Online, Feb 2021
Canadian company KW Escapes were one of the early pioneers of the avatar format, and although they switched back to in-person games only for a while, ongoing lockdowns mean another chance to play their games remotely, including the newly adapted Twister.
In this one your host is with their trailer at a campsite with a tornado bearing down, and – having locked up everything with a quite startling array of padlocks – needs your help finding her car keys so she can escape. While the game does remind you about the impending peril here and there, I found this less a tense action-adventure and more a cheerful, colourful homage to comfortable camping in the North American outdoors.
Which isn’t to say you’ll have time to spare. The venue has extended the remote version to 75 mins, and although I think we played fairly efficiently, we still got down to the last five minutes. Twister is not, on the whole, a difficult game; but there’s a whole lot to do, to the point where we kept expecting the game to end and instead being surprised by another set of clues, and then another.
It’s clearly designed as a non-linear game for several people to scramble over solving things in parallel. The interactive inventory system is helpful at preserving at least a little of that play-style, allowing each player to jump between a set of 360° views showing the room from different vantage points and – more or less – explore things on their own. A few of the elements could be clicked in the inventory, with some multimedia elements unlocked via passwords provided at the appropriate moment by our host. Most of the gameplay was via the avatar, but the inventory meant that at each step we usually had an idea of what to look at next.
The result was a fast-paced game with a rapid succession of small endorphin hits as each of the many padlocks came open. In places the format put a bit of a brake on that – some of the elements that would have been most enjoyable in-person, such as dashing around collecting items, were undeniably less well suited to an avatar game. But if you get a kick out of solving a lock, you’ll find this game rewarding.
The other big strength of this game is that it’s cute and charming. I thought the many puzzles needed greater variety – there was a whole lot of combining digits and colours in one way or another. But the presentation and theming made it hard not to like.