REVO Escape – Bunker: AI’s Martyrdom [Review]

“We’re in!”

Location: Scarborough, Ontario, Canada

Date Played: May 2, 2022

Team Size: 4-8; we recommend 5-6

Duration: 75 minutes

Price: It’s Complicated

Ticketing: Private

Accessibility Consideration: At a minimum, you need at least 3 physically fit people. This game requires lifting heavy objects, dexterity, and balance.

Emergency Exit Rating: [A+] No Lock

Physical Restraints: [A+] No Physical Restraints

REA Reaction

I have not stopped thinking about Bunker: AI’s Martyrdom since I played it. I deeply loved this game right up until the point where I hated it with every fiber of my being.

REVO Escape is one of the most interesting escape room companies that we’ve ever visited. Their stated goal is to create mimetic games: games where you as a player aren’t doing gamey things, but trying to react and problem solve as if it truly were real life… which it is… but it’s a game… and they don’t want you treating it like a game.

From a narrative and worldbuilding standpoint, REVO Escape built an impressive, sprawling gamespace and wrapped it in a story that had shocking depth. Most notably, there was something that I found funny about the story from the outset. I sneered at this element right up until the silliest part of it proved integral to the story.

A massive metal door labeled "Restricted Area" in a concrete structure.

The technology of Bunker: AI’s Martyrdom was inspired. REVO Escape tied the entire world together with their tech and used it to create incredible opportunities for emergent gameplay and some of the most cinematic moments that I have ever experienced in an escape room.

The variety of physical, spatial, engineering, and investigative challenges in Bunker: AI’s Martyrdom were surprising, exciting, and physically demanding.

I’m gushing… because I really did love this game. And then I didn’t.

The last two challenges sent us careening into tedium. Operating in parallel, these two challenges were arduous and draining. One was mentally draining, the other physically draining… and both were spiritually draining.

It’s hard to truly convey the excitement we felt over the first 35 minutes… and how rapidly it departed as we attempted to chip away at the same two challenges for roughly 40 minutes.

There was a lot to love in Bunker: AI’s Martyrdom… and love it I did… But $%^* it needed a better ending.

Who is this for?

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

Why play?

  • An incredible interlink between the set and the technology
  • Some incredible moments
  • Wild physical challenges with a gritty intensity
  • A surprisingly deep narrative

Story

While we were out camping, our walkie-talkie had picked up a distress signal from a woman identifying herself as a military officer. A nearby nuclear missile silo had been taken over by a rogue artificial intelligence and we were the only humans close enough to reach the bunker in time to stop the launch.

A big metal, militaristic-looking door.

Setting

Bunker: AI’s Martyrdom began with an exterior set, and had us breaking into the bunker. Throughout the experience we found a wide variety of spaces that all felt at home in this environment. Each had its own look and personality while feeling part of the larger whole. The compound felt fully realized, and the technology that bound it all together was incredibly cool. It underscored that the gamespace was a networked military installation.

A computer, a red phone, and a server rack.

Gameplay

REVO Escape’s Bunker: AI’s Martyrdom was a standard escape room that strove for mimetic gameplay.

It had a high level of difficulty, due to two particularly challenging puzzles. Core gameplay revolved around mental and physical puzzles and challenges.

Analysis

 Bunker: AI’s Martyrdom began outside the bunker, with a compelling set that narratively justified the experience. Strong early interactions provided solid onboarding for this style of gameplay.

➕ REVO Escape also narratively justified what initially felt like a strange design decision. The story was unusual and compelling.

➕ REVO Escape added depth to the world with the in-game command center. As we gained mastery of the tech, we had command of so much of the space. It truly felt like we were hacking in.

➕ For the majority of the game, the gameplay flowed well. We were discovering a world, taking actions that made sense within it, and gaining mastery of it. We accomplished a series of micro victories that moved the game forward.

➖ The game flow abruptly ended with two challenging late-game puzzles that were not fun to solve and substantially overstayed their welcome. One involved a physics problem. The other required repetitively inputting information.

➖ The game lacked safety (and comfort) affordances. Some large props and set pieces left us banged up after manipulating them for so long. One teammate bashed his head on a low doorway with no signage or padding.

➕/➖ One early puzzle offered an agile player a badass hero moment. If someone cannot do it, the bypass is punishingly boring.

➖ It is possible to be physically too large (in a certain, specific dimension) to solve one puzzle in this game.

➕ There was a thrill to unlocking new spaces and opening up more of this world.

❓/➖ While the mimetic design style was interesting, Bunker: AI’s Martyrdom was ultimately an escape room. The puzzles were deeply ingrained in the world, but there was still a “right” way (or a few right ways, in some instances) to solve the challenges of the space. Had we really been in a similar situation, we would have been far more destructive than we could (or would) be in this scenario at REVO Escape.

➕ After our escape, we watched a post-game video demonstrating common solutions to the physical, set-driven challenges in the game.

Tips For Visiting

  • There is a parking lot.
  • If you have the time, do not play all of REVO Escape’s games in rapid succession. They are physically demanding and may bruise you up.

Book your time with REVO Escape’s Bunker: AI’s Martyrdom and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.

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