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Location: New York, New York
Date played: October 29, 2016
Team size: 1-4; we recommend 3
Duration: 10 minutes per game
Price: Free; available through December 2, 2016
Story & setting
These two 10-minute games were sitting on the floor of Sony Square NYC, which is Sony’s open showroom to feature its products to the public.
The first game promoted the new show Timeless, a time travel series. We played a puzzle-based rendition of Where in Time is Carmen Sandiego… which was awesome. It was staged in the show’s time machine, the Lifeboat, which looked cooler than its name sounded.
The second game promoted The Blacklist, now in its fourth season. In this game we found ourselves in a TV-style hacking, decoding-type game of tracking down the bad guy. Everything was set within a fancy looking cube, which was clearly from the show; it meant a great deal to one of the other people in attendance.
I haven’t watched either show, so any references were completely lost on me. I cannot report on how well it captured the essence of either fiction. I can say that both games featured recordings from characters in the show, an excellent and unexpected touch.
These games were created by New York City-based Escape Entertainment. Escape Entertainment has historically been one of the region’s most puzzle-centric companies; oh boy did they deliver puzzle-centric games.
Both games had three puzzling stations and each station offered up its own set of challenges. They were tough puzzles, made even tougher by the short 10-minute timers.
Lisa and I played the games as a couple. We approached Timeless Lifeboat calmly because in our past experiences, corporate promotional games haven’t presented a formidable challenge. We lost Timeless Lifeboat by about five seconds. Had we done any number of things slightly differently, we would have won.
Since we screwed up on the Timeless Lifeboat, we attacked the The Blacklist Box… where we lost even worse. We needed at least another two minutes, or more realistically, another teammate. The Blacklist Box beat us.
Both games included serious logic and reasoning puzzles with more layering than we were mentally prepared for. They should not be approached lightly, especially The Blacklist Box.
The staging area for each game was awesome. I found the Timeless Lifeboat particularly compelling.
Each game was cleverly engineered for rapid reset. Additionally, their solid construction should also help prevent breakage.
We’ve come to expect high production value from corporate promotional games, and these games were no exception.
Furthermore, these were serious escape games with interesting and fun puzzles. They delivered the challenge we don’t often see in promotional games.
These games were completely free and unlike most of the free corporate games we’ve seen, they will run for over a month.
The Sony Showroom was far cooler than expected. They had free demos of the Playstation VR as well as a gallery of incredible photos captured on Sony gear. They offered some great things out of that space; especially for aspiring photographers.
Sony’s gear was laced throughout both games and used to drive most of the interaction. In particular, the games relied on Sony’s internet of things adapters, MESH. There were some interesting gadgets in use, but I cannot help but feel like an escape game with a 10-minute timer was the wrong venue for demonstrating MESH’s capabilities. It had a tiny bit of latency, something in the realm of three seconds… but in the context of a rushed game, that time felt like an eternity. That was a shame because the tech was pretty cool.
Both games got pretty wordy, which is ironic coming from a guy who’s writing ~900 words on 20 minutes of combined gameplay. Again, the short game length amplified every moment of the game. Short passages suddenly felt a lot longer.
There was a ton of ambient noise coming from the game and the surrounding area. This made it difficult to hear key in-game audio.
There was no margin for error. We breezed through some puzzles and died on others. Sometimes this was a factor of having the wrong person start in on a puzzle, but in such a short game, there wasn’t time to switch the teammates’ focuses nor any opportunity to recover.
Should I play Escape Games at Sony Square NYC – The Blacklist Box & Timeless Lifeboat?
I’m shocked to say this, but these are some of the more interesting and challenging puzzle-centric games that I’ve seen.
The 10-minute game timer added challenge and intrigue while also adding new complications and flaws, but these were more than forgivable.
If you’re a room escaper with a love of games that lean heavy on puzzles, then these games are an absolute must. They are free. They are quick. They are in a great neighborhood with plenty of restaurants and easy subway access.
If you’re a fan of either show and you’ve given these games a playthrough, please let us know what you thought in the comments below!
Bring three people and explore the show floor before playing. Be sure to have someone show you how MESH works in the context of the game. It will help. Make every second count; each game only lasts 600.
Both games will run through December 2, 2016.
Book your sessions with Escape Games at Sony Square NYC‘s The Blacklist Box & Timeless Lifeboat, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.