CU Adventures in Time & Space – Calling All Villains [Review]

“A lot of guys ignore the laugh”

Location:  Urbana, IL

Date Played: March 12, 2022

Team Size: 4-10; we recommend 4-6

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: $30 per player for 4 players, $25 per player for 5+ players

Ticketing: Private

Accessibility Consideration: a step up for at least 1 player

Emergency Exit Rating: [A+] No Lock

Physical Restraints: [A+] No Physical Restraints

REA Reaction

Originally designed as a pop-up, Calling All Villains was a visually compelling experiment in escape room design.

Calling All Villains took many risks, and for the most part, they really paid off. The opening scene felt like a Burning Man-esque warehouse installation, absolutely packed with interactive art in a plethora of colors, textures, and materials. 3-4 distinct chunks of gameplay featured a wide range of puzzle and interaction styles. There was a ton to work on in each stage of the game, making this an excellent option for somewhat larger teams. The gameplay was layered and utilized the physical space in some rather creative ways.

Calling All Villains flowed well overall, but compared to CU Adventures’ other offerings, it was a bit uneven. As much as I enjoyed the majority of the set and gameplay, one intermediate space was a noticeable drop in production value and polish, though I appreciated its intended narrative function. Whereas Game Night, which also originated as a pop-up, managed to coalesce into cohesive permanent experience, more elements in Calling All Villains still felt a bit more ephemeral. I’d love to see how the highlights, aesthetic, and ambitions of this game translate into a more permanent future experience.

An old beat up and broken down van beside a robot.
via CU Adventures

Some of my favorite moments at CU Adventures took place in Calling All Villains. While Game Night and Revenge of the Cabin were our overall favorites, I also highly recommend playing Calling All Villains if you have the time.

Who is this for?

  • Scenery snobs
  • Puzzle lovers
  • Adventure seekers
  • Best for players with at least some experience
  • Players who don’t need to be a part of every puzzle

Why play?

  • The artsy atmosphere
  • The vintage Volkswagen
  • The puzzles

Story

Though we were villains, we realized we needed to combine our powers to save our city from the destructive evil of Doctor Radiation.

Chalk outline of a body in an alleyway.
via CU Adventures

Setting

Calling All Villains was set in the lair/ hangout of our city’s supervillains. The space was eclectically decorated with graffiti and salvaged scrap metal art, including a section of a Volkswagen and a robot.

Gameplay

CU Adventures’ Calling All Villains was a standard escape room with a moderate level of difficulty.

Core gameplay revolved around puzzling and making connections.

Analysis

Calling All Villains included spacious and varied environments. The first area of the set looked especially attractive, with a whimsical found-object aesthetic.

➖ Some areas of the set were used more effectively than others. In particular, an intermediate space felt much less polished – both in build quality and gameplay – than the rest of the room.

➕ Calling All Villains had no shortage of puzzles. The gameplay was layered, logical, and creative. Everything flowed well, with thoughtful branching and gating.

➕ A Volkswagen camper visually anchored the entire room and provided a creative seating option.

➕ A human-sized robot was an awesome piece of functional art.

A large contraption with a glowing green radiation symbol.
via CU Adventures

➕ Some visual relics of past puzzles were well integrated into room artwork such that they never felt like ghost puzzles or red herrings.

➖/➕ The ending sequence lacked the crescendo it deserved, but a final video wrapped up the game in an amusing manner.

Tips For Visiting

  • There was a parking lot.

Book your hour with CU Adventures in Time & Space’s Calling All Villains, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.

Disclosure: CU Adventures in Time & Space provided media discounted tickets for this game.

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