Bellevue, WA (Online): Reality Break – Seattle Freeze

As an avid traveler who loves learning more about the places I visit, I really enjoy when escape rooms tie a bit of local lore into their games.  I had written off experiencing anything like that during the pandemic lockdowns, but Reality Break Escapes in Bellevue, WA has made a very neat game that scratches the itch for both solving puzzles and getting to see some less common landmarks in a major US city – Seattle, in this case.

The game is called Seattle Freeze, and it’s a little different than any other of the online games I’ve played.  Players work together to conquer a series of puzzles one at a time in an effort to prevent chaos from breaking loose in Seattle.  The story is built around visiting various landmarks of the Seattle area and preventing a magical influence from using the landmarks to cause damage.

How does the game work?

The game master introduces players to the scenario and provides the narration that serves as the mortar linking the puzzles together.  Players work together to solve one puzzle at a time.  Once the players arrive at a conclusion, they share their answer with the game master, and if the players are correct, the game master continues the story and introduces the next puzzle.

This design is a little more linear than many other online escape room options, with the full group working on one puzzle at a time together.  This is a very nice setup to have for certain groups; nonlinear games can leave less experienced or less confident players feeling lost or left out.  The design of Seattle Freeze guarantees that the full group can get involved without getting frustrated.

How do the puzzles work?

All the puzzles include a visual the players need to study, interpret, and act on.  The puzzles test different elements of logic and attention to detail.  There’s a good variety to the puzzles, with some revolving more around text, others around numerical challenges, and others around images.

One of the things I really enjoyed about this game was how the game master spent time at the beginning introducing some of Zoom’s collaborative features, like being able to draw or write on the screen.  I wasn’t familiar with these features, and I really fell in love with being able to sketch out my thoughts and theories directly on the screen.

With the shared focus on a single puzzle and an emphasis on Zoom’s collaborative features, every player gets a chance to weigh in, or call out questions to the rest of the group.  It’s one of the most encouraging spaces I can imagine for allowing people with different levels of enthusiasm about puzzles to work together.  Seattle Freeze would be an ideal game to use for a team building exercise since players of all levels can easily collaborate toward a single goal, and even those less confident in their puzzle solving abilities can contribute.

How was the experience?

We really enjoyed being able to explore Seattle digitally, and we added a few bucket list items to go see in person the next time we’re in town.  The puzzles were visually appealing and accessible; everything makes sense and fits together well.

Reality Break has designed similar experiences for different age and skill levels so there are plenty of options to fit any need.  Their site shows four different online games currently, so if there’s any question about the appropriate game for the audience, there’s likely at least one game that’ll fit.

I really appreciated how creative and well-designed Seattle Freeze was, and I look forward to visiting Reality Break in person (and some of the Seattle Freeze landmarks!) the next time I take a trip up to Seattle.

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