It’s a blur.
Location: Seattle, Washington
Date played: April 8, 2016
Team size: 4-6; we recommend 4-5
Price: $28 per adult ticket
Theme & story
In Ninja Escape’s second mission, Black Lace, we found ourselves in a battle of wits against a villainess creating a bio-weapon. We had to complete a series of missions within her lab and escape before the facility detonated.
Tiered win conditions
Ninja Escape presented tiered win conditions for Black Lace. These can be thought of as easy, medium, and hard victory.
These were specifically (1) find specific files – 30% success, (2) find the bio-weapon – 20% success, and (3) escape the facility with everything – 10% success.
This nifty feature enabled a non-binary win/lose situation. It allowed Ninja Escape to keep the game challenging without making everyone feel like a loser.
That said, knowing that we found the files and the bio-weapon but still got exploded felt like a hollow victory.
We’re rarely surprised by the interactions within a room. Black Lace had some moments that truly caught us off guard, in a good way.
The game space wasn’t massive, but Ninja managed to squeeze quite a bit into it.
Ninja Escape clearly worked hard to tell a story and develop the nemesis in the game. This was admirable, but the story was told heavily in prose. When mixed with the many text-based puzzles, we found ourselves reading far more than was enjoyable in a timed escape room environment.
In Ninja Escape’s first mission, Hack Attack, we knew when we had solved a puzzle. In Black Lace, we had a hard time determining exactly what the puzzles were, so we just tried a lot of stuff, and were pleasantly surprised when things worked.
This challenge was compounded by the volume of similar locks. It was frustrating to try possible solutions repeatedly in different locks.
Topnotch customer service
The staff at Ninja Escape was among the most engaging, friendly, and confidence-inspiring that we’ve encountered. We raved about them in our review of Hack Attack and everything we said in that review holds equally true for Black Lace.
Should I play Ninja Escape’s Black Lace?
For the first time in a long time, we felt like new players; this wasn’t a good thing. We spent a lot of time guessing at what the puzzles were, and then where to put the solutions. I lost track of the number of times I put a combination into a lock with nearly no confidence that it would work.
When things did go our way, we were usually rewarded with more confounding puzzles. From beginning to end, Black Lace felt like running on a treadmill; we ran hard and stayed put.
When all was said and done, we couldn’t remember what puzzles we had solved 15 minutes after playing the game. The experience was a blur.
Ninja Escape understands the value of different experiences. They built their second game, Black Lace, in a different style from their first game, Hack Attack. This was an admirable endeavor, but Black Lace needed additional refinement.
At this time, we recommend Ninja Escape’s first game Hack Attack (which we played after Black Lace) over the newer Black Lace.
Full disclosure: Ninja Escape comped our tickets for this game… They also gave us a pair of t-shirts with their awesome logo on it.