ConTRAPtions Escape Rooms – Plight of the Margo Part 1 [Review]

The 3 Hour Escape Game: Part 1

Location:  Fort Collins, CO

Date Played: September 6, 2019

Team size: 4-10; we recommend 5-6

Duration: 90 minutes

Price: $38 per player

Ticketing: Public

Emergency Exit Rating: [A+] No Lock

Physical Restraints: [A+] No Physical Restraints

REA Reaction

Plight of the Margo felt epic. Part of this was the length; we played it back-to-back in 2 90-minute segments. However, it was so much more than the game clock.

The puzzles and gameplay were deep, challenging, and rewarding. It felt almost like a really good puzzle hunt in that it was fun and a little stressful.

In-game: The ships helm beside and iris door.

The set was unique and beautiful. The technology was solid and craftily engineered. This was one of the geekiest games we’ve encountered and it was devoid of overt pop culture references… which meant that we weren’t breaking world to appreciate cultural callbacks.

Then there was the story, which felt inspired by Star Trek: The Next Generation. It wasn’t particularly violent or bloodthirsty. It was thoughtful and grappled with ideas and paradoxes.

I loved this game.

In my opinion, if you’re doing this right, you’re playing both segments back-to-back as one big 3-hour escape room adventure (with a short break in the middle).

For newbies, this is the kind of game that is worth training for. Build your stamina. Once you can comfortably play 3 60-minute escape games back-to-back-to-back, take on Plight of the Margo.

If you’re an experienced player, Plight of the Margo is a must-play. If you are anywhere near Fort Collins, Colorado, make the pilgrimage and test yourself against this magnificent beast.

Who is this for?

  • Adventure seekers
  • Story seekers
  • Puzzle lovers
  • Scenery snobs
  • Sci-fi fans
  • Technophiles
  • Experienced players in search of a challenging game
  • Players who don’t need to be a part of every puzzle

Why play?

  • The set was unique and badass
  • Challenging puzzles
  • The tech was impressively engineered
  • The story had depth
  • It was essentially a 3-hour escape game

Story

Our crew had received a distress call from the spaceship Margo. We had to identify its location, journey through the stars to find the wayward ship, and learn what had disrupted its journey.

In-game: an unusual device with glowing buttons and large tube protruding from it.

Setting

The beauty, durability, and uniqueness of Plight of the Margo was instantaneously apparent. ConTRAPtions Escape Rooms built a spaceship set unlike anything we’ve ever seen. Two things struck us about this set:

First, near as I can tell, it wasn’t really riffing off of pop-culture spaceship aesthetics… or at least any that I’m aware of. The reflective gold walls, steel grate flooring, and industrial components felt unique to this game world.

In-game: A strange mechanical device in the middle of the ship, the walls are gold and reflective.

Second, the build quality and the components used within this set seemed genuine. The game didn’t feel like an escape room or even an amusement; it felt like an industrial construction.

Everything was so solid… like it might just blast off… or if you wanted to try to break this set, it might break you instead. (Please don’t try to break anything.)

Gameplay

ConTRAPtions Escape Rooms’ Plight of the Margo Part 1 was a standard escape room with a high level of difficulty.

Core gameplay revolved around observing, making connections, and puzzling

The key difference was that instead playing to win, we were striving to achieve at least 38% completion to position ourselves for success in Plight of the Margo Part 2.

In-game: ship's helm with screens in front of it.

Analysis

➕ ConTRAPtions Escape Rooms built an impressive spaceship. This was an industrial grade set. There was no facade. It was robust enough to wear well and it might even look cooler with wear.

➕ The technology powering Plight of the Margo was as real as the set.

➕ So many of the interactions were real. Pneumatic tubes were pneumatic tubes. If our spaceship did a thing, it usually wasn’t simulated.

➕ ConTRAPtions Escape Rooms balanced the difficulty curve. The most challenging puzzles were in the middle of the games.

➖ The first puzzle was the weakest segment of Part 1. We’d been briefed on our mission, but the first puzzle was 100% escape room-y. It didn’t make sense in the world. After this, most everything else was justified by the narrative, which made this an especially confusing start. It didn’t teach us how to play the rest of the game.

➕/➖ The puzzles were challenging. Solving them tended to feel chaotic. We weren’t always entirely sure what we were doing, even as we were solving. This made for choppy flow. Atmospherically, and given the narrative, the chaos worked. We weren’t bothered by feeling a bit in over our head.

➖ We encountered some long bricks of text. This stalled forward momentum.

➕ The puzzles were challenging, interactive solves. Our favorite puzzles required us to interact with different contraptions aboard our ship.

➕/➖ There were some surprising, slick effects. Although they added a lot at the onset, they overstayed their welcome.

➕ Three words: automated iris doors.

Transition to Part 2

➕/➖ We’d never played an escape room where our progress after Part 1 was saved and we could pick up in Part 2 and continue. This was really cool. The downside in this instance was that Part 1 had no climax; it just stopped.

Come back tomorrow to learn about the exciting second chapter of this massive game.

Tips For Visiting

  • There is a parking lot.
  • At least 1 player needs to crawl.
  • Play both parts back-to back if you can.

Book your hour with ConTRAPtions Escape Rooms’ Plight of the Margo Part 1, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.

Disclosure: ConTRAPtions Escape Rooms comped our tickets for this game.

Disclosure: Our trip to Denver was sponsored by the Denver escape room community. Contributions were anonymous.

4 thoughts on “ConTRAPtions Escape Rooms – Plight of the Margo Part 1 [Review]

  1. Oh yes! This one is great. I`ve contacted the owners before, they make their own sets which are very impressive.

  2. I saw a review somewhere else (sadly, can’t find it now) that described Plight of the margo as a “majestic wild animal”, “incredible but extremely rough around the edges and exhausting”, which I thought was apt.

    This review is super good, I might underline a couple things you said…

    It’s not just your opinion that parts 1 and 2 should be done together; I’d say nobody should even consider anything else. Playing just part 1 would be a miserable truncated experience. Even playing them a week apart would significantly reduce the experience.

    We played as two groups, both doing 1 and 2 back-to-back. The group I was in had a generally epic time, and sounds like your experience. The other group happened to make some different (but very reasonable seeming) choices in part 1 that led to a really frustrating part 1 experience (stalling out because the puzzle was unsolvable) and then set them up badly for part 2, where they timed out 5-10 minutes from finishing, which after three hours of gameplay is just wretched.

    This is an unforgiving, nonlinear game with limited signposting and just-barely-sufficient direction; it’s very easy to fall off the track. It’s clearly built by an engineer, and I think makes sense to engineers; half of the game is making machinery work. This is totally thematic and wonderful if you have that mindset (I do) but can be extraordinarily frustrating if you don’t.

    So I would *super* underline the point about this not being good as an intro game, even under tutelage. This is for experienced players who have had their coffee and are ready to crack their knuckles and dive in with their wits fully about them.

    I look forward to your part 2 review!

    1. Thanks for all of these thoughts and observations.

      I haven’t seen what it looks like when a team’s decisions go wrong… but I would hope that they could smooth some of that over with future iteration.

      This was out first game of our Colorado marathon. We showed up at 9AM… and really had no idea what we were getting ourselves into – other than it was a 2 part, 3 hour game. We had kind of assumed that it would take us 2 hours. In the end, we finished with less than one minute on the clock.

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