Refuge: Prologue [Review]

“Oh shit! We’re competing against each other… and I know how smart my friends are.”

Location: New York, NY

Date played: April 14, 2017

Team size: 4-8; we recommend 6-8

Duration: 90 minutes

Price: $38-43 per ticket

Story & setting

Refuge: Prologue was an immersive, narrative-driven, competitive puzzle game.

Set in a dystopian mirrored reality where humanity’s decisions have caused an environmental apocalypse, we were competing for coveted spots in billionaire Alex Ayers’ prosperous Refuge. Our lives depended on proving our worth.

Refuge: Prologue took place in The Mist, an immersive entertainment space in Chinatown. The various rooms were staged for different challenges, each stylized, some more intriguing and involved than others.

At any given point, our group was divided up, competing against each other in different challenges. As Alex’s recorded voice narrated the instructions for various activities, we also learned the extent of the plight of Earth and human society, a narrative that unfolded over the duration of the experience.

In-game: a player looking upon a picture hung on a wall in a hallway.
Image via Refuge.

Puzzles

Refuge: Prologue pitted us against each other as we each vied for a future in Alex’s Refuge.

The puzzles took different forms: understanding the objective and context of any given contest, puzzling our way through, and strategizing against each other.

During the various puzzle challenges, we used logic, riddles, math, intuition, deductive reasoning, reaction time, agility, luck, strategic thinking… and more.

In-game: A hand interacting with glass bottles containing rolls of paper.
Image via Refuge.

Standouts

Refuge: Prologue painted a compelling dystopian parallel reality. Its message provoked thought about our world.

Refuge: Prologue meticulously designed printed materials and set dressing. It was deliberately crafted and looked polished.

The puzzles and games were challenging. For most interactions, each individual had to rely on their own understanding, make quick decisions, and continually strategize.

My favorite challenge was physically involved and lots of fun. The story unfolded through the escalating complexity of the puzzle. It was clever.

Without spoilers, the website for Refuge: Prologue was as clear as possible about what this experience entailed.

Shortcomings

The tech in Refuge: Prologue was repeatedly buggy. Even before we accidentally knocked something a little too forcefully, it was finicky. The set was delicate, and the tech even more so. Much of the set and technology needs modification in order to stand up to repeated use.

It wasn’t entirely clear how points were calculated, and therefore which actions and decisions mattered most. It also seemed like luck played a substantial role in some of the games.

The challenges varied in quality. One slow-paced game seemed to drag on. In another puzzle, the order of activities seemed to create a markedly unfair situation for the players.

Throughout the experience, there was a lot of information to take in in short amounts of time. Sometimes it was reading on top of audio instruction. Other times it was comprehensive reading while searching for other information. While this was part of the challenge, it was also more frustrating than it needed to be.

Should I attend Refuge: Prologue?

Refuge: Prologue was not a room escape, but it was an immersive, narrative-driven puzzle adventure. It was challenging and interesting.

In Refuge: Prologue, you will be competing against the others in your booking. You will be alone, vying for your own spot in a better future. If you usually count on others to pull some of the weight, you’re in for a rough ride.

Your adversaries are the others who’ve booked into your session. We recommend that you bring a group of people you know are equally competitive, skilled, and engaged. All the better to strategize against them… Also, leave the sore winners and losers at home.

While the technology implementation and set design had flaws, the folks behind Refuge: Prologue were attentive to detail.

Note that the website gives the following warnings, all of which matter: Don’t be late. Wear comfortable shoes. Also, one puzzle uses the full spectrum of color; colorblindness will be problematic.

If you like quick-paced puzzle competitions where you work on your own against opponents, and you don’t mind that the game, the rules, and the points will be a bit opaque, then we recommend visiting Refuge: Prologue.

If you’d rather work as a team or you don’t want to compete without a clear picture of what’s going on, you might want to sit this one out.

Win or lose Refuge: Prologue offers a new form of immersive puzzle adventuring. We’ve seen a lot collaborative gaming, and a little head-to-head team-based gaming, but Refuge is its own beast. Battling your friends by yourself offers a new style of interactive intrigue.

