As we are always on the lookout for new adventures and fun activities to try out (we visited the labyrinth, outdoor escape experience, and had a chance to prepare a customized company team building activity), so we were absolutely delighted when we were invited to playtest a new game that the company Enigmarium prepared. Supposedly, something similar is only available in Russia, but with Enigmarium, this adventure type – adjusted a bit, found its way to Europe. At the moment, it’s available in Ljubljana, Slovenia and Zagreb, Croatia. So what is it all about – and most importantly, how do we like it?
With sight gone, you’ll have to trust your other senses!
What is it?
Put a blindfold on, sit comfortably in a chair, and let your gamemaster, and your other senses take you on an adventure in a way only you will experience.
No, it’s not an escape room. It’s something new, and kind of hard to specify. It’s not immersive theatre (even though actors are also used!). It’s an adventure, that for most of it, takes place in your mind.
Put a blindfold on, sit comfortably in a chair, and let your gamemaster, and your other senses take you on an adventure in a way only you will experience. Yes, you won’t see anything for the duration of the game (it takes around 90 minutes, and can host 2-5 players).
Your game master will guide you through the story, be your eyes and guide. Your other senses, smell, hearing and touch will still play quite the role in immersing you into the world the game master (named Morpheus – taken from the Russian version, developed by the war psychologists) will be painting in front of you.
You, as a group, will walk through the locations, explore them, find objects, meet other characters, and discover the story – and make decisions that will directly impact how your game develops, all without leaving your chairs.
So, to answer the question – what is it? After playing it, for me, it’s a mixture of those “choose your own adventure” books, a very very different escape experience, and (for board gamers) a bit of 7th continent or even D&D, packed up into 90 minutes of imaginative exploration.
It is, how they named it – Sensperience.
It’s a mixture of those “choose your own adventure books”, a very very different escape experience, and (for board gamers) a bit of 7th continent or even D&D, packed up into 90 minutes of imaginative exploration
As mentioned, we had a chance to playtest it – and were grouped with another 3 players, totalling up to the group size of 5. Even though the story (a virus outbreak) might sound a bit cliche, and to an escape room enthusiast that played at least 15 virus outbreak rooms, a bit overused, but it is surprisingly fresh, and it pulled me in and didn’t let go up until the very end. After an introduction where you get to know the basics, how to play, and that you definitely have nothing to worry about (pointed out a few times too many to feel at ease :)), we were escorted into the room, given blindfolds, and heard the words we were waiting for: Game on.
Gamemaster has to have an impressive amount of materials pre-prepared to cover any of your decisions – and a bit of improvisation skills for when/if things derail for a bit :).
I won’t go into details about the game itself – don’t want to spoil anything for you. Let’s just check the basics.
- You are playing as a group and making (the bigger) decisions together.
- Each of the players still has an open way for some individual exploration and actions, so each of the players should have their moment.
- You are guided by the gamemaster, describing the surroundings, objects, places and other events that are going on, with a reaction for each of your choices ready and waiting for you.
- When it comes interacting with objects, you might have to.. extend your arms a bit and reach out for it 🙂
- There are no wrong decisions – only more and less interesting ones :).
- Even though the story we played was a little bit scary, you are completely safe at all times
Thinking about it, later on, I cannot imagine how much material, text and events they have to have set up and ready, so they can cover any (or at least most of) the choices your group makes, and reply to any crazy ideas you might get.
Before we knew it, the 90 minutes have passed, and we’ve completed our story – which was, because of the limitless possible interactions, decisions and group dynamics most likely different than any other. Did we have fun? Some more than others. Three of us absolutely loved it, while it was a bit too intense for one of our team members, and a bit hard to follow for the last one.
Things to consider
Let’s have a look at the challenges the company had to overcome or tackle to make this work, what are some pluses and some minuses, and why it might not be fun or suitable for everybody.
The gamemaster (and actors)
The gamemaster has an incredibly difficult job to keep everything organised, remember everything the group has done (as it can effect further decisions/events) if needed improvise and keep the group focused and give them a gentle push into the right direction if needed. The gamemaster that was hosting us, did an amazing job and considering it was still a test game we played, not many things needed to be polished out. Great job, Morpheous! 🙂 It takes quite some acting skills to persuasively act out the roles of the characters, and that’s where there is some room for improvement – the actors will need to be ready for the unexpected, improvise and make sure that the game is as immersive as possible. Also, some story parts may be over-acted or stretched out a little bit too long – but then again, it was a test play, so I’m sure some parts will be changed a bit.
My, oh my, is the right group important for a great experience! Definitely make sure that all the group members are comfortable with each other, and know what they are getting into. For the best experience, all group members should cooperate as much as possible. Also, it really depends how seriously your team takes it – it’s an intense experience, and taking it easy, joking around a bit can make everything easier – and better. Maybe not from the story point of view, but for sure for the fun factor. A group taking it too seriously may not enjoy the game as much – make sure to go in relaxed, and ready to have fun!
The language dependency
The game is highly language dependent – it’s available in Slovene/Croatian and English at the moment, and the language used is quite on a high level, so the game is not suitable for beginners or even lower intermediates. The whole point of the game is listening to what your gamemaster tells you and picturing it – and the whole experience can be ruined if you’re not capable of following what’s going on.
Is it for everyone? As any other experience, we reviewed, no. People with limited language skills or lack of imagination might find it boring, or hard to imagine or follow all the events. People with any kind of phobia connected to darkness (or tight spaces) and people who can’t let go of control for a bit probably won’t enjoy the experience too much. People that are easily scared, should most likely avoid this one. Anyone in the group has a chance to drop out of the game at any time – either because it’s too intense if he/she is not feeling well, or cannot or don’t want to continue the game for any reason.
Should you try it?
First to the obvious answer: Yes! 🙂
If reading through the challenges above didn’t scare you away, you should have no worries – you will most likely enjoy the experience. If nothing else, it’s something new to experience, something completely different from an escape room, but with enough similar elements for the escape room enthusiasts to enjoy.
The great thing about this format of a game is also, that the production cost, compared to an escape room, is relatively low (but there are high operating costs – to run the game, there are multiple actors needed for each performance and, of course, the licence from the authors of the concept – you don’t want to play with Russian military psychologists 🙂 ), and it offers a blank canvas to paint the next stories on. One additional game is already being prepared, and I don’t really care what the theme will be – we could be visiting medieval times, following a white bunny, or visiting space – in any case, I can hardly wait to play more!