Twin Woods: Morse Code

Twin Woods is an adventure park in Bedford, that offers various experiences that include Mose Code, an excellent escape room that has been taken online seamlessly. My only regret was that I wouldn’t be able to play the room in person, and experience the amazing finish, which you really have to be there to enjoy. My fears were erased however when I learnt that the game was going to be changed when Twin Woods are able to open again, so that you can play it. I will definitely be one of the first to do so.

Something I want to mention before I get into it, is the various packages Twin Woods offer. There are several different packages that include quizzes, as well as sending out wines to the players so they can enjoy a wine tasting before doing the escape room. We also got a heads up that when they release their next room, you will be able to do have a similar experience with cocktail making, with a bartender participating, helping you to make different cocktails. Another experience I am sure to enjoy, though I’m not sure how well we will work with a couple of cocktails in us!

The Basics

You have 1 hour to play Morse Code, or 1 hour and 15 mins if you do the final VIP room, which is what takes you to the big escape. I gather that this escape mechanism is an extra you can get when you play in person, which is why there is this extra room. If you choose not to play this last room, it won’t affect your game play at all, you willl still be able to enjoy a well thought through, enjoyable game with an excellent ‘avatar’. We managed to escape in 46 minutes, and I would place this game at middle difficulty.

Story 

It’s war-time in 1942 and we need you to help infiltrate the enemy tower. Once in, you must retrieve a package and then relay the enemy’s attack plan using morse code. You have a maximum of 60 minutes to achieve your mission and get out safely.

Players 

Essentially, you can have as many players as you would like on this game. You pay for 2-10 screens (ranging from £45-175), and then you can have as many people on each screen as you wish. However, the usual escape room player rules apply. Too many cooks can definitely spoil the broth, especially when you are all directing the same ‘avatar’ around an escape room. 

I would recommend up to 5 players in this room. A little bit higher than the usual 4, because every time you find a document or information that you need, it becomes available on a separate web page, allowing some people to work on exploring the room, and others to be working on the information you have already gathered. We played as a team of 3, and in a rare event, there were times I wish there were more of us playing, to let us work on more things at once! 

Objectives and Goals 

Before playing the game, we received an email with the usual video that would introduce us to the story. This is something we have seen regularly when playing online escape rooms, and I am quite a fan of it. Though videos showing the back story are generally not favoured in brick and mortar escape rooms, they are quite effective in gearing you up for an online room, when you can’t have that face to face interaction with a games master. 

The goals outlined in the video was to find the ‘secret package’, and to find out where in the UK the Germans would be attacking. The third goal of ‘escaping’ was also added, as a part of the VIP package. These goals were always kept on our minds, the whole way through the game, you were getting different pieces of one of the final puzzles, keeping you on track, looking for more information, to get that answer. 

 

 

Rules and Mechanics

We have played more escape rooms than I care to say (who am I kidding, you can never do too many ecsape rooms), but I found myself nervous because I had no idea how this was going to go. Would it be strange, telling someone to walk around a room, to look at things? I know some teams who hate having an actor in the room, they feel awkward. The introduction video helped to alleviate those worries, showing us how to navigate the game, and our avatar definitely felt like a fellow team member, rather than an outsider. When writing essays, we were always told to write as if the reader has no knowledge of the topic you are talking about. There was a sense of this here. I felt like I was working with a team mate who had never played an escape room before, and had no idea how to use the different items. This really let us feel like we were in complete control of the game, not being lead by someone who knew how to play it already. There were times however, when we got the feeling from our Trooper that we had right code before we had entered it. 

There were a lot of different puzzles in this escape room, plenty of my favourite traditional puzzles, as well as some electronic ones that made all of us ooh and ahh when we would cause an item to move or open on another part of the room. There was also a little detail about this that I loved. Most escape room players have experienced completing a puzzle, and not noticing something opening behind you. Now obviously, our ‘avatar’, Trooper Mary, knew that the item had opened, but he (yes, a male Trooper Mary) would change the camera view we were looking at, so we could see the item open, and he would act confused as to why nothing had happened. Excitedly, we were yelling for him to turn around and check out what we had gained access to. To me, it felt like when you are separated in escape rooms, but can see each other, and work with each other. I never felt that I wasn’t in that room with Trooper Mary.  There were some pretty awesome mechanics in that room, and I genuinely felt that our Trooper was excited to complete the puzzle with us.  Your enjoyability and immersion of an avatar escape room relies so much on that avatar, and I have to say that Trooper Mary passed with flying colours. 

