It was a giant advertisement, but it was a fun, well-executed giant advertisement.
Location: New York City, New York
Date played: June 26, 2016
Team size: 2-5; we recommend 3-4
Price: Free – Limited Run Promotion
Story & setting
We were broke New York millennials doing broke New York millennial stuff in a simulation of the New York City boroughs in a Ford Escape SUV.
The game was set in a massive indoor space one avenue west of Penn Station. We worked our way through a number of different sets, including an apartment, office, coffee shop, and Bushwick art show, among other locations. We traveled between these locations by driving a 2017 Ford Escape.
At each set, actors facilitated the experience, and led us through the story of our day with the vehicle.
At each point of the game, we interacted with a feature of the car in order to accomplish a critical task or solve a puzzle. The staff made this clear upfront, and cleverly leveraged this game dynamic so that everyone had to pay close attention to the car’s sales pitch.
The game allowed us 6 minutes to complete the few puzzles within each set.
Given the limited time, the puzzles were all very basic, and didn’t allow for any form of progressive exploration. Important clues were obvious. In some cases they were pointed out by the staff; in others, they were literally labeled “IMPORTANT.”
It was pretty damn cool driving a car through an escape experience. My favorite parts of the game were in the car. I could have actually used a bit more of the car.
The scale of this game was staggering, as was the pace at which we were pushed through it. We covered a lot of ground in a short amount of time.
The game gave a good overview of both escape rooms and the Ford Escape. (Honestly, the standout feature for me was the vehicle’s Sony sound system.)
As an experienced player, the puzzles weren’t particularly satisfying. However, the new players were clearly blown away by them.
I’m completely baffled by the location. It seems an insurmountably steep challenge to sell millennials in New York City on the virtues of owning a car, let alone an SUV.
For those unfamiliar with NYC, you pretty much have to be independently wealthy to own a car in this city. If you live in the outer boroughs or New Jersey it’s absolutely an option (or a necessity), but I do not know anyone in Manhattan with a car. This experience feels like it would have been a lot more appropriate in Los Angeles… or damn near any other city in the United States.
The event’s website, registration, and promotional material were a mess. The website was clunky, difficult, and deeply unappealing. When we shared the link, a lot of our readers questioned whether this was even an escape game. We were skeptical going in, and pleasantly surprised that the event greatly exceeded our expectations.
Should I play Escape the Room NYC’s Ford Escape NYC?
This was a limited run experience. It was a lot of fun and it was free. If it, or a variant of it, shows up in your city, it’s a good time.
I wouldn’t recommend going far out of your way explicitly to play it, but if it’s convenient, and you can pair it with something else nearby, it’s more than worth the time.
It included heavy sales pitch aspects, but they were well woven into the gameplay.
The size of the event, the massive staff, the actors, and the fact that the game made so much use of the car was excellent.
If it’s ever an option for you, book your session with Escape the Room NYC’s Ford Escape NYC, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.