First Person Xperience – RED [Review]

My personal apocalypse.

Location: Long Island City, New York

Date played: May 25, 2017

Team size: up to 15; we recommend ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Duration: 70 minutes

Price: $65, $80, or $99 per ticket depending upon selected package

Story & setting

It had been one month since Armageddon. There weren’t many survivors and those of us who were still kicking didn’t really know what had happened. Solar flares had struck and the world as we knew it was over; beyond that, everything was shrouded in mystery. Supplies were rare, trust was thin, and there were hidden threats looming around every corner.

In-game: A futuristic blue lit room with computer screens depicting the sun.

The set of RED was large and compelling. First Person Xperience made a smart decision in selecting a setting that allowed for variety without it feeling nonsensical or disjointed.

If this sounds cagey, it’s meant to; so much of RED was dependent upon discovery.

Puzzles

RED was NOT an escape room. It was an immersive experience that drew upon escape room elements such as searching, teamwork, and unraveling a mystery.

There were puzzles to solve, but many of them felt more practical, revolving around survival and plot progression. The more nuanced mystery was cryptically hidden.

The beating heart of RED was interpersonal interaction.

Standouts

RED was actor-driven and the actors were on point. They played their parts and reacted to us. If we questioned them, they stayed in character. We were not able to throw them off their game. The actors were the engine that drove the experience.

The set created the mood. While it was not horror, the set ramped up the intensity of the game.

RED was structured as a survival game designed to build resilience and teamwork, while also being fun. It was incredible how Lisa and I both turned into the crisis-mode versions of ourselves. (We’re useful people in a crisis.) We both did this without planning.

First Person Xperience billed RED as a replayable game. I thought that this was a dubious claim, but they pulled it off. I want to go back. While the set and mystery will remain the same, the non-player characters (actors) will change, as there are 10 different actors playing 9 different characters. RED is designed so that players will return to the scenario with a deeper understanding of what’s going on and a better methodology for collaboration and survival. Learn more. Unravel the mystery.

Throughout RED, our individual and team progress was tracked. We’re told that all of that data will persist in the game database, The Chronicle. They will track any upgrades we earn and achievements we unlock. I love this concept. Although I am not 100% sure what practical effect it will have on my game, I am eager to see it play out.

The Chronicle will also carry over our gear. We purchased the top package: the Elite. It came with a series of in-game upgrades that will belong to us when we return. We will be able to play again with all of that gear at the lower ticket price.

Shortcomings

RED was bewildering by design. That was great in this experience. However, we wished that we had purchased regular tickets going into our first game. The additional gear was utterly meaningless to us and at times we found ourselves flustered by the added complication. That said, going into our second game, I think we’re going to be happy to have the extras.

Prior to the game’s start, we met our team under a bridge near the facility. It wasn’t a particularly comfortable way to begin. If RED extends into the winter months, First Person Xperience will need a better system.

First Person Xperience’s facilities were a work in progress. The lobby, bathrooms, and everything that lead up to the start of the game felt a bit sketchy. They absolutely put their effort into the right place getting the game right, but the state of the lobby and meeting place put First Person Xperience at a trust deficit with us prior to the game beginning.

One of the late-game interactions that we encountered was a little too symbolic and left us needing to clarify what had actually happened post-game.

The day after our experience, we received an email with our game’s ending. This extra content was great, but way too lengthy… and a little too late. The rush of the game had already past and finding out the ending the next day was anticlimactic for a game that was otherwise incredibly responsive, immediate, and dire.

Should I play First Person Xperience’s RED?

RED lived up to its own hype. It was immersive and intense. We left seriously reflecting upon our individual tendencies in a crisis. Not only that, but we immediately began strategizing our approach for our next visit.

This experience is not an escape room. I repeat: RED is not an escape room. If you’re seeking a purely puzzle- and set-driven game, then RED is not for you.

If you’re averse to actors, then RED is not for you.

If you aren’t at least reasonably healthy, mobile and able to navigate stairs, then RED is not for you.

Also, players must be over 18 years of age.

RED was a psychological and physical adventure. It was bewildering and thrilling. If that sounds like something you’d enjoy, then go do it. I can’t wait to go back.

Book your session with First Person Xperience’s RED, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.

Full disclosure: First Person Xperience provided media discounted tickets for this game.

 

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