2019 was the year of the escape room. After completing my first while visiting Tim and Jake from Timlah’s Texts & Unity 3D Tech in Bristol, I’ve gone on to attempt six more. This won’t come as much of a surprise to most readers given that I’m a big fan of the adventure genre.
I’ve also started seeking out other experiences which give you that video-game feeling but don’t involve picking up a controller. A treasure hunt around London with Quitschisopholes from RNG in the summer twilight made for a lovely evening; and I’m in the middle of an escape-room-in-a-jigsaw-puzzle after kicking it off during our GameBlast20 streams in February. I also backed the crowdfunding project for Missing in Jericho by Crimibox last year and am eagerly awaiting my reward coming in April.
I was therefore pleased when I found out about the Kickstarter campaign for Key Enigma: Hack Forward after its creators began following Later Levels on Instagram last month. This escape-room-in-a-box is set to immerse players in a challenging experience ‘so carefully designed that it may be impossible to distinguish reality from fiction’. It was this which caused me to make a pledge before even watching the original video: who doesn’t want to be in their own real-life video game?
A physical box full of mysteries and enigmas will be sent to backers later this year. They must then use the materials, codes and clues hidden inside – along with their ingenuity – to match the objects to solve the case. As explained on the Kickstarter page, several types of puzzles will be set for us: for example, alongside traditional challenges such as working to reveal messages, there’ll also be digital puzzles where you’ll have to explore websites and even spy on security cameras.
Similar to physical escape rooms, you can choose to register your time after completing each chapter of you’re feeling competitive. That may be easier said than done however, because only a third of the 3,000 people who have tried out the demo have successfully finished it on time! Don’t worry about getting stuck in the full game though: you’ll be able to ask the characters in the story for clues and hints, so you’ll always be able to move forward in your mission to protect the security of the world.
Key Enigma are going to implement some interesting stretch goals if they’re able to smash their target of €28,500. The most ambitious is a global treasure hunt where everyone in the community will be invited to participate in one way or another. The quest will involve different cities around the world and the team say that even if your location isn’t included, you’ll be able to enjoy this interactive experience. The puzzles will be very complex and can only be solved through collaboration.
Sounds exciting, right? Sadly I have a feeling that the minimum pledge amount may put some potential backers off because it’s higher than many other Kickstarter projects in the gaming category. This isn’t just an escape room experience that lasts for an hour though. We can expect eight chapters in a story which will last over eight hours and, although it’s primarily a one-time thing, the game is resettable so you can see the different ramifications of the plot or lend the it to someone else.
The good news is that 632 backers have already given £30,728 to the campaign at the time of writing and there’s still a month to make a pledge. Check out Key Enigma’s website for more information, and give them a follow on Twitter to stay up-to-date on their progress.