Adventures in (public) space.
Location: New York, NY
Date played: September 8-12, 2017
Team size: 1-4
Duration: spread out over a week with shorter options available
Price: from $300 per ticket with a $100 price break with each additional participant
Story & setting
Path of Beatrice was not an escape room, nor was it a puzzle game or immersive theater. Path of Beatrice was an alternate reality experience (ARX) produced by Paradiso, the creators of the escape rooms The Escape Test and The Memory Room.
All of Paradiso’s experiences are set in the same world against the same Dante’s Inferno-inspired narrative: The Virgil Corporation is running experiments on the human brain with unknown goals and there is an underground movement trying to infiltrate, investigate, and stop Virgil from achieving its ends. Path of Beatrice dropped us in the middle of New York City, in between these two warring factions.
Over the course of the 5 days leading up to our booking of The Memory Room, we spent our evenings meeting clandestinely with representatives of both the Virgil Corporation and the resistance group, Stop Virgil. Both gave us assignments and tasks to spy on the other. It was up to us to pick a side and execute on the missions assigned to us.
Paradiso staged Path of Beatrice in Midtown Manhattan across a variety public spaces. It can be played leading up to either The Memory Room or Escape Test.
We had daily interactions with the characters of Path of Beatrice. Text conversations, email exchanges, in-person clandestine meetings, and missions in public spaces made up the bulk of the experience.
As we explored Path of Beatrice’s real world segments, we could not tell who was a simple pedestrian and who was an actor in our experience.
Participating in Path of Beatrice also changed the gameplay of the culminating escape room experience. Playing Path of Beatrice had a surprisingly significant impact on our playthrough of The Memory Room.
Paradiso chose the public spaces that they incorporated into Path of Beatrice wisely. They put these locations to good use. They also reframed how we thought about public spaces that week.
The actors that we encountered were impressive. When they weren’t invisibly blending into New York City, they were comfortably improvising with us as we interrogated one another.
Paradiso included some shockingly unnecessary, yet impressive details in Path of Beatrice.
Path of Beatrice conveyed the story of Paradiso quite well. From playing the escape rooms alone, the story could be a little difficult to understand; this filled in so many gaps.
We were given the freedom to enjoy Path of Beatrice as we wanted. We chose the side that we wanted to support.
Scheduling a recurring week-long experience was a little bit tricky. We keep a busy schedule (not complaining, just stating the fact) and it was difficult for us to get to the locations that we needed to visit at the allocated times. Paradiso worked with us to make this work, but they don’t share scheduling in advance, largely because the story was unfolding as we played. This made Path of Beatrice a challenge for us. It would be similarly difficult for people with families and anyone traveling to New York with a rigid schedule (say, traveling escape room enthusiasts).
Path of Beatrice was expensive. There was no way around it. $300 per ticket with a $100 price break with each additional participant bought a lot of actor interaction, planning, logistics, and customization. When we stopped and thought about how much was involved, the price point didn’t feel crazy. The fact that the price made sense, however, did not lower it.
The text message and email exchanges seemed like they were trying to create a Morpheus-esque, first 45 minutes of The Matrix vibe. The trouble was that we couldn’t control when these were coming in, so sometimes we’d have to wait hours to reply.
Additionally, I had a problem of trust. The actors were great, but all of the characters operated under the assumption that you trusted them, even when everyone was telling you that everyone else was a liar. When I attempted to make a character earn my trust, I got a “you’re-with-us-or-against-us” type response. Ultimately I just gave in and the experience became a lot more interesting… but I also had to betray my own nature and that kind of stung.
There were a lot of things that we had to read, some of which required a computer. When we received something from a character, we’d then go about our evening in the New York City, frequently getting home after midnight. It would be hours, or even the next day, before we could dive into the Path of Beatrice material. We continually received texts asking if we had done the thing yet. This was clunky. Then we ultimately rushed the reading and missed the important detail (even though it was literally the first thing that I read).
Should I play Paradiso’s Path of Beatrice?
Paradiso does things differently and I mean that as a compliment. Their escape rooms, The Escape Test and The Memory Room, stand on their own as unique experiences. That is a true achievement in an industry where there’s a fair amount of sameness.
Path of Beatrice was another artful and unique experience. This came with unusual idiosyncrasies. The road less traveled has a lot more bumps along it; creating new things is not for the faint of heart.
We interviewed a few different people who played Path of Beatrice 4 and 6 weeks prior to us and they had profoundly different experiences than we did. Ours was significantly improved and Paradiso confirmed that the ARX is always evolving as they and their actors create new and interesting ways to iterate upon their real-world game.
Price is ultimately going to be the big deciding factor for many and that’s understandable. Path of Beatrice stands out as the first experience that Lisa and I have reviewed that we would not have been able to afford if the tickets were not complimentary. I call this out because it’s the first time that price would have kept us out of an experience. This is an expensive experience.
If you’re a puzzler, Path of Beatrice is not for you. You can fully enjoy Paradiso’s escape rooms without completely understanding the deeper story that ties them together.
If you’re drawn to actor-driven immersive experiences, Path of Beatrice is an interesting one that delivers a lot of intrigue and actor interaction. If you’re going to miss the money you spend to experience Path of Beatrice you should not go. If you won’t miss the money, there’s a clandestine world hidden within NYC for you to enjoy.
A few pro tips for those who go: Have access to a computer. While this is no big deal for locals, if you’re traveling it could be a significant issue. Give Paradiso a phone number and email address for each individual ticket holder. They communicate differently with everyone. Make sure that you’ve left ample time in your schedule to accommodate Path of Beatrice. We enjoyed it, but I think we would have liked it a whole lot more if we weren’t always rushing to our actor appointments.
Surrender to the experience, have fun with the characters, and become a character yourself in Paradiso’s Path of Beatrice.
Book your experience with Paradiso’s Path of Beatrice, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.
Full disclosure: Paradiso comped our tickets for this game.