“Wait, wait, wait! I’ve always wanted to do this…”
– Dr Peter Venkman
Location: New York, New York
Date played: July 18, 2016
Team size: 3, only 3
Duration: ~10 minutes
Price: $49.75 per ticket
Story & setting
Madame Tussauds Ghostbusters Experience wasn’t an escape room, but it was an immersive “hyper-reality” game that absolutely overlapped with escape rooms and where the escape room world is heading.
We were Ghostbusters on a mission to bust ghosts. It couldn’t be more familiar or straightforward.
How did it work
We were outfitted with proton packs on our backs, the corresponding blaster in our hands, and a virtual reality visor on our faces. Once it was turned on, we were in a virtual world where we could walk around, interact with objects, and most importantly wreck everything around us as we shot and trapped ghosts.
As we walked through the physical space of the game, we saw detailed 3D renderings of rooms, elevators, the Manhattan skyline, and ghosts of all shapes and sizes.
When I took my visor off, I could see that the room’s shape mirrored what we saw in the game, but everything was painted flat black.
The Ghostbusters Experience felt like being a ghostbuster, right down to the comically callous disregard for property damage.
Another nifty feature was how we saw each other as ghostbusters. Our heads rendered at the correct height based on the positioning of our visors, and the game programmatically built bodies down to the ground. It was neat.
It worked really well. After a brief adaptation to walking in a virtual world while knowing that my body was in an unseeable physical space, things felt strangely natural.
The shooting was so much fun. Seeing the damage and destruction we caused was a riot.
The last half of the game was badass. There was a brief moment that messed with all of our equilibrium and that was uncomfortable, but awesome.
I saw the climax of the game coming a mile away, but it didn’t make it any less incredible to be a part of it.
It was short… like 10 minutes, short.
While I couldn’t do a side-by-side comparison, I think that the HTC Vive’s commercially available VR visor had a better screen and equally good motion tracking.
The visor was incredibly uncomfortable with glasses. The Vive and Oculus Rift are both better for glasses-wearers.
During one of the most dramatic moments of the game, the room was structured in such a way that it encouraged us to move into a space that was a motion tracking dead zone. When I moved into this place, I lost control of myself in the game. (The exact same thing happened to my father during his run after ours.)
On a political level, it was strange that all players were rendered in-game as adult white dudes. My 9 year old cousin Angie looked like a very short 30 year old guy who hadn’t shaved in a couple days. Lisa and I looked like taller versions of the same guy. Given the emphasis that the 2016 remake put on non-sexualized female protagonists, this was odd and disappointing.
Should I play Madame Tussauds’ Ghostbusters Experience?
This game was pretty damn cool, but it was expensive and short. There are a few factors to determining whether the Ghostbusters Experience is right for you:
If you’re a Ghostbusters fanatic, it’s a must-play. While my passion for Ghostbusters has waned over the years, it was my very favorite movie when I was 3-4 years old. There was a moment while playing where my mind wandered back to being a kid chasing “ghosts” around the backyard and basement with my toy proton pack on my back. It was a moving, intimate, and special moment.
$50 per ticket is serious money, especially for approximately 10 minutes of playtime. The Ghostbusters Experience ticket also provides full admission to Madame Tussauds Wax Museum. This held no appeal for me, but if that’s your jam, then it certainly expands the value of the ticket.
Finally, the ticket value depends on your access to current gen VR. A proper VR rig is a lot less expensive than it used to be, but it still ain’t cheap. If you haven’t experienced VR lately, this is a good chance to see just how far VR technology has come.
Book your session with Madame Tussauds‘ Ghostbusters Experience, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.