Live Action Escapes – The Starship: Space Rescue [Review]

“I’m a leaf on the wind.”

Location: Worcester, MA

Date Played: December 18, 2017

Team size: 2-8; we recommend 4-5

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: $27 per ticket

REA Reaction

This was something different.

The Starship: Space Rescue began as a typical escape room of locked spaces and standard gameplay. In the second act, Live Action Escapes turned this into a Star Trek Bridge Commander-style game where up to 5 players fulfilled different roles aboard the ship. The experience of crewing the ship was interesting and uneven. Some players were engaged; others didn’t have much to doNevertheless, this was a competent escape room with an enticing twist.

It is difficult to create new things, and we respected the effort.

In-game: 3 futuristic guns hanging on the wall of a space ship.

Who is this for?

  • Sci-fi fans
  • Video game fans
  • People who want to annoy their friends by endlessly quoting space operas
  • Any experience level

Why play?

  • The Star Trek-esque conclusion sets it apart from the other games.
  • Sci-fi Easter eggs & humor

Story

We were beamed aboard the disabled Starship Janus. Its mystery cargo was of the utmost importance. We had to mobilize the ship and pilot it back to the dock before running out of air.

In-game: 5 of the ship's control screens. The main screen has a planet in view.

Setting

Our starship was spacious and dark. The walls and doors were painted to look like a starship; the floor was tiled to look the part as well. All of the features of the room, however, from walls to doors to ceiling, were, at their core, part of an office building… even if the set designer went to great lengths to transform parts of it.

Gameplay

In the first half of The Starship: Space Rescue, we progressed in typical escape room fashion through a pile of crates locked with letter locks. The escape room flowed pretty cleanly.

In-game: A captain's Android tablet with controls for the shields and emergency operations.

After unlocking the bridge, we positioned ourselves in front of various screen-and-controls stations where we worked through a series of scripted instructions to pilot our spacecraft to safety via a video game interface.

Standouts

There were a ton of fun props laying around that could be used for all sorts of non-game recreation. Pew! Pew! Pew!

We appreciated the numerous nerd references.

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Two larger, more detailed props were as surprising as they were alien. We delighted in discovering them.

In the final, act we played the roles of the starship’s commander and crew. This real-life video game was different from anything that had come before it and from most escape room gameplay. It worked well.

Shortcomings

In the video game segment, not all roles were equally exciting. Due to the positioning of screens and chairs, the lesser roles couldn’t even really view the action while attending to their stations. I really enjoyed being Pilot, but Lisa was bored at the Communication station.

While we enjoyed maneuvering through space, we found it to be more like following instructions than solving a puzzle. With the exception of one action-based segment, we didn’t have much agency on this ship. Our options were to follow instructions and win, or fail.

The escape room gameplay was remarkably standard given the environment. The bulk of the puzzles could have existed in any escape room. I wish that Live Action Escapes did more with the spaceship.

The most interesting props didn’t contribute much to the puzzles or narrative… but they were cool.

Most of The Starship: Space Rescue took place in low lighting with poor quality flashlights. If the ship had some pointed “emergency lighting” the puzzling would be more fun. The flashlights detracted from the experience.

Tips for Visiting

  • Enter the elevator to the right before the main entrance to the building and take it up to Live Action Escapes.
  • Parking can be a challenge and/ or expensive.

Book your hour with Live Action Escapes’ The Starship: Space Rescue, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.

Disclosure: Live Action Escapes comped our tickets for this game.

 

Live Action Escapes – Cold Case Investigators [Review]

All chained up with nowhere to go.

Location: Worcester, Massachusetts

Date played: April 24, 2016

Team size: 2-10; we recommend 5-6, and the game dynamic will change slightly with either more or less.

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: $20 per ticket

Story & setting

The Cold Case Investigators have reopened the case of The Puzzle Master who left his victims chained to the wall. Your team must recreate the scenario and solve the puzzles to escape… and therefore stop his madness.

Each with one hand chained to the wall, we were solving puzzles to set ourselves free of the chains. The rest of the story was lost on me.

Interior of the game, the room is lit with red, with sparse design, and black locked boxes hanging from the walls.

Puzzles

This was a linear game and there were only a few elements to each puzzle.

At any given moment (after initially getting our footing) it was usually clear where to focus our attention. Yet, each stage of the game required us to solve two challenges: the puzzle and where to input the solution.

In this way, the puzzles were simultaneously simple and complex. The puzzles drew on a variety of skill sets and they were reasonably challenging.

Standouts

Live Action Escapes created an incredibly clever quick release for the handcuffs using carabiners. This allowed them to chain us all up, but enabled us to rapidly free ourselves in the event of an emergency.

A chain hooked to the wall via carabiner for quick release in emergency.
Simple and effective.

With players chained to the wall for the game’s duration, Cold Case Investigators forced teamwork of many kinds. This was both its strength and its weakness.

We had to communicate and trust each other. We also had to cover our own “wall territory.”

We had to help each other and yet, we couldn’t help each other. This was both exhilarating and frustrating.

Shortcomings

While some of the puzzles were inventive, more than a few involved predictable escape room interactions.

Being chained to the wall and not having the ability to double check the work of our teammates created challenges that were more stressful than fun.

I really wish that they taught everyone how to operate all of the locks found in the room before the game began.

Should I play Live Action Escapes’ Cold Case Investigators?

This was primarily a puzzle room experience.

It had ambiance, but it didn’t effectively tell a story; it didn’t immerse us in its fiction.

Although we were chained to the wall to thwart evil, this game wasn’t scary. Note that Live Action Escapes clearly explains the emergency release mechanisms and nobody should feel trapped despite the chain.

Additionally, the game was well designed to be customized to different team sizes (and human sizes).

This game relied on run-of-the-mill combination locks. All players must be able to operate them. If one person struggles to operate one of the locks, the team will burn a lot of time.

The set was sparse and the game-flow predictable. The entertainment was in the puzzles. While low tech, Cold Case Investigators still managed to deliver unexpectedly entertaining moments.

If you’re new to escape rooms, Cold Case Investigators is a great place to start. If you’re an experienced player, you’ll find something to like, but nothing that will blow your mind.

Book your hour with Live Action Escapes’ Cold Case Investigators, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.

Full disclosure: Live Action Escapes comped our tickets for this game.