Types of Virtual Escape Rooms

In many ways, we have to thank the pandemic for the explosion of the virtual escape room businesses. With social distancing in place, the bricks-and-mortar escape room is no longer a viable business model. So it has been a simple case of change, or go out of business completely. What's interesting is just how successfully the escape room scenario has translated to the virtual world. And as a game, it still remains a total blast.

A quick search on the internet will bring up any number of different types of virtual and online escape room games. There are so many options, that we thought we should place them into four-man groups. That'll help you if you need to decide the type of game you're after. Beware that there are some outliers, like virtual games for single players and games with a very high level of skill.

The Four Main Virtual Escape Room Categories

1. Point-And-Click Escape Games

A real step back in time. To a time before escape room games as we know them. The nostalgia factor is through the roof with this type of game. Harking back to the very inspiration before any bricks-and-mortar escape rooms came about. In a point-and-click game, you still have to escape the room. Essentially you're dragging a point-of-view camera around a room whilst looking for clues. Just as with a modern game, you'll still need to solve riddles and puzzles that will lead to combination locks. The only down-side with point-and-click games is that they're mainly designed for just a single player. Also, this was back before anyone thought it might be a good idea to introduce any form of a time limit. Also, there's no guide to help you should you get stuck. You can find many of these games from the App store or many other websites.

2. Audio/Narrated Escape Rooms

We guess the closest comparison to something you might know would be a choose-your-own-adventure, but produced as a radio show. A Game Guide will introduce the background story and the players make their way through the game by asking questions and collecting puzzles and clues. The game will provide maps, notes, and some illustrations. We suggest that you have a notepad handy for any spoken puzzles that you might forget later on in the game. These virtual games are normally for between 2 - 8 people and are also team games. Most people host these games over Zoom or Discord or any conference app.

3. Live-Camera Escape Rooms

Since Covid -19, these types of games have taken off out of necessity. With escape room premises forced to close, there was no other option if you wanted to save your business. In live avatar online escape room games, the players can follow the game master as he makes his way around a real escape room. He's wearing a camera and earpiece and he will simply follow your instructions. You can see what he sees via his camera. The game is also a team game and is played over Zoom or any other conferencing app. 

Though the idea might sound clunky, we suppose the best comparison would be with playing a console game. The game master does a remarkable job of being your eyes and ears. Many games will come with a well-designed theme which helps with the game-play by keeping stock of your inventory and marking your progress. There will be a 360-degree view of the room at hand. This is great for virtual team building, a birthday or any time a group of people wants to get together and have fun. And as a means of bringing together friends during these strange days of Covid, it's practically unbeatable.

4. Online Mystery Games

Though we still class these as a type of escape room game, they are pretty far removed from the idea of a traditional escape room game. In many ways, these are like an online version of a whodunnit. Each player will normally assume the role of a character in an adventure. The clues or "evidence" come in the form of a downloadable dossier that is also a key to being able to advance through the game. These games are often centered around a crime, with the various players acting as detectives in their hunt for clues that might help solve the case. There's no time limit and as a player, you can save your progress and come back to continue where you left off at a later date.

You'll be presented with a dashboard that shows all the important constituents including the clues solved and videos of puzzles that lie up ahead. On the whole, these games tend to be single-player only. Having said that, we have seen some versions recently where several players can enjoy the game together. 

As with all the above types of games, we expect to see many evolve as time goes by. The escape room genre is always on the lookout for new and exciting ideas to try out. And though Covid has been the main catalyst of change, we don't see escape room owners slowing down any time soon.