Mission Escape Games – Nemesis [Review]

In the final minutes of Nemesis, I felt my world crashing, but recovered in the very last moment.

Location: New York, New York

Date played: September 17, 2015

Team size: up to 8; we recommend 4-6

Price: $28 per ticket

REA Golden Lock-In Badge
2015 Golden Lock-In Winner

Mission Escape Games Logo

Theme & story

You’ve been sent to board a massive space-station that has lost power and is about to fall out of orbit, plummet to Earth, and end all life on the planet. You have 60 minutes to restore power to the station, correcting its orbit or the world ends.

The Nemesis looked exceptional. Every item in the room was on-theme and it was sci-fi in a dark and slightly intimidating way.

The game felt like we stepped into a new world, and it was a fun world to explore.

Mission Escape Games - Nemesis

Intro

We were the first non-tester team to play Nemesis. Derek, the owner of Mission Escape Games, handled our introduction to the game, and it was a bit disjointed. I followed the story line because it was a familiar sci-fi setup, but some of our less nerdy teammates were confused about the goal of our Mission.

I’d venture to guess that because this is a new game, the introductory speech isn’t polished yet, but it’s an important part of the game (especially for less experienced players).

Puzzles

There was a bit of a mixed bag here in the puzzles.

On the plus side, there were no padlocks whatsoever and many of the puzzles were interactions with the space station.

This room was at its best when the puzzles were space station interactions that advanced a story line.

On the not-so-plus side, a couple of these puzzles were excruciatingly challenging. There was one puzzle that was so hard that I can confidently say our team wouldn’t have solved it… And I’m not even sure we would have gotten it with hints… But we accidentally circumvented that puzzle so we’ll never know.

Breakage & accidental circumvention

This game was technology-driven. Almost everything involved a sensor or something digital. Thus there was high potential for bugs, especially for early players.

In one instance we bypassed a puzzle, and didn’t even know it. We did a thing, and another thing opened. It turned out that we did the wrong thing, and had no idea that we had circumvented the hardest puzzle of the game.

There was another instance where we had the right answer, and the device didn’t work. It was a bummer because that happened at a particularly dramatic moment.

Escalation, storytelling, and a climactic moment

Nemesis had a dramatic beginning, largely because the puzzles fit into the story. It had a similarly dramatic ending. When we restored power to the space station with a minute to spare, and the triumphant theme from one of my favorite PS2 era video games started playing in the background, I was elated… More on that elation in a moment.

The middle of the game lost the plot thread. The puzzles existed for their own sake rather than to advance the story.

Nemesis had so many wonderful moments that conveyed meaning and story, a few of the puzzles didn’t feel like they should have made the cut.

A personal drama

This was a special game for me because it was the first domino in my extraordinarily complex marriage proposal to my (now) fiancée, and Room Escape Artist co-everything, Lisa Radding.

Lisa & David - Post Game

Derek graciously hid a small box in the room for Lisa to find. He asked me if I “wanted to know where it would be hidden.” I didn’t want to know anything about the game, so I said, “no.”

He hid the box in the penultimate puzzle of the game… So I became hint happy in the final minutes. I was silently panicking as it started to look increasingly like we weren’t going to get out.

If you’re interested in the full story of the proposal, you should read Lisa’s post, The Escape of the Ring from the Puzzle Box.

Should I play Mission Escape Games’ Nemesis?

The last time we played at Mission Escape Games, we loved the Hydeout, but we thought it lacked a climax. Nemesis did not suffer from this problem.

It had quite a few wonderful moments in it and the overall feel was seductive in a nerdy sort of way. It was intense, a ton of fun, and a game that I will always remember (not all of that has to do with the game itself).

All of that being said, there were moments when the game didn’t work as designed, a couple of puzzles that were far too confounding, and a few elements that felt like they should have been better incorporated into the story. Mission keeps getting better and we keep moving the goal post on what constitutes a perfect game.

Nemesis is a game for experienced players. If this is your first room, you’re going to have a rough time. It’s (mostly) fair to experienced players, but I am reasonably sure that it will offer an insurmountable challenge to first time teams. Mission has a few games that offer a softer learning curve. Give those a try; then face off against the apocalypse space station.

Book your hour in Mission Escape Games’ Nemesis, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.

Full disclosure: Mission Escape Games comped our tickets for this game.

2 thoughts on “Mission Escape Games – Nemesis [Review]

  1. Based on your recommendation we went this past weekend. Was had a fantastic time. I think they’ve fixed much of the problems you identified above. The story is there but the narrative is not as strong as the theme- and as a theme that’s really all this room needs. My favorite puzzles are those tied to or advancing a narrative – which this room lacked – but the creativity in each puzzle, the use of technology, and the theatrical reveals were awesome. It also did a beautiful job of not swamping the “signal” with “noise” – while there were clearly many puzzles to solve in the room (there were many keypads, each of different types) we were usually quite clear on which ones to focus on, and when. (Without giving up any spoilers, I wish I’d had more active-wear clothing on for one element). Each puzzle felt like it had a unique mechanic, but provided a clue to the next one, which felt very organic and kept us challenged and engaged throughout. We actually blew through it, with 18 minutes to spare, which felt remarkable, but we had a very talented and skilled group with us; this is NOT a room for new players (the multi-step puzzles will be challenging for them to connect the dots).

    1. I’m thrilled to hear you enjoyed. I know that the folks from Mission had iterated on Nemesis a few times since we played it, and they significantly renovated the game a couple months ago… So I’m not surprised at all by your report.

      Wearing Active-wear is also good advice.

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