Published on March 1st, 2017 | by Dean Love0
Trapped In, Bury – The Ruby Factory
It’s properly gutting to be playing a game that you’re convinced is a new favourite and then it just fumbles the ball, ever so slightly, and that fifth star melts away, leaving us with a brilliant game that should have been one of the best.
The Ruby Factory takes an approach that few games do: rather than have a single goal and a time limit, you’re instead aiming for a high score – in this case, by getting as many rubies as you can and getting out before the time is up. A few of the rubies are just hidden around the room (and true to form, we missed loads of those) but most are obtained by solving various puzzles and challenges.
You may notice that the rubies bear more than a passing resemblance to the crystals of 90s TV show The Crystal Maze, and it’s fair to say this room is more than a little inspired by that show. It even has a couple of puzzles that appear to be direct references to games featured on The Crystal Maze.
It’s a fantastic game. So much going on, all sorts of different things to be working on, from physical tests to complex puzzles and tests of teamwork (again, reminiscent of The Crystal Maze), with the rubies you get from completing each acting as a nice indicator that you’ve successfully completed that challenge and can move on. There’s not a huge amount to talk about in terms of flow and structure, as the room is almost entirely non-linear and most things can be worked on from the start, though the game does a good job at labelling what elements fit with what puzzle, so you’re not completely overwhelmed by trying to figure out what goes with what. There’s a pleasing physicality to the room too, which we really enjoyed.
The setting itself, a factory, is fairly basic but the theme is used to good effect in a few places. It also has a few hidden areas in very interesting places, which were a delight to unlock. But one of those places was where the game fell down for us, as the puzzle within it was broken. We’d correctly figured out what to do regardless, but it wasn’t working and the host eventually sent a message saying to leave it and we’d be awarded the rubies anyway. A satisfactory resolution but we’d lost a good amount of time faffing around with it, and in a non-linear game like this, that matters. See, I wouldn’t normally mind spending five minutes on a broken puzzle if we escaped anyway: after all, we’ve seen everything the room had to offer, we’d have just escaped five minutes earlier. But there were a couple of puzzles in The Ruby Factory that we didn’t solve, which is frustrating as with that extra five minutes we’d have maybe had a chance to crack them.
The twist with The Ruby Factory is that you have to figure out the escape code and get out before the timer reaches zero else you score nothing. But once you enter the code, your game is over. This did cause some last minute panic for us as we thought we had the code, but were wrong. A quick hint pointed us in the right direction and a couple of us worked on that while our remaining teammate managed to crack another puzzle or two and get some extra rubies. Then punched in the exit code, got a green light and… the door didn’t open! Luckily it was still counted as an escape though.
As a quick aside, when we played Trapped In they were located in a strange sort of office complex type thing, co-located with what looked like a really cool retro arcade. Nice enough waiting room and everything, but I’ve not mentioned it much here or in our review of Crazy Clown’s Carnival as since we visited they’ve been forced to move site, so it’s not really relevant.
I really loved this game, though it’s hard to write much about it is as it really is just a room full of challenges that you can approach however you like. Had it all been working for us (and to be fair, I’m aware of at least a couple of other players who have had the same issue with that puzzle being broken, so it’s not just really bad luck) it would have been a rare five-star game. As it is, it comes up just short but is still highly recommended.
Result – we escaped with 54 rubies
Date played: 6 November 2016
Team: Dean, Jess, Katherine
Summary: A really great room that I can't recommend enough, they just need to make that one puzzle a bit more robust.