A reminder that the 1980s is over-romanticized
Location: New York, New York
Date played: June 3, 2016
Team size: 10; we recommend 5-7
Duration: 60 minutes
Price: $28 per ticket
Story & setting
The Rec Room perfectly embodied its 1980’s aesthetic. We had played The Apartment in this same space about a year ago, but Escape the Room NYC completely rebuilt the space to capture a new vibe. Even the walls and the lighting were on theme.
Despite impeccable theming, The Rec Room didn’t tell a story. We simply needed to escape this room, and with it, escape the 1980’s. There was potential for a narrative, but Escape The Room NYC didn’t bother to attempt a story.
These puzzles required expert scavenging. We had to carefully search every aspect of the room in order to dive into the more mentally challenging aspects of The Rec Room.
Escape the Room NYC built The Rec Room’s puzzles around some fun 1980’s props and gadgets. Some of these functioned as expected. Others were simply vehicles for different types of interactions. We enjoyed this variety in design.
Additionally, the puzzles provided challenges for all types of players.
The theming in The Rec Room was spot on and we loved the props. We really felt like we spent an hour playing in a 1980’s rec room. In fact, I couldn’t resist the urge to dance to the soundtrack.
The staff at Escape the Room NYC was top notch. Our game master was energetic and engaged.
Escape the Room NYC sells 10 tickets to this game, but this was really, at most, a six-player experience. The space was small and at any given time, there weren’t enough puzzles to engage our entire team. This overcrowding severely diminished our game experience.
The Rec Room incorporated technological mechanisms: solutions triggered other things to happen. Because of the overcrowding and the resulting chaos, we never knew what action caused what reaction from our environment. This made it impossible to know whether we had correctly solved various puzzles.
There was one order-preservation puzzle. With so many people and the required heavy scavenging, this was bound to be problematic. We needed a clue or we never would have thought to return props to their original locations. This was infuriatingly lame.
There was one task that took forever to complete largely because the interface was terrible (and also far too modern for a 1980s game).
Should I play Escape the Room NYC’s The Rec Room?
Escape the Room NYC was the first company to open in New York and the first company that David and I each visited. We loved their early games and expect better from them.
The Rec Room had too many people crammed in its tiny space, and the game felt dated (and not in 1980s nostalgic sort of way).
While this new game incorporated more technological mechanics than those early games, its overarching design was that of 2014. The industry has progressed, but this game was left behind. It tried to keep too many people occupied by relying on heavy scavenging, a mainstay of early US games.
Stuffing 10 people into The Rec Room felt like a cash grab.
The Rec Room enables players to spend an hour in a well-designed, enjoyably-themed environment. It wasn’t a bad game, but we’ve seen some excellent work come from Escape The Room and The Rec Room did not feel like a step in the right direction.
New York City is one the most competitive markets in the US. This game cannot stand up to the polish, innovation, technology, or narrative that others provide. The Rec Room was good enough, but given the drawbacks, we recommend that if you have limited time in New York City, you spend your money elsewhere.
Book your hour with Escape the Room New York’s The Rec Room, and tell them that The Room Escape Artist sent you.
[Image via uglyhousephotos.com]