REVO Escape – The Lab: Lockdown [Review]

Prison Simulator

Location:  Scarborough, Ontario, Canada

Date Played: May 2, 2022

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

Duration: 75 minutes

Price: It’s Complicated

Ticketing: Private

Accessibility Consideration: Players need physical dexterity and strength to fully participate in this experience. At minimum, 2 players need to be fully physically capable.

Emergency Exit Rating: [B] Emergency Key

Physical Restraints: [B] Mechanical Release

REA Reaction

The Lab: Lockdown took two of our least favorite escape room settings – prison and lab – and smashed them together. In some ways playing this game felt like an absolute disaster, while in many others it was a triumph. It was a weird game, from a strange company, so buckle up, because we’re going on a journey.

As far as labs and prisons go, REVO Escape made both sides of this experience unique and compelling. Setting us in a dystopian sci-fi narrative where we were prisoners being experimented on allowed them to create a sense of purpose for both the prison and the lab. Neither felt generic (which is part of why these settings usually disappoint). The story was legitimately interesting… I bought it.

A lab for human study, there is an assortment of equipment, but it looks in disarray, there is blood spatter on the fllor.

Where things got really unusual in The Lab: Lockdown was the punishing physicality of the entire experience. REVO strives for mimetic design, which means that they want you treating everything like it’s an actual scenario, and The Lab: Lockdown had a MacGyver theme to essentially all of its challenges.

To that end, the bonkers solution to the first challenge seemed unreasonable… and it truly was unreasonable. Doable? Yeah… but it mostly involved 2 teammates; no one else could help them in a meaningful way. In our case, David sat in his prison cell with essentially nothing to do for 40 minutes. Yes, it took us 40 minutes to complete the first challenge.

Beyond that, there was an obstacle course that included scaling an 8-foot wall with very little headroom at its peak.

There was also a challenge in this game that David and I completed together. We have never felt more accomplished in an escape room than we did after defeating this monster.

Throughout it all, we picked up many bruises, cuts, and scrapes. I’d guess that the REVO Escape staff are more familiar with their first aid kit than any other escape room company we’ve visited.

Lisa's elbow with a big bruise on it.
One of many.

The Lab: Lockdown was a weird beast. Switching almost at random from boring to exciting to curious to punishing, the entire experience felt chaotic, unapologetic, and unforgiving. It was as easy to love this game as it was to hate it, and frequently both all at the same time.

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?

  • Insane physical challenge
  • I cannot recall an escape room puzzle in my career that has made me be and feel more mighty
  • An interesting story with a lot more depth than you typically get from lab or prison escape rooms

Story

For 206 days, we’d been held in a laboratory prison as human lab rats experimented on to unknown ends. Today, one of our fellow prisoners had developed superpowers and had broken out in a rampaging fury, leaving us with our own opportunity to engineer an escape.

A prison cell labeled "C-01" there is a bloody handprint on the wall above it, and a small piece of toilet paper on a bench inside of the cell.

Setting

The Lab: Lockdown was a hybrid prison and laboratory escape room. It leaned hard into both aesthetics. Both sides looked the part.

The set was incredibly solid, which it needed to be on account of how physical this experience was.

Closeup of medical equipment with blood spatter on the surface below.

Gameplay

REVO Escape’s The Lab: Lockdown was an atypical escape room in that it strived for mimetic gameplay.

It had a high level of difficulty due largely to the physical challenges as part of the experience.

Core gameplay revolved around reasoning through scenarios with the items at our disposal, and physically maneuvering our own bodies around obstacles.

Analysis

βž• The intro video was legitimately funny. We enjoyed the setup.

βž•Β Furthermore, the setup and story had depth. As we played, we discovered more about characters, and pieced together a larger narrative.

βž• Thematically The Lab: Lockdown‘s mashup of a lab and a prison worked. We bought into the fiction and threw ourselves (literally, in some cases) into the gameplay.

βž– We spent 40 minutes on the first challenge. We knew what to do, but we just couldn’t make it work in a reasonable amount of time. Furthermore, only 2 teammates could participate in this challenge and there was no way to tap out and trade. The other teammates spent 40 minutes locked in prison cells doing nothing.

βž– REVO Escape was plagued by the “magic circle” question. Were the fire extinguishers in play? This is a challenge for mimetic game design.

βž• The ahas in this game were exceptionally satisfying. They were born of our own ingenuity with the props we found within the set. When we succeeded at making something out of nothing, we felt invincible.

βž• One challenge in The Lab: Lockdown was so physically challenging that not all our teammates were capable of doing it. We appreciated that there was still a way for these teammates to engage with those who were working on a puzzle they couldn’t access.

βž– We were led into this game with our eyes closed. While this was essential to the experience because we were being walked through the set that we would later gain access to, our gamemaster did not lead the group with the care necessary for this sort of entry. We were a little banged up before we even began.

βž– We spent a large portion of this game in handcuffs. We appreciate why they were a part of the experience, but they didn’t add anything except discomfort and bruises.

βž– We exited this game very, very banged up. I did the majority of the physical challenges and my arms and legs were covered in huge bruises. I also got a splinter from one of the props. The next day, I felt pretty beat up, and not in a “that was a great workout” way.

❓To solve The Lab: Lockdown, we had to let go of escape room-style thinking. We had to abandon any idea that would be nonsensical in the environment. We expect an escape room player’s appreciation of the style of solving required in this game will vary a lot.

βž•At the conclusion of the experience, REVO Escape showed us a video of common solutions to the puzzles within the game. It was fun to see other ways to accomplish the same goals, and compare our thinking to that of other groups.

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.
  • The intro video shows a prison tattoo, references suicide, and shows a gun. Please take note if any of these would be triggering to a player in your group.
  • Do not wear a dress, skirt, or heels to play this game. Wear clothes you can move around in comfortably.

Book your time with REVO Escape’s The Lab: Lockdown and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.

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