Vortex – Nightfall [Review]

Shelter Skelter

Location:  Montreal, Canada

Date Played: February 1, 2020

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

Duration: 60 minutes

Price:  29.99 CAS per player

Ticketing: Private

Emergency Exit Rating: [A+] No Lock

Physical Restraints: [A+] No Physical Restraints

REA Reaction

Nightfall was a strong escape room with an interesting approach to hinting.

The set looked good. The puzzles were entertaining and broadly varied.

In-game: A bloodied water well outside of a cabin in the woods.

As hinting, Vortex had included extra information lying around the room in obvious places. If we wanted to access that additional layer of information, we could do so freely at any time. This was interesting because it created as many problems as it solved – mostly because some of the bonus hints were kind of essential. This was needlessly frustrating, but quite fixable.

All in all, Nightfall was one of the strongest games that we played in the city of Montreal (bearing in mind that a lot of the action in the Montreal escape room community is happening in the suburbs). If you’re in Montreal and looking for an escape, Vortex’s Nightfall is a strong option.

Who is this for?

  • Adventure seekers
  • Puzzle lovers
  • Sci-fi fans
  • Any experience level

Why play?

  • Fun set and prop interactions
  • Puzzle variety

Story

While hiking through the woods in the late 1960s, one of our friends had fallen and broken his leg. We had found refuge in a cabin and radioed back to town. We were told that rescuers would be dispatched if we could determine our location. As we settled in and began looking for the necessary information, we started hearing harrowing noises in the woods around us… and the sounds kept getting closer.

In-game: 2 people operating a chamber occupied by a third person.
Image via Vortex

Setting

We found ourselves outside of a strange cabin in the woods. The setting was dimly lit, but we were able to see what we needed to see. Exterior scenes have generally proven difficult to sell, but Vortex did a pretty good job of building the right vibe. It certainly showed its seams, but felt solid enough.

As we entered the cabin, the scene shifted dramatically and Vortex maintained their level of quality.

In-game: Closeup on a firepit with a fire glowing within.

Gameplay

Vortex’s Nightfall was a standard escape room with a moderate level of difficulty.

Core gameplay revolved around searching, observing, making connections, and puzzling.

Analysis

➕ Vortex built a compelling outdoor set for Nightfall. It was dark, but with enough light that we could see what we needed to see. It created a sense of eeriness appropriate for the scenario, without becoming scary.

➕ The gameplay flowed cleanly. We enjoyed the wide variety of puzzles and how they linked together.

➕/❓Nightfall gave clear feedback when we solved a puzzle. We always appreciate this aspect of escape room design. It’s debatable whether Vortex’s choice of feedback notification made sense in this experience. It probably depends on how playful versus realistic your escape game preferences lean… Vortex leaned into playful. Our team was split on the subject.

➕/➖ Players could choose to make this game easier by reading the additional paper cluing that Vortex left within the game. These clues were clearly marked as optional. We appreciated the intent: that players could get the clue structure entirely from within the experience, but could choose to read additional cluing for any given puzzle.

That said, we found a few instances where we couldn’t glean the information we needed without reading the extra papers. It didn’t exist anywhere else. For example, we needed to read the printed material to know that there was a bonus puzzle available within the game. Also, the papers explained how to activate an entire critical sequence.

➖ We found one process puzzle inelegant. It ended up coming down to trial and error.

➖ One large, intriguing set piece built up to an uninteresting reveal. That moment was begging for a more engaging interaction.

➕  Nightfall had a climactic ending. Vortex created a prop that sold the moment. It was campy, but it worked well with the vibe of the set and the game. This ending was unusual, funny, and quite memorable.

Tips For Visiting

  • There is metered street parking. Download the P$ Montreal parking app to pay the meter.
  • This game is entirely bilingual (French and English).
  • All players need to be able to crawl a short distance.

Book your hour with Vortex’s Nightfall, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.

Disclosure: Vortex comped our tickets for this game.

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