The following is a review of The Escape Game’s remote Gold Rush. It may contain minor spoilers around progression and puzzle themes.
A strange pipe is hanging from the ceiling of the prospecting room. Through the eyes of our avatar we follow it across the ceiling and into an empty tank. Suddenly, we remember the canteen we found earlier. We direct our avatar to pump the water through the strange pipe, but not before one of our teammates graciously offers him a sip of water. He’s been working hard, after all! We watch as the water is slowly pumped across the room and into the tank, suddenly illuminating a much sought-after clue. With a few oohs and aahs at the theatrics and physicality of the puzzle, we brace ourselves for whatever is next.
The Gold Rush
Gold Rush is a polished, Wild West-themed, remote escape room from The Escape Game. Gold Rush leverages the elaborate set of the in-person game to create a well-executed, sixty-minute thematic journey with complex and creative puzzles, a clever narrative, and collaboration with a personable prospector (who serves as both your avatar and guide, much like Neverland: Heist on the High Seas). The tone is adventurous and not frightening, but the game is aesthetically sincere in its dedication to the theme. The game differentiates itself from the many other experiences currently available by having both an avatar and a Game Master, giving participants a high-touch experience. It also includes 360-degree room views, and a highly intuitive inventory system that really makes the game-play user-friendly for remote players. The puzzles are some of the more interesting and creative ones our team has seen in a remote room resulting in a fun, thrilling, and challenging experience.
The Call to Adventure
The premise of the game is that a big-shot prospector fell into disrepute, and now players must search his cabin to find the treasure before the mob arrives to take back what is owed them. The unique theme of searching for hidden gold in an abandoned log cabin was a fun and fresh take on the classic escape room scenario. There is the requisite time pressure created by the impending arrival of the mob, but it is fun to be the ones getting away with something, for once. While the narrative is not the focus of the game, there is video backstory provided, and the rooms themselves are thematically cohesive and focused on a plot-specific goal. The game is western-themed from start to finish, with animal skin rugs, antlers mounted on walls, and a basement goldmine. The room doesn’t take itself too seriously; it’s a bit like Indiana Jones meets Ocean’s 11, with a bit of Westworld-esque nostalgia. The tone is light and the focus is on the puzzles and the overall sense of adventure.
The game flows seamlessly between multiple connected rooms, with inventory items carrying over between them – don’t worry, your avatar will take the items between rooms for you. The themes tie the rooms together well, with puzzles incorporating decorations and objects that are both mechanically interesting and feel very Wild West-appropriate. Each room is interesting to explore, full of secret passageways, and well-paced.
In terms of game-play and mechanics, Gold Rush is functionally the best remote escape room Immersed has played. The interface offers a 360-degree view of the room that allows participants to explore the room and zoom in on details independent of the prospector. The interface also offers a user-friendly inventory system, which was praised by our team for two main reasons: First, artistic renderings of puzzle items are used, rather than simply pictures of the items in the room. This allowed our team to clearly see what was important about the item without straining our eyes over blurry or partially obstructed pictures, and added an artistic aesthetic to the room. Second, items and clues are added and removed as they are identified and used, respectively. This makes game-play simple and intuitive, as we did not have to spend time paging through old puzzles to find what was still in play.
It is important to note that the addition and subtraction of items is completed in real time by our game host, resulting in both a host and an avatar during this experience. While this enhanced our game-play, we do not expect that all escape rooms adapt this format. A similar format in which items are added via a password system and removed by players is implemented in Hourglass Escapes’ Evil Dead 2 room.
The puzzles are a highlight of the game. They are sophisticated and interrelated, like a Wild West Rube Goldberg machine, fitting for the basement of an eccentric and paranoid outlaw with a hidden treasure. Some puzzles can be solved multiple ways, and they all reward creativity and lateral thinking. A clue system is put in place via appeal to the Game Master and team consensus. While our team didn’t need the clues, there were definitely some puzzles that gave us a real challenge and required creative thinking beyond an average escape room. The puzzles involve math, spatial reasoning, organization, and critical thinking. They are often multi-step, with some objects needing to be carried through rooms until their purpose is found. For me, these are hands-down the best puzzles I’ve seen in a remote room.
Being the Outlaws
Gold Rush does not explicitly include heavy immersive elements. There are a few moments in which interaction is encouraged, and everyone is asked to be on video for optimal communication. Overall, our prospector was responsive to our playful prompts, jokes, and desires for interactivity, but this isn’t explicitly built into the game. That being said, the set design was strong enough to draw us in, and a few of our team members used the optional Zoom backgrounds to add a small element of immersion. The focus here is on the puzzles and narrative, and interaction is fittingly utilitarian and geared toward that end.
Host and Prospector
Our Game Master took on all the roles of the escape room host, keeping the experience organized and clear. She helped us get settled in and organized, guided us through the mechanics and backstory, and made sure we understood how to interact with the prospector. The Game Master was also present throughout to troubleshoot technical difficulties, manage inventory, offer any needed clues, and give time checks. At the discovery of each new room, she would helpfully update us on our progress and give us a bit of context around what we were looking at. She was organized and efficient, and the only room for improvement here would be for her to also take on a character role, some kind of mission coordinator maybe.
Our prospector, Dylan, was fun, helpful, and great to work with. He definitely centered our experience, waiting for explicit instructions to take action or investigate. At the same time, he added personal charisma and flair – petting various animals, fiddling with locks, expressing his reservations at being asked to go into tight or strange spaces. He matched our humor and energy level, encouraging us to vicariously “woo” as we went down slides or joke with him about objects in the room. He was personable and had great sidekick energy, while still allowing us to play the action heroes. We would’ve loved even more interactivity and narrative references from him.
The Escape Game’s Gold Rush is intelligent, creative, thematic and fun – a real rush and brainteaser. Escape room fanatics will really enjoy this polished remote experience, and more novice groups can make use of the clue system to up their chances of success. Our group was truly delighted at the reveals, mechanics, and puzzle creativity, and there were multiple audible exclamations of enthusiasm and delight. With an engaging premise, talented and charismatic acting, and unique puzzles, this is definitely one for the top of your must-do list. Gold Rush delivers Wild West adventure with intelligence, sophistication, and a playful atmosphere, and was absolutely a breath of fresh air for our escape room-loving team.
Book your own remote escape experience with The Escape Game HERE.