Online game review: Pentargo Quarantine
Format: Browser-based, ARG-esque
Price: US$2.50 per player
No time limit; we took about 1 hour 45 minutes, but other teams might take several hours

A confession: though online variations on escape rooms have been proliferating, I hadn’t played any before this, due to a lack of time/energy and a dislike for teleconferencing (required for gamemaster-enabled remote-playing of physical escape rooms). Pentargo Quarantine doesn’t require teleconferencing, though it does take time, as an experience that’s dense in both narrative and content.

While it does include some escape room-esque puzzles, and uses some tools more often associated with puzzle hunts, Pentargo Quarantine feels most like an alternate reality game, unfolding via a browser-based chat interface — with images, audio, and video adding experiential depth — and, well, the vast world of the internet.

This real-world immersive quality is the strongest point of the experience, with various cool tasks along the way. A couple of puzzles felt unsatisfying — however, a helpful hints-and-walkthrough page ensures that you won’t get stuck at any point.

With an extremely affordable price (some of it going to charity, too) for a lot of content and pretty unique gameplay, it’s worth spending time with Pentargo Quarantine.

Warnings: Set amid current events, the game makes reference to viruses, conspiracies, and dark themes that may be off-putting.

Full disclosure: Pentargo offered a free playthrough.

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