Update July 7, 2021: Note that since this review published BibRave released a less expensive mini version of this experience. See the comments.
Run to Escape: Mission Mt. Olympus is a digital experience that mixes running with puzzles.
Style of Play:
- Play on demand
- Audio game
Required Equipment: mobile device with the RunKeeper app, running shoes
Headphones are technically optional, but highly recommended.
Recommended Team Size: 1
Play Time: No timer on each race – run or walk at your own pace. Total of 27 miles across all the races.
Price: $75 per player
Booking: purchase and play at your leisure
You’re tasked with helping Atalanta prove to the Olympian gods and goddesses that she deserves to be on Mt. Olympus. To do so, you accept the challenge of 6 gods/ goddesses and complete a series of races.
This is a single-player audio game intended to take place over the course of several different runs and post-workout follow ups.
After signing up for each race in Runkeeper, you lace up your sneakers and prepare for your cardio workout. During each run, a god will talk to you through your headphones, providing some story, entertainment, and clues for the puzzle you’ll be able to solve once you finish the race and make it back to your computer. These puzzles are of easy-to-medium difficulty. The solution to the puzzle is the access code to the next race. When all races are over, solve the metapuzzle to get into the afterparty where you have access to discounts and giveaways.
Hivemind Review Scale
Andrew Reynolds’ Reaction
First things first: I really appreciate the novelty of Run to Escape: Mission Mt. Olympus. I’m a relatively novice runner and an experienced puzzler, and I was interested in this game as a convergence of two interests. Unfortunately, this new form factor stumbles out of the starting block.
This experience had some notable organization issues. Emails and in-game information included instructions for both the intended game path (run a race -> solve a puzzle -> unlock next race) and the actual on-the-ground game path (which makes the races entirely optional!). I can’t be sure if this was a technology issue or something that should have been beta-tested more. Similarly, it seems to me that the metapuzzle is disorganized, in that the cluing references game material that I am entirely unable to find.
The other factor here is value. $75 seems like a high price for a series of virtual races that don’t provide anything tangible. The puzzles were enjoyable, but not what I would call challenging. And the 26+ miles you run… you can actually do that part for free! The voice acting was amusing (I could do with a little more Aphrodite in my ear…) but only lasted about 5 minutes per run.
While I didn’t dislike the time I spent helping out Atalanta, I think this game prices itself out. In any case, it’s definitely more geared towards runners who want to get into puzzling than to puzzlers who want to get into running.
Brendan Lutz’s Reaction
Running for me is a workout. It’s a workout I overall enjoy, but still a workout. Thus I leap at anything that promises a potential distraction from the exhaustion in my legs, or the burning in my chest.
Unfortunately, Run to Escape: Mission Mt. Olympus doesn’t quite meet this mark.
To give credit where it’s due, the voice acting was on-point and the story the game created was interesting. However, the content is not nearly compelling or plentiful enough to provide any meaningful immersion over a several-mile run.
The puzzles were moderately difficult and for the most part made sense, but for a $75 price point, I would’ve expected a lot more from them.
The most surprising thing of the experience though was the fact that, not only was running not required for solving the puzzles, in fact it wasn’t really involved at all. The “clues” I received while running didn’t lead to solving in real time, and the clues are made available without actually needing to complete a run.
At a much cheaper price point, this experience might be worth it, but for $75 I’d recommend finding your leg burning distractions elsewhere.
Tammy McLeod’s Reaction
I love puzzles far more than I do running, so I hoped that the allure of earning clues would motivate me to dust off my old running shoes. It did, to an extent. I haven’t run in about 4 years, so while the first challenge of 3 miles was manageable, seeing the subsequent challenges ramp up to 4 and 5 miles was more of an obstacle. The initial setup was confusing, and I had to read the instructions rather carefully to get the audio content set up in the app properly. However, the production value of this series was of high quality, and the puzzles themselves were reasonably challenging. They took me about 10 minutes each on average. It is nice that they also send you links to replay the puzzle audio, in case you miss something during the run. This is an interesting crossover product, perhaps best for people who can manage 3-10 mile runs.
Peih Gee Law’s Reaction
The only way to get me to run is by dangling a puzzle from a stick in front of me, and so in theory, this game sounded great. An audio, narrative-based puzzle that you can listen to and try to solve while you run… is what I thought it would be. This is NOT that. We got only about 5 different short 1-2 minute long audio clips per run. These didn’t have much of a story, and didn’t have anything you could really solve or think about during the run. Any clues in the audio clips needed to be used with the accompanying puzzle that was emailed to you after the run. Be forewarned that the runs range from 5k to 10k, so this is not for beginner runners or couch potatoes like me. If you are a serious runner looking for something different to enjoy while on your runs, this might be an interesting challenge for you. However, I have a hard time recommending this game at the current price of $75 for a few minutes of audio narration followed by very short, mediocre puzzles housed in a confusing web of websites, apps, and emails.
Immersion: The audio clips, while short, were very well acted and well produced. I enjoyed the different voices and characters, but it didn’t really have much of a narrative.
Puzzles: There is only 1 very short, not-very-good puzzle per run. A few of the puzzles I solved not with the intended method, but because they were very easy to guess. The final metapuzzle seemed to require some type of game item that I don’t think I was ever sent. I found these puzzles to be a very dissatisfactory reward after forcing myself through a long run.
Interface: This isn’t a dedicated app. Instead, you have to register on a website, download an app, get an email, which you click to get sent to another website and so forth. It was very tedious and confusing trying to make this even work, and not having all the information centralized was very frustrating.
Theresa Piazza’s Reaction
I’m an avid workout enthusiast who runs regularly, and I found this to be an interesting way to get escape room players moving, but not worth the price. For a very limited amount of audio per run and puzzles that were easy to brute force, it seems the value proposition here is centered around the giveaways or the pride of being one of the fastest runners on the leaderboard. While the recording quality is good and I did enjoy having the Greek gods pop in and say encouraging things to me, there was nothing requiring the puzzles to be delivered via audio, or while on a run, so Run to Escape missed the mark. Having played Zombies, Run! years ago, I was looking for more: could a puzzle have been generated based on my running route? Or could hints be allotted based on the total time it took to complete? Or perhaps different in-run prompts based on whether or not my last mile was faster or slower than current? Even leaving those technical items aside, if any of the puzzles required some level of mental-only pondering, this overall experience would have been improved, as I would have loved to distract myself with a puzzle to stew on and ignore the fatigue which sets in around mile 2. Instead, each puzzle requires you to access a document or image when you’re done with the race, so you really can’t do any solving while on the run.
Disclosure: BibRave provided the Hivemind reviewers with a complimentary play.