This review was originally created in May 2018 for HTC, targeted to their Vive/Vive Pro (VIVEPORT). It is reproduced here without alteration.
Escape rooms, or escape games, are physical adventure games where a team of players solves a series of puzzles using clues and strategy. If the players don’t solve all the puzzles and escape the themed room in the given time, they lose. These days, this type of experience is typically played at a retail location, but Escape!VR -Above the Clouds-, brings an amped up version of that experience to a single player in the comfort of their own home through the power of virtual reality.
Developed by five person team, Sourcenity GmbH, Escape!VR -Above the Clouds-, is their second creation after Escape!VR -The Basement-. Their experience in this area really shows. Beyond moving the environment from the confines of a basement to a mile-high penthouse, the team further upped the ante by creating a larger play space of 800 square meters, 250 interactive items across three different major areas, more than a dozen logic puzzles, and even a built-in hint system. The latter in particular is a nice touch for this type of game, because one person’s logical puzzle might be another person’s nightmare, helping negate the possibility of getting irreparably stuck or having to hope you find the needed hints on the Internet. With that said, as with any good escape room, none of the puzzles should prove particularly insidious given enough time and thought.
As you might expect, Escape!VR -Above the Clouds-, requires you to be standing within a room-scale setup. Control is through both Vive motion controllers. Each controller represents one of your hands, which you use to manipulate various objects as you try and escape from the locked penthouse. An object with a green glow represents something that can be taken or interacted with, while an object with a red glow represents something that may be usable in the future or with another object.
The sheer number of interactive objects is impressive, with the clever hook that levels of the penthouse itself are still under construction, creating some unexpected situations and a great excuse both for the puzzles and their solutions. You can have quite a bit of fun in this type of environment just manipulating many of these objects in interesting ways. Of course, playing with these objects in this manner can also help to solve some of the more challenging puzzles. It’s important to keep in mind that the game doesn’t always take itself particularly seriously, and neither should you.
Visually, the game is appealing, with its realistic graphics really helping to set the scene. Audio is a bit sparse, but features effective, lifelike sound effects for many of the objects you interact with. As yet another example of the care put into the game’s production, audio even plays a part in some of the solutions to the puzzles.
Escape!VR -Above the Clouds-, proves a more robust experience than you typically get with this type of puzzle-based game. While there’s minimal replay value since the solutions are always the same, this is not an experience you’ll be able to blow through in a few minutes. Although you start out in a locked closet as a controlled way of learning how to work within the game’s environment, as soon as you escape that modest challenge, you’re presented with multiple floors of interactive wonder.
For less than the cost of a typical escape room visit, you can play through a more involved and personalized adventure. And when you finally escape the penthouse and launch yourself to safety, you’ll definitely have a real sense of accomplishment. Escape!VR -Above the Clouds-, sets a high bar for how future escape rooms should both be presented and work in virtual reality.
Score: 5 out of 5 stars.
Escape!VR -Above the Clouds- is available on Viveport or with a Viveport Subscription.