I Can't Hear Myself Think: Getting Music Right in Escape Rooms
During a recent trip to Reno, Nevada, Team Bluefish played an escape game that opened my eyes to a dimension of immersion that many businesses seem content to ignore (or get loudly, painfully wrong). We played “Commandeered” at Immersium and were totally blown away by how everything about the set… immerses… you into the game (get it, cause ya know, their name) even their great use of sound.
But first, look at the set of “Commandeered”.
No, that’s not a movie set. Yes it’s an actual, legit boat. And in case you’re wondering, it looks even more impressive in person. During our pre-visit scouting, Anna and I saw that picture and then planned literally our entire trip around that experience, to make sure we could stop at Immersium.
The game itself was brilliant. It’s one of those rare experiences that you want to keep living in after the hour is over, because the game world is so detailed. No matter who you are, you should play this game.
One thing that really caught my attention at Immersium, though, was the use of sound in the game. I’ve never really stopped to take notice before, but now that I think about it, most other games feel either totally silent or overpoweringly loud. Either there is nothing going on outside of the players voices, or there is some stock audio effect played at such a high volume that players can’t converse without yelling.
Not so, at Immersium. Sound is just one of the tools that the designers have used to transport you into their imagined reality, but it’s perfectly balanced with the other elements. Booming cannon-fire alerts you when you’re on the right path. And if you’re nearing the end of your time, you’ll get an increasingly frenzied background track that will induce frantic anxiety, no matter how cool you are.
Now that I’ve played “Commandeered”, I can’t help but notice how sound gets left out of other games. Just like a great movie soundtrack can instill moods in the audience, I think that escape rooms are going to increasingly explore how they can make you feel things with just a few background tones.
Which escape rooms have you played that have utilized sound really well, or in a really unique way? Do you want sound in your games, or do you think it’ll be too distracting? I hadn’t ever taken the time to think about this game element until I played at Immersium, so I’d really love to hear what people think on our Facebook page.