Location: Orlando, FL
Date Played: February 27, 2023
Team Size: 1-8; we recommend ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
Duration: 60 minutes
Price: $40-50 per player depending on time of day
Game Breakage: Yes, an important TV was broken
Accessibility Consideration: None
Emergency Exit Rating: [A+] No Lock
Physical Restraints: [A+] No Physical Restraints
Universal took one of my favorite movies of all time, made an ‘experience’ (if you can even call it that), and wasted a full 40 minutes of my life. I’ve never felt so bored, uninspired, and frustrated in an escape room. I think I would have preferred sitting through a 3-hour work meeting to paying money for this experience, and that’s saying a lot. Hell, I wish I could pay more money to wipe it from my mind.
Back to the Future as an IP has so much potential – vibrant characters, creative script writing, a sense of adventure, and exciting settings. OUTATIME had none of these, with bleak undecorated sets, peeling wallpaper, broken tech, overly used scene transitions, cringey characters, and mindless gameplay. Knowing the narrative they were trying to deliver, I was confused at the storyline. Nothing made sense. For those who do not know the movie, they would be even more confused at the random character interjections and arbitrary sets.
When observing other players’ faces as they left their games, they didn’t look happy or accomplished as many other escape rooms make you feel. The lobby was full of confused or disappointed players and unhappy employees. The lobby was vibrant, and although the subject matter was made to look exciting, the Universal Great Movie Escape embodies none of that.
Both of Universal’s escape rooms have a score mechanic. Players are told before, during, and after their intro briefing to become familiar with the amount of points you can gain and the level you will achieve. These scores were shown nowhere during the game. We had to ask the staff afterwards what our score even was (I have to assume that the staff realized that this mechanic was a feel-bad moment for most and edited it out.)
This was such a fantastic opportunity to bring light into our industry, and show the world what money, a massive team, and a lovable IP can do. Instead, it left us not just disappointed, but angry. The low ratings you see across Yelp, Trip Advisor, Google, and Morty are accurate representations of how much of a train wreck this experience truly is. I genuinely hope Universal will learn a lesson from opening these and blatantly ignoring what makes a fun experience, but in its current state, I cannot recommend OUTATIME to anyone. It’s not even an enjoyable disaster.
Who is this for?
- D-tier escape room fans
- Any experience level
- If you really want to see how not to make an escape room
- To hear Doc Brown voice lines that aren’t in the movie
Biff is up to his tricks again, and stole Doc Brown’s time travel device to travel back and change his fate. Find the prototype, track down Biff, and save the day before you’re stuck in a different time period.
OUTATIME had multiple sets that we walked through during the experience. Many of these sets had plain walls painted an ugly color with plywood decorations. There were two stand out sets later in the game that apparently consumed the entire scenic budget.
Universal’s Great Movie Escape’s Back to the Future: OUTATIME was an escape room on rails, with forward progression and no returning to previous segments. This game is pipelined. Multiple teams play the experience at the same time, with a new team entering the first space once the previous team has progressed far enough.
The difficulty varied depending on how far we got in a task. Teams are pushed through to the next space even if they don’t solve all the puzzles.
Gameplay consisted of tedious, repetitive tasks or under-clued interactions uninspired by the narrative. These ‘puzzles’ consisted of observation, communication, and searching.
➕ The acting in the videos was corny yet tolerable. The voice lines given by Doc Brown were spot on, and it was exciting to see the character brought back to life, if only by audio.
➖ Most of the gameplay made no sense, and neither did the sets. One insanely underwhelming set had not a single ounce of character, and was just plain finished painted plywood with multiple un-used set pieces that were significantly more interesting than the puzzles presented.
➖ An excessive amount of fog was extruded between settings. This got old really quickly, and was harsh to breathe.
➕ The soundtrack was good, when there was one.
➕ Two of the sets were at least somewhat interesting, with one having a fun gameplay moment.
➖ Incredibly corny story segments took much longer to provide the story than the actual gameplay. We found ourselves frequently bored listening to these. Furthermore, the same reminder would trigger over and over even if we had already completed the task.
➖ The hint system would trigger way too soon to tell us exactly what to do. There were no incremental nudges, and barely any time was provided to deduce gameplay mechanics on our own.
➖ In some settings, 4 players were way too many. I cannot imagine how packed it is with 6 strangers. Yes, Back to the Future: OUTATIME is public booking.
➖ The ending lacked any sort of boss fight or excitement. What should have been the final scene was undermined by finicky tech and a confusing story arc, which left us wishing for significantly more design direction.
➖ The game had been only open for a few months when we played, and the sets were already worn, including a broken final screen that failed to deliver the finale. With unfinished wood and seams in the wallpaper, the construction was strongly disappointing, especially considering the team who designed it, and what Universal is capable on constructing.
Tips For Visiting
- Tickets to any of the Universal Great Movie Escapes come with free park parking for the day. This will get delivered as a QR code with the tickets, so be sure to look out for it.
- This is located on the Universal City Walk which has many food options. We recommend Voodoo Donuts and Cowfish.
- The on-site bar has some creative, funky cocktails. We loved all of the drinks we tried there.
This was one of the most disappointing experiences I’ve ever encountered. It had so much potential but at every point there was a decision to be made by the creators, they chose the worst possible option. It felt like we paid to go through a 40 minute themed ride queue that just dumped us back into the lobby instead of having the least bit of pay off.