Virus – SCRAMM – Banbury

Present, in December 2022, were: The Ant, Aunty Ant

In a (not entirely unexpected) outbreak of spontaneous additional roomitis, we decided to play Virus at SCRAMM. We had booked and just played their Chocolate Factory and in the fevered post-escape high we rapidly agreed to squash in another game. Apocalyptic plague rooms aren’t necessarily a favourite – Aunty Ant in particular isn’t a big fan of horror – but we were reassured that Virus isn’t too intense and would be fine for a two. I have seen reviews where this game featured a live actor, but this would not be the case for us. So we pulled up our zombie-fighting socks and braved it.

Our aim was to escape from our containment cell and find the antidote in the deserted lab before zombification takes hold. This could be quite standard, maybe even a little bland (we’ve played a lot of labs) but SCRAMM do have some fun tricks up their bloodied sleeve. The initial sinisterly minimalist cell opens up into an equally sinister chaotic scene, with plenty of puzzling along the way, and a nice bit of humour in this too (or maybe that’s just us, do normal people laugh at severed body parts?) As you would maybe expect, puzzles are very much on the science theme – the maths nearly tripped us up – and they have made creative use of appropriate props, with quite a few ideas that still felt fresh, despite this being an older room.

There are some scares – they could generally be described as mild, although I think we did a bit of screaming, much to the amusement of GM Michael. Very satisfying for them to get reactions in the all the right places… There’s some mild gore and ick, and I’d probably give a heads-up to any extreme arachnophobes too. That’s not a spoiler for the game, just an element of the set dressing, but worth mentioning for those who don’t flinch at a decomposing corpse but freak out at a spider’s web.

There were a couple of issues for us. As mentioned, this is an older game and a few elements were showing some wear and tear, including one puzzle that we couldn’t get to work, requiring a verbal answer from Michael. There were some mitigating factors, so it might be less of a problem for other teams, but it did hold us up. Either way, there are apparently plans to retire Virus fairly soon, so a big refresh probably isn’t feasible. But these couple of minor irritations didn’t impact our overall enjoyment of the game.

I’m not sure Aunty Ant was entirely converted to zombie apocalypse fandom, but I suspect she enjoyed the game a fair bit more than she thought she would. This would be a lot of fun for nerdy (no shade intended) slightly ghoulish teens and I could see Teenage Avenger’s posse having a fine time in here. Not a massively challenging room for experienced teams, nor a blood-curdling one for horror-seekers, Virus nevertheless is a good solid genre choice for a huge range of teams looking for a little bit of sciency dystopian thrill.

  • Storyline: Actually quite sound.
  • Theming and Set: Nicely done.
  • Searching: Possibly only one major search required, and we failed it!
  • Puzzles: A strong amount of actually quite practical science, all very on-theme.
  • Physicality: None really.
  • Scare factor: Some tension and decent jeopardy, but not full-on horror by any means.
  • Company Age Guidance: “Games can be played by anyone from the age of 10 to the age of 99! Groups of 2, 3 or 4 require at least 1 participating adult over the age of 18. Groups of 5 or 6 require at least 2 participating adults over the age of 18”. They specifically mention no under-10s on the website, but there seems to be some flexibility in this.
  • Age suitability: Older teens would enjoy this. Younger teens/tweens might not be too bothered by the zombie elements, but the puzzling is definitely a step harder than the Chocolate Factory.

SCRAMM website