OFFICIAL INFO FROM COMPANY:
🗺️ Based In Nottingham, England, UK
⏲️ 60 Minutes • 💪 N/A • 🔢 Up To 5 Connections (Private Booking)
Strange machinery breathes in the stillness of the laboratory. Bubbles rise in a mysterious green liquid. Cogs tick. Gears clank. And in the air, the unmistakable sound of fear... As your breathing stills, and your pulse slows to normal, you take a look around. What happened here? It looks like the previous occupant of the room has left in a gg hurry. But why? Your eyes grow used to the dusty light, and you begin to make out the discarded pieces of arcane mechanisms. There has to be a pattern, a code, something to show you the way out.
THIS IS CLASSIFIED AS...
YOU'LL ENJOY THIS, IF YOU...
▪ ...Are an aspiring new escape artist looking for an exciting science-flavored adventure that isn't too puzzle-heavy.
▪ ...Prefer an escape room that is physical tasks driven, requiring searches, completing actions, and the likes.
▪ ...Value production value, especially that of a stunning and convincing machines-laden workshop.
GREAT! ANY ADVICE OR TIPS?
🧐 Based on my team of 3, the difficulty subjectively felt like a 6 to 7/10, though much of it derived from time squandered, courtesy of red herring abound. Had they not existed, the game should play smoothly like a 4 to 5/10.
🔢 With the reasoning above, I would recommend a team of 3 to 4.
MY BODY IS READY! NOW WHAT?
🛒 TO BOOK, CLICK HERE!
▪ For remote experience, watch out for potential time & date difference due to varying time zones.
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Contraption from Escapologic Nottingham
▪ Escapologic is a United Kingdom escape room company with two branches located in Nottingham and Leicester. With a grand total of 12 on-site offerings, there are options galore for visitors, though most themes lean on the side of thrills.
▪ Two of Nottingham's rooms, Contraption and Heistakes, have recently received the online virtual conversion treatments, and are now available for remote play on a global scale. (A huge huzzah for an American resident like me!) I've played both compelling escape games back-to-back on the same day, and this review will focus on Contraption (or stylized as "Con-trap-tion"): a sci-fi, sorta steampunk (think cogs and gears) inspired, "escape or else" adventure.
▪ Contraption is Nottingham's very first room, and man, has it aged like a fine wine. Contraption still looks amazing despite its tenure. When I saw the room for the first time, and the words "holy moly!" involuntarily escaped my mouth!
▪ The setting, a mad scientist's lab of sort, contains strange machineries all around. Pipes, gears, water tanks. The strange metal contraptions elicit fear at first a la Saw franchise, though a closer inspection reveals no torture devices, shifting the overall ambiance to one of cautious curiosity. A beautiful and perfectly fitting stage for the tale of an eccentric inventor.
▪ Speaking of which, this inventor is the reason why you're here. The entire environment is the work of Professor Miirtz. As you progress, you'll learn more about Miirtz: the highs and lows of his life, the happy and sad times of his past. The surprisingly detailed and intriguing narrative adds a layer of complexity that enriches the game as a whole.
▪ The plot is told through text reading in the live version, but augmented by an audible narration from Miirtz in the remote rendition (via multimedia features of Telescape inventory, which is equally gorgeously produced). Consequentially, plot exposition is a surprisingly pleasant and enjoyable element of the experience.
Be prepared to enter "The Workshop", the brainchild of Professor Miirtz
SEARCH VS PUZZLES
▪ Contraption is more of an immersive experience that evokes emotions than a hardcore, mind-boggling puzzle game.
▪ My session is search-heavy in the beginning, with (too) much of the time spent in the discovery stage. As we gradually identify key items, game direction becomes more linear. One thing will unequivocally lead us to another. Eventually, during the final minutes, more intricate puzzles culminate to a nerve-racking showdown. I am sweating bullets in the end!
▪ Majority of the challenge lies within thorough exploration and examination; the resultant discoveries usually demand little thinking. (For instance, find keys for padlocks, or place props at the right locations.) Less experienced users may find this approach intuitive, therefore Contraption is a beginners-friendly gateway choice to the world of escape rooms.
▪ More traditional puzzles are still interspersed throughout, and when these conundrums do appear, they are pretty fun. Examples include symbol ciphers, codeword scramble (Unexpectedly tough! Me likey!), and pattern matching. As a veteran escape gamer, however, I really just wish there's more of these, supplied more constantly and steadily throughout.
PACING & THE CRIMSON FISH
▪ The reimagined online reincarnation has some unintended pacing issue due to the search-heavy design in the original framework. To elaborate, scavenger-hunting is a task best performed by a small group, fanning out, but in an avatar-led remote play, we have but one body to cover the entire ground, hence this is naturally more time-consuming.
▪ While I appreciate my avatar's giving me complete control over his every movement, thereby emulating an authentic first-time inspection of the workshop, it was perhaps just not efficient enough within the 60-minute time constraint. I kindly suggest that the avatar move faster, or be more assertive in redirection when players go off-course for too long.
▪ Alternatively, removal of red herring would do wonders. These red herring objects, omnipresent from start to end, would pile up on our work table, and we would attempt on multiple occasions (and therefore waste time) to piece together these scraps of seemingly significant "building blocks" into something of essence, or at least, something that makes sense.
▪ In the end, they turn out to be nothing but atmospheric decor and pesky culprits guilty of multiple counts of time wastage! With their absence, and therefore with our minds freed from such distractions and our time saved, I imagine we would've preferred solving the last few puzzles calmly, at our own pace, and without requesting for hints.
That sure is some long and windy pipework! I wonder what it does?
▪ While I am certainly in no place to dictate how designers should run their game, as a consumer, I do particularly find anything detrimental to a group's fair potential to escape in time to be something of annoyance. Thankfully, fine-tuning is all it takes to correct issues arisen, and the strengths (production, story, staff) would easily overshadow any weaknesses.
▪ Contraption remains to be a great asset under the Escapologic brand, especially when its online edition is such an elegantly-converted delight. A lot of obvious behind-the-scene work has gone into the preparation before release, and it comes running right out the gate. I look forward to seeing more awesome conversion titles from this company.
▪ Full disclosure: complimentary game access was generously provided for review or testing purposes.
▪ All media are sourced from and credited to rightful contents owners. No copyright infringement intended.
▪ In certain cases, media materials are made available under fair use doctrine of copyright law.
▪ Unique search code: ENContraption.