Location: North York, Ontario
Date Played: May 26, 2019
Team size: 4-8; we recommend 4
Duration: 60 minutes
Price: $28.32 CAD per player
Emergency Exit Rating: [A] Push to Exit
Physical Restraints: [A+] No Physical Restraints
Pathogen was a technology-forward escape game with a lot of interesting things going on (not all of them visible to the player).
From puzzles, to set, to story, this was an all-around solid escape room where no element truly soared above the others, and they all came together well.
Escape Games Canada creates interesting games. Some we love, some we question… but they’ve always been worth experiencing. Their latest game, Pathogen, was no exception. If you’re near Toronto, I absolutely recommend playing Pathogen.
Who is this for?
- Adventure seekers
- Scenery snobs
- Puzzle lovers
- Sci-fi fans
- Players with at least some experience
- Really interesting invisible tech (ask your gamemaster post-game)
- Solid storytelling
- Solid puzzles
- Solid set design
We were hackers and social engineers living in a corporatized cyberpunk dystopia. A shadow organization had hired us to break into a company and steal a weaponized virus.
We’d gained access to the towering headquarters of a major biotech corporation. Their office and lab setting had a slick, futuristic look with blue glow.
While it was both an office and a lab – two settings that I think are pretty tired – Escape Games Canada merged them with a unique aesthetic that made it feel interesting and worthy.
Escape Games Canada’s Pathogen was a standard escape room with a variable level of difficulty.
Pathogen automagically tunes the challenge level based on the team’s performance.
Core gameplay revolved around puzzling, observing, and making connections.
➕ The opening sequence established a sense of setting, scale, and stakes. The extra details generally elevated the game.
➕ Automated difficulty tuning was really clever. I like that it adjusted without asking the players to self-evaluate their skill level, a thing that most teams cannot accurately do.
➕ Most of the puzzles had great onboarding, training us in the concept or interactions before hitting us with the real challenge.
➕ For our team, a communication puzzle stood out at the most enjoyable part of the experience.
➕ The middle of the game included a bit of physicality. It wasn’t particularly strenuous, but it was fun to physically engage with the game.
❓ While there were lots of buttons, switches, and screen interactions, there weren’t many props to pick up and handle. Some of the team felt like there was something missing. It didn’t really irk me, but I think that this is a fair criticism. It comes down to what you’re looking for out of an escape game.
➖ While it fit narratively, far too many moments centered on checking a computer screen and navigating its menus. All too often someone in the group felt like they were taking one for the team and going to the computer.
➕/➖ There was an interesting and challenging bonus puzzle in the middle of Pathogen. This was conceptually great. In practice, we were stymied by a lack of note-taking implements… and a blind timer that eventually terminated the puzzle. We still had time left at the end of the game, so I wish that we could have managed our own time a little more on this puzzle.
➕ The game had funny moments.
➕ The vibe of the space did a lot more with an office and lab than we typically see.
➖/➕ Pathogen presented a mostly blind choice and it was frustrating having to choose with little context. That said, Escape Games Canada recovered well in their handling of the story’s conclusion.
Tips For Visiting
- Parking: Escape Games Canada has a parking lot.
- Food: There are plenty of food options nearby.
- Accessibility: There are segments that require at least 2 or 3 players to crawl or exhibit agility.
Book your hour with Escape Games Canada’s Pathogen, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.
Disclosure: Escape Games Canada comped our tickets for this game.