Perplexium – Rogue A.I. [Review]

A buggy super computer.

Location: Austin, TX

Date played: January 8, 2017

Team size: 2-10; we recommend 4-5

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: $25 per ticket

Story & setting

An advanced artificial intelligence went rogue. We needed to gain access to it and change its programming to eliminate the threat.

It looked and felt a lot like Portal 2… which was pretty cool.

Aesthetically, Rogue A.I. was all over the place. Some portions of the game looked fantastically futuristic. “Server room chic” is my best description for it.

In-game: A surreal white room with pillars of varying height. The room is split into small squares by blue LED strips that illuminate the entire space. It looks very futuristic.
This room was white. It photographed interestingly.

Other portions of the game looked drab and uninspiring, especially in comparison to the parts that were otherworldly.

Puzzles

Rogue A.I. was a challenging, puzzle-heavy game. We were the 7th team to escape in its 3-month existence.

Perplexium created a number of largely tech-driven spacial and reasoning puzzles to occupy the hour. They also adapted a few famous puzzles into Rogue A.I.’s gameplay.

Standouts

Some of Rogue A.I. looked amazing. These parts were fun to explore.

Some of the puzzles were fun, challenging, and fostered teamwork.

The A.I. was a character in the game. It was superbly executed.

Shortcomings

Rogue A.I. had a problem with gating, or lack thereof. We frequently received pieces of puzzles and access to puzzle interactions far earlier than we should have. This made the game artificially more difficult than it should have been. It created odd situations where we had solved a puzzle and triggered something to happen in a portion of the game that we did not have access to.

There were a number of construction issues as well, specifically gaps in set pieces where it was easy to lose small items and instructional material.

There was a lack of working surface, which added to the likelihood of placing small objects in precarious places.

While some of the game looked awesome, a fair amount of it did not. These parts stood in painfully stark contrast to the more exceptionally designed areas.

There was a lot to read and far too much of the reading material was useless or unimportant.

We were surprised when the game ended. The final puzzle left us feeling so unsatisfied that it was bizarrely hard for our team to accept that we had achieved the win condition. It’s worth noting that we had (talented) strangers on our team and they clearly also experienced the bafflement that we were feeling.

Should I play Perplexium’s Rogue A.I.?

One of the more interesting aspects of Rogue A.I. was where the difficulty came from. There were challenging puzzles to solve, but they weren’t so hard that Rogue A.I. should have such an incredibly low escape rate.

The main challenge stemmed from little flaws that reverberated off of one another to create frustration and friction. We lost pieces twice, one to a gap in a set piece and another when the tech triggered a door to fling open and launch a piece. We wasted time with puzzles that we had access to, but didn’t have all of the pieces or information. The crazy part was that we solved them that way. We had people spending the entire game trying to make sense of large written passages when it turned out that we barely needed any of the reading material.

All of this was compounded by having too many people. Rogue A.I. was far too intimate a game to sustain a large team. The physical space had plenty of room, but the space around the puzzles was usually tight.

Rogue A.I. didn’t feel like a finished product; we felt like beta testers.

If Perplexium were to reduce the reading material, fill physical gaps in fixtures, limit puzzle interface access until it was relevant, provide solid workspace, and add a finale worthy of their creation, they would have an exceptional game on their hands.

Beginners ought to skip Rogue A.I. in its current form. It will eat them alive.

Experienced players could find the space and concept entertaining, and the challenge a worthy undertaking, so long as they can secure a private booking and bring a smaller team of strong puzzlers (we got very lucky with our random teammates).

Rogue A.I. has a ton of potential and I hope that it is realized soon.

Book your hour with Perplexium’s Rogue A.I., and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.

Full disclosure: Perplexium comped our tickets for this game.

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