Book your spot in Refuge: Prologue, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.

 

The Escape Game Austin – Classified [Review]

Bazaar & puzzling.

Location: Austin, TX

Date played: January 5, 2017

Team size: 2-7; we recommend 2-4

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: $31.99 per ticket

Story & setting

We needed to stop a terrorist cell by gathering intelligence about an impending attack. This was your typical prime-time television counter-terror staging that steered clear of any specific world events.

We entered a Middle Eastern market. It was detailed, vibrant, and original. The initial setting was striking and beautiful.

In-game, a vibrantly colored bazaar market. Rugs hang from the ceiling. Assorted foods and pots sit on the shelves.

As the game progressed, we found ourselves in a dark and far more generic escape room environment.

Puzzles

Classified was primarily linear.

The challenge came from searching and making connections between relevant finds. It was not a puzzle-focused room escape.

Standouts

This was our first gamespace set in a market. The initial set was not only original, but also detailed, and polished.

The first half of the Classifed had silky smooth game flow.

Classified included neat, well-hidden physical interactions with some of the larger set pieces.

Shortcomings

Classified felt disconnected. The second half of the game lacked everything that made the first half special. It wasn’t beautiful, interesting, or exciting. It also lacked the flow of the first half. It became more challenging, but also dull and tedious.

Should I play The Escape Game Austin’s Classified?

Classified had a great first act. The visual impact of walking into such an unusual and beautiful space was energizing. The gameplay was a older escape room style that made it feel more like a scavenger hunt than The Escape Game’s other offerings. While the initial set was creative and exciting, the second act didn’t live up to the expectation set in the first half. That said, it was still more polished than many escape rooms of its era.

The Escape Game Austin has moved forward since designing this game and we recommend that you try their other games first. We visited Gold Rush, Prison Break, and The Heist at The Escape Game’s Orlando location, but took a peek at them in Austin and feel confident recommending them here as well. They’ve done a beautiful job making slight modifications to construct each of their games into the slightly different space in their Austin facilities.

While Classified wasn’t our favorite of their offerings, The Escape Game Austin is a top-notch facility with excellent staff that will deliver a fun, family-friendly experience.

Book your hour with The Escape Game Austin’s Classified, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.

Full disclosure: The Escape Game Austin comped our tickets for this game.

Escape Room Buffalo – The Bank Robbery [Review]

The police will arrive… just as soon as they finish their wings.

Location: North Tonawanda, NY

Date played: January 21, 2017

Team size: 3-10; we recommend 4-6

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: $25 per ticket

Story & setting

We entered the bank intent on stealing the contents of the vault before the police could catch us.

The Bank Robbery looked like a bank, in that drab bank kind of way. We had plenty of room to move around within the bank and interact with the various set pieces.

In-game: A bank counter. The wall reads "AP savings bank"

Puzzles

Escape Room Buffalo did a good job of keeping most of the puzzles tangible. The puzzling was largely built into the set and required physical interaction.

A few challenges forced teamwork, communication, and careful observation.

Standouts

While we were in the bank to steal the contents of the bank vault, there were additional gems that could be stolen as a bonus puzzles. The added bonus puzzles offered a layer of intrigue and complexity for more experienced teams.

There were a few brilliant puzzle design moments. Many of them were exceptionally simple and elegant, which only made them more impressive.

Shortcomings

The Bank Robbery was spacious but barren. While the set and puzzles remained true to the bank theme, a local savings bank wasn’t the most exciting of environments.

There was a surprisingly confusing puzzle implementation that left us thinking that we hadn’t solved something when we had.

The set of The Bank Robbery looked and felt hacked together. The problem here was that Escape Room Buffalo actually had interesting, unusual, and unique puzzle design… but the cleverness of their work was diminished by the room escape’s lack of aesthetic.

Should I play Escape Room Buffalo’s The Bank Robbery?

Escape Room Buffalo got a lot right in The Bank Robbery. The puzzling was solid and the game flow was generally good. Additionally the set was sturdy, even if it didn’t look particularly enticing. With an added focus on exciting environments and refined set design, I think that Escape Room Buffalo could really shine. They are getting a lot of subtle things right.

