“Watch The Cell”, I repeated to my teammates innumerable times in the weeks leading up to our time in Mind Horror. No-one listened as is usually the case but I had a good reason for mentioning it. You definitely do not need to have seen the film to play Mind Horror but it is basically the game of that movie in everything but name.
Basic plot is that there’s an unconscious killer holding vital information that law enforcement services need. The way to extract that info? Step into the killer’s mind via the wonders of modern technology! So yeah, the temptation to call this The Cell: The Game is extremely compelling!
Anyway, Omescape are an escape room venue with three ‘real’ escape games that we’ll surely cover over the coming months and this is their first ‘virtual’ offering. It shouldn’t have surprised us at all but the room you play in is incredibly sparse, just 6 comfy chairs with the PC and headset sitting beside each seat. I was slightly disappointed to learn that this game uses the HTC Vive yet doesn’t utilise the room-scale capability that the Vive’s tech allows. In short, the Vive is the most sophisticated of the commercially available VR tech out there in that it allows you to fully walk around in the virtual space. PSVR for example doesn’t have this functionality, limiting you to sitting in one place and moving via in-game controls. To be using the Vive but not exploiting its potential felt like a missed opportunity but maybe future games can allow this. That is, if the logistics of having a group of people walking blind in a room can be sorted out!
So yeah, sat in the seat for the duration, we were soon transported into the killer’s mind and, being honest, it was nowhere as ambitious as we expected. Considering the potential of exploring dreamlike worlds and dealing with all manner of adversaries that a twisted mind could conjure up, Mind Horror offered a relatively tame experience. Half of our time was spent sitting at a futuristic surface solving simple observational puzzles. Considering the limitless possibilities that the game’s narrative afforded us, this was a bit of disappointment. The sections where we were free roaming in the world were more interesting but the puzzling was still extremely basic.
All of this isn’t to say that we didn’t have a great time playing the game. The tech allows you to see all of your teammates in the virtual world and, in a neat little touch, it tracks your entire hands. Meaning you can flip your friends off and they can see! We obviously had to try that out for review purposes…
Where this game excelled was in the fact that it’s definitely a multiplayer game. You have to work with your teammates throughout to a level that we rarely see in physical escape games. Basically every puzzle in the game relies upon you communicating with everyone in the group to an extensive degree. We love it in rooms when puzzles bring the entire team together and this game pretty much did this throughout.
So, where do we stand with it? Mixed. The game itself was nowhere near as adventurous as it should have been but it was still fun and involving throughout. However, bear in mind that you’re effectively paying to play a video game and given that the Vive is commercially available, owning this experience isn’t completely out of reach (whether you’d own six set ups at home however is a different matter!). Most of our issues don’t stem from anything Omescape could affect as we know that Mind Horror wasn’t specially designed for that venue. However, as VR is now becoming a home technology, we think a way to make the experience feel less like sitting around at home is to supplement the game with 4D effects. Add vibrating seats, chuck in wind effects for the flying scenes with the use of a few fans. Make it feel like more like something you can’t get at home.
Considering that we own VR tech ourselves, Mind Horror didn’t impress us as much as it would others. But we still had a fun time in there. We reckon it’s worth a punt, especially if you’re new to VR, but don’t expect it to change the world.
Second opinion: The multiplayer was a great aspect but the controls were a bit temperamental and there were a few times where the players went out of sync with each other. Also, the puzzles would have benefitted from being a bit more difficult.
Mind Horror (2017) Omescape
+ The game encouraged teamwork.
- The game itself lacked ambition.
- More could be done to enhance the experience.
We had a good time in Mind Horror but it didn't really capitalise on the technology. It's definitely a fun experience but one that will more likely appeal to VR novices than those who've previously donned a headset.
Ticket Price: £20-29pp
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