Room escapes are one thing, expectations get a bit higher when you’re tasked with escaping a minor league baseball stadium.
“The titans are coming, and they’re hungry. Based on the manga megahit, Attack on Titan, the newest Real Escape Game (REG) takes players to a world inhabited by giant, humanoid creatures that live for no other purpose than to make a snack of all of us. The high walls of the stadium are the only thing keeping you safe… for now. Experience the latest edition of SCRAP’s interactive storytelling and puzzle-solving games, ¨Escape from the Walled City,¨ on a scale never seen before. Join thousands of other players as you decode clues inside a real stadium! Each REG requires participants to use their best detective skills as they race against the clock. Be warned, though: survival isn’t easy, and teamwork will be essential if you hope to survive. Escape or not, the game is going to be killer! This event will be held in stadiums in San Francisco, Los Angeles, and New York. After already hosting over 40,000 players in the US to date, the SCRAP team is excited to present a new project with such a grand scope, keeping them at the forefront of live escape entertainment!”
Mass Escape Games
SCRAP, the folks who imported real life escape games to the United States, brought their latest mass escape game to New York. Last year SCRAP’s mass game, “Escape from the Werewolf Village” became the very first room escape that we reviewed over on my personal blog TheGeekWhisperer.com.
Lisa and I put that review together, and later created Room Escape Artist, out of a genuine love for escape games, and a fear that subpar games would turn people off from the experience. We wrote:
“My big concern is that there were people in that room who were doing a room escape for the first time and think that Escape from the Werewolf Village is representative of all room escapes. If this were my first, I am not sure I’d have gone to a second one.”
So is this mass game better? Absolutely. Escape from the Walled City is an improvement on nearly every level when compared with Escape from the Werewolf Village, but is that enough?
Being on the field of a stadium is fun. Playing a game that’s spread across the field and the stands is also pretty damn cool.
In Werewolf Village, the room itself was irrelevant to the story. In Walled City, the stadium represents something in the story. The size of the facility also greatly increases the distance between things. If you don’t like to move, then this isn’t the event for you.
That being said, I think that a lot more could be done with the stadium besides adding lots stairs and putting distance between things.
And… The field was covered in crap. It wasn’t SCRAP’s fault… but it was still kind of gross.
This game has a reasonably cohesive story, even if it isn’t entirely compelling. In Werewolf Village, the story was laughably abstract. Walled City’s story is a lot more tangible and easy-to-follow.
The story still doesn’t create a believable fiction.
Attack on Titan Tie-In
I’m not an Attack on Titan fan; however, if they substituted a fictional world that I cared about, say Firefly, I think I would have been disappointed.
All mechanics lead to a password to advance, and the passwords were goofy in the context of the story that SCRAP was trying to tell, shattering any fiction that the game attempted to build.
In typical SCRAP style, the game is made up of mostly written logic and word puzzles.
The vast majority of those puzzles were junk puzzles. SCRAP games are always loaded with a heavy volume of puzzles that feel like homework. They aren’t hard, and they aren’t fun.
There were three more physically involved puzzles in this game that were brilliant, and unique. However they tied back to something that wasn’t fun.
This was my third SCRAP game, and I hated the final puzzles to the previous two games that I played. This latest one was marginally better, but still very obtuse.
My gripe with SCRAP is that their games are all structured the same:
- Battle through a pile of junk puzzles with a few cool ones peppered in
- Struggle with a obtuse final puzzle
They seem to pride themselves on their comically low escape rate, but it’s a bit dishonest. They are a company that likes to design inescapable rooms with a tolerance for error. The teams who do escape are anomalies.
We got to the last puzzle with 25 minutes remaining, and ended up with 58% of the last password derived from a method that wasn’t what the designers intended.
The most significant way that Walled City improved upon Werewolf Village was that you knew whether you’d won or lost when the game ended. That may seem trivial, but it’s a big deal.
Should I play SCRAP’s Escape from the Walled City?
This game is a valiant effort at making a cohesive mass escape game. It’s a huge leap forward when compared with Escape from the Werewolf Village, but it’s just not quite enough of a leap to make it worth playing.
The stadium was fun, the aforementioned three great puzzles were entertaining, but they were drowned out by the sea of junk puzzles, and a game that wasn’t epic enough to warrant its setting.
The US cities that this game visits — New York, San Francisco, and Los Angeles — all have vibrant room escape scenes, and there are so many better places to get locked in for an hour.
When our game was over, our team packed up and went to play a regular escape game on Long Island.
Going into this, I didn’t think that mass escape games were ever going to be worth playing. I’m still not a believer. However, I do have hope that SCRAP might one day change my mind… They just need to figure out how to break away from this structure that they are so committed to.