The Bank Robbery would be approachable for newer players while appealing to experienced folks due to the addition of the game-extending bonus puzzles.

Book your hour with Escape Room Buffalo’s The Bank Robbery, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.

Full disclosure: Escape Room Buffalo comped our tickets for this game.

The next Room Escape Conference is taking place in Niagara Falls, NY from May 1-3, 2017. The conference organizers sponsored our trip to Buffalo, New York, Niagara Falls, New York, and Niagara Falls, Ontario, to play this game and others in the region. We strive to help conference attendees visit the room escapes that are best for them.

 

Capcom & iam8bit – Resident Evil Escape Experience, New York [Review]

In its defense, it was about as good as most of the past decade’s Resident Evil games.

Location: New York, NY

Date played: February 23, 2017

Team size: 6

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: $41 per ticket

Story & setting

Themed around the popular video game (and movie) series, the Resident Evil Escape Experience was a popup escape game touring the United States, making stops in Austin, Boston, Chicago, New York, Portland, and San Francisco.

The room escape itself was a fairly standard, slightly creepy escape room design in an office/lab/home space. We were entering a simulation created by the villainous Umbrella Corporation, thus explaining the rapid set hopping.

The Umbrella Corporation’s presence notwithstanding, the experience was not deeply rooted in Resident Evil lore. It did, however, have a variety of props that referenced the game series.

Resident Evil Escape Experience 2017 Nationwide Tour: New York Advertisement shows an old television, typewriter, a pair of disembodied hands and a broken vial.

Puzzles

The puzzling was weak. We encountered red herrings, significant prop breakage, and puzzles with frustrating construction.

There were a few puzzles that were well clued, but the Resident Evil Escape Experience was not a satisfying puzzle game.

Standouts

Aesthetically, the set looked pretty good, especially for a temporary traveling game.

There was an innovative use of space, which could have been excellent had it been clued.

Shortcomings

The casual references to Resident Evil were nowhere near enough to justify the game’s title. The name “Resident Evil Escape Experience dramatically oversold the escape room by implying that it would be a high-end survival horror escape room. It never even came close.

The puzzling was frustrating and frequently tedious.

There were many broken lock hasps that had been crazy glued in place. The brittle crazy glue had snapped, leaving much of the game unlocked. On the other extreme, we encountered a lock that had been jammed. Our gamemaster knew it was busted and was standing next to us, ready to hand us duplicate copies of the locked content as soon as we had the solution to the lock.

There were quite a few red herrings. Some seemed like they were puzzles that had been broken and dropped from the experience, but not removed from the space.

The gamespace was cramped with 6 players, but due to the popularity of the escape room, a 6-player team was inevitable.

The ticket price was too damn high.

Should I play Capcom & iam8bit’s Resident Evil Escape Experience?

While your mileage may vary from city to city, I cannot recommend the Resident Evil Escape Experience based on what I saw in New York City.

It wasn’t a satisfying experience for escape room fans because the puzzling was weak.

It wasn’t the experience that Resident Evil fans were looking for because the connections to the series and horror elements were barely present.

Additionally, Resident Evil Escape Experience was incompetently maintained and seemed poorly constructed to begin with. Why was all of the hardware glued together? And why not take a bolt cutter to the broken lock and replace it?

Resident Evil Escape Experience was decidedly low-tech, which I was expecting of a temporary game. While we don’t judge escape rooms based on the presence of technology, the low-tech design made the breakage that much more frustrating.

It seemed to me like this might have been a good escape room when it initially set out on its journey, but it felt like there simply wasn’t enough professional oversight for Resident Evil Escape Experience to survive its trip around the continent.

I expect better at $41 per ticket.

And I expect far better from Capcom & iam8bit. I know that they are trying to promote Resident Evil 7, but in choosing the escape room format to deliver that message, they inevitably attract new people to real life puzzle gaming and this was a sad display of the medium’s potential.

The Crux Escape – The Night Before Cruxmas [Review]

A heartwarming tale of bureaucracy and Christmas cheer.

