[At the time of this review, Last Minute Escape was called Exit Strategy.]
The Hotel Luxeva only rents rooms by the hour.
Location: Wayne, NJ
Date played: January 18, 2016
Team size: 2-8; we recommend 4-6
Price: $100 per room on weekdays, $30.50 per ticket on weekends
Theme & story
Hotel Luxeva was set in a 1980’s hotel room. We were agents in a techno-thriller at the tail end of the Cold War.
The puzzles stayed true to the hotel setting. The techno-thriller story was conceptually more engaging than the hotel setting, but the game focused its attention on the set rather than the story.
Exit Strategy tried to work the story into wordy puzzles instead of making it the focus of the larger immersive experience.
This game included a few puzzles that required substantial focused reading. This type of puzzle diminished the tangible and interactive experience. It also caused bottlenecking.
The majority of the puzzles were designed around hotel-themed props, which was immersive.
However, Hotel Luxeva was designed such that we unlocked just one component of a variety of puzzles immediately and then continued to unlock additional components of the already started puzzles as the game unfolded. In this way, we spent considerable time attempting to solve puzzles before we had all the clues, but we had no way to know that.
It drained some of my fun.
My missed opportunity
I missed how much of this game unfolded because I was glued to half completed puzzles. Because our gamemaster continued to hint at these puzzles, I continued to fixate on them, figuring that they were necessary to push our game forward. However…
Our missed opportunity
We bypassed a few critical game elements because we managed to solve puzzles without deriving the entirety of the clues.
Thus we missed what were absolutely the two best puzzles in the game. When we saw them unfold in the walkthrough, we were disappointed that we missed them. These puzzles were too cool to be missable.
Their missed opportunity
Exit Strategy continued to impress us with video production. Their intro video set up the full story where the set focused on the hotel, and they have the best rules explanation video we’ve ever seen. It’s hilarious.
Video production is Exit Strategy’s greatest strength, and it would be great to see more of it melded into the game.
Hints & explanations
Our gamemaster delivered hints on a computer screen through an image that implied a type of decryption. Considering that some of our unsolved puzzles included large passages of text, we thought this too was a hint. It turned out that this was just a style choice, but it threw us way off.
Before entering the room we were told something along the lines of, “be careful in the our room, the Hotel Luxeva is a premiere hotel, and should be handled with care.”
The reality was that it wasn’t a particularly upscale or beautiful room, but there was a fair number of flimsy components. One of our teammates pulled a piece of furniture apart by accident.
Should I play Exit Strategy’s Hotel Luxeva?
Escape rooms are ultimately about fun. Hotel Luxeva wasn’t a bad game, but it had more faults than we were expecting, and they diminished our fun.
Far too many set pieces were weakly constructed.
Far too few puzzles advanced the techno-thriller story.
Far too many puzzles required too much reading.
And we skipped the room’s greatest moments entirely by accident.
Much of what went wrong for us could be fixed, and not every player will be as bothered by these faults. However, when we consider our Exit Strategy experiences together, we recommend The Speakeasy over Hotel Luxeva.