Riddle Room – Utopia [Review]

Happiness through puzzles.

Location: Minneapolis, Minnesota

Date played: August 20, 2017

Team size: 3-6; we recommend 4-5

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: $25 per ticket

Story & setting

A “variance in our well-being” had been detected and the Ministry of Public Harmony in our dystopian world had summoned us for a recalibration. We entered a chamber for testing and reeducation.

In-game: A futuristic, sci-fi-looking tiled room lit blue.

Riddle Room staged this sci-fi room escape in a dark, bland, and futuristic cell with only a touchscreen in the middle of the room. Upon entering the room and beginning the first puzzle, I immediately worried that we would be stuck solving only touchscreen puzzles for the entire experience. Once we dug below the surface, however, there was so much more to Utopia. The set was smart, deceptive, and attractive.

Puzzles

Utopia had some seriously challenging puzzles. Part digital, part mechanical, Utopia offered a pair of puzzle tracks. These were both integral to success and deeply tied to the narrative of the experience.

Standouts

Utopia had a smart story from both a narrative and a gameplay perspective. Riddle Room created an alternative dystopian world that was menacing, but never felt intimidating.

The set was fantastic. It brilliantly hid a great deal of complexity under a simple facade.

Both tracks of puzzling within Utopia were well designed and satisfying.

Shortcomings

The separate puzzle tracks didn’t lend themselves to tag team puzzling. Because the two tracks were so vastly different from one another, different players experienced different types of puzzles. It would be easy to find oneself wishing to work on the other set of puzzles, but knowing that switching would be detrimental to overall team success.

The gamemaster delivered hints in person. This was problematic for two reasons:

  • Hints were delivered with substantial delay.
  • The hint system broke the otherwise well-constructed narrative.

The most challenging puzzle in the entire experience required detecting a specific detail without much in the way of cluing. The puzzle’s concept was great, but it could benefit from a little more in-game clue structure.

Should I play Riddle Room’s Utopia?

Utopia was a deeply satisfying escape room. The puzzles, narrative, and set worked in sync with one another to make us feel a story.

Riddle Room did an impressive thing in Utopia by taking a concept that seemed boring and then pushing it in all sorts of strange directions before subverting it all. I really enjoyed this escape room and expect that most other experienced escape room players will as well.

Utopia would be a difficult first room escape. In fact, the newbies on our team were a bit bewildered by it. I think this is an escape room to work up towards. You can only play it once, so you should get a few others games under your belt before taking on this clever challenge.

Book your hour with Riddle Room’s Utopia, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.

Full disclosure: Riddle Room comped our tickets for this game.

 

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