LET’S GET READY TO PUZZLE!
Location: Orlando, FL
Date played: November 14, 2016
Team size: up to 10; we recommend 4 or 6
Duration: 45 minutes
Price: $35 per ticket
Story & setting
Faceoff was a head-to-head competitive room escape game. America’s Escape Game elected to forgo any kind of story or pretense in favor of a red-team-versus-blue-team competition.
The room’s aesthetic had kind of a 1980s TV competition feel to it. Pretty much everything on the red side was painted a slightly washed out red, and nearly everything on the blue side was painted a washed out blue. In the middle there were a number of different ways to interact with the other team.
It wasn’t the prettiest of games, but we were moving too quickly to care.
There were a number of different pattern recognition puzzles as well as physically involved dexterity challenges.
America’s Escape Game also mixed in an element of negotiation, which was unusual and interesting.
We split into teams as women versus men: Lisa teamed up with Amanda Harris (to my knowledge, the most experienced escape room player in the English-speaking world). I teamed up with Amanda’s boyfriend Drew Nelson (probably the second most experienced player).
It was intense and we were neck and neck for most of the game… until we were outclassed by their pattern recognition skills. In the closing moments of the game, they pulled off a spectacular win with partial information.
Leaving story out of Faceoff was a good decision. The game was us versus them. That was all the motivation that we needed.
The head-to-head competition was good fun. In our particular case, the evenly matched teams heightened the experience and made the stakes feel much larger than in most escape rooms.
The negotiation component added complexity to the competition.
The design of the space created some interesting opportunities for interplay between the two teams.
One of the more physical challenges was awkwardly constructed and forced most involved to contort into strange positions. Lisa left with a large bruise on her arm from the environment.
That same physical challenge had almost no tolerance for error. This made it shockingly difficult and ultimately anticlimactic. That my team was able to do it at all meant that we won that challenge. It didn’t feel fair.
There were too many locks with the same digit structures. In a game where every second counted, it was annoying to repeatedly try the same combinations all over the room.
The puzzling was a little uneven and greatly favored some puzzling skills over others. Those with strong pattern recognition can power through the puzzles with limited information, which was exactly what Lisa and Amanda did. They didn’t need to negotiate with us because they were that damn good.
Faceoff lacked feedback for when the one team did something that affected the other.
Should I play America’s Escape Game’s Faceoff?
There aren’t a ton of competitive room escapes out there, and this is only the second one that we’ve encountered.
The added intensity of competition was a ton of fun for all involved, even those of us who lost.
I can’t recommend Faceoff for new players. Basic experience and an understanding of how room escapes flow will allow you to focus on the game itself rather than trip up over how to puzzle or how the locks work.
Bring some collaborative teammates and worthy opponents… and you might want to leave the sore winners and losers back home. This could get intense.
Book your session with America’s Escape Game’s Faceoff, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.
Full disclosure: America’s Escape Game comped our tickets for this game.