Escape Room New Jersey – S.W.A.T. [Review]

There’s another mad bomber. Call the puzzle SWAT team!

Location: Hackensack, NJ

Date played: March 6, 2017

Team size: up to 18; we recommend 5-8

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: $25 per ticket for an open ticketed game, $22-45 per ticket for private game depending on team size

Story & setting

As the SWAT team assigned to the mission, we entered a terrorist’s apartment to determine the location of a series of bombs and disarm the bomb in the room with us.

S.W.A.T. took place in an apartment. Although furnished with typical desk and dresser pieces, it never felt like an apartment. The hacked-together aesthetic and odd assortment of props to puzzle through made it more a space for a puzzle adventure than a terrorist’s apartment.

In-game: A bomb incased in plastic.

Puzzles

The diverse puzzles relied on different intelligences, including keen observation. There were puzzles for nearly any type of puzzler.

Escape Room New Jersey combined traditional locks with tech-based mechanisms to drive the interactions.

Standouts

S.W.A.T. began with an exciting physical challenge for a single player. Failure to complete this interaction would impede subsequent gameplay. We appreciated how Escape Room New Jersey designed immediate (but temporary) consequences into the interaction.

There was a lot of strong puzzling that kept our team of six engaged until the final seconds. We worked through many of the puzzles collaboratively. A few moments were particularly fun.

Escape Room New Jersey created an “apartment” escape room with intrigue. There was enough of the out of the ordinary to uncover that our team remained energized throughout the experience.

Shortcomings

Although the set was fun to explore, it wasn’t really themed. More than anything else, it was a space for puzzling.

There were a number of game elements that triggered based on player behavior. The puzzles didn’t always give enough feedback to know who had triggered what, leaving us uncertain which elements had been completed.

S.W.A.T. suffered from double cluing. The multiple ways to uncover the same information made us doubt otherwise correct solutions. At one point in particular, when multiple solutions funneled into one complex input, the double cluing proved more challenging than helpful.

One crucial late-game puzzle truly lacked appropriate cluing. More often than not, teams will find themselves guessing at this point in the room escape.

There were a couple of moments that were painfully corny and out of place.

S.W.A.T. prominently featured a game timer. Its only function was as a timer, but it kept incorrect time. Our gamemaster notified us of this, so that we wouldn’t be relying on it, but it was frustrating to look at it and know it was wrong.

Should I play Escape Room New Jersey’s S.W.A.T.?

S.W.A.T.  was a lot of fun. In fact, similarly to Escape Room New Jersey’s first escape room, The Other Side, S.W.A.T. was more fun than the sum of its parts. They’re a bit of an enigma.

This was a largely un-themed puzzling adventure. If you seek immersive set design and storytelling, this won’t be your escape room. However, there was a lot to puzzle through, both in breadth and depth. Overall, these challenges were tangible, interactive, and entertaining.

This would be a challenging escape room for first-time players. The double cluing and lack of feedback made communication more challenging than it needed to be.

All other considerations aside, S.W.A.T. was a lot of fun. If you’re a puzzle lover in northern New Jersey, you’ll enjoy it.

Book your hour with Escape Room New Jersey’s S.W.A.T., and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.

Full disclosure: Escape Room NJ provided media discounted tickets for this game.

 

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