Online, Jun 2020
Although these days they’re more famous for their Catacombs experience, Logic Locks originally gained a reputation for their earlier game, Eliza’s Heart, which is now also available for remote play. As with Catacombs, they use a combination of Google Meet and YouTube Live – however, this time the YouTube element seemed to be used only as part of the introduction, with all of the game itself run through Meet.
The titular Eliza is an explorer from a past era, now deceased, who has left behind a reputation and a rumoured heart-shaped necklace; and it’s that necklace you’re hoping to find, by breaking into her study. Although in this version, you are of course just advising from afar not doing the actual breaking in.
Logic Locks work hard on creating an immersive story-led experience, and as much as possible of the pre-game briefing was handled by email, the better to plunge us into the narrative as soon as we’d connected. This also meant that our avatar was a fleshed-out character not merely a mute proxy, playing the role of a history student who’d decided to surreptitiously explore the explorer’s study.
Their games also boast stand-out production values. A study may sound like an unadventurous setting, but this game looks like half its decorations were looted from the classier sort of antique shop.
It’s clearly a lovely room that I’d have greatly enjoyed playing in person. I still enjoyed it remotely, but the format added some friction to the experience. Logic Locks don’t use an inventory system, but I didn’t think that mattered all that much here; the game has relatively few written items, and while a separate inventory view would have make several tasks faster, it was fine without.
However, this is a game that emphasises search – not in the sense of hiding small items in obscure locations, but in the sense of exploration of the space. You need to look carefully, and that leaves gameplay rather at the mercy of where the camera is pointed. And here you have a glorious profusion of curios, which a group can sort through quickly and efficiently when physically present, to pick out the items that may be relevant; doing the same through the camera bottleneck takes a lot longer and puts a drag on gameplay.
But that didn’t critically compromise the game – it’s more akin to playing when you have a headache, a background annoyance that much of the time you can ignore. And Eliza’s Heart is a game that starts well and gets better, with clever puzzles that are there to support the story not the other way round.
If you can play this in person, do that rather than booking the remote experience. But the difference between remote and in-person is less stark than with Catacombs – I’d have preferred to play it physically, but don’t particularly regret having done the remote version.
Disclaimer: We played this game on a complementary basis. This does not influence the review or rating.