A virus that kills the uncooperative.
Location: Los Angeles, CA
Date played: October 15, 2016
Team size: up to 8; we recommend 5-7
Duration: 60 minutes
Price: $36 per ticket
Story & setting
The Virus began during a viral apocalypse: our team of scientists had to travel to a military laboratory deep within the Earth. There we could create the antidote to save humanity, but only if the virus didn’t get us first.
Our lab assistant gamemaster met us in character outside the facility. He ushered us into the game, following his scientific protocol, and connected each of us to an Oculus Rift.
Through the VR, we learned about our mission and traveled deep into the Earth to the laboratory.
At our journey’s end, we removed the VR headsets and found ourselves in a lab environment.
The Virus was a puzzle-focused game; these puzzles were challenging, varied, and numerous.
Their build quality and tangible interactions varied as well. While some puzzles made use of more flimsy, laminated paper-based components, others required us to manipulate large set pieces.
The puzzles incorporated the environment and its scientific materials, but they didn’t convey a narrative.
The Virus included an in-game gamemaster acting as a lab assistant. He cleaned up the lab, keeping all the supplies organized, and kept up our energy level. This initially felt like it should have been annoying, but was useful and felt true to the character. By midgame, we were happy that he was there cleaning up our mess (and making his eventual reset easier).
This was a puzzle-packed game for a larger team, but as it funneled to its dramatic conclusion, it didn’t leave players behind. The last puzzle was cleverly designed such that everyone could participate in the game’s final moments. This is a surprisingly rare occurrence in room escapes.
We’ve been waiting to see a physical room escape successfully incorporate VR. Get the F Out created a VR introduction that worked. It was fun, unobtrusive, and exciting. Nobody felt nauseous. It wasn’t even remotely necessary, but it was a fun touch.
Get the F Out included an Easter Egg bonus puzzle in The Virus. We appreciated this additional challenge and the temptation to examine it at the expense of our core mission. In the end, we knew how to solve it, but we didn’t have enough time remaining to finish the job. We had to take our victory and call it a day.
Get the F Out designed multiple interactions to intensify the situation. One of these progressed gradually throughout the game, but we never even noticed it. In retrospect, it was really cool, but we were so focused that it didn’t cause the dramatic effect that it should have.
There was a lot of stuff to unlock in this lab. Stuff upon stuff made some of the puzzles annoying to solve.
We encountered one seemingly impossible puzzle. Without the lab assistant’s clueing, it would have fallen flat. After he showed us what we needed to do, we still felt like we never would have come up with the correct approach on our own.
In one instance, The Virus relied on prior knowledge. We happened to have this knowledge, but for teams that don’t, the lab assistant will have to step in and help. Even with assistance I don’t think the game would be win-able without that bit of knowledge.
Should I play Get the F Out’s The Virus?
The story of The Virus didn’t make a ton of sense, but we bought into the fiction just enough that it worked.
The puzzles themselves didn’t convey the story, but the gamemaster and the VR introduction did that, and simultaneously elevated the game’s intensity while keeping it humorous.
We are still waiting to see VR truly incorporated into the guts of a real life room escape. However, The Virus made a good first attempt. The VR fit the narrative and didn’t disrupt the game play. It definitely upped the level of excitement for the whole team, especially for our teammates who hadn’t tried modern VR.
If you like to puzzle, this is the game for you.
If you prefer outrageous set design, this might not be your game. It includes some neat set pieces, but at its core, it’s a lab full of puzzles.
If you don’t have many opportunities to play with VR, that’s an added bonus with The Virus.
Book your hour with Get the F Out’s The Virus, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.
Full disclosure: Get the F Out comped our tickets for this game.