of an astronaut in trouble--his spaceship dysfunctional, his crewmates all dead, and he's the sole survivor--if he can escape and outlive the urgent ordeal that is! You play Mission Control, so guide him to his salvation that is the big red button... remember, his life is in your hands!
I was especially impressed by the audio file because it is all voiced by Russell the man himself. His voice's got some commendable acting chops, and I truly believe more of this dramatic flair should be featured in future publications. It adds even more personal flavor to his creation, and it's another step in the right direction.
Also included in the email is the PDF file with all the puzzle materials to be solved on game day. Locked away by a password, my team was only able to read its contents for the very first time once the clock started counting down. In the first minute, after a quick but careful examination, I discovered that though the PDF file had roughly the same amount of pages as the last one, there were only five total apparatus visible, sharply contrasting the padlocks galore with "Endgame". So obviously, something dissimilar was at play here.
Early on, I was sensing danger; time was slipping away, and I hadn't gotten the slightest idea on how to start. There were bits and pieces of information I was able to work through, but my partner and I never managed to arrive at the final conclusion to make any significant impact or progress. So I took a hint in exchange for a time point penalty (same points system from previous game remains), and it moved things along quite nicely! All it took was a little mental catalyst!
Once the first collection of brainteasers were completed, I was overcome with how much growth Russ has displayed in puzzle writing. Whereas his last title mostly stuck with a one puzzle to one lock convention, the solutions in "Airlock" all require a multi-step analysis approach. You start with Puzzle A, solve it, arriving at Solution A. Then you take Solution A, implement that information to the next (Puzzle B), and the process repeats. After 2 or 3 steps, THEN you'll arrive at a final conclusion that unlocks one of the tabletop machineries. It even culminated to become a little... meta in the end! ;)
Such a puzzle-solving journey takes longer, but it's less monotonous than opening many locks over and over, and it's most definitely more rewarding when you finally reach your destination--so I was living for it!
In addition, most puzzles contain elements that I either have not seen before, or have not seen enough, so the added challenge is extra satisfying. Finally, the "trick" the game design used to designate and signify which clues correspond to which puzzle box is quite clever in its simplicity, once again showcasing a maturation in puzzle writing.
My partner and I emerged victorious in our outer space rescue mission with roughly 13 minutes remaining, and even though we failed to reach the top 3 on the current leaderboard with 10 points, it was a blast.
Russell, man, how'd you get that awesome haircut during lockdown?
★ If you want the best score, it may be worth it to sacrifice some points for hints to quickly move things along.
★ However, points aren't everything. If you don't mind your ranking, 60 minutes is plenty of time to pace yourself with.
★ A huge hint was hidden in plain sight, visible when you first signed up... I barely noticed it now. Wow.
READY FOR FUN?
"Airlock" is available for booking HERE.
If you BOOK due to this blog, please give EscapeMattster.com a shout-out! ;)
ESCAPE MATTSTER 🙂
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