Theme Thursday – You can call me HAL


Today a break from the reviews to include a feature blatantly ripped off from EscapistTO. Please go and read some of his thoughts and reviews on escaping; it will make me feel better.

The idea of ‘Theme Thursday’ is to come up with a theme for an escape room that I think would be interesting. As my favourite video game-based youtube channel often suggests “it doesn’t mean that something’s good or bad [or even possible], just interesting”. Hopefully that might start some discussion. I’d particularly love to hear from anyone involved in the industry on the practical side of implementing any of these ideas, but anyone is more than welcome to join in (if anyone wanted to actually implement any of these ideas I’d happily wave any rights (not that you can copyright an idea anyway)).

For my first one, an idea that seems so obvious to me that I’m sure someone must have thought of it already (if you know of a game like this please let me know).

SPOILER ALERT (if you can call it that for a film that came out in 1968): In 2001: A Space Odyssey the computer system that operates the spaceship, HAL, goes rogue and begins trying to kill all the crew. One part of this is trying to lock Dave outside the craft. He eventually manages to break in and deactivate HAL, allowing him to continue on his mission. Shortly after that it all gets a bit weird. But don’t just watch that; go see the whole thing, it’s certainly interesting.

With The Matrix and Terminator franchises as well people are well versed with the concept of sentient computers. And it’s not too big a leap to think that one would want to lock you in somewhere, with the quickly diminishing oxygen supply (how long would oxygen last in a ‘typical’ room anyway? 60 minutes seems very convenient), to try and kill you. You’d need to bypass the system’s security features to “access the mainframe” (or some other computer cliché) and shut them down to unlock the door.

This would be a great excuse to use more physical/manual puzzles to combat the electronic overlord (e.g. need some water to short out some circuits, but first you need to reactivate the water supply, then you need to find part of a tap to access it…). On the flip side, if you had the means, the electronic defences would have an excuse to be very sophisticated. And if the computer/defences could have a voice and a personality (“Just what do you think you’re doing, Dave?”) then you’ve got a great villain as well.

I think a spaceship or station would make a great setting. But if that’s too fantastical for you then a computer system could be running almost anything these days; a laboratory, a military base, some sort of top secret facility, a prison… Lots of things.

In a game I recently played, but haven’t yet reviewed, we were given a ‘misleading’ brief that took a twist once you entered the room. It didn’t really work for that game but it could add even more to this scenario. You think you’re there for something relatively mundane and then the computer turns on you. You’d need to make sure the room sounded appealing enough in its own right, but think it could really add to the experience.

That’s as much thought as I can muster for now. What do you think?


  1. I was literally going to post the same theme (implemented differently) today! that is nuts

  2. Yes! A room like this would be cool. In fact, it’d be cool if the computer would be monitoring you the whole time and try to counter act what you’re doing, and thus more voice prompts.

    Reminds me also a bit of portal.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.