Hype Esc – Hollywood 117 [Review]

Howdy, chaverim!

Location:  Tel Aviv, Israel

Date Played: May 10, 2022

Team Size: 3-7; we recommend 3-4

Duration: 90 minutes

Price: 140 NIS per player for 3 players to 110 NIS per player to 7+ players

Ticketing: Private

Accessibility Consideration: Flashing lights, climbing, abrupt motions

Emergency Exit Rating: We’re unsure what fire escape measures there were, if any. More Info.

Physical Restraints: [A+] No Physical Restraints

REA Reaction

Hollywood 117 beautifully captured the wonder and nostalgia I associate with many of the classic films that defined my childhood — films like Mary Poppins, E.T., Harry Potter, and so many others. Thinking back to the first times I watched these movies, I remember the sensation of the world expanding. Anything seemed possible, and there was magic around every corner.

Now as an adult, I often turn to escape rooms to reconnect with that feeling.

Hype Esc excels at creating special moments, and they packed a staggering density of utterly delightful interactions into Hollywood 117. The gameplay started off in a classic escape room style, took a turn towards the more puzzly, and ultimately landed in a playground of fun-for-fun’s-sake. On one hand, this felt like a sampler platter of contrasting gameplay styles. On the other hand, every component was incredibly fun and the diversity of interactions only added to the sense of adventure.

Hollywood 117 was full of outside references. Most were especially common pop culture knowledge, yet we didn’t need to get all the references to have fun or successfully solve puzzles. (There were a couple of movies along the way that I’d never even heard of… and I had fun watching them after the game!) Most importantly, the game had its own narrative that was cohesive and fully self-contained.

A large stone entryway labeled, "The Mummy Set"

There were a few elements — puzzles, subtle Easter eggs, over-the-top reveals — in Hollywood 117 that seemed a bit self-indulgent on the designers’ part… and I’m so glad they included them. The game would have functioned perfectly well without these elements, yet their inclusion so strongly reflected the designers’ love and dedication in creating this experience. They were willing to go that extra mile.

This game embodied many of the top traits characterizing Israeli escape rooms — delightful interactions, solid puzzling, and engaging lighthearted stories. If you are visiting Israel, Hollywood 117 should absolutely be on your escape room itinerary.

Who is this for?

  • Adventure seekers
  • Puzzle lovers
  • Scenery snobs
  • Story seekers
  • Film fans
  • Any experience level

Why play?

  • The plethora of film references
  • The delightful interactions and reveals

Story

At HYPE Studios, the origin of many of Hollywood’s greatest hits, a famous movie producer had just been murdered. We were brought in to investigate.

Setting

Hollywood 117 was set in a sprawling movie studio. From a movie producer’s office to various film sets to a prop storage room, every area of the set was filled with film references.

Many escape rooms try to create the feeling of being in a movie. Hollywood 117 appropriately targeted the feeling of being on a movie set, showing just enough of the unfinished behind the scenes to sell the illusion while still presenting polished facades throughout.

An old western bank beside a water tower.

Gameplay

Hype Esc’s Hollywood 117 was a standard escape room with a moderate level of difficulty.

Core gameplay revolved around solving puzzles, observing, making connections, and searching.

Analysis

➕ Hollywood 117 was jam-packed with moments of delight. From entrance to exit, our interactions in the Hollywood 117 space were consistently dynamic and tangible. Our movement through the space was varied and at times disorienting.

Hollywood 117 pulled off some impressive psychological sleight of hand that almost immediately expanded our perception of the game’s size.

➖/➕ Hollywood 117 felt like 3 or 4 different games in one. Each was strong individually, yet the overall game ended up feeling a bit disjointed. That said, every segment was incredibly fun, and the whimsy effectively covered up the open seams.

➕ The set was fantastic. From flashy facades of famous films down to detailing on movie props, there was a level of showiness befitting the Hollywood theme. Certain parts of the set that were meant to look like Hollywood sets showed enough of the behind-the-scenes without actually feeling unfinished.

➖ A movie producer’s office felt plain in comparison to the rest of the set. It was a perfectly fine office… but it felt more like a classic escape room than the sleek abode of a famous producer.

➕ A sneaky interaction required us to look inward for the answer.

➕ A set of very meta escape room parody videos was absolutely hilarious and highly relatable to enthusiasts. I wish these were available outside of the game. I would totally plan an escape room karaoke night around them!

➕ One interaction prompted us to act out one of my all-time favorite film scenes and showered us with joy.

➕/➖ An oversized input was particularly unique and amusing to operate. However, it lacked any sort of visual or tactile feedback, especially given the length of the answer sequence.

❓/➖ A horror sequence was inactive at our time of playing for safety reasons. Following our game, we got a walkthrough of what this sequence would have been, and while one particular interaction seemed rather sketchy (the reason for the closure), it was quite neat overall. I hope Hype Esc is able to find a way to safely reintegrate these interactions. That said, in its current form, although we were told in advance that part of the game was inactive, it was not actually clear in the room which specific elements in the room were out of play, making those elements feel like ghost puzzles.

Hollywood 117 concluded with multiple fantastic reveals in quick succession. Each moment built on the surprise and wonder of the previous moment, and we exited the game on a very high high.

➖ A low-visibility, low-clearance passage toward the end of the game was somewhat awkward to climb through and could have benefitted from some extra padding or lighting.

➕ An in-room, post-game achievement board was a clever, visually attractive way to help us relive some of the highlights from our experience. Reminiscent of a video game achievement list, this was an engaging bonus I’d love to see in some form in more escape rooms.

Tips For Visiting

  • English playability: Hollywood 117 was almost fully translated to English with the exception of some segments of story that weren’t strictly necessary for solving puzzles.
  • Hype Esc also offers an easier “Family Edition” of Hollywood 117 for 4-10 players.

Book your session with Hype Esc’s Hollywood 117, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.

Update November 15, 2022: To hear more from designer Gai Bosco, check out this interview on The Reality Escape Pod.

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