My body ached for two days. Muscles I didn’t even know I had hurt. I want to go back.
Location: Malden, Massachusetts
Date played: February 29, 2016
Team size: 3-5; we recommend 3-4
Price: $18 per person for 2 hours; $28 per person for a day pass
Boda Borg isn’t an escape room…
But it is on the spectrum.
Boda Borg is a large entertainment facility outside of Boston. It contains 16 separate physical puzzle challenges called “quests.”
These challenges range in intellectual difficulty and physicality.
Perhaps the most interesting challenge Boda Borg has to offer is its total lack of hints or instruction.
Like Nintendo in real life
Boda Borg’s quests feel like a physical manifestation of video games on the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES), for those old enough to remember them (that sentence makes me feel old). NES games were brutally challenging, lacked clear instructions for the players, and often had erratic leaps in difficulty.
You mastered an NES game by repeatedly failing. Each time you failed, you learned another thing that didn’t work. If you did that enough, you’d have the skill and knowledge to complete the game.
That’s Boda Borg. Once you enter a quest, you play until you make a mistake and are subsequently ejected. Then you start again from the beginning.
Everything in Boda Borg was automated. The quests were blanketed in sensors and they reset themselves. When we won, the quests told us. When we lost (and we lost a whole lot), the quests informed us of that as well.
Incredibly well-organized and staffed
In spite of the fact that the quests were automated, Boda Borg’s facilities were well-staffed. If we needed anything, there were always people to ask.
Additionally, everything was exceptionally organized. There were a ton of people visiting Boda Borg, and with the exception of Alcatraz, a particularly popular quest, the lines were never more than a few minutes long.
Boda Borg’s facilities were also far more extensive than what we were accustomed to at escape rooms.
Since we’d pre-registered, our wristbands were ready upon our arrival. We were swiftly given our basic instructions and ushered to a quest.
Snacks, beverages, and a warm lunch were available for purchase. Water was freely available, and Purell® was plentiful.
While the look and feel of the quests varied dramatically from room to room, they were generally attractive. Spook House, Jungle, Platoon, Alcatraz, and Rats looked great.
Some of the more physical quests were on the spartan side, but they were clearly designed for both safety and durability.
Inside of Boda Borg’s walls, we had everything we needed. Outside, the parking situation left a bit to be desired.
Street parking was limited in space and time. Fortunately we were there on a Sunday and the street parking behind the building had no restrictions. (It was a different story in front.)
There was a pay lot, but we didn’t investigate it further.
Boda Borg’s website should provide parking instructions.
Each quest is assigned a color rating: green, red, or black.
This rating isn’t a difficulty rating so much as it is a rating of mental / physical intensity.
Green is mentally intense.
Black is physically intense.
Red is somewhere in between.
Upon reflection, and much to my surprise, I generally preferred the red and black quests. The green quests were considerably less interesting.
Rats was our group’s favorite quest. We played the role of rats in a home. We had to navigate a series of traps and hazards to earn our cheesy goodness. Rated as a “red” quest, it was a mix of physicality, reasoning, and trial and error experimentation. The staging was adorable. Every household object was oversize to simulate the proportions of being a rat. Rats’ look, feel, and overall experience reminded me of the Rescue Rangers NES game.
Another “red” quest, Dansa Pausa was a fun, adorable series of musical and dancing puzzles.
Given a “black” rating, Jungle was a balance challenge that felt like it could have been a challenge on the show Survivor.
Alcatraz was the most popular quest during our visit (and probably most days). It was an escape scenario. This was the most attractive and lushly decorated quest. The lines were too long for us to spend enough time with it, but aesthetically, it was impressive.
I wish we had had time to see it all the way through.
Infra seemed like it baffled everyone who played it. It never had a line and only seemed to hold the attention of people who were really motivated to solve the mystery. We teamed up with another group to try and solve it. We didn’t get far before we got bored.
Rock & Roll
This was some kind of pinball quest. I’m still not sure what was expected of us. We quickly lost interest in it.
This was a pop culture gameshowy quiz.
It broke on us in the middle of the final stage. The screens flashed and then it told us we lost, but we hadn’t even begun the challenge.
The breakage aside, it felt seriously out of place in Boda Borg.
My biggest knock against Boda Borg was their inconsistent use of padding in crawlspaces.
In some locations like Spook House, the padding slid out of place. In other locations such as Rats, there were crawlspaces without any padding.
My knees were displeased.
Eat, hydrate, and dress appropriately
Before you go, make sure you’ve had a good meal. You will burn lots of calories.
Drink water throughout your visit to Boda Borg.
Wear sneakers and comfortable clothes. You will crawl, climb, and jump.
Also… knee pads would have been a good idea.
Should I play Boda Borg?
No one has ever accused me of being athletic. If I’m being completely honest, I was a bit anxious going into Boda Borg. I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to keep up. That concern was unfounded. There were a few challenges that required far more proportional strength than I had to offer, but just about everything was conquerable. And there were plenty of things that I could do that my teammates struggled with.
That’s why Boda Borg is so intriguing.
The quests placed upon us such a broad range of demands that everyone’s strengths and weaknesses surfaced. In my particular case, strength was my weakness, but I was able to make up for it with dexterity and reason.
Boda Borg is rough if you have mobility issues (and depending upon how sever your mobility issues, it might be impossible).
There were many kids (I’d guess around age 8 and up) and they seemed to be having a blast.
If you’re physically capable of meeting the quests’ demands, intellectually able to take on the challenge, and well-adjusted enough to leave your ego in the locker room, then you are in for one hell of a treat.
Book your time with Boda Borg, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.
If I love Boda Borg, what next?
For more mental challenge and less physical exertion check out our New England room escape reviews.
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