Online, Jan 2021
To the extent that the still very young genre of avatar escape rooms has settled on a ‘standard, recommended’ approach, Immersia are following that approach closely: Zoom for the video call, an initial orientation to make sure players know what they’re doing, a pre-recorded video intro, and then a lightly in-character avatar plus a Telescape inventory used only for items that players need a close look at. Plenty of games take a different approach and are all the better for it; but this combination seems to pretty reliably give a smooth game free from many of the common pitfalls, and that’s what Immersia delivered here.
In Piccadilly Cabaret we were in an old jazz lounge where a legendary chanteuse once vanished without trace. In all honesty I’m not entirely clear on our official goal – it seemed like it would go in a haunted house sort of direction but in practice mostly stuck to a zero-peril atmosphere. Not that it was any the worse for that, I quite liked the relaxing sense that we and our avatar were motivated mainly by idle curiosity. Matching that, the set decor wasn’t dramatically eye-catching but had a dusty classy charm.
I liked the evident physicality of some parts of this game, which would probably have been a highlight if played in person. Of course, that was mostly lost due to playing remotely; instructing someone else to move objects around is not the same as doing so oneself.
The larger part of Cabaret involved plenty of juggling of symbols, numbers, and letters, which (with a little support from the inventory system) worked with the format well. The various padlock-based puzzles were logical and worked well, making plenty of use of the cabaret dressing room theming; one step seemed a little ambiguous between two approaches, but the one that turned out to be correct was the more plausible of the two. And for all the relatively low-key tone, it successfully built to a strong ending.
Cabaret might not instantly jump out from the crowd, but it also confidently hit all the right notes (pun fully intended); I’d describe it as a safe bet for an enjoyable game.