You know what you’re getting with an escape room style experience, lots of puzzles, brain taxing moments and a nice little dose of frustration as you get stuck – on something usually glaringly obvious. And that’s exactly what you get with Evilport’s Escape Room VR: Stories, just with a little more narrative and twists thrown in for good measure.
There are three ‘Rooms’ to complete in Escape Room VR: Stories, and whilst that doesn’t sound like quite a lot there’s a reasonable amount of content to play. You can choose any of them to start with but Evilport does include an overarching storyline between the three, played out in gorgeous graphic novel cut scenes so it’s best to start out with the Dirty Money level first.
Puzzles generally consist of you needing to keep a keen eye on your surroundings as plenty do require ‘find this’ to ‘open this’. Thankfully there are a few difficult ones to solve but not enough that completing the areas becomes an impossible task. What can become a bit of an immersion breaker whilst uncovering clues is the grabbing system, picking up items isn’t 100 percent accurate sometimes requiring repositioning, plus your hands disappear. Whilst this may not seem important, it can factor in when the time is ticking down.
That’s because each area only gives you 30 minutes to solve the clues and complete the level. Should the timer runout then it’s back to the menu to start all over again, so a good memory can come in handy to get through the earlier puzzles. The system is a bit of a mixed bag, rarely seen on escape room titles the added pressure of time certainly ramps up the challenge, yet cutting you down when so close to the end.
What really lets down Escape Room VR: Stories is its movement system. Evilport has created some amazing looking environments – Dirty Money for example looks almost photo realistic – but moving around them feels cumbersome and awkward. There are no locomotion options whatsoever, it’s purely teleport mixed in with roomscale, yet this isn’t fluid as you can’t grab items at distance. Actually having to bend down and directly interact with items is fine, but the teleport will only allow you to get so close and if you’re too close to a wall or other real world object, realigning yourself can be a right faff. Not having the choice to wander around using smooth locomotion seems a grave error as it tends to be more common place nowadays.
The difficulty for any puzzle experience is how to handle the replay factor, once you’ve played through and solved everything what’s there to come back to. Well Escape Room VR: Stories handles that in several ways, firstly each level has three different endings depending on how many secrets were found, plus there’s a star rating system for how well the stage was completed – whether you managed it in 5 minutes or 29 minutes.
There’s plenty to like in Escape Room VR: Stories, with lots to find and a reasonable amount of puzzles to solve in each level, and the visuals are some of the best you’ll see in any virtual reality (VR) title. There are some rough edges however, and even with the multiple endings puzzle fans will still find this a short experience. Find Escape Room VR: Stories in a Steam sale and it’s certainly worth a consideration.