Escape Entertainment – Alien Attack [Review]

An ambitious attempt to advance room escape design through tantalizing technology and design direction.

Location: New York, New York

Date played: December 3, 2015

Team size: up to 10; we recommend 5-8

Price: $29 per ticket

Theme & story

You’re on a Russian space craft facing an attack by an alien force. You must initiate some sci-fi-y stuff to help fight off the attack.

Alien Attack Ship Diagram

The room was beautiful. Everything in it screamed sci-fi space adventure. It was well constructed and just felt fun.

The story, however, felt tacked on. The attacking aliens were only referenced once, by our gamemaster, prior to the start of our hour. The aliens didn’t factor in beyond that reference.

This wasn’t a problem, but it made the game feel like the aliens were only included because Escape Entertainment uses alliterative names (Prohibition Pandemonium, Manhattan Mayhem – formerly Monkey Mayhem). The alliterative names are great, but the name “Alien Attack” set up a story that didn’t have a payoff.

Don’t forget your tricorder

Alien Attack leaned heavily on visual scanning technology. Without giving away any details, I’ll just say that there was an escape room equivalent of a Star Trek tricorder in the room; it was an amazing concept.

The scanning technology added both depth and challenge to the game. And it worked, mostly.

There were a few color contrast problems and sometimes the technology didn’t feel responsive enough, but the overall concept was so wonderful that those issues were forgivable.

Spacial puzzles in space

With some slight variation, the bulk of the puzzles in Alien Attack were spacial challenges. There were a few logic games mixed in as well.

Alien Attack Puzzle
Not a spacial puzzle

In the same way that Prohibition Pandemonium leaned heavily on a particular type of puzzle, Alien Attack is a game for a specific type of player.

Not quite enough space

Alien Attack had a few core puzzles that were isolated from the rest of the game. These puzzles had a limited amount of space around them for players to gather and work through their intricacies.

The room itself wasn’t lacking for space, but some of the play areas were too tight. This became a more significant factor later in the game when there were only a few puzzles left and the team started to crowd around them.

Hearing in space

Alien Attack produced a lot of ambient background noise.

For the most part, the background sounds worked well on their own and elevated the gameplay.

However there came a point in the game where the sounds became an agitating annoyance that made it difficult for our team to appreciate a critical puzzle.

Alien Attack Timer

Should I play Escape Entertainment’s Alien Attack?

In Alien Attack, Escape Entertainment created a beautiful, challenging game that pushed the boundaries of how technology can take escape games to new heights.

It also had, quite possibly, the most interesting technology-driven gimmick I’ve ever encountered.

It stumbled in a few places, in large part because the design was pushing these boundaries.

Alien Attack was frequently almost amazing, but a bit agitating.

The tricorder-like scanners were brilliant… But sometimes they were very slow to respond.

The ambient background noise added to the experience… But there came a time where all I wanted was silence.

The puzzles were fun… But they lacked variety and were placed such that they couldn’t accommodate the players in the room.

Each Escape Entertainment room has brought something new to the escape game genre; Alien Attack is no exception. It pushes on boundaries. When a designer does that, some things are going to work and others are going to require refinement. What matters most is that Escape Entertainment went to great lengths to craft a unique experience, and they created one. That point alone makes it worth the price of entry.

Book your hour with Escape Entertainment’s Alien Attack, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.

Full disclosure: Escape Entertainment comped our tickets for this game.

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