Meow Wolf (Las Vegas) – Omega Mart [Review]

Clean up, aisle ♾️

Location:  Las Vegas, NV

Date Played: December 17, 2021

Group size: we recommend 1-4

Duration: We recommend at least 90 minutes to explore the space, and at least 4 hours to follow the story, possibly many more.

Price: $49-55 per adult (less for children, seniors, and military)

Ticketing: Public

Accessibility Consideration: The first floor of the exhibit is ADA accessible. There is also an elevator to access the second floor, but some areas include steps or narrow passage ways.

Emergency Exit Rating: [A+] No Lock

Physical Restraints: [A+] No Physical Restraints

REA Reaction

Las Vegas in and of itself is a surreal alternate reality, and Meow Wolf’s second location, Omega Mart, felt like the perfect immersive art installation to mimic, mock, and embrace the consumeristic excesses of Sin City.

The sprawling Omega Mart storefront was packed full of actually purchasable, real, fake products. It’s a hilariously dissonant world, and it’s worth the price of admission simply to spend some time walking the aisles of Omega Mart, reading the product packages.

… But there was also a much deeper and considerably larger world behind Omega Mart. This world felt like the original Meow Wolf… if it had been built by Disney. This massive step up in production value added a polish that isn’t present in Santa Fe, but that sheen came at the price of some of the grit, oddity, and soul that grabbed me in the House of Eternal Return. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing so much as it is an aesthetic preference. I can see plenty of folks preferring the Disneyification of Meow Wolf to the grittier artsy vibe of their earlier work.

Where my feelings about Omega Mart turned to disappointment was in their game design choices. The mystery and game within this world started off fantastic, and hit a wondrous climax… and then it kept going and going and going well past its “sell by” date. This could have been fine, but many of the associated touchscreen interfaces were clunky, space was limited, and lines formed at key locations. The net effect was that when we were about to have a big moment in the plot, it was destroyed by watching half a dozen people have that exact moment that I was about to have while I waited.

Finally, the conclusion of the game was utterly disappointing… it fizzled into forgettable nothingness.

Omega Mart would have been better with a little less game, or a lot more thought put into the game and the way that players would engage with it. For all of the improvements that Meow Wolf made to their overall production, it felt like they badly needed to hire some proper game designers.

My advice: absolutely go experience Omega Mart. It’s a wonder. Play the game too… but once you hit a point in the game where you feel like you’ve substantially impacted the world, not just for yourself, but for others… stop playing and go about exploring.

Who is this for?

  • Adventure seekers
  • Story seekers
  • Scenery snobs
  • Any experience level

Why play?

  • The store and its products are a riot
  • The world was gorgeous, truly a Disney quality production

Story

We entered Omega Mart as customers, with the opportunity to become employees, learn the ropes of the business, and explore the exciting opportunities afforded to us by its revolutionary parent company Dramcorp.

Setting

Omega Mart, the anchor storefront in the Area 15 mall in Las Vegas, was an actual fictional store in a real mall. Upon entering we were greeted by eccentric employees and found aisle upon aisle of real satirical products that were truly for sale.

Everything about Omega Mart looked and felt real, especially at a distance, but upon closer inspection, it was all completely bonkers… and that went for the store itself. Beyond its storefront lived another world far larger than Omega Mart. There were corporate offices, production facilities, a town… and like the storefront, everything looked fantastically normal at a distance, but had something else going on upon closer inspection.

Gameplay

Meow Wolf’s Omega Mart was an immersive art installation. It was not an escape room.

The gameplay was in unraveling the mystery and the stories behind this unusual place. This required reading, watching videos, some light puzzles, and waiting for access to information and inputs.

The core gameplay revolved around tapping our Omega Mart card at terminals throughout the world.

Omega Mart could also be explored without acknowledging the game, it worked purely as immersive art.

Analysis

βž• The Omega Mart staging as a supermarket was brilliant. The products were hilarious. It would be possible to spend hours in the first set alone just appreciating how clever each product label is.

βž• /βž– The Omega Mart employees were also quite funny. They brought a lot of character to the space. That said, it wasn’t clear how much they were intended to be a part of our experience. If we’d treated them like actors in an immersive theater piece, would we have uncovered more? Meow Wolf suffered from the magic circle problem where we weren’t entirely sure what was off limits.

βž• Omega Mart had outstanding production quality. With big open spaces, the reveals were especially impressive. Each of the 4 main areas had a clear aesthetic. Every space was designed and polished.

βž• Omega Mart felt a lot more “playground” (and a lot less “art”) than The House of Eternal Return. In part this was the effect of the slides, one especially cool assent, and interactions like telephones all around the place. However, beyond the opening scene, the spaces felt more like one dimensional sets. If we looked deeper, we didn’t discover more.

❓ There was a mystery to solve. If you’re motivated by a mission, it’s easy to get started and follow it through to completion (lines notwithstanding). The mystery was optional. If you choose not to pursue it, you’ll uncover bits of backstory anyway, and you can enjoy your time just as much without it. Our commitment to completing the mission gave our movement through the space purpose, but perhaps also detracted from our ability to just take in the magnificence.

βž– We visited Omega Mart on a Friday morning, arriving when it opened. In order to see the quest through, we spent a lot of time waiting on lines. Sometimes, these could be pointless, like when we spent 20 minutes waiting for the computer in a room we’d already fully explored, only to find out that we actually needed a different computer that had most of (but not all of) the same information and interactions.

βž– The UI design was mediocre. The touch screens left a lot to be desired. The volume was impossibly low on many phones. Terminal timers didn’t disable when events occurred. It was always more challenging to take an action than it needed to be.

βž– The most demoralizing element to the overall interaction design was watching someone do exactly what you wanted to do while you waited in line to do it. That put a damper on completing things.

βž• The verb “to boop.” It’s what you do with your card to trigger interactions. Who doesn’t want to boop?

βž– It was challenging to parse lore from gameplay. There was always more to be found, either stored on shelves or in desks, or at each computer terminal. In theory, this was fun, but in practice, it was maddening, especially while we were vying for space at terminals to complete interactions.

βž–Β Unearthing the story of this place required substantial reading and watching some long videos.

βž• At Omega Mart it was possible to impact the set on a large scale. When we did this, it felt epic. This was by far our favorite moment in the hours we spent exploring.

βž– The story/ mission track peaked too early with the afrementioned epic moment. The conclusion was lackluster, both as an interaction and as a story. It didn’t tie off storylines well or give us a sense of wonder. It wasn’t satisfying.

βž• Meow Wolf excelled at secret doors. There was so much variety to these, and even once they were expected, they were fun. We loved the shocked looks on other people’s faces when we emerged through a door they didn’t yet know was a door.

Tips For Visiting

  • Meow Wolf (Las Vegas) is located instead AREA15.
  • Parking: AREA15 has several large parking areas, all easily accessible from W Sirius Avenue.
  • Food: There are drinks (including alcoholic ones) available for sale inside the exhibit, but no food. For a meal nearby in AREA15, we recommend The Beast.

Book your ticket to Meow Wolf’s Omega Mart, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.