Made You Think Escapes – Area 51 [Review]

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Location:  Colorado Springs, CO

Date Played: September 9, 2019

Team size: 4-8; we recommend 4-6

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: $28 per player

Ticketing: Public

Emergency Exit Rating: [A+] No Lock

Physical Restraints: [A+] No Physical Restraints

REA Reaction

We did it, guys! We stormed Area 51!

In-game: 2 aliens presrved and mounted to the wall.

What we found within the most secretive of facilities was a baffling duality. Everything within Area 51 was extreme. Made You Think Escapes’ hits were bullseyes… and their misses landed in a different zip code.

Half of the set was incredible and half was drab (frequently olive).

Some of the puzzles and challenges were great, while others were confusing or, in one lengthy instance, aggressively frustrating. I cannot recall a puzzle that made me feel this frustrated with teammates that I love.

I’ll add that the game introduction and lobby were categorically fantastic.

Area 51 was a strange game to review. When I think back, the stuff that I liked I loved, and the things that I disliked I hated. It’s difficult for me to understand the disparity on display in this escape game.

There were some really interesting things going on in Area 51. If you’re in Colorado Springs and can take the bad with the good, then there would be something worth playing here. Just don’t hold that first puzzle or two against your teammates.

Who is this for?

  • Communicative players
  • Scenery snobs (the early game notwithstanding)
  • Sci-fi fans
  • Players with at least some experience

Why play?

  • The lobby
  • The late-game set design

Story

Due to increased extraterrestrial activity, the governments of the world had been forced to admit the existence of alien life. The US government had decided to open up Area 51 for tours to help us better understand the peaceful beings that had contacted us.

While we were visiting, a sudden attack had commenced on the facility because the aliens had learned that some of our scientists had been experimenting on their brethren.

Caught between both sides, we had to find shelter.

The entryway to Area 51 S-4. The walls are metal, and there is radio active material off to the side.

Setting

Made You Think Escapes’ Area 51 had a confounding set. The two halves felt like they were built by completely different companies.

The lobby and final room were gorgeous, detailed, and unique.

The first actual room looked like the most basic of escape rooms from a few years back. The range of build quality was striking.

In-game: A pair of camo jackets beside an american flag.

Gameplay

Made You Think Escapes’ Area 51 was a standard escape room with a split beginning and a high level of difficulty.

Core gameplay revolved around communication, observation, searching, and puzzling.

In-game: Closeup of a communications panel with multiple lights and a big red button.

Analysis

➕ Made You Think Escapes had a large, open lobby from which players could enter any of their games. Each game had a different aesthetic, clearly demonstrated by its door. These doorways were enticing and exciting. We loved how this space was set up.

➕ The intro video for Area 51 was hilarious. It was thematically appropriate and had us engaged in understanding the rules.

➕ Area 51 escalated well. The early sets weren’t much to behold, but it opened up into something otherworldly.

➖ Area 51 had a brutally hard first challenge. There was practically no on-ramp. This was especially challenging considering the split-team beginning. The net effect was that right out of the gate, Area 51 felt like a frustrating slog. (It did recover later.)

➖ Made You Think Escapes gave us tools, and there were so many things we could have taken apart that weren’t supposed to be fiddled with. If you give me a Phillips-head screwdriver, the only Phillips in the experience should be intended for removal.

➖/➕ The set design was decidedly uneven. The beginning of the game was completely uninspired, but the late game looked incredible. It was difficult to fathom how such a significant disparity existed within the same escape game.

➖ There wasn’t a lot to do in Area 51. There were a few puzzley puzzles and one of these had unnecessarily confusing wording, which diminished the fun of an otherwise good puzzle.

➕ We enjoyed one cleverly clued search.

Tips For Visiting

  • There is a parking lot.

Book your hour with Made You Think Escapes’ Area 51, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.

Disclosure: Made You Think Escapes comped our tickets for this game.

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

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