Cubicescape – Memento [Review]

I can’t remember…

Location:  San Jose, CA

Date Played: November 5, 2021

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

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: from $40 per player for 2 players down to $30 per player for 6 players

Ticketing: Private

Emergency Exit Rating: [A+] No Lock

Physical Restraints: [A+] No Physical Restraints

REA Reaction

Cubicescape’s Memento was an intimate, narrative-centric escape room which made me feel things.

I volunteered to represent the main character, and my teammates became my subconscious. While this distinction only affected a few small moments of the game, these moments had a strong framing effect on the rest of the experience. As the game progressed, I was impressed by how Memento told a vivid story through a first-person perspective β€”Β somewhat of a rarity amongst escape rooms.

A room with walls covered in newspaper, in big red letters are the words, "Save him!" painted on the walls.

As the room progressed, fragments of my forgotten memories pieced together into something bigger, ending with a sense of nostalgic β€” yet somewhat hopeful β€” gloom. Whereas most escape rooms end in jubilant victory, I actually found it refreshing to end feeling something I hadn’t fully expected when the room started. While I found some narrative details of this ending didn’t fully culturally translate, the underlying emotions still came through strongly.

Memento is not for everyone. If you’re allergic to reading in escape rooms, you might want to skip this one. But for those looking for an escape room strong on narrative, strong on emotions, and which will lead to an interesting, educational, and potentially polarizing post-game debrief, I recommend giving Memento a play.

Who is this for?

  • Story seekers
  • Puzzle lovers
  • Best for players with at least some experience

Story

I woke up with a terrible headache and zero recollection of where I was… or who I was… or how I got there. With my teammates as my subconscious, I pored through the mysterious diary pages around me as I attempted to discover the secrets of my past.

Setting

Memento took place in the bedroom of a tormented soul with chronic memory loss. The walls were plastered with newspaper articles, photos, and strange writing. The aesthetic was both crazed and hauntingly wistful.

A mattress in the middle of a room covered in newspaper, just above the mattress is a drawing of a man.

Gameplay

Cubicescape’s Memento was a standard escape room with a moderate level of difficulty.

Core gameplay revolved around light puzzling, reading, and making narrative observations and connections.

Analysis

βž• Memento began with an interaction that physically immersed the core player in the role of the main character. It was simple and effective.

βž• At first, the set of Memento felt reminiscent of a murder board or a serial killer’s lair, with newspaper clippings haphazardly covering the walls. But as the narrative unfolded, this environment quickly became something much gentler β€” the embodiment of a character trying to piece together their past.

βž– A later part of the set seemed underutilized and unfinished compared to the main area.

❓/βž– Memento included a fair amount of reading. While this made sense within the story, this style might not appeal to players seeking more action-driven gameplay.

βž• A conversation on a mobile phone projected audio to the whole room, making it easy for all players to participate even though only one player could handle the device at a time. We appreciated this player-friendly interaction design.

βž•/❓The room finished with a sharp crescendo in emotional intensity. On one hand, this ending was climactic in how it tied together many narrative threads, and I enjoyed how this style of puzzling forced us to answer the “why” behind some of our previous interactions. On the other hand, this narrative direction felt almost laughably melodramatic, though this could be representative of some cultural differences between Western and East Asian escape room narrative aesthetics.

Tips For Visiting

  • There is a parking lot.

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