Escapism – The Score [Review]

Puzzle Gauntlet

Location:  Southington, CT

Date Played: July 9, 2021

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

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: $29 per player

Ticketing: Private

Game Breakage: No

Accessibility Consideration:  None

Emergency Exit Rating: [A+] No Lock

Physical Restraints: [A+] No Physical Restraints

REA Reaction

The Score was a puzzle-focused experience with a ton of content and a novel structure; it was score-based and designed for multiple attempts at the same content.

Our goal was to acquire as much loot as we could within 60 minutes, and there was far more content than our team of seasoned veterans could complete in one try.

A massive mural of a woman's eyes painted on a brick wall. Below it is a display case for a diamond.

While Escapism did put in some worldbuilding work on The Score, this did not feel like it had a narrative. The puzzles rarely felt grounded in story or the environment. The tension came from our team’s internal motivation to solve as much as we could… which is fine for a puzzle-centric style of play.

If we were to return, the puzzle content would remain the same, but we could approach these puzzles with prior experience and knowledge to speed through the early challenges and tackle the puzzles that we either hadn’t finished or never saw.

We had a good time playing The Score once and certainly recommend it for folks who are in the region and looking for lots of puzzle play. I don’t imagine that the allure of a higher score would be enough to draw us in for a second crack at the game. We know folks who would be all about this, and if it’s you, then there is plenty of depth to explore in The Score.

Who is this for?

  • Puzzle lovers
  • Any experience level
  • Players who don’t need to be a part of every puzzle

Why play?

  • There’s an impressive volume of puzzle content
  • You’re looking for a game that you can play at least twice

Story

The bad guys had taken all the loot. While they were out, we snuck into their hideout to steal as much as we could before they returned.

The bartop in the wine bar.

Setting

The Score opened in a wine bar. The set had nice elements, but it wasn’t the focus of the experience. It was a container for the puzzles.

Warehouse area with a lot of large wooden crates and a map with a glowing train line path.
The train line map was the game’s timer

Gameplay

In The Score, escape was guaranteed and the gameplay was about achieving a high score by solving as much of the experience as possible in the allotted 60 minutes.

This game was explicitly designed for multiple rounds of play. There was considerably more than 60 minutes worth of the content, even for our very experienced team of 4.

This was pure puzzle-focused gameplay. It was largely non-linear.

Back bar area with glasses, books, and a red locked box.

Analysis

➕ The Score presented a lot of puzzles covering a wide variety of styles. There was something for everyone.

The Score really was for all experience levels, provided you’re interested in focused puzzle solving. If you’re new to these types of challenges, it will teach you about ciphers, and the like. The more times you play, the deeper you’ll go and the more you’ll learn.

➕ The Score was largely non-linear. While there were a couple of gates, we almost always had multiple puzzles in play. While this could have felt overwhelming, it was well organized. The puzzles were generally well mapped to the locks and the game flowed well.

➖ The puzzles were essentially untethered to the story and world. Many could have been solved on paper, from my dining room table. They were sometimes thematic, especially in the first act, but mostly just random.

➕ Escapism orchestrated some fine misdirection that delivered a fun reveal.

➖ The emotional arc of The Score was mostly flat. While we had fun realizations, there weren’t many standout moments, or real changes in how we interacted or felt over the course of the hour. There was pretense of story, but not much experience of story.

➕ We appreciated the thematic game clock (although I will admit that we didn’t realize it was a clock for far too long).

❓ You feel time pressure differently when playing The Score. You will escape (with loads of stolen loot!) but you won’t solve everything. We felt a frantic energy to solve as much as possible, but not because that would open the door or complete a narrative arc.

➖ There was opportunity for a more polished build, for both the set and the props.

➖ Escapism used an in-world hint system, which we appreciated, but then promptly forgot about, and left strewn about. Thus it was never where we needed it. Also, communication only went one way (towards us), which felt both illogical and clumsy.

The Score had an ending, even though we left plenty of content untouched. Escapism found a narrative-driven, exciting way to say “put your pencils down” and it worked.

❓ The Score is replayable. To some, I think this would be a huge ➕. You can come back and beat your own score. You’ll unlock more content. To others, I think you’ll see this as a ➖  because you can’t see it all the first time, and you must replay the puzzles you know to get to the new content. However you feel about this decision, it’s unusual. It’s not my preferred style of experience, and I wouldn’t be excited to repeat process puzzles, but I can see how rewarding it could be to build mastery of these puzzles. Plus, I enjoy an intense puzzle race from time to time.

Tips For Visiting

  • Parking: There is a large parking lot.

Book your hour with Escapism’s The Score, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.

Disclosure: Escapism comped our tickets for this game.

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