Location: Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada

Date played: January 22, 2017

Team size: up to 7; we recommend 2-5

Duration: 45 minutes

Price: 20 CAD per ticket

Story & setting

‘Twas the night before Christmas and all through… Santa’s office we searched for the correct clearance codes for the Big Guy to take off. An elf had given him the wrong code and Santa’s sleigh was on its launchpad waiting for a green light to liftoff. No clearance codes, no presents. Welcome to post-9/11 air traffic regulation.

Santa’s office felt appropriately like a holiday living room combined with a mailroom. Considering that the business concerns of his occupation are primarily correspondence, this felt like an apt representation. It was also the right amount of adorable coziness to put us in the holiday spirit.

In-game: A mantle with stockings, and gifts, a lit Christmas tree with presents beneath in the background.
Image via The Crux

Puzzles

Santa’s elves packed a lot of puzzles into a small space. There was a lot to do.

The puzzles involved organizing and ciphering, among other skills.

Standouts

We loved the premise of this Christmas mission, and the idea of government bureaucracy wrapping Saint Nick in red tape.

Although The Night Before Cruxmas was a temporary installation, it was designed with care and attention to detail. The space had a holiday cheer about it that set the appropriate mood. We also loved the mailroom interpretation of Santa’s Office.

The Night Before Cruxmas was an excellent example of room escape design and construction on a budget. The environment and puzzles came together delightfully without any bells and whistles… except for the bells on the tree.

One particular puzzle unfolded throughout the entire game. It was well designed so as not to be brute-forced too early, and its continual unraveling heightened our anticipation of a solution. Upon reception of the final components, the solution was satisfying and lots of fun.

Shortcomings

While most of the puzzles came together clearly, we found one to be rather ambiguous, and therefore confusing.

Everything in Santa’s office was locked shut with similar locks. Similar digit structure inputs unnecessarily halted the game’s flow.

Should I play The Crux Escape’s The Night Before Cruxmas?

The Night Before Cruxmas was a puzzler’s Christmas adventure. The small space was jam-packed with puzzles that all came together in an adorable conclusion to the room escape’s original and delightful setup.

The temporary installation was perfectly decorated to set the mood and portray a vision of Santa’s office, which must be adjacent to that hectic workspace portrayed in all the movies.

We recommend The Night Before Cruxmas to both newer and more experienced players who are in the mood for the combination of puzzles and holiday cheer. This would be good family fun.

Book your game with The Crux Escape’s The Night Before Cruxmas, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.

Full disclosure: The Crux Escape comped our tickets for this game.

The next Room Escape Conference is taking place in Niagara Falls, NY from May 1-3, 2017. The conference organizers sponsored our trip to Buffalo, New York, Niagara Falls, New York, and Niagara Falls, Ontario, to play this game and others in the region. We strive to help conference attendees visit the room escapes that are best for them.

Complexity – The Pirate Ship [Review]

Raid thee galleon and plunder thee swag!

Location: Farmington, CT

Date played: December 12, 2016

Team size: 2-8; we recommend 3-5

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: $30 per ticket

Story & setting

With the crew ashore for the evening, celebrating the commandeering of a new ship, we  snuck back aboard to search for any treasure left by the previous captain.

The Pirate Ship took place aboard the deck of a ship, under the cover of nighttime. The ship itself was a handcrafted, wooden-planked “vessel” built into a room at Complexity. It looked great and felt like a pirate playground.

In-game: The side of the deck of a pirate ship. Large ropes weave through the posts.

Puzzles

The puzzles were thematically sound, designed around items that belonged aboard a ship, and included lots of locked loot boxes. They didn’t convey a story arc, but they felt at home in the environment.

Complexity made great use of their space by custom building large-scale puzzle interactions into their set pieces.

Standouts

There were a few interactive pirate ship components that solved in incredibly satisfying ways. We appreciated when the set and the puzzles came together.

The Pirate Ship was clearly handcrafted with care, love, and attention to detail. It was a fun place to inhabit.

Shortcomings

Despite the details, the room escape sometimes felt rough around the edges.

