The Haunted Theatre (Virtual) • Escape Room LA • Host-Assisted Point & Click Escape Room Review
Game Website | Company Website | Based In: Los Angeles, CA, USA
💪 Difficulty: 8/10.
⏲️ Time duration: 60 minutes limit.
🔢 Capacity: 4-10 players. Private booking.
💬 Hints: The game master monitoring may give hints when requested. (Otherwise, they are a silent overseer.)
📝 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): 5/10 (team of 4). Difficulty is mainly due to the relatively short time limit.
🔢 Ideal team size: 4 to 5 sounds about right. Keep in mind, though, that group coordination is essential.
You’ll explore the backstage and dressing rooms of an old haunted theatre in a quest to free the theatre’s ghost before the next performance begins – or be trapped inside forever! Solve challenging puzzles and clues as you explore The Haunted Theatre – a large, intricate game that will give all members of your group plenty to do.
"The Haunted Theatre" (spelled with -tre because it's classy) is one of the two newly available 360° virtual experiences from Escape Room LA, and they are both just absolute treats in the genre of online escape rooms.
What makes both titles work so well as at-home entertainment is just how closely they imitate an actual escape room experience, albeit operated completely within your internet browser. I've already gone into extreme specifics how virtual experiences compare and contrast with an in-person game, in the Atlantis review post; please refer to details there.
Instead, I am going to concentrate on features mostly exclusively to "Theatre", starting off with its story: the show must go on in the titular theatre, but a ghostly presence is sure to interfere a flawless performance. Free the trapped spirit backstage, so both the living and the dead can move on with their night. It's Shakespearean Ghosthunter, essentially.
I don't think the plot is especially novel, though the setting of a local theatre does make for an uncommon location for an escape quest. It isn't every day that I see drama masks, play posters, fancy costumes, script pages, and stage rigging ropes in general, and to know there are hidden puzzles in them waiting for me to solve already gets me full of anticipation.
Production value is fairly impressive. Not super extravagant like Atlantis, but a believable representation of its subjects grounded in realism. Great choices on gray brick wall, aged wooden pillars and crates, and old-timey dressing table. It's got just the right amount of wear-and-tear and dread to reflect a dated building haunted by an unrelenting apparition.
Short video clips make a return (discussed here), and these were filmed in low lighting and scored by unsettling, creepy music. There are also several unexpected instances where players can trigger paranormal, maniacal laughter that's anything but comforting. Escape Room LA may say this isn't a horror-themed room, but it isn't totally devoid of scares, either--and who doesn't love a well-produced, immersive creepy online experience?
Because it makes good sense given the setting, a lot of padlocks are incorporated into the game play. There are a few automated exceptions, but for the most part, this is a gen-1 puzzle fest. Expect to rummage through well-themed, cleverly-written, and all-around fun drama clues, and find keys and combos (numbers, letters, directions) to advance.
Gen-1 challenges tend to work extremely well in an online setting, and "Theatre" is a prime example. All the locks are actually presented onscreen, and you'd manually unlock them like in real life. For instance, if the solution is 2314, you won't type in 2314 anywhere. You will go to the lock, rotate the wheels to 2314, and undo the lock with sound effects. This certainly gives my team much satisfaction, very close to what we would otherwise gain from an on-site session.
The Telescape-powered interface enables all of my teammates to move about the panoramic map independently, so we were able to concurrently work on different puzzles at the same time. There are also many instances when we yelled out to each other over Zoom, with one of us providing the clue and/or combo code, and the another one actually undoing the padlock. Not only does this save time, it also imitates so perfectly the authenticity of an actual escape room.
In this sense, the lack of avatar is actually an advantage. From start to finish, this is your game and no one else's. No one is doing anything on your behalf--you do all the work, you solve all the puzzles, and you ultimately get all the glory and contentment at your own pace. (Frustrated with a slow avatar? Won't happen here!)
Though I have not done the in-person version, "Theatre" seems to use the same puzzles found in the original with little modifications. I suspect at least 1 activity has been nixed, but there's still plenty to do. The 60-minute time limit will be barely enough to complete them all. While this is an extremely good value for your money, do work smart and fast!
Furthermore, since a lot can happen simultaneously on Telescape, remember to effectively communicate so the entire team can stay on the same page. I actually missed a good chunk of inventory items and some puzzles because other members were working at lightning speed; so if there's a downside, this would be one.
After a climatic spirit-releasing ritual, which was translated and executed surprisingly well even through a Telescape/Zoom platform, "The Haunted Theatre" found its peace, and we found it to be a clear award-worthy winner.
There's no question that the game maker meant for this experience to be enjoyed to its fullest potential live in person, but this 360° virtual experience stands so exceptional well in its own right that, I honestly feel like this turned out just as lovely. Standing ovation from 4 delighted audience.
★ The game lagged BIG TIME on a slow desktop while running in Chrome. DO NOT use Chrome. (Firefox has no problem.)
★ Always check your inventory, especially when you get stuck. Items used will disappear, while items unused will remain.
READY FOR FUN?
"The Haunted Theatre" is available for booking HERE.
If you BOOK due to this blog, please give EscapeMattster.com a shout-out! ;)
ESCAPE MATTSTER 😍
⤻ 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: ERLATheatre360