⏲️ TIME LIMIT: 30, 45, And 60 Minutes, Respectively
💬 DIFFICULTY: Beginner, Intermediate, Expert (Official) | Very Easy to Medium (Mattster)
👨👩👧👦 CAPACITY: 1-8 Players
🔐 GAME TYPE:Private
💰 PRICING: £25 (GBP) For Bundle
► FORMAT & SPECIFICATIONS ◄
🖱️ DISTRIBUTION ROUTE: Online, By Purchase, Start Play Anytime
🎧 PRODUCT TYPE: Online Puzzle, Google Form Based
► PREMISE & OBJECTIVES ◄
Official Premise (from Not An Escape Room):
Crypt: You wake up deep in side a pyramid, in the dark. Solve the puzzles and get past the traps to escape! This beginner level map is perfect for those new to escape rooms, younger players or those who don’t want to work their brain too much!
Heist: Your team had planned for every eventuality, You had the plans, the codes, the firepower.. but at the last second the FBI worked out your plan and shut down the bank you had targeted for months! You need the money as soon as possible to stop them coming for you, so you find another bank, in a smaller town, and decide to go in blind, with no knowledge of it’s layout. You’re in, it’s midnight, the place is empty. Can your team complete this intermediate level escape room without alerting the authorities?
Enigma: You and your team of codebreakers must work together on this expert level map to crack a variety of codes and ciphers before it is too late. Use your collective knowledge and the clues you pick up from the various virtual rooms to break down firewalls and hack systems, and save the world.
GOOGLE FORM BASED START UP
Most online puzzle games I've played in the past are purely webpage based. I expect images, text, sometimes video clips, and of course, a password box at the very bottom for solution input. The approach is straightforward, and usually similar across many companies. Not An Escape Room defied the norm, and decided to take a different route: Google Form.
Google Form is usually used for surveys and questionnaires. Its being utilized into an escape game, or escape game adjacent challenges, is a first for me.
And why not? Google Form already came pre-formatted to look tidy and neat, so re-purposing it for online games seems somewhat clever--to the very least, one can safely assume, it will always come out looking clean and presentable without much additional effort.
CLEAN, MINIMALISTIC APPROACH
As far as accompanying graphics go, the game author took good care of the overall presentation, as one can tell easily across the three title "covers":
Though different fonts were chosen for the three games in the original bundle, color schemes remained simple, choosing only neighboring colors within the same family, nothing too flamboyant, and yet still pleasing to the eyes.
The 3 resulting end products complement each other, clear saying, "We're from the same brand." If anything, this was a decent way to grow your brand--consistency.
This approach seems to extend into the experience's core visuals as well. Images are curated to look unified and not overly flashy, which in itself are more fitting for the Google Form format.
level 1: crypt
This first production takes place in a burial ground complex in a desert. In "Crypt", You start off in the Queen's Chamber, and your main objective is collect broken pieces of map to ultimately find a way out. Not much frill here.
There are a couple of simple riddles or decoding challenge along the way, nothing that an escape room fanatic hasn't before. These are most suited for very green beginners.
Due to the surprisingly low number of actual puzzles, this felt more like a guided version of "choose your adventure" story. This story is linear, and with brute force of clearing out all possible options, you'll eventually find the exit.
This should take no more than 10 to 15 minutes to finish.
level 2: heist
"Heist" puts you in the shoe of a master burglar on his way to robbing the bank vault. It's a typical scenario in the escape room industry, and my favorite game of 3 overall.
The bank building is divided into 4 main sections, and player can systematically go over each one by one, clearing the associated main brainteaser embedded in each room, and ultimately arriving at the giant vault door.
The puzzles in this installment were the most logical within the bundle. Again, the total number of challenges provided was still too low for my taste, and left something more to be desired. On the bright side, though, these were at least well written and of decent quality.
It took me roughly 25 minutes to clean out the bank. Time for me to create a Scrooge McDuck pool! Whoo hoo!
A slight suggestion was made to connect a certain puzzle and its clues in a more intuitive manner, and I would be thrilled to see its being implemented one day.
level 3: enigma
Finally, the boss level, "Enigma"--what's a captured spy to do? Escape to avoid the enemy's imminent torture, of course.
This was a very polarizing experience for me, because on the one hand, as an escape game, it required an unacceptably large amount of outside knowledge to succeed. By convention, puzzles should be ideally solvable without any extraneous help. Given, Google search is never explicitly banned, and is indeed the intended route to solve these aforementioned problems.
On the other hand, after a brief discussion with the maker, I've come to the understanding that "Enigma" also serves to teach the players some interesting, otherwise little known facts in computer science, coding, and the likes. And since this actually relates back to the overarching spy universe and the plot line, I've begun to see this product's hidden appeal.
Funnily enough, upon replay (as I often will do for review purpose), I discover that had you possess enough outside knowledge, and was able to deduce the correct door code, you could've ended your mission within minutes. (Can you imagine?!)
The little Easter egg on the title banner was also cute.
A YOUNG DEVELOPER IN THE MAKING
If I was being 100% honest, the amount of contents prepared for each of these titles seems light in comparison to other similar products already on the market; correspondingly, when comparing value among competitors of similar price point, dollar to dollar, Not An Escape Room may lose the edge.
Nonetheless, business startups are rarely perfect, and rest assured, this has been brought to the maker's attention. This, along with other feedback, will be taken into consideration when our young game developer, Kelsie, continues crafting his future pieces.
In contrast to my usual escape room "experts" crowd, he may still have much more to explore and experiment. As he invests more time in his projects and gains more experience along the way, he will furthermore tap into his full potential. I wish him all the best and look forward to seeing vast improvements in the future.
I've actually done 4 total playthroughs for Not An Escape Room, with 3 of the 4 games (from the original bundle) covered in this review post.
These freshly published online adventures are a new online endeavor founded by a young man named Kelsie. He created them as fun alternatives to the usual video chat quizzes for his friends, and now, for an even broader audience. He also enjoys performing magic as a hobby.
If you enjoy his work, also explore "Breakout", a more developed creation themed after a prison breakout, with puzzles more in line with a typical escape room experience.
► DISCLAIMERS ◄
We at "Escape Mattster" appreciate this company's hospitality and the opportunity to publish an honest review. Though game access was complimentary, we aim to provide *only* genuine & unbiased opinions.
All official media are provided by or credited to respective contents owners, and are used with proper permission for the purpose of this post.