Helter-skelter (hel-tər-ˈskel-tər) adverb: in a confused and careless way.
Location: New York, New York
Date played: June 6, 2015
Price: $28 per ticket
“You were once a detective whom everyone loved, but you got framed by Dr. Locus, the most wanted guy in the world who is an intelligent criminal. He has a prison where he kept all his prisoners for experiments. You had been transferred to a single cell with a guard watching you all day long.
Soon, Dr. Locus will take you out and execute you because you had been ruining his plans! You have to use your professional knowledge to get out of this prison, or you will die and no one knows! Run, detective!”
A portion of your team is taken from you, and locked in a separate room. A gated door is between you, so you can see one another, communicate, and pass things between the rooms.
This setup, and the constant need to communicate between the two rooms, were Prison Break’s high points.
The puzzles within this game are haphazardly themed. There are only a handful of items in the room that suggest that you’re in the lab of a villainous mad scientist.
For the most part the items in this game seem like a random assortment of things that look kind of cool. There’s stuff ranging from 18th century tall ships to, some “I just bought these from a yard sale” books on a shelf, and then something about the zodiac. It’s all over the place.
The prison cell is cute, but begs the question:
“Why has this brilliant scientist left his human test subjects with so much stuff?”
In situations like this, it’s probably better for the game designers to claim “no theme” and just throw puzzles into a room.
One of our teammates accidentally broken the feature mechanical puzzle in this game by shaking a seemingly useless item lightly.
I figured out that the puzzle broke, and knew how to solve it. I had to call our game-master in. He took the broken pieces, disappeared for more than 10 minutes and came back. He added five more minutes to our clock.
Two truths and a lie
One critical puzzle required players to derive three numbers for a set of clues. We spent a crazy amount of time working on this. Then, on a hunch, I presumed that one of the hints was false, and finally opened the damn lock.
This was even more frustrating than the broken puzzle.
There’s a puzzle in this game that requires your game-master to enter the room and hand something to you so that you can finish it.
This puzzle doesn’t have to be this way, and it’s both outlandish and lazy.
10 player game?
This game is listed for “up to 10 players.” That’s far too many players. I think it realistically tops out at 8, and there should probably be a minimum of 4 people in this game.
Ideally this is a 5-6 player escape game.
Should I play X-Room NYC’s Prison Break?
This game is a bit chaotic. Some puzzles lie to you. Some puzzles break easily. The theming is all over the place… Yet the game isn’t entirely without merit because we still managed to have fun. I’m not confident, however, that the team would have enjoyed it without someone experienced to notice when a puzzle broke, or to work through a deceitful puzzle.
I’ve played 3 of the 5 games that X-Rooms has to offer, and I think that they need to sit down and seriously reflect on what they want for their business. They can make entertaining games. The Forest Cabin is easy, but it isn’t bad. Prison Break is more challenging, and the concept is fun, but the execution is weak.
New York City has stiff competition, and from what I’ve seen, X-Rooms needs to rapidly ramp up the quality of their games’ to keep up. Time is ticking.