Controls

In this game, we had to instruct Trooper Mary around the room, looking at different locks and pieces of information. You had to be very precise, telling the avatar to look at a specific photo, a specific image, or a specific lock. You couldn’t just say ‘try the different combinations of these 4 numbers in all the 4 digit locks’. There are some rooms that have identical locks with no incidcation of what puzzle will open which lock. If that were the case here, then having just one person, your avatar, working on locks could have really slowed down your game. This game seemed to be designed speccifically to stop this from happening. The fact that you almost always knew what you were going to be opening with your code is partly what made this type of online game so effective. 

During the game, the GM is on the zoom call, with their screen turned off. They are there to give any clues if you would like some help with a puzzle. We found however, that the subtle clues and hints given by Trooper Mary was enough for us to be able to complete the puzzles. 

In-game Information 

There were several different screens available on Zoom, one being the camera from the point of view of Trooper Mary, and the others being cameras covering the room you were in. Thanks to this, we could to some degree look ahead and plan what we wanted to do in a room while we were searching it. 

While you were playing the game you had access to a website that displayed all of the letters, posters and pieces of information that we may have needed. This was key, because not only did it let us read them easier than if we were to do so over the camera, but also because one person could read it out loud, while the others kept searching, the same way you would if you were playing the game in person. There were times that we knew a document would not be used because it didn’t show up on the screen, but to be honest, I didn’t really mind. Quite often in escape rooms you can have a feeling that a piece of information wouldn’t be used, because of its position in the room, maybe it was secured down. Also, if every piece of information was on the website, it would take way too long to take in all the information, and then go back to find the one piece you need. 

When playing the game there is no timer on the screen, it looked like there maybe was supposed to be one on the website, but it wasn’t working. Since you’re working on computers, it’s easy to see the time and have an idea of how long you have been playing. The game master has a timer running while you’re playing, so you can get your accurate time at the end of the game. As I’ve mentioned before, I like it when you can’t see the time. It can get too distracting. 

Elements in Motion

There’s no other way to say it, this game worked well. You always knew what you were trying to do, you knew where you were going next. I loved it. The set was limited in the game. There were some cool items that fit the time that the game was based in, but the walls and such weren’t the most dedicated set. I would say that this game was made with a medium budget, with the main focus on the props and puzzles, rather than the set. And I think that’s the way it should be. It was mentioned when we were talking to the staff that the game was built in a wind tunnel, and I think that may be why some of the set was restricted.  

There was a wide range of puzzles, some traditional, and some more interactive and electrical. They were not all puzzles that a spy would do, but there were some aspects to it that did make me feel like James Bond. My favourite part was opening a door in a way I had not seen before and thought was incredible. I’d not seen anything like it. I’m not going to say anything more, because I don’t want to give it away, but you should play this game just to open that door.  

This was our first time playing a real escape room remotely, and I thought that the way they used both the room and the website worked seamlessly, and kept the game flowing. We have since played other avatar games (reviews coming soon!), that did not have this kind of access to documents, but they were games that were not paper heavy. 

The Verdict

If you are concerned with playing an avatar escape room, start here. Full of fun, unique puzzles, I fully enjoyed this game. It is an excellent introduction to how to use the controls, and to show you what to expect from this new kind of escape room. A second room is in constuction at the moment, opening in the coming weeks, called Dot Dash Boom, and I can’t wait to get the chance to play it.

To me, this is a company preparing for the long run. Though the games will be altered when they are able to reopen, to let you experience the surprise endings yourself, Twinwoods seem to have prepared to not reopen to the public for some time. Unfortunately, this seems possible.  But as long as I have games like this to play, it makes lockdown that bit easier.

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