Who doesn't like a little spine-chilling adventure to keep you on edge?! This hidden gem will keep you guessing on where the adventure will take you! We have had the chance to play their first release, however be prepared for plenty more to come!...
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THE HAUNTING OF HADLEY HALL
PADLOCK RATING; 4 - GREATLY RECOMMENDED
Fancy yourself as a modern day Ghostbuster? Well look no further, as you investigate some ghostly goings on in this slightly eerie manor!
First of the storyline.... "The imposing Hadley Hall is a stately home in the small village of Ringwood on the edge of the Medway Forest. Built in 1898 for first baron and member of parliament William Hadley and his family, the grand former home has a sinister reputation. Having lost his two sons during the First World War, the hall was passed on after Hadley's death to his granddaughter, who lived there until she vanished without a trace in September 1942. During the Second World War the hotel was used as a secret communications hub, but has since become a luxury hotel and wedding venue. Numbers have however been declining due to increased reports of paranormal activity. With the hotel currently clear of guests, your team have been called in to investigate. Can you and your team work out the mysterious history of the ghostly manor? "
Well, that's me hooked then! I'm a sucker for a slightly eerie storyline and this one is no exception. With the great depth of the plot coupled with some impressive back stories for the characters in this game, it is quite easy to get sucked in. There are also a number of unexpected twists and turns to keep you on your toes, which I certainly wasn't expecting.
The puzzles tend to take the form of fixed images games, but don't be fooled to solely look at the images provided. Listen to what the narrator has to say as you make your way through the game. Observe closely - yes, the fixed images are the main source of the puzzle, however the opening video to each page will give you a little extra nudge.
The puzzles certainly aren't the trickiest you will come across as an experienced player, however, this doesn't take away from the enjoyment of the game. Just remember to review the evidence you have collected along the way. As doors open, additional evidence is revealed and added to your inventory - don't forget what you have collected. You may not need them instantly, and that is a real plus to this game, and give an authentic "escape room" feel to this experience. I think that most family players would be able to enjoy the well-balanced puzzles within this game.
Everyone also knows I am a sucker for atmosphere in online games. This game has a slightly creepy background track that plays throughout all the puzzles, and it provides the perfect balance to give the game atmosphere, yet doesn't spoil the gameplay by being overbearing. The use of sound effects also plays right into this games hands - some may even be needed, so listen closely! I also like the use of a narrator in this game, meaning that you don't have to read the introduction on each page. (The only slight downside, is that the voice is electronically created, so doesn't always add to the authentic nature that the rest of the game does. But that's just personal preference!).
Answers to the puzzles in this game vary, and signposting of them is strong. You always know what you are looking for in the first instance, so there shouldn't be too many head-scratch moment going on! A nice touch to this game, is the use of your PC's microphone. It's difficult to say too much (as ever NO SPOILERS), however, the designers have thought cleverly about things that you might need to say whilst playing this game - and I must add the the technology worked perfectly. If you do start to struggle in this game, there is a handy hints button which provides a very solid nudge in the right direction. If all else fails, you can also reveal the answer.
This certainly isn't game where you will be hiding behind your chair waiting for jump scares; its more of a phycological experience. And whilst eerie, there isn't any content within it where you'd have to send the kids to bed! So gather round the screen, share your experience with friends and family as there certainly isn't anything to give you nightmares!
All-in-all, a very well rounded game, which would be enjoyable to newer online players and provide a great escape room fix for those a little more experienced. Good use of atmosphere, well signposted with a solid and deep plot. Grab your fellow Ghostbusters and see if you can undercover the secrets of Hadley Hall!