Late in The Pirate Ship, we encountered a section that wasn’t up to the production level we’d come to expect from the experience. It felt like Complexity ran out of steam.

We opened a lot of locked boxes aboard The Pirate Ship. This felt like a missed opportunity to unlock the ship itself, perhaps by way of compartments constructed into the deck rather than an assortment of boxes.

Should I play Complexity’s The Pirate Ship?

The Pirate Ship was more than a puzzle room; it was a treasure heist aboard the deck of a pirate ship. The puzzles and the environment worked in tandem to deliver a strong experience.

Although it had some rough edges, it was clearly constructed with passion and skill.

Our experienced team blew through this room escape. We would have loved a little bit longer aboard. However, newer players and smaller teams will find quite a bit here to sink their anchor into.

Book your hour with Complexity’s The Pirate Ship, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.

Full disclosure: Complexity provided media discounted tickets for this game.

Room Escapers – Naughty, or Nice? [Review]

Grand Theft Naughty List.

Location: Boston, MA

Date played: December 10, 2016

Team size: up to 10; we recommend 6-8

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: $28 per ticket

Story & setting

Our names made it onto Santa’s Naughty List.

Santa had left the building and it was now our team’s chance to break into the old man’s workshop and swap our forged naughty list for the real one. It was a risky heist, but with quality presents at risk, we had to take action.

The setting was bright, festive, and more red, green, and white than Boston’s North End. The room was pretty hacked together. However, the aesthetic and build quality greatly exceeded what we were expecting from a temporary seasonal game.

In-game, close-up of the Naughty List.
The book of judgements.

In a word, it was adorable.

Puzzles

There was a lot to find and solve in Naughty, or Nice?.

The game flowed smoothly from start to finish. It wasn’t a particularly challenging game, and our experienced team ripped through it like a puzzling tornado. There were, however, a few moments that made us slow down and one that nearly tripped us up.

Standouts

In our review of Room Escapers’ first game, Pirate’s Booty, we were underwhelmed by the start of the game. It wasn’t until we were halfway through the room escape that it turned into something interesting. Oh my, was that problem solved in Naughty, or Nice?. We were genuinely surprised by the opening moments of the game.

The theming work was super cute and Room Escapers seriously committed to it. The staff members wore fetching elf costumes and the lobby had been fully decorated in the spirit of the season.

In-game - A fireplace with stockings hanging from it beside a white Christmas tree surrounded by presents.

Everything was overflowing with personality.

Shortcomings

Naughty, or Nice? was a temporary construction and some of it was unpolished and hacked together, but it all worked. The game was fun. A good time was had by all… but there were a lot of little details that were deliberately overlooked due to the impermanence of the game.

Also… it’s a temporary game. As fun as it was, it’s only available for a limited time.

Should I play Room Escapers’ Naughty, or Nice??

Yes, if you’re in the area, Naughty, or Nice? is well worth a playthrough.

If you’re a newbie, it’s an approachable, bright, and cheery game.

If you’re an experienced player, it’s adorably inventive and does a few things differently.

Naughty, or Nice? should be open through most of January. Grab tickets while you can.

Book your hour with Room Escapers’ Naughty, or Nice?, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.

Full disclosure: We traded Room Escapers a handpicked selection of excellent IPAs for tickets to this game.

I Survived the Room – Club Escape [Review]

In Russia, escape room finds you.

Location: Long Island City, NY

Date played: November 6, 2016

Team size: up to 8; we recommend 4

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: $25 per ticket on weekdays, $30 per ticket on weekends

Story & setting

In Club Escape, the town’s newest nightclub, we quickly learned that we were trapped by the Russian mafia.

Club Escape started before we arrived at the club as an actress marched us down the street to the building’s entrance and ushered us inside. She dramatically delivered us to the club’s basement office, which was almost typical, but with the intensity dialed up, as half our team was locked not in the office, but in the adjacent torture chamber.

Bloodied cutting implements are mounted to a blood spattered tile wall.

The set was large and fairly detailed.

