What is a Virtual Reality Escape Room?

2022.02.24.

If you've ever played in a real brick and mortar escape room game then you probably remember the experience very well. How the excitement and stress mount as the clock ticks down the time and you struggle with those last few clues. Then there is another type of gaming which is completely different, in that it makes use of technology and nothing else. Maybe you've been to a games arcade and tried on the VR headset. Obviously, a programmer can design any environment for you to explore. And being three-dimensional, it adds an immersive and almost life-like feeling to the gameplay.

Now imagine combining these two experiences. One thing you wouldn't need, and that’s to travel to an actual escape room location. You could play comfortably by sitting at home on your own sofa. Not only that, but you can link up with friends who could be literally thousands of miles away, and yet you would all be able to play together as a team in a virtual escape room. Although the escape room game genre has experienced explosive growth since its inception in the early 2000s, we can thank the Covid virus and the social distancing that came with it, for a greater emphasis on virtual gaming.

VR Escape Rooms

The first thing we should point out is that VR escape games are a relatively new inclusion into the whole escape room genre. As such you will not find many versions available for use at home. Nevertheless they have sprung up businesses which are aimed at promoting escape room games being played via VR headsets. This is essentially a totally empty room where participants stand. They are detached from any wires or cords, allowing them to fully experience the virtual reality streaming situations that are in front of their eyes. Many of today's VR games come with all the technological apparatus packed into a backpack. A player can wear this along with the goggles, allowing them the freedom to roam around the escape room unhindered during the experience.

What to Expect

The actual length of the escape room game will depend very much on the room’s way of playing. Likewise, the difficulty level, as well as the number of people playing the game, will vary considerably. But as a general rule, the VR game will take as long as a real game and that is usually around an hour. But the actual time you spend in the escape room will very much depend upon how well you and your friends managed to solve the puzzles and clues. Likewise, the number of people who can play in a single escape room at the same time will depend on what scenarios you are playing out, as well as the individual escape room business you're playing at.

Dress For Walking

On the whole you’ll find that most virtual reality rooms will allow between 2 and 6 people to play together at the same time. Many of today's most modern VR rooms will fit you out with a backpack and goggles. Many will also make you wear a haptic vest, which just means that the vest will vibrate for a more immersive experience. Though you are plugged into a 3D virtual machine, you will still do a fair bit of walking. To that end we suggest that you avoid wearing any bulky clothes and choose to dress primarily for comfort. Keep in mind that you may be wearing a pretty heavy backpack along with your goggles. So don't overdress as you'll be too hot later on.

Please ensure that you ask the game master or operator exactly what the different levels are before you start playing. But whatever the level you’re playing, don't forget that, just as with regular escape room games, there will always be a game master there who you can speak with if you get stuck on a single task for too long. They will not tell you the answer, but give you subtle clues to help unblock your mind. One question on everyone's lips before they make a booking is how much will this experience cost?

The Cost Of Playing

Just as with traditional escape room games, you will find that the individual entrance fee is probably between $20 and $40 per person. But be sure to ask if there are any group discounts, as you might be surprised. Many escape room games have been struggling over this last year and so are using discounts as a means of attracting new players. We suggest that you do a little research on the internet about the facility you are thinking of attending. Not only will you find the entrance prices, but also if there are any discounts or bonuses available. Remember that if you're unsure of any aspect of the game, it's pricing, or its levels, then simply telephone the company and ask. Someone will be only too happy to help you with your answers.

Reality vs Virtual Reality Escape Rooms

Another very common question when it comes to virtual reality escape rooms, is how do they compare with the normal escape rooms you know and love so well? The first point is that your regular brick-and-mortar escape rooms will come in all different sizes and shapes. Some companies run individual rooms whereas there are others who have a whole house to make your way through. On the whole, every room is going to have its own theme. Some of the most common ones will feature escaping from a zombie apocalypse or a murder mystery. This is because the slight element of added fear helps induce more stress which in turn makes the whole experience even more immersive.

One of the most positive points of virtual escape rooms is that the rooms can be themed to pretty much any idea or fantasy. And from a practical point of view, you can actually play through multiple rooms without actually leaving the room stand in. Because you're playing within a virtual world, then there's going to be a lot more freedom as far as the puzzles and clues go. Although we should point out there is no real time saving from one type of game to another. 

Because the VR technology involved in virtual games is still very much in its infancy, the players are holding onto individual motion sensor controllers in both hands. This certainly takes away from the tactile experience that you'll find in a real land-based escape room game. Being hands-on with the tasks adds a great deal of realism to the whole gameplay. 

Eware Of Motion Sickness

One factor that is rarely mentioned when playing virtual reality escape room games, is the fact that a considerable number of players may experience some form of motion sickness. Our brains are hard-wired to see the horizon or the ground in front of us. And the virtual world will be lacking in the spatial trigger's necessary to allow us to maintain a level head. Though not all VR games are guilty of causing motion sickness, if you are a person who becomes queasy easily, then maybe this type of gameplay is not ideally suited to you. 

But having said that, we still think that, should you ever find the opportunity to play in a VR escape room game, then you should seize the chance with both hands. If you played in a real brick and mortar escape room game before, then by playing a VR version, you will be able to decide which is better. 

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