Frustration can come in many forms when playing videogames. Sometimes it can be from making a stupid mistake that costs you precious milliseconds in a race, or having an awesome kill streak online then someone snipes you in the head. Both of these are situations when you have complete control and complete lack of control, yet some titles manage to weave both. These are quite often puzzle games, and escape room experiences in particular are very good coercing those different frustration levels until you either succeed or smash a controller. With Nevrosa: Escape, indie developer GexagonVR has done just that, creating a challenging (but not impossible) escape room that’s certainly one for puzzle fans.
Make no mistake however that just because Nevrosa: Escape is a puzzler at heart that it can’t get the blood flow pumping with some atmospheric horror to add to the experience. Finding yourself in an old manor somewhere in Northern Europe, you’re there because of your characters grandfather who disappear several years previously. Hidden away in a dark mysterious laboratory you begin to unearth what the old man was researching and needless to say it isn’t pretty.
The entire videogame revolves around this laboratory, and whilst that may seem confined and short on content, GexagonVR has managed to create a world that intertwines locations to beneficial effect. The actual lab itself is gorgeous to look at, a tapestry of rustic colours, old furniture, and decorations that would be perfectly suited to any Victorian themed horror movie.
You can’t freely move around as such in Nevrosa: Escape. Instead the lab is split into locations for each level, so you can see everywhere, you just can’t access it. GexagonVR has decided to fully employ virtual reality’s (VR) roomscale system, requiring you to fully explore everything in close proximity. While the minimum play area recommend is 2m x 1.5m VRFocus would recommend an area slightly larger as sometimes objects can be right on the outer edges.
While the atmosphere, attention to detail and the reasonably deep storyline are noteworthy, it’s the puzzles that are most imperative to making Nevrosa: Escape shine. Luckily they do, offering enough variety and difficulty that as previously mentioned, can annoy you at first before realising that answer was right in front of your face.
So Nevrosa: Escape is an awesome videogame all the way through? Well almost. It’s on the gameplay side of things that issues occur, namely collision detection. For a title that has only one main mechanic, grab, it can be twitchy at the best of times. Picking up a candle to light a darkened corner the entire object dances around in your hands until you drop it – or try to swap it into the other hand. This doesn’t always happen – a particular puzzle involving test tubes became particularly annoying – but often enough that it did spoil the experience to an extent.
Escape room videogames can also suffer with the issue of longevity, once you’ve completed them there’s little reason to return. Nevrosa: Escape includes the tried and tested method of multiple endings – a good single-player extender – rewarding those who dig further into the experience.
There are a number of VR escape room titles available like Chair in a Room and I Expect You To Die which do the genre justice. Nevrosa: Escape is another that can be added to that list of entertaining puzzlers, with beautiful visuals and brain taxing challenges that’ll fill a good few hours.