SCRAP – Escape from the Science Lab of Shifting Rules [Hivemind Review]

Update: If you want to hear more about Escape from the Science Lab of Shifting Rules back us on Patreon at the “Search Win!” level to get access to a Spoiler’s Club Episode about this game. Reality Escape Pod co-hosts David and Peih-Gee talk all about it, spoilers and all.

Escape from the Science Lab of Shifting Rules is an avatar-led game, played in Zoom, and created specifically for digital play by SCRAP in Japan.

Promo art shows a chaotic lab with a shark and the words, "Alter the rules and save the world!"Alter


Style of Play:

  • Online native experience (can NOT be played IRL)
  • Avatar controlled by the players

Required Equipment: computer with internet connection

Recommended Team Size: 2-6

Play Time: 60 minutes

Price: about $192 per team of up to 6 players

Booking: book online for a specific time slot


Escape from the Science Lab of Shifting Rules is an avatar-led game that uses wordplay and critical thinking to move the story along.

Standard avatar interaction. Non-standard physics interaction. Players control a machine that changes reality and – as a fortuitous side effect – helps them solve puzzles.

This game is played entirely in Zoom with no additional interface. It was specifically designed as a remote game and can not be played in real life.

Escape from the Science Lab of Shifting Rules is also available in Japanese, but we played the English version of this game. You need a strong grasp of English to succeed.

Hivemind Review Scale

REA's hivemind review scale - 3 is recommended anytime, 2 recommended in quarantine, 1 is not recommended.

Read more about our Hivemind Review format.

Andrew Reynolds’ Reaction

Rating: 3 out of 3.

Escape from the Science Lab of Shifting Rules is most definitely an escape room – a darn fun one at that – but at times it felt more like a magic show that I was happy to just sit back and watch. If you couldn’t guess from the name of the room, a major mechanic of this game is changing the rules. These changes affect the physical space your avatar is in, and they consistently felt magical. And like a good magic show, I don’t understand how it was done and I don’t really want to know.

Just about every puzzle was memorable, and most had at least a small amount of spectacle to them. Two puzzles come to mind that had a bit of a lateral thinking component to them; I didn’t love dealing with those, but my teammates seemed to and they fit in with the overall eccentricity of the room. Even given that small criticism, this is a room worth playing to see what bizarre solutions you can concoct.

Theresa W’s Reaction

Rating: 3 out of 3.

Escape from the Science Lab of Shifting Rules was absolutely a creation that could only be accomplished online and that completely blew me away from start to end. SCRAP designed what I can only describe as the game Baba is You in real life (don’t worry – you don’t need to know the game!), and executed it beautifully. Giving away any mechanics beyond that would spoil the fun, but just know it’s incredibly unique and something I’ve never seen. Something that was pleasant about this game was that even large groups can enjoy it, since the puzzles are all solved by trying the craziest ideas and seeing if they work. You really have to think as a hivemind to solve this game. With 6 players, we were never stepping on each other’s feet, and every single person had a shining moment (and we used up 59 of the 60 minutes!). Escape from the Science Lab of Shifting Rules was so magical compared to most avatar-led games, and is thoroughly a market standout.

Joel Smileypeacefun Reaction

Rating: 3 out of 3.

We were invited to a science lab where they had created a crazy machine that bent the rules of reality. Some experiments with the machine had gone horribly wrong though, so we had to save the world by using the machine to our advantage.

At its best, you get led through the correct Zoom setup in great detail to make sure everything runs smoothly. I can’t say enough good things about the unique, creative, and clever mechanics of this game. The puzzles also had a nice on-ramp. The gamemaster had to react to the weird ideas we had, and they pulled it off quickly.

At its worst, we experienced some streaming lags at the beginning and end of our experience. There are a lot of rules to explain before the game can pick up its pace. Also, it’s not the most wowing set, but they made it work for online play.

In typical SCRAP fashion, this game had a high level of difficulty. However, the challenges were fair and doable.

Cindi S’ Reaction

Rating: 3 out of 3.

Escape from the Science Lab of Shifting Rules is 60 minutes of puzzling word magic! Our team of 6 was challenged to think outside the box, inside out, and upside down in an attempt to help our AI robot friend save the world. Clever wordplay and aha moments combined to move the story along in very unexpected ways, and each correct answer was incredibly satisfying. What really made this game fun, though, was building on each other’s sometimes off-the-wall suggestions (that more often than not, actually worked!) and we finished with barely 2 minutes left on the clock. I do think the game is expensive, especially for a team of less than 6 players. But SCRAP games are always entertaining and very unique, and this one was no exception.

David Spira’s Reaction

Rating: 3 out of 3.

This is the kind of online escape game that I crave: a game that could not exist in person.

This was Baba Is You, the digital escape room, and it was genius. I loved this game and highly recommend playing it with a team of 6 smart and collaborative people.

$192 per team sounds like a lot, but with 6 people, it’s about $32 per person, and you should play with a team of 6.

Escape from the Science Lab of Shifting Rules had absolutely none of the puzzle book-style puzzles that SCRAP frequently includes in their games. Everything was built around the core mechanic of using Baba Is You-style play to change the rules of the world itself. Additionally, the challenge of the game was not concentrated in the ending; it was distributed throughout the experience.

My word of caution is that this game was remarkably complicated to operate. Our gamemaster/ in-game character had to work very hard to make things function. We didn’t encounter any problems in our playthrough, but we came close to breaking something through our approach to problem solving. Be kind to your gamemaster, and have fun. This one was special.

Disclosure: SCRAP provided the Hivemind reviewers with a complimentary play.

Update June 2021: If you’re interested in a deeper conversation about Escape from the Science Lab of Shifting Rulesspoilers and all – subscribe to our Patreon where you can listen to our Reality Escape Pod hosts discuss their experience playing this game.

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