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Game 7: Publish Or Perish (Bobblehead Edition) • Paruzal Games • Audio-Led Escape Game Review


Game Website | Company Website | Based In: Denver, CO, USA



OFFICIAL SPEC

🕹️ Stay At Home Games » Host Led Experience » Audio-Led Escape Game

💪 Difficulty: Not specified.

⏲️ Time duration: 1 hour and 15 minutes limit. (Should take about 60 minutes.)

🔢 Capacity: Booking page allows 1 to 20 players, but each individual game allows up to 8. Should be private booking.

📝 Experience requires Zoom, or more. Check for details.

📝 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! ;)


TL;DR... THE QUICK VERSION

➲ Premise: Must regain entry to your own office to submit a paper due soon.

➲ An audio-led escape game based heavily on good quality, complex gen-1 puzzles.

➲ Narrative is straightforward, very situational and reality based, with little frills.

➲ Multi-layered and satisfying puzzles, need several connections made to solve. Not ideal for beginners.

➲ Graphics are so-so in quality but plentiful, game host takes a by-the-book approach.

➲ Not very creativity-focused, therefore most fitting for pure puzzle fanatics or experienced players.

𝙀𝙎𝘾𝘼𝙋𝙀 𝙈𝘼𝙏𝙏𝙎𝙏𝙀𝙍 😶 subjective rating: 💪 5/10 difficulty (team of 3), 🔢 ideal team size of 3 to 5.




OFFICIAL PREMISE

In this online escape room, you’ve been locked out of your own office! Oh no! Solve puzzles to build a bobblehead to unlock your office and publish the academic paper that will earn you accolades and a huge promotion. (This game was custom-built in for some true bobblehead fans at Santa Clara University School of Law, High Tech Law Institute.)



Teammates The Haunt Girl, David, and I are ready to EXPLORE.


THE UNABRIDGED EDITION


Audio-led escape games are truly booming during a great year of Zoom-based gaming. If you're unfamiliar with the concept of an audio-led adventure, think Dungeons & Dragons meets escape room puzzles.


Paruzal Games is probably the fourth or fifth audio-led options dominant company I have had the privilege to review. Having sampled more than a handful of titles from different makers, I gotta say, even within this sub-class of escape rooms, style varies across a wide spectrum. Some stick with tried-and-true gen-1 puzzles (like unlocking combo locks), while others go the other extreme and employ entirely imagination-based scenarios where solutions could be impossibilities in real life (such as climbing up a dinosaur). (Yes, that did happen!)


"Publish Or Perish (Bobblehead Edition)" lands quite squarely in the first category. This sort of makes sense, since this game was originally custom-built for some true bobblehead fans at Santa Clara University School of Law. Deigned for the brainy types, it would explain both the density and the complexity of the puzzles--they can certainly handle the difficulty.


This may also potentially explain the premise: a race against the deadline to submit a dissertation of sort, certainly a nightmare for any professional students. In fact, as the story unfolds, there really isn't much happening virtually onscreen that isn't possible in real life. Much of the contents is sturdily grounded in reality; while not the most creative, it certainly appeals to those who prefer a dose of relatability to their real-life careers (and passion for bobbleheads, incidentally.)



There isn't much smoke and mirrors with "Publish"; objectives are straightforward and clear. You're locked out of your office, which houses the computer that contains your academic paper, yet to be submitted. You must gain entry to neighboring Room 103, ransack the space, and hopefully recover a key (or something) to return back in your office to complete the submission. Along the way are puzzles galore, with multiple starting points offering nonlinear game play.


While technically true that you will only spend your entire session within Room 103, there is plenty to unpack, with contents that can easily occupy a team of seasoned escape room players for around one hour. As to beginners, you better keep on eye on the clock and move at a good pace. This will be fun, but it won't be a breeze.


As mentioned, this is a heavily generation-1 puzzle room, meaning this is an absolute game of wits. Solving for padlock combos, finding metal keys, cracking passwords and number pad codes will be the bulk of your mission.


However, a great majority of such puzzles are not as mind-numbingly trite as "reading the first letter of each line", for instance. The greatest beauty of "Publish" is its constant demand for players to connect the dots. Many scattered dots. Simply discovering a single piece of clue rarely does the trick; instead, having the acuity to combine 2 to 3 pieces of interrelated info is the true test. These often multi-layered puzzles baffled me for more than a couple of occasions!


The journey is time-consuming with many potential roadblocks one can possibly get stuck on. Nonetheless, with a tad of teamwork, and much, much mental effort invested in reaching the final conclusion, it often feels extra rewarding when a conundrum is conquered. There is certainly no shortage of brow-furrowing and "ah-ha!" outbursts.



Production-wise, the artwork featured isn't the best that I've seen, but it isn't bad. They wouldn't blow your mind, per se, but they did take the time and care to produce an upwards of 20 to 30 still images to always give you a clear visualization of what's happening audibly. In addition, Paruzal Games is the only company that I've seen thus far that would juxtapose related clues, side by side, for the participants once they themselves make the pertinent connection. Having everything necessary in one slide without flipping back and forth is both convenient, helpful, and thoughtful.


My game master is an experienced Dungeons and Dragons host, so he leads with great confidence. His narration style isn't particularly engaging or animated, but he's able to command focus, and describe ideas with unambiguous clarity. His more matter-of-fact approach inherently lends the spotlight on the puzzles themselves, which undoubtedly are the stars.


"Publish" is a title most suited for those who value systematic, critical thinking than letting their imaginations run amok. If you're looking for an audio-led escape game that sends you on an epic, crazy quest of time traveling, this may not be it. But if you're looking for a barometer to measure your puzzle mastery, this is a delightful candidate.


And oh, look, the bobbleheads are nodding yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes... rapidly in agreement.




EXTRA TIPS

★ Pen, paper, and actual note taking seems necessary, or at least most time-efficient, for at least 1 puzzle.

★ Never discount a potential solution just because it sounds too long. (A closed mind, in fact, was my downfall.)


READY FOR FUN?

"Game 7: Publish Or Perish (Bobblehead Edition)" is available for booking HERE.

If you BOOK due to this blog, please give EscapeMattster.com a shout-out! ;)



Signing off,

𝙀𝙎𝘾𝘼𝙋𝙀 𝙈𝘼𝙏𝙏𝙎𝙏𝙀𝙍 😶

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FOOTNOTES

⤻ Full disclosure: Complimentary game access was generously provided for review purposes.

⤻ All media credited to and provided by contents owners. No copyright infringement intended.

⤻ Speed code for on-site search: PGPublish

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