Location: Brooklyn, NY
Date Played: August 27, 2023
Team Size: 2-8; we recommend 4-5
Duration: 90 minutes
Price: Public booking: $65 per person; Private booking starts at $170 for 2 people and goes up to $500 for 8 people
Ticketing: Both Public and Private options available
Accessibility Consideration: None
Emergency Exit Rating: [A+] No Lock
Physical Restraints: [A+] No Physical Restraints
The main idea of just about any conversation about Doors of Divergence is that the company is striving to create rooms that are replayable. For the forward-thinking escape room designer, replayability has been a sort of holy grail – a way for enthusiasts to keep coming back. When we first played and reviewed Heresy: 1897 at Doors of Divergence, we left knowing that we had played something fantastic, and we were very eager to get back and see how their attempt at a replayable escape room landed. I’m happy to say that playing Heresy for a second time and exploring the other story branch resulted in a very different playing experience with wild implications for the follow-up storyline in our subsequent play of Madness: 1917.
Regardless of your choices, Heresy always begins and ends in the same physical space, though the context and the puzzles change. However, when we chose the other branch of the story, a separate path literally opened up to us and invited us into a new gamespace. The puzzles were entirely different, the story went in a separate direction, and the context and purpose of the in-game actor had changed.
We found our second playthrough to be the more intriguing and satisfying option from a gameplay perspective. We enjoyed our first time, but the flow through our second path felt more cohesive, with puzzles that felt more relevant to the story. With the change in story and objective came a shift in tone as well. For all intents and purposes, it felt like playing an entirely separate game. Even the huge set piece in the final chamber was recontextualized into a new device that fit into the story world that our choices had created by walking down this other path.
One of the best parts of this new angle on Heresy was an honest moral debate we were forced to have. Going in, we had a very good idea as to which path and ending (of the four possible endings) we were aiming for. However, our actor threw a curveball at us that inspired a bit of debate. We knew what our plan had been, but we also knew that our choices mattered for the future – were we going to be able to live with the implications of our choice?
We enjoyed both of our playthroughs of Heresy: 1897. There’s no doubt that Doors of Divergence has created something unique. But the magic of DoD is not just in playing chapter one twice but also in experiencing the ripple effects that alternate choices open up in Madness: 1917. Doors of Divergence handled the replayability of Madness differently from Heresy, and both concepts converged into what amounted to an extremely memorable evening of puzzling.
Book your hour with Doors of Divergene’s Heresy 1897, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.
Disclosure: Doors of Divergence comped our tickets for this game.
Doors of Divergence will close its doors on October 28, 2023, until they can secure a new venue.
For a deeper dive into game design, check out Escape Room Replayability at Doors Of Divergence by Richard Burns.
If you enjoy Heresy: 1897, we hope you’ll check out our interview with creators Christian Vernon and Zac MacKrell on The Reality Escape Pod.