Never has advice been so on-point! Solving a puzzle in Zoe was a fraught affair with the sense of achievement swiftly giving way to pure dread as blaring music akin to sirens boomed from every conceivable direction, signaling the imminent arrival of a character we did not want to confront. These occasions were survival-horror game moments brought to life, recalling titles such as Resident Evil 3: Nemesis and Haunting Ground (especially in the way that the music shifted with the appearance of the antagonist).
Over the last year, we’ve slowed down on visiting escape rooms when it was becoming clear that the majority of them are facsimiles of each other. Bloody handprints on the walls, rubber body parts strewn around the set and a killer setting a convoluted gauntlet for you to survive. And the majority of them aren’t really all that scary, just triggered effects and things of that ilk. But we still keep our eyes on the scene for those games that look as though they may offer something slightly different, like Xtreme Room. When visiting L.A., Zoe was absolutely on our radar along with a few other games that you’ll see reviewed here shortly!
The premise is pretty straightforward, we’re in a house that’s haunted by the spirit of a girl who needs our assistance. Despite the fact that she needs our help, she’s pretty uncompromising about our success in this task! Obviously, things aren’t as simple as they first seem and a darker story soon begins to reveal itself. But this is all just an excuse to lay on 60 mins of pure terror as we come into contact with the various denizens of Zoe’s house!
The puzzling side of this game is pretty straightforward with nothing really proving that taxing. But that’s just as well really as this game will ruthlessly sap your concentration as you’re keeping one eye on what you’re doing and the other on all the possible entry points to the room! It’s simple but fun and, in a way, also reminiscent of the puzzling in the Resident Evil franchise. As I write this, the more that I think that Zoe was actually more successful at capturing the survival horror essence than Resident Evil: The Experience. Because, whilst Resident Evil was an outstanding event, it was also ‘on-rails’ to an extent. In Zoe, you are the master of your own destiny!
Let’s talk about the pure horror moments of Zoe – as mentioned, they’re scenes that are generally (but not always!) triggered when you’ve solved a puzzle. They varied in style from ghosts suddenly appearing in the room with you (and reaching for your limbs – yes, this is a contact game!) through to more sedate (comparatively!) occurrences such as banging doors. The parts that got me the most? The few times where you needed to get to another room. In these scenes, you were chased by a hulking beast and we’ve never slammed doors behind us so hard or quickly! Those instances of pursuit were legitimately terrifying as this character did not look in the least bit friendly and having someone so visually imposing bearing down on you at full pelt is all you need to trigger the flight response! We should also add that this game is played in relative darkness so, for the most part, you only catch silhouettes of the things stalking you, until they’re too close that is!
There were some great setpieces in Zoe such as a certain scene that creates a human bottleneck which is devastatingly soul destroying for the person at the tail-end of the group! And there’s another instance where Zoe implores one of the group to leave the rest to retrieve an object, solo. “Be brave,” she says! Walking through a dark house with just candlelight and the knowledge of someone hunting you down is brilliantly bone-chilling and achieves something that haunts simply can’t manage.
I just honestly cannot say enough good things about Zoe. For a horror fan, this is it. I can’t imagine a game distilling fear as effectively as Zoe does and if there is an escape room that accomplishes this, we’re not sure that we want to play it!! It’s worth being clear though that this is a full-on ‘ordeal’. Not just an automated scream over speakers or magnetically released picture frames dropping from walls – this game will make you feel vulnerable (in the best way possible of course!). We still think that the experience is so powerful and unique that you should attempt it even with any reservations that you might have. Just bring a big group, nominate someone you can hide behind and enjoy the ride. It really doesn’t get much better!
Zoe - Escapade Games
+ Terrifying performers
- Simplistic gameplay
Zoe is a game that you simply have to experience. You'll undoubtedly regret it after the first five minutes but we guarantee that you will have an amazing time when all's said and done!
Price Paid: $40.00
Address: 624 N Harbor Blvd, Fullerton, CA 92832, USA