Puzzles

The puzzles were solid, but they weren’t the stars of the show.

Club Escape included many challenging puzzles, generally in a typical escape room style. They leaned heavily on searching, observation, and communication.

Most puzzles led to a lock.

Standouts

The Club Escape experience wound along unexpected paths. I Survived the Room augmented what could have been a standard escape room with an interesting plot twist, and a set full of surprises.

This was a large gritty set that captured us in the game’s fiction.

A detailed and weathered wall-mounted metal switch box.

The actress bought an intensity to this experience beyond what the puzzles provided. Her dramatic hands-on introduction of the game was at times shocking. She built the fiction early in the game, but didn’t stay on top of us throughout the puzzling. This provided a nice balance and allowed us to puzzle without monologue interludes.

Club Escape brought together acting, technology, and puzzles.

Shortcomings

Club Escape fell short of intertwining all of its elements to elevate each other. There were strong puzzles here, but they were standard and they didn’t contribute to the dramatic moments of the game.

The intensity of the introduction could be a big problem for people who suffer from PTSD. It kind of came out of nowhere, and while we loved it, we know people who would have a big problem with it.

In that way, Club Escape didn’t live up to its own dramatic opening. It kept the intensity high for quite some time, but eventually petered out into an anticlimactic final escape. The late-game puzzles felt like the busywork to get through in order to escape.

We experienced a major technical failure that stopped the game. However, the staff at I Survived the Room was quick to right to situation and gave us back the lost time to make up for it.

If you don’t make it through to the end, you won’t receive a walkthrough.

Should I play I Survived the Room’s Club Escape?

I Survived the Room has a great schtick: you’re brought to a place under false pretenses and then horrible things happen. They introduce you to the game through an actor before you even see the set. Once you step into their world, your heart starts to race and you know you need to escape. They do a great job of making you need to escape.

Note that this game requires physical mobility and players start blindfolded. It could be problematic for young children or people suffering from PTSD.  The set was gritty and at times dark.

Of the two games currently available from I Survived the Room, this is the more approachable game, but The Sanatorium is the stronger game because the drama stayed through to the very end. Neither is an easy game, but if you can puzzle your way to the final third, they are dramatic and surprising.

Be sure to brush up on your rules for playing games with actors in advance of your visit to Club Escape.

Book your hour with I Survived the Room’s Club Escape, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.

Full disclosure: I Survived the Room comped our tickets for this game.

 

MindQuest Escape Games – The Haunting [Review]

[At the time of this review, MindQuest Escape Games was called MindQuest Live.]

“I have exorcised the demons! This house is clear.” – Ace Ventura

Location: Orlando, FL

Date played: November 14, 2016

Team size: 2-8; we recommend 3-5

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: $26 per ticket to an open ticketed game, $28 per ticket to a private game

Story & setting

In MindQuest Live’s The Haunting we entered the Worthington Mansion. We had to prove that the site was, in fact, haunted (Surprise! It was.), and then cleanse the building of the paranormal activity.

The Worthington Mansion wasn’t an inherently exciting set; it was a living space. However, it was well constructed, polished, and set the tone for the game. It was rather dark, a foreboding indication of the haunted mystery to unravel.

Haunting game teaser shows a framed photo of a pretty women. The glass of the frame is shattered and it looks like something is hiding in the gap between the glass shards.
Image via MindQuest Live.

Puzzles

The puzzles ranged in quality.

The Haunting included some innovative puzzles and interactions that yielded exciting feedback from the set.

At times, weak cluing led us far astray. What seemed most interesting wasn’t always important and seemingly related items didn’t necessarily connect.

Far too many of the puzzles lacked connective tissue, demanding some large leaps of logic.

Standouts

The Haunting packed plenty of exciting moments. These were interactive and generally technologically triggered.

At its best, The Haunting married both ambiance and interesting puzzling.

The Haunting conveyed a story, through audio, visuals, technology, and the occasional puzzle. The story elevated the experience.

Shortcomings

More often, the puzzles were themed, but didn’t carry the story. The Haunting relied heavily on exposition. Without a continually interactive story, some of the team lost that thread, which was important to the full experience.

