The Western Hemisphere’s first room escape.
Location: Brooklyn, New York
Date played: November 21, 2015
Team size: up to 11; we recommend 9-11
Price: $29 per ticket
Theme & story
Escape From the Mysterious Room was, to the best of my knowledge, the first escape room in the Americas. It predated the concept that an escape room should have a cohesive theme, let alone a story.
It was a strange room filled with an assortment of items and puzzles. We had to find everything of significance and suss out the solutions.
Real Escape Game by SCRAP brought room escape games to the United States, starting with this game.
Playing it late, and knowing escape games the way I do, I felt like I had stepped into a time machine: two years ago, this was how most escape rooms played.
Faint theme, no story, weak aesthetics… Just scavenging and puzzles that ranged from hard to brutal.
They told us up front to make a mess… And we really needed to.
Scavenging was the beating heart of Escape From the Mysterious Room. It was tough to find the puzzles, and once we did, we occasionally missed the nuance in the items that we had found. We have never played a room with a more difficult scavenging component than Escape From the Mysterious Room. There was one puzzle that we didn’t find at all. Thankfully we were able to work around it.
Interestingly, in Escape From the Mysterious Room there were elements that we absolutely had to find to escape, and there were elements that we could work around, without which we could still escape.
SCRAP games are notoriously challenging. Escape From the Mysterious Room was no exception.
Like the scavenging component, the puzzles were hard.
At times it was difficult to tell if we had the correct answers. Not all of the puzzles provided feedback. This made the game especially difficult because it wasn’t always possible to tell if we had the correct answers. There were guardrails to make sure we weren’t too wrong, but the lack of feedback added enough uncertainty that solving a puzzle didn’t really feel like a win… Because we weren’t sure if we were right.
The myriad puzzles all culminated into a pair of final puzzles.
In typical SCRAP fashion, the last puzzle was brutally challenging, and required both attention to detail and a monumental leap in logic.
Our gamemaster made a big deal about how we didn’t need any outside knowledge to solve the game. Phones and Google were prohibited. However, there was a puzzle or two that required limited outside knowledge.
My guess is that most teams include people who hold this knowledge, but these instances seemed unnecessary and wrong.
The game was overseen by a mostly silent “spirit” who walked around the room, observing us, and occasionally whispering hints and rule clarifications.
At one point he stopped our team from searching something, which led us to believe we were finished with it. We weren’t.
If it weren’t for my father’s persistence (my parents joined us for this one), we would not have returned to this puzzle because we thought we had completed it.
Our spirit was especially helpful, but he threw us way off on this one.
Escape From the Mysterious Room had a lot to do.
It’s listed as an 11 person room. We brought nine people and we needed them all. I wouldn’t attempt this one with fewer than nine people.
For most of the game, everyone stayed busy.
When the final puzzle came around, things got tedious, but we needed everyone looking at it because it was so damn esoteric.
SCRAP has a distinctive style. This was our fourth SCRAP game and our first victory; we had 60 seconds remaining.
In one attempt, we reached the final puzzle with a ton of time remaining, and didn’t know that there was another puzzle to solve.
In our other two attempts we reached the final puzzle with 20-30 minutes remaining, and spun our wheels until time expired (Escape From the Time Travel Lab predates us writing reviews).
SCRAP games follow the same structure: emphasis on scavenging, large volume of smaller puzzles, and then an esoteric final puzzle that requires a major logic leap.
I appreciate what they do, but it will never be my style of game.
Should I play Real Escape Game by SCRAP’s Escape From the Mysterious Room?
Escape From the Mysterious Room is now closed in Brooklyn, but we truly appreciate that the folks from SCRAP Brooklyn kept the game running so that we could play it before they shut it down. While we were the last team to play it in Brooklyn, the game is still running at a few different SCRAP locations.
Escape From the Mysterious Room is not a game for rookies.
Escape From the Mysterious Room is not a game for people who feel entitled to a victory.
Escape From the Mysterious Room is not for players who expect detailed theming or story.
Escape From the Mysterious Room is for experienced players. It’s for people who want to test themselves against a mighty opponent.
At its best, this is a game that offers an old-school escape room challenge and a lot of cleverness.
At its worst, it’s tedious, frustrating, and confounding.
Regardless of escape room design preferences, Escape From the Mysterious Room is a critical piece of escape room history. As such, it is a must play for connoisseurs of these games.
Book your hour with Real Escape Game by SCRAP’s Escape From the Mysterious Room, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.