For many of us, celebrating the holidays isn’t the same this year. Gatherings with family and friends are extremely limited or not happening at all for a lot of us, and with that the options to tell each other stories and play games together have also been greatly reduced. If you’re a little tech-savvy, however, then perhaps an online escape room can provide a nice alternative this season. We tested out “B.R.U.C.E. Saves Christmas” from Bewilder Box, a UK-based team that also offers physical escape rooms next to their online ones.
As the title suggests, B.R.U.C.E. Saves Christmas is a special version of the traditional (online) escape room format that centers around the current festive period. The plot, told through voiceovers as well as video clips with live actors, revolves around a masked villain who has kidnapped Santa – and it’s up to you (and your teammates) to identify the kidnapper, free Santa and save Christmas.
The game itself takes place inside a browser (Chrome is recommended), and because of its requirements it doesn’t work on a phone or tablet. Once the game loads and you get past the intro sequence, you’re inside a room where you need to complete a series of puzzles in order to receive clues about the identity of the villain – which then allows you to eliminate suspects and move to the next in-game environment. While the first one is a single room, the others let you go into adjacent rooms or pan across the scene as well. Solving the game is scheduled to take a team between 60 and 90 minutes, and our playthrough of about 75 minutes fit right into that estimate.
Teams consist of 2 to 6 players, who all connect with each other through a phone and/or video solution prior to starting the game. You’re free to use Zoom, Facebook, Skype or even just a phone line – whatever lets you communicate with each other. Obviously, during this festive period, seeing each other before and while playing is a big plus, and we regularly saw others walk up and try to help with a particular puzzle as well.
Some puzzles are designed as team efforts and can’t be solved solo, which (for example) happens when you find hints about how to solve a puzzle that you can interact with. While you try to solve the puzzle or perform a particular action, another player has to talk you through it. And even though some players will naturally go ahead and try to solve the mystery on their own as soon as the game loads, conundrums like these are well designed to make sure it becomes a team effort – which also heightens the shared excitement when you move ahead.
With plenty of elves, bells and holiday-themed scenery and puzzles, the Christmas spirit is strong with this one, and even though Christmas day will not be spent with a large family gathering this year playing B.R.U.C.E. Saves Christmas has certainly provided us with a nice shared memory with people we’ll miss this season. We played a game with players located on opposite ends of the world, so if you’d like to connect with some of the people dear to you over a fun escape room scenario then give this one a look at https://bewilderbox.co.uk/onlineescaperooms – you won’t regret it.