22 October 2022
A secret worth sharing
Amelia’s Secret is an augmented reality game set in a fictitious stately home that you have inherited. Congratulations! Surely this then is a game of flipping this huge mansion in to ten apartment rental complex and achieving the daytime television dream of becoming a terrible landlord. But, oh no! The door has locked behind you on your first viewing, and now you’re trapped in here. And it’s pretty creepy.
Well, some of it anyway. Horror games, eh? What do we really want from them? Do we really want to be scared? Or do we just want a bit of camp from all the tropes and the odd gruesome scene or jump scare? There’s those who fall in to both sides of this, and Amelia’s Secret does a surprisingly good job of pleasing both.
The game requires a tablet, the larger the better, to do most of the visual elements of the game. You’ll be wandering around the mansion (your home) pointing the tablet at large pictorial cards which will then pop some piece of furniture or object into existence in front of you. Most of these you interact with in some way to discover a clue which will help you elsewhere. This is delivered through some fairly basic 3D graphics that are, in their own way, quite charming and unworldly creepy all at once.
This might be the only game I ever listed ‘blu tack’ as an item on the ‘What’s in the box?’ section in a review. But this goes to show how much the creators care about the set up of the space (which is extremely important unless you want a sideways chest of drawers on your dining table). Each card tells you where to stick it, and how high off the ground, or on what surface. If you wanted to go all out on the way you present your games evening (i.e. full haunted house), then this game supports that. Added with the app’s ‘flashlight’ button (the light on your tablet) you can actually set up something atmospheric.
The ‘horror’ of the game comes from this sense of being able to move around a space. It gives you that horror film tunnel vision (aided by the music) that when something pops into the room you do get a little jump. Some of the items trigger odd sounds when you get close to them, and you’re encouraged to view them from all angles. For the more squeamish parties in the game this was enough horror at the end of the evening.
When it comes to these kind of escape room games, we all know what we’re going in for. There’s no point playing this haphazardly on a sunny Sunday afternoon. You need to set up all the cards in just the right place in your house, and have players explore a little more than they might usually on a game’s night. There’s something quite nice about playing a game where you’re all peering into a portal at a puzzle in front of you, it’s got a strong ‘Crystal Maze’ feeling about it with those bizarre parts from the television programme where members of the team would be shouting through a hatch ‘helpful’ things at their teammates. Although of course, no one gets locked in.
There’s only two scenarios to play in the game – which initially worried us – the first a 20 minute scenario, and the second a hour-long one. However, while we mostly worked happily through the 20 minute version, the hour long version was much trickier and in-depth. Clues that had previously been used for one trick now had multiple meanings and there were more interactions to be had than we expected.
If you’re looking for one spooky night where you get to turn your house into the puzzle, then Amelia’s Secret does it with a bump in the night.
CHRISTOPHER JOHN EGGETT
PLAY IT? YES
An odd, slightly wonky escape room game that contains just about enough camp and weird atmosphere to have you laughing or, very occasionally, shrieking.
TRY THIS IF YOU LIKED Escape Room: The Game
If these entry level escape room games worked for you – you might enjoy the light puzzling of this spooky outing.
Publisher: Hachette Board Games UK
Time: 20-60 minutes
What’s in the box?
- Game board
- 14 Marker cards
- Blu tack
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