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Virtual Escaping - "The Saloon"

Updated: Apr 28


Photo above is property of Virtual Escaping


Company: Virtual Escaping

Game: The Saloon

Country: Netherlands 🇳🇱

Language: English, Dutch

Type of Game: Point-N-Click 🖱️

Genre: Detective, Western

Date Played: July 19, 2023

Difficulty (based on 4 players): 6.5/10

Size of Team: Up to 6 Devices

Time: 100 Mins. (Average time)

Price: $34.40/ team


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Welcome to the wild wild west. You and your posse have just settled in at the Saloon for a quiet night of drinking, gambling, and possibly some light gun slinging, when who should burst through those little swinging doors but Roscoe "Long shot" Conner. He immediately avails you of the fact that you are all now in great and inescapable danger, because right behind him chasing him is none other than the murderous and not-to-be-messed-with Bullet-Tooth Gang, who want him dead or alive for supposedly availing them of their precious loot. He reminds you that obviously you know that he's completely innocent, right?, and that you have an absolutely undeniable good cowboy moral imperative to help save him; but either way either you figure this out or you're dead too. We're in this together now! ha ha...Looking at his pitiable and scraggly face you don't know what to believe. You do know though that you now have but a short time to decide, as the gang which has you now surrounded without any chance of escape has just loudly proclaimed that if you don't deliver that cowardly varmint pronto along with the stolen loot, they are going to burn this here Saloon to this here ground. As you and your gang angrily turn to open a can of whoopass on Conner you suddenly realize that little rascal has vanished without a trace. If you guys are going to survive your only chance is to get to the bottom of his story. Find Conner, find the loot if it does exist, and get answers before it's too late.


Video above is property of Virtual Escaping


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"The Saloon" plays basically like a Telescape game, with all its virtues and vices. In this case you move around the saloon from shot to shot within your first person perspective, observing the objects before you, solving puzzles, entering lock codes, collecting items, possibly manipulating them. It handles quite well and is easy to get into. All in all it is a simulation which aspires to feel like a classic escape room, except online; though I feel like it's closer to a video game like Myst, with its strange logic and esoteric puzzles. There's also a handy dandy in-game video chat function, which helps make the experience of playing with others work pretty seamlessly. And teamwork is to be encouraged, I highly recommend you play this with other people. The game is fairly linear and gated, which is good because this helps limit the range of objects that are relevant to solving the puzzle and makes the whole process a lot more focused. In practice the game is less exploratory, because it isn't really set up for that, more a matter of pondering on just what this puzzle - which is often some kind of numeric lock or numbered sequence - is referring to, and how you can discern the answer from the objects presented to you. In that way it feels alot like your good old classic escape room, along with its good old esoteric puzzles. They are varied, and in one sense quite clever, but I warn you, there is a certain frustration involved in these types of puzzles. It's not about realism, it's about identifying the quirky logic which is cleverly - and this is debatable - embedded in the scene. In terms of the visuals are pretty clear and uncluttered, and the aesthetic is on theme. Overall it resembles something like out of a video game. The story really isn't that important but as the world expands you will need to keep track of developments. The hint system is, mercifully, ready at hand and helpful without giving everything away.


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There's a good variety of puzzles, some locks, some other classic escape room puzzle formats that you've probably seen before. I can't really fault the puzzles since they are in that classic escape room veine, but their cleverness verges on the absurd. They are approaching that design wherein the creators try and come up with the most abstract, esoteric, and external of logics, you know the ones, where the answer to the lock is the number of lit candles plus the studs on the saloon door minus the number of windows that the sun is directly shining through...which admittedly is not always my favorite. That being said the more you play the more you get attuned to it, and in fact you start to get an appetite and an intuition for them. At first this gave me a sense of ennui, but the more I solved them the less they irked me, and the more I started to like the way they challenged me. It's just that in terms of puzzles that impress me, I prefer those which develop organically out of the story or out of an experience of the reality, as opposed to those which concoct some kind of random connection between puzzle and objects which we are supposed to guess at. Not to mention that the translating of the puzzle and its clues into the final answer often requires the mediation of another assumption which is equally ambiguous, and can make it all the more frustrating. But this is not uncommon at all in escape rooms and in tabletop games, it's just a bit passe in my books. I feel like their cleverness - and thus the genuine novelty of their challenge - is a bit of con, being as abstract as it is, and deriving from out of an external logic as opposed to originating from out of the nature of the reality of the game itself.

Photos above are property of Virtual Escaping


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Overall, on its own the game is fairly standard fair, so I recommend that if you do play you play with other people, because the majority of the fun is going to be working together through what you might find to be clever/hair brained solutions. On the other hand for those familiar with these kinds of puzzles it will not appear one bit strange, and in fact might be right up your alley. You're going to be generating a lot of possible ideas and slowly working through them. Its great fun, and a great cathartic exercise in testing each other's patience and sanity, working together and trying to make sense of the puzzles in all their logical chaos and absurdity. I will admit that by the end I conceded to recognizing more methods than madness in the puzzles and their constructions. They won me over, and I think they will win you over too. So listen here partner, round up your posse, get yourself a game, and get ready to think outside the barn on this one, you'll have one hootin hell of a time.

 

(If you do decide to try this game, please remember to let them know that you heard it from"ESCAPETHEROOMers"!)


Disclosure: We thank Virtual Escaping for providing us with a sample of the game. Although complimentary experience was generously provided, it does not impact our opinion on the review whatsoever.


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