*The Overseer – The Panic Room Online – Home Play Game*

Present, in September 2020, were: Granny, The Ant, Teenage Avenger

During lockdown we’ve played plenty of online games but, oddly for being restricted to four walls for much of the time, none of the games were prison breaks. Since restrictions were lifted, we’ve played two – one IRL and the other, The Overseer, online.

From the stable of The Panic Room, this digital game has the high quality finish you would expect – downloadable soundtrack, some striking visuals and a good use of audio, both in puzzles and narrative. In terms of layout and usability, we’ve played half a dozen Panic Room online games, so we were familiar with their particular house style. Little pc tricks such as opening in new tabs and taking screenshots really help with playability when juggling different puzzles in their offerings, and this game features an interesting split storyline, which adds to the complexity. As such, this will suit experienced online players more than beginners, just in terms of being organised.

The puzzles themselves are a mixed bag – some will be fine for beginners (a nice gentle start), some will not. We really liked a couple of the more intricate sections, including a kind of meta-puzzle that reuses its source material in different ways, imaginatively blending the information that you learn. And a word puzzle was one of probably one of my favourite puzzles I’ve seen in an online game, a fresh and engaging idea.

Many of the puzzles did suffer, from our point of view, from an over-reliance on maths. This will suit some teams more than others – we will always prefer letters over numbers. But in some cases here, the maths was used to hide the odd short-coming in a puzzle – either to prevent an answer being guessable, or to make a quite basic problem more complicated.

We felt the game tailed off towards the end, with the puzzles becoming less satisfying – using red herrings and obfuscation to make relatively simple solves more difficult. The final section particularly, I was hoping for a much more elegant solution. After the sophistication of the earlier parts, this was a disappointing finish, which could do with some tightening up.

The intro suggests that teams break into two groups to tackle the split storyline. Maybe this is the way to go if you are working to a tight deadline. But I would suggest that enthusiasts would feel short-changed – this game isn’t stuffed with puzzles, so effectively only doing half the number each would definitely feel like you had only played half the game. We did all the puzzles together. Having said that, the split is an intriguing idea, very in-keeping with the storyline, and I did like the way that it slotted back together at the end.

Overall, this had some unique and clever puzzles, but not enough of them on balance, mixed in with some very simple puzzles made frustrating by their scarlet, fishy disguises.

  • Storyline: A good premise, well-narrated, actually more practical and realistic (I suppose!) than many prison break concepts.
  • Theming and Virtual Set: Strong audio game, a little more lacklustre visually towards the end.
  • Googling: Not needed.
  • Puzzles: Even the word puzzles needed maths. Have a calculator handy.
  • Physicality: None.  
  • Scare factor: Voice actor is suitably sinister-sounding but that’s all for scares.
  • Age suitability: Older kids mainly, I reckon – both for the prison-theme and for the type of puzzles. Not necessarily based on difficulty, just lacking little kid appeal.
  • Timed?: No.
  • Requires: PC/laptops, plus additional comms. And a calculator or two. Maybe an abacus. Or invite an accountant or A-level maths teacher. Did I mention there was a lot of maths?

The Panic Room Online shop

~~~Please note: we didn’t pay to play this game and full, detailed feedback was given to the game creator. That in no way affects the impartiality of our review, and all the opinions expressed here are our own.~~~