Since the beginning of time, human cultures have assumed reflections are doorways to other worlds, that the person looking back at you from the mirror is living his or her own life, and has their own soul. One of our most longstanding fears is seeing something in that mirror, only to have something look back.
This fear spawned the creation of the legend Bloody Mary, a nefarious ghoul who’ll crawl into our world when you look at a bathroom mirror, turn off the lights, light some candles, and say to your reflection, “Bloody Mary… Bloody Mary… Bloody Mary…”. It’s a frightful idea, one that many have tried but some are hesitant to commit to. Thanks to the developers of Well Told Entertainment, you can practice the ritual of summoning Bloody Mary herself from the hopefully complete safety of a virtual reality horror escape room: Escape Bloody Mary.
You play as a child who’s dared by his friends to commit the ritual: you’ve read the lore, you’ve gathered the candles, you know how to guard against her by keeping the candles lit, and the only question remains is if she appears, how long can you survive?
From the start, it’s unnerving how tall everything is. You can barely reach the sink to light the candles, and the bathroom feels genuinely claustrophobic. When the lights go out it feels like you’re a kid again committing some half-hearted nighttime prank.
When spying the infamous creature crawling through the window, you can only view her directly through the mirror which inserts a sort of paranoia and a need to keep glancing at the reflection no matter how much you don’t want to. The only way you can keep her at bay while solving puzzles is to always relight the candles she constantly blows out while keeping an eye on the mirror to show which direction she comes from (the door, the toilet, the shower) so you can see her coming and stop her. It’s Bloody Mary’s ever encroaching presence that injects urgency and panic while trying to find the next item to solve the next puzzle.
However after a while, initial fear can turn to tedium as her movements start to become predictable and you can generally stop her before she even appears. However this delusion of control can actually serve to crowd judgment and prevent you from solving puzzles that have logical answers. This may make it less enjoyable depending on how well you can work best under pressure.
Near the end you can get a general grasp on “Scary Mary” and eventually figure out the puzzles. However it’s when you feels safe near the end that Bloody Mary gives it her A-game. In one last ditch effort to claim you she takes a 180 and messed with her own rules, which doesn’t feel out of place nor out of character unlike most horror games. All at once the terror is reawakened and results in one last desperate search for the last clue to escape Bloody Mary before she drags you away.
This is where the game’s effectiveness as a laxative might also be a partial hindrance. In a state of panic the player can fail to realize the game literally showing them that they have to let certain things happen in order to progress. However this can be more of a nitpick than anything and doesn’t make the game unwinnable.
Overall if you want a genuine horror experience this season devoid of jump scares, Escape Bloody Mary is the perfect game for you. While the gameplay can be rather simplistic at times, Escape Bloody Mary keeps a constant atmosphere of terror that’ll have you hesitating to look in your mirror tonight. Till next time, Bloody Mary…Bloody Mary…Bloody Mary…