A Real Joker
Location: Kissimmee, Florida
Date Played: July 21, 2023
Team size: 2-6; we recommend 2-3
Duration: 60 minutes
Price: $39.99 per player Monday – Wednesday, $44.99 per player Thursday – Sunday
Breakage: One puzzle in the final room was broken.
Emergency Exit Rating: [A+] No Lock
Physical Restraints: [A+] No Physical Restraints
I love escape rooms. Before these wonderful games were such a big part of my life, comic books were a significant part of my world. I worked at a comic shop throughout college, helped to organize comic conventions, and wrote my undergraduate capstone thesis on the history of the early comic industry. Batman was a significant part of that story.
For years I have wanted to experience a licensed Batman escape game. There are so many wonderful and intriguing versions of the character and his iconic rogues gallery to choose from. It feels like there are limitless opportunities to do incredible things with this character.
It is with great sadness that I inform you that Escapology’s Batman: The Dark Knight Challenge was a profoundly dull affair.
From an escape room standpoint, if we stripped all of the Batman elements from it and looked at the gameplay in isolation, it can be best described as “a functional escape game.” The puzzles work. Based on some of the props, it seemed like there may have been some grander ambition in Batman: The Dark Knight Challenge’s design, but those were clearly abandoned, if they ever existed. There’s hardly anything special here… and the final puzzle was antagonistically silly. Knowing that a license like Batman would bring in new and inexperienced players, this final puzzle seemed like a great way to turn off those new players from further exploring the escape room world.
From a Batman standpoint, the story was bland and spent more time alluding to the material than letting us live in it. Immersive experiences are about living the moment: not showing and certainly not telling. Far too much of the “Batman” in this game literally existed on clipboards.
Another lackluster factor in this game was its layout and square-footage. Escapology famously uses the same footprint for all of their games. This is a clever idea from a business standpoint, but it is extremely limiting. When working with small spaces, it’s important to produce stories that make sense in the geometry of the space. Batman: The Dark Knight Challenge wanted to take us on an epic journey, but did so using the square-footage of some large closets. These spaces could not sell the fiction.
I could go on, but I kind of feel like I have already broken this game over my knee.
Players pay more for a licensed game and Batman: The Dark Knight Challenge wouldn’t be worth your money at normal escape room prices.
Just go watch Batman Mask of the Phantasm. That is a tragically under-appreciated movie that is about as good as Batman gets and you can watch it for a couple of dollars.
Who is this for?
- To see a licensed Batman escape room
We had been recruited for a new Gotham City Guardian training program. Now we had to prove our worth by disarming a device that simulated a chemical leak.
We started in a gray box that represented the bat cave. It had a neat 3D rendering of Batman, his costume items, and a computer terminal. We progressed to a small and unconvincing representation of Arkham Asylum and concluded on a rooftop. The rooftop was by far the best looking set of the game, but it was too small to convey the scale it intended.
Escapology’s Batman: The Dark Knight Challenge was a standard escape room with a moderate level of difficulty.
Core gameplay revolved around observing, making connections, and solving puzzles.
➕ There were a few enticing set pieces. In the batcave, the full sized screen of batman was pretty cool. The device we needed to disarm was neat too.
➖ The atmosphere was phoned in. The soundtrack was wrong. The lighting didn’t fit. Most importantly, the projectors displaying the decor of the final room were on too short an animation loop, so we’d periodically see text flash on the screen.
➖ The opening puzzle required us to pick up and place some 3D printed… junk. Yes, it was an onboarding puzzle, but the props weren’t enticing.
➖ The wear on this game was inexcusable. Do you see this image below?
➕ The voicing of Batman and the Joker was good.
➕ The plot twist – though predictable – felt right for the story that was being told.
➖The volume was too low on the audio and it was all too easy to miss key story beats.
➖ There’s a rich lore around Batman, but it was hardly used. The iconic characters were barely present.
➖ Why was there a single prison cell in a Batman game? There are so many more exciting prison break escape rooms. Entering a tiny prison scene inside this game felt drab at best. If this is where the iconic villainous characters were meant to be… it didn’t feel like it.
➖ One puzzle in the final room was broken… so it started in its solved state.
➖ Batman: The Dark Knight Challenge relied on sequence puzzles that never indicated the start of the sequence. In its first iteration early in the game, it was solvable. In its later iteration where it traverses an entire room… it wasn’t.
➖ It would be possible to finish this room quickly (in less than 30 minutes) and fail. We’re not inherently opposed to do or die moments that elevate the intensity of the finale. Unfortunately, in Batman: The Dark Knight Challenge, we didn’t have a chance to figure out the issue with the puzzle before we were on our way to likely failure. (We decided to take a hint, learned about the sequence starting issue, and thus, avoided failure.) It was a really sour final puzzle.
Tips For Visiting
- There is a parking lot.
- There are a number of restaurants nearby. We enjoyed Ford’s Garage.
Book your hour with Escapology’s Batman: The Dark Knight Challenge, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.
Disclosure: Escapology comped our tickets for this game.