The Oculus-exclusive Flow Weaver from Silverstring Media and Stitch Media is out now, and is the latest take on the escape room genre in VR. With a genre that seems perfect for VR, we couldn’t wait to give it a go – we tried it on a Quest 2, but it’s also compatible with the original Quest as well as the Rift.
The Oculus Quest in particular seems like it would be a great candidate for a virtual reality escape room – with its ability to use VR to transport you to amazing locations and the lack of a wire letting you freely explore said location while piecing together a mystery. Having said that, it’s also an area where we haven’t really seen the killer app yet – even though The Room: A Dark Matter was a great take on it.
Flow Weaver doesn’t feature a dark and mysterious setting but rather chooses the realm of fantasy and magic to unfold its mysteries. Obviously this opens the door to motion controlled spellcasting as well, and magically being transported from one location to the next also sort of makes sense from that perspective – thus opening up new possibilities rather than staying confined to a single room.
The game starts out in a relatively familiar fashion though – with you as the player stuck inside a room. You quickly find out that you have the ability, as a Flow Weaver, to shift the room between the various realities in which it exists – all of which look and “function” in different ways. This is a great way to incorporate multiple locations in a game genre usually bound to a single spot, but you don’t get to explore these locations as much as you’d like.
The reason for this is that Flow Weaver is a seated experience where you’re bound to a chair (through, of course, magical means). And while additional spells and powers let you interact with the things in your environment, I couldn’t help but shake the feeling that I wanted to be moving around, picking things up, turning them over for clues and getting tactile feedback from the world around me.
I’m not saying that there’s none of that, because you’ll still assemble and operate things like a machine with missing parts, and the ability to wield of magic is also put to great effect – especially when you start realizing that some of your actions can influence the room around you even across the different dimensions – in a way reminding me of recursive titles like Maquette or A Fisherman’s Tale. Considering the confines of the setup, Flow Weaver delivers a good amount of interactivity.
Visually, this is an impressive title on the Quest 2 – perhaps in part because the game keeps you grounded in a fixed place. Combined with decent voice acting and ditto sound effects, Flow Weaver casts a convincing environment around you in which the dimension-shifting effects work really well through the wonders of VR.
Once you’ve figured out the game’s puzzles (which can be needlessly obtuse), you can speed through the content in about an hour, so Flow Weaver is definitely on the short side and some of the padding during your first playthrough won’t just be trying to solve puzzles but actually trying to figure out what to do next and what you’re not doing. In that sense, it doesn’t capture the dynamic of a physical escape room where you always know you have a few things you could be working on and one solution will help you with the next one. Here, too many of the puzzles feel like they cause frustration or a sense of being lost. The narrative and setting are definitely entertaining, so it’s a shame that the actual core of the escape room concept isn’t as refined as it could have been. I had fun solving it, but wouldn’t outright recommend it to someone over a more polished experience like The Room.