Escape Room Madness – Apocalyptic Mission [Review]

An appetizer of puzzles before the apocalypse.

Location: New York, NY

Date Played: January 22, 2018

Team size: up to 6; we recommend 2-4

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: $31 per ticket

REA Reaction

Escape Room Madness’ second escape room was a step forward, especially in terms of set design. That said, Apocalyptic Mission lacked the polish, scale, and excitement that we’ve come to expect of new escape rooms in Manhattan. It’s a fine escape room, but it won’t blow your mind.

Who is this for?

  • Puzzle lovers
  • Players who don’t mind using flashlights for the whole game
  • Any experience level

Why play?

  • The villain in the opening video
  • Some interesting mechanical puzzles

Story

Disgraced medical researcher Dr. Semias Vexx had been forced out of the community for unethical practices. If we could not solve his puzzles, he would release a deadly virus around the world to exact his revenge.

In-game: a blackboard covered in equations and molecules diagrams. There is a locked and worn first aid kit mounted to it.

Setting

We were given flashlights and set loose in a dimly lit, gritty, hacked-together lab.

The set was a big step up from Escape Room Madness’ first game, but not particularly refined.

In-game: A lab measuring cup filled with yellow liquid. A blackboard covered in equations sits behind it.

Gameplay

Apocalyptic Mission was a small-team, puzzle-centric escape room.

The gameplay was built around searching for information and puzzling in low lighting.

In-game: 3 jars filled with mysterious fluids, all labeled with biohazard stickers.

Standouts

Apocalyptic Mission’s humorous intro video set an appropriately dramatic yet playful tone for the escape room. The actor playing the mad scientist nailed the Joker-esque monologue.

With Apocalyptic Mission, Escape Room Madness had leveled up their set design from their initial escape room offering. The set contributed an ambiance that augmented the experience.

We enjoyed one puzzle and its input mechanism that elicited physical reactions from a large set piece.

Shortcomings

While some of the puzzles related to science-y props, many felt disconnected and contrived. They were a bit too escape room-y – where puzzles and solutions only made sense in the context of a puzzle game – and lacked cohesion. This escape room-y feel conflicted with the narrative that was presented at the onset of the game.

Although some puzzles incorporated larger, more tangible set pieces, we still read a lot of puzzles and clues off laminated sheets of paper. We encourage Escape Room Madness to make the clue structure more experiential and more connected to the environment.

While Escape Room Madness certainly stepped up their set design from their first game, the construction in Apocalyptic Mission was rough and imprecise.

One puzzle suffered from continual iteration that left red herrings in its wake. Now that Escape Room Madness has achieved the desired implementation of this puzzle, it would be greatly improved if they eliminated the earlier clues that are no longer meaningful.

Apocalyptic Mission lacked a climax. Our gameplay didn’t feel connected to the story and when escaped, we didn’t feel like we had done what the characters claimed we had accomplished.

Tips for Visiting

  • There are 2 other escape room companies in this building. Go to the correct one.
  • Escape Room Madness is located in Koreatown. On this block, we recommend Mandoo Bar for dumplings and Spot Dessert Bar for crazy and incredible desserts.
  • Colorblind players may struggle at one or two points in the game.
  • Take public transit; Escape Room Madness is half a block from many subway lines.
  • As with all Midtown Manhattan escape rooms, if you’re driving a car, prepare to pay dearly for parking.

Book your hour with Escape Room Madness’ Apocalyptic Mission, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.

Disclosure: Escape Room Madness comped our tickets for this game.

 

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