Q The Live Escape Experience – Area Q [Review]

Puzzle Gear

Location:  Loveland, CO

Date Played: September 6, 2019

Team size: up to 10; we recommend 3-5

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: $24.99 per player

Ticketing: Public

Emergency Exit Rating: [A+] No Lock

Physical Restraints: [A+] No Physical Restraints

REA Reaction

Area Q was a unique experience. Some of it was brilliant and some of it was a mess (literally and figuratively).

The crux of the game was built around a heist. We were stealing something and needed to navigate the security system as well as the guard. In a lot of ways, it felt a lot like a Metal Gear game.

In-game: A person sneaking around a wooden crage in a dark room.
Image via Q The Live Escape Experience

The cool thing about Area Q was that there were a lot of different ways to play it. If you played Area Q as a straight puzzle room, however, I think that you would find it pretty dull; the puzzles were decidedly subpar. That said, you don’t have to play it that way. It can be what you make of it.

I’m really glad that we played this game because it was different. Q The Live Escape Experience tried some interesting concepts… and they nailed the actor interactions. The catch here was that the puzzles, cleanliness, and finer points of set design felt all but ignored.

If you’re open to a unique experience that is equal parts exciting and flawed, then this is worth checking out. However, if you’re looking for something that is more grounded in escape room tradition and functions more smoothly, The Conjuror was a stronger all-around game.

Who is this for?

  • Adventure seekers
  • Actor interactors
  • Players with at least some experience

Why play?

  • The guard actor was fantastic and gave the character a ton of personality
  • The scenario built a lot of tension

Story

A meteor had crashed into Earth and had been retrieved by a criminal organization. Their scientists had extracted alien bacteria and used it to engineer a plague. Now they planned to auction it to the highest bidder.

Our assignment: infiltrate the facility under cover of darkness, avoid being caught by the guard, steal the plague sample, and plant a bomb to destroy the remaining samples.

Setting

Area Q sent us down into a rustic research lab. The reality of this staging was a game in a large, dusty, and dark warehouse space. Most of the set pieces were large wooden crates behind a chain-link fence. The laboratory portions felt hacked together.

It was spartan.

In-game: A glowing green exit sign over a door viewed through a chainlink fence.
Image via Q The Live Escape Experience

Every 10 minutes, like clockwork, a security guard patrolled the space. The actor was fantastic and really imbued this character with a personality.

Gameplay

Q The Live Escape Experience’s Area Q was an actor-driven escape room with a moderate level of difficulty.

Core gameplay revolved around searching, puzzling, hiding, and engaging with the actor.

Analysis

➕ Area Q was an escape room in principle, but the gameplay was open ended. We could play it straight by solving puzzles, or go for a more dramatic, improvisational approach with the actor.

➕ The guard gave this game intrigue. He walked with personality. He was imposing and threatening, but also amusing. He was adaptive too. He would play the type of game that the players wanted to play. When we chose to mess with him, he gave it right back to us. This was a ton of fun.

➖ The puzzles were downright boring. They felt like tedious work we had to slog through. It didn’t help that we had to abandon them and hide every time the guard approached.

➖ The gameplay was largely search-focused. Search was frustrating because the set was large and dark. Although we weren’t bumping into things, we weren’t keen on blind searching, considering the dirt and splintery props.

➕ Although Area Q was a dark space, it needed to be for the premise of the game. We had enough flashlights for each teammate. The space was also devoid of clutter and tripping hazards. We weren’t going to miss these props.

There is a difference between a dirty-looking set and an actually dirty set. Area Q was filthy. After hiding in this set, we were covered in dirt and dust.

➕ Area Q had a laissez-faire approach to solving. There was no definitive way to accomplish something. We could solve the puzzles or find our own means to accomplish our heist. In fact, they’d designed different paths to get teams to the same ending. Depending on how a team approached the game, different things could happen, but none of them would be game-ending. Instead, they would set the team on a different path to a successful ending.

➖ There were opportunities to make the props more interesting. For example, the plague sample we needed to steal could have looked like something we wanted to get our hands on.

Area Q built a ton of tension with the constant hiding and the actor dramatics. Given this build up, the ending fell flat. Our exit from the gamespace was anticlimactic in comparison.

Tips For Visiting

  • Wear closed-toed shoes and clothing that can get dirty.
  • There is a parking lot.

Book your hour with Q The Live Escape Experience’s Area Q, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.

Disclosure: Q The Live Escape Experience 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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