Komnata Quest – Maze of Hakaina [Review]

Demons, intrigue, and answers hide in the shadows.

Location: New York, NY

Date played: January 30, 2017

Team size: 2-5; we recommend 3-4

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: from $28 per ticket

Story & setting

The samurai warriors once tested themselves against the demons of the Maze of Hakaina. Centuries later, a boy found the maze and became trapped within it. When we entered its dark corridors to save him, we found ourselves in a battle of wits with its ancient terrors.

The video-gamey labyrinth was dark with high ceilings, creating a foreboding atmosphere.

While the set was absolutely a maze, getting lost in the Maze of Hakaina wasn’t a risk. Progress within the game allowed for access to new segments and challenges. It felt a little like an early Metroid game, but with a feudal Japanese vibe; that is a compliment, to say the least.

In-game: A red glowing demon's face in the shadows.

Puzzles

Exploration was the biggest challenge in The Maze of Hakaina. There was a lot to find and it wasn’t all strongly clued. This escape room rewarded keen observation.

Like many room escapes from Komnata Quest, this experience was task-centric, but certainly offered its share of puzzles.

In-game: Close up of a wall with Japanese writing all over it and a small scroll rolled up and tied to the wall.

Standouts

The Maze of Hakaina was actually a maze. Doors opened up new passageways. Komnata Quest manipulated the gamespace to create an expansive adventure with exciting reveals.

Komnata Quest minded the details. Our gamemaster’s introduction set the tone and the set took over from there.

There were a few brilliant uses of space, light, and trigger design.

The presence of multiple win conditions made the game’s closing act far more dynamic. While we couldn’t win without escaping, along the way we could accomplish additional goals. Depending upon how we had played the game, these additional tasks may or may not have been achievable in the end. It was truly fulfilling to have accomplished them all.

There was an utterly unforgettable and theatrical moment.

Shortcomings

At times the cluing was tenuous. We needed a few hints to help us find and connect in game elements. After a few months, Komnata Quest still hadn’t had a team escape without any hints. These moments felt like great opportunities to transform obscure search tasks into clued puzzles.

Maze of Hakaina hadn’t been open that long, but already, many of the props and set pieces showed signs of wear in the form of chipped and faded paint. Without continual upkeep, this escape room will become increasingly easy and decreasingly immersive as the wear gives away the game’s secrets.

The lighting was incredibly dim and there was no shortage of reading material. We strained our eyes to read information and input lock combinations. Komnata Quest should add light strategically so that these tasks don’t become insurmountable challenges to some teams.

Should I play Komnata Quest’s Maze of Hakaina?

Maze of Hakaina was an exciting and memorable adventure.

While it was more puzzley than many of Komnata Quest’s room escapes, this was a task-centric experience. The challenge was in observing and making connections.

Experienced players can enjoy the additional challenge of layered win conditions. Veteran players will truly appreciate unconventional use of space and the drama that it creates.

Newer players will still thoroughly enjoy this experience, but will likely need a bit more guidance from their gamemaster.

Note that the lighting will be incredibly challenging for some players and that there are truly tight spaces that can’t be avoided. If you are comfortable with that, then this is a must play.

Play hard and play to win. You do not want to miss the ending.

Book your hour with Komnata Quest’s Maze of Hakaina, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you using the coupon code escapeartist to receive 10% off.

Full disclosure: Komnata Quest comped our tickets for this game.

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