This room escape was a series of cool moments that weren’t always fully linked together in cluing or story. Had the connections been stronger, there wouldn’t have been enough content for the hour.

One particular puzzle was initially intriguing, but then greatly overstayed its welcome.

Should I play MindQuest Live’s The Haunting?

The Haunting combined ambiance, story, puzzling, and technology. It had all the components of a home run, but it didn’t quite bring them all together. It felt like it was still in beta.

There’s a lot of fun to be had, for both newer and more experienced players. Everyone will puzzle and everyone will be surprised. MindQuest Live made a home into a fun set to experience.

While The Haunting is a bit spooky – it’s in the name of the game – it’s certainly not horror. It’s approachable, except for most young children.

We hope that MindQuest Live will continue to refine this game, adding content, and building the connections that will keep the entire team engaged in the journey through until the end.

Book your hour with MindQuest Live’s The Haunting, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.

Full disclosure: MindQuest Live provided media discounted tickets for this game.

 

Komnata Quest – Mousetrap [Review]

Update: This game has been closed and folded into Joker’s Cafe.

The first time I’ve been in a phone booth since 2001.

Location: Brooklyn, NY

Date played: November 6, 2016

Team size: 1; we recommend 1

Duration: 15 minutes

Price: $15 per ticket for a 15-minute solo game

Story & setting

Mousetrap was a single-player game that locked individuals in a bepuzzled phone booth. Similar to Komnata Quest’s far more extreme Boxed Up, Mousetrap cast me as Sherlock Holmes caught in another of Moriarty’s dastardly schemes.

The gamespace was small and simple: a well-lit box designed to look like a replica London phone booth.

It had a phone, a shelf, and not a whole lot more.

Game exterior, a red phone booth with frosted glass. The silhouette of a person stands behind the glass.

Puzzles

Mousetrap was a remarkably standard room escape experience, albeit for one person. The 15-minute game had your standard searching and solving structure.

It was reasonably challenging, especially considering that each player had to solely rely on themselves to work through every aspect of the game. Four of us played and our completion times were 7, 10, 11, and 13 minutes. My time was the fastest, but it was only because I bypassed a third of the game. Everyone felt the pressure of the clock.

Standouts

There was a lot of game for a single player on a 15-minute timer.

Speaking as a player who never solos room escapes, it was fun and intense to play alone.

Komnata Quest did a lot with a little on this one.

Interior of the phone booth: A pay phone is mounted to the wall.

Shortcomings

While Komnata Quest managed to squeeze a lot of gameplay into Mousetrap using very few props, it got a bit redundant as a result.

One key prop in the game will be subject to heavy wear. By the time I used it, the wear allowed me to bypass a lot of the game by accident. If Komnata doesn’t stay on top of replacing this prop, the quality of the game will suffer.

Even with regular upkeep, Mousetrap as I played it had too much potential for bypassing. It’s possible to make a few small tweaks to prevent what I did, but they need to take the initiative to actually do it.

Mousetrap was expensive for what it was.

Should I play Komnata Quest’s Mousetrap?

Mousetrap is not an entree and I cannot recommend that anyone visit Komnata Quest explicitly to play it. It’s either an appetizer or dessert.

It was a fun experience to solo a game and we enjoyed competing for the fastest time in the group. Mousetrap wasn’t incredible and it didn’t push boundaries, but it was a good way to spend a few minutes after playing a larger team game.

The big catch with Mousetrap remains the price. $15 for a 15-minute experience is tough to justify, especially considering that it is possible to win in half the time. More than a dollar per minute is a big ask for what really is an add-on experience.

If you’re a die hard escape room enthusiast, Mousetrap is fun.

If you’re looking for an approachable game to solo, Mousetrap is pretty much your only option in the region.

If you’re going to miss that $15, then I’d suggest skipping Mousetrap. It was a good time, but it’s nowhere near a must-play at that price point.

Book your session with Komnata Quest’s Mousetrap, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you using the coupon code escapeartist to receive 10% off.

Full disclosure: Komnata Quest comped our tickets for this game.