In its defense, it was about as good as most of the past decade’s Resident Evil games.
Location: New York, NY
Date played: February 23, 2017
Team size: 6
Duration: 60 minutes
Price: $41 per ticket
Story & setting
Themed around the popular video game (and movie) series, the Resident Evil Escape Experience was a popup escape game touring the United States, making stops in Austin, Boston, Chicago, New York, Portland, and San Francisco.
The room escape itself was a fairly standard, slightly creepy escape room design in an office/lab/home space. We were entering a simulation created by the villainous Umbrella Corporation, thus explaining the rapid set hopping.
The Umbrella Corporation’s presence notwithstanding, the experience was not deeply rooted in Resident Evil lore. It did, however, have a variety of props that referenced the game series.
The puzzling was weak. We encountered red herrings, significant prop breakage, and puzzles with frustrating construction.
There were a few puzzles that were well clued, but the Resident Evil Escape Experience was not a satisfying puzzle game.
Aesthetically, the set looked pretty good, especially for a temporary traveling game.
There was an innovative use of space, which could have been excellent had it been clued.
The casual references to Resident Evil were nowhere near enough to justify the game’s title. The name “Resident Evil Escape Experience“ dramatically oversold the escape room by implying that it would be a high-end survival horror escape room. It never even came close.
The puzzling was frustrating and frequently tedious.
There were many broken lock hasps that had been crazy glued in place. The brittle crazy glue had snapped, leaving much of the game unlocked. On the other extreme, we encountered a lock that had been jammed. Our gamemaster knew it was busted and was standing next to us, ready to hand us duplicate copies of the locked content as soon as we had the solution to the lock.
There were quite a few red herrings. Some seemed like they were puzzles that had been broken and dropped from the experience, but not removed from the space.
The gamespace was cramped with 6 players, but due to the popularity of the escape room, a 6-player team was inevitable.
The ticket price was too damn high.
Should I play Capcom & iam8bit’s Resident Evil Escape Experience?
While your mileage may vary from city to city, I cannot recommend the Resident Evil Escape Experience based on what I saw in New York City.
It wasn’t a satisfying experience for escape room fans because the puzzling was weak.
It wasn’t the experience that Resident Evil fans were looking for because the connections to the series and horror elements were barely present.
Additionally, Resident Evil Escape Experience was incompetently maintained and seemed poorly constructed to begin with. Why was all of the hardware glued together? And why not take a bolt cutter to the broken lock and replace it?
Resident Evil Escape Experience was decidedly low-tech, which I was expecting of a temporary game. While we don’t judge escape rooms based on the presence of technology, the low-tech design made the breakage that much more frustrating.
It seemed to me like this might have been a good escape room when it initially set out on its journey, but it felt like there simply wasn’t enough professional oversight for Resident Evil Escape Experience to survive its trip around the continent.
I expect better at $41 per ticket.
And I expect far better from Capcom & iam8bit. I know that they are trying to promote Resident Evil 7, but in choosing the escape room format to deliver that message, they inevitably attract new people to real life puzzle gaming and this was a sad display of the medium’s potential.