Meow Wolf (Las Vegas) – Omega Mart [Review]

Clean up, aisle ♾️

Location:  Las Vegas, NV

Date Played: December 17, 2021

Group size: we recommend 1-4

Duration: We recommend at least 90 minutes to explore the space, and at least 4 hours to follow the story, possibly many more.

Price: $49-55 per adult (less for children, seniors, and military)

Ticketing: Public

Accessibility Consideration: The first floor of the exhibit is ADA accessible. There is also an elevator to access the second floor, but some areas include steps or narrow passage ways.

Emergency Exit Rating: [A+] No Lock

Physical Restraints: [A+] No Physical Restraints

REA Reaction

Las Vegas in and of itself is a surreal alternate reality, and Meow Wolf’s second location, Omega Mart, felt like the perfect immersive art installation to mimic, mock, and embrace the consumeristic excesses of Sin City.

The sprawling Omega Mart storefront was packed full of actually purchasable, real, fake products. It’s a hilariously dissonant world, and it’s worth the price of admission simply to spend some time walking the aisles of Omega Mart, reading the product packages.

… But there was also a much deeper and considerably larger world behind Omega Mart. This world felt like the original Meow Wolf… if it had been built by Disney. This massive step up in production value added a polish that isn’t present in Santa Fe, but that sheen came at the price of some of the grit, oddity, and soul that grabbed me in the House of Eternal Return. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing so much as it is an aesthetic preference. I can see plenty of folks preferring the Disneyification of Meow Wolf to the grittier artsy vibe of their earlier work.

Where my feelings about Omega Mart turned to disappointment was in their game design choices. The mystery and game within this world started off fantastic, and hit a wondrous climax… and then it kept going and going and going well past its “sell by” date. This could have been fine, but many of the associated touchscreen interfaces were clunky, space was limited, and lines formed at key locations. The net effect was that when we were about to have a big moment in the plot, it was destroyed by watching half a dozen people have that exact moment that I was about to have while I waited.

Finally, the conclusion of the game was utterly disappointing… it fizzled into forgettable nothingness.

Omega Mart would have been better with a little less game, or a lot more thought put into the game and the way that players would engage with it. For all of the improvements that Meow Wolf made to their overall production, it felt like they badly needed to hire some proper game designers.

My advice: absolutely go experience Omega Mart. It’s a wonder. Play the game too… but once you hit a point in the game where you feel like you’ve substantially impacted the world, not just for yourself, but for others… stop playing and go about exploring.

Who is this for?

  • Adventure seekers
  • Story seekers
  • Scenery snobs
  • Any experience level

Why play?

  • The store and its products are a riot
  • The world was gorgeous, truly a Disney quality production

Story

We entered Omega Mart as customers, with the opportunity to become employees, learn the ropes of the business, and explore the exciting opportunities afforded to us by its revolutionary parent company Dramcorp.

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Meow Wolf (Santa Fe) – The House of Eternal Return [Review]

It’s the cat’s howl.

Location:  Santa Fe, NM

Date Played: December 13, 2021

Group size: we recommend 1-4

Duration: We recommend at least 2 hours, possibly many more.

Price: $35-$40 per adult (less for children, seniors, and military)

Ticketing: Public

Accessibility Consideration: The first floor of the exhibit, which features the majority of the installation, meets ADA standards and is accessible. To experience the entire exhibit you’ll need to go up and down stairs.

Emergency Exit Rating: [A+] No Lock

Physical Restraints: [A+] No Physical Restraints

REA Reaction

The House of Eternal Return, the original Meow Wolf, was the most hyped up experience that I’ve ever set foot in. For years people have told us we need to go. We’ve watched the documentary, had conversations with some of the artists behind it, and heard tales of many of its wonders. When we landed in Santa Fe, got in our rental car, and drove to the famed immersive art installation, we all acknowledged that it might be overhyped. We might not enjoy it… it was possible that we’d leave early…

We ended up staying until we were too tired and hungry to continue.

A beautiful neon under water scene.

I’ve always appreciated Disney parks, but never felt the “magic” that some of my Disney-loving friends speak of. I felt that magic in The House of Eternal Return. From the moment I entered, I felt high on wonder. Around any given corner, anything could exist. The intrigue was intoxicating.

There were rooms where we stood, just taking in every single detail we could find. My biggest takeaway from The House of Eternal Return was that literally anything can be a good building or decorating material if you’re committed enough. The detailing and nuance were incredible. At any given moment you could zoom in on some minute thing that maybe one person notices per day… or zoom out and take in something broadly impressive. I cannot recall seeing anything like it at this scale.

Lisa in a massive and beautiful treehouse.

That’s not to say that The House of Eternal Return was perfect… it wasn’t. There were puzzles, gameplay, and story elements that felt clunky to engage with. At worst they became an agitation that drew too much attention away from the world, the vibe, and the wonder.

Similarly, there were interactions that felt janky or broken. I frequently felt like the puzzles and interactions weren’t designed or built for the kind of scale that The House of Eternal Return operates at. The best lesson that I took away from these frustrations was to dip my toe into any given interaction… and then decide if I want to wade in more deeply, or just move on. Ride the waves of wonder, swim with the current, and if something feels like it’s resisting too much, disregard it… There’s always something wondrous around the next corner anyway.

The House of Eternal Return feels like Meow Wolf’s incredible and soulful first album… the one they made without the pressures of expectations, the burden of profit margins, or the weight of having to “do it the right way.”

Go there and experience it for yourself (preferably on a weekday–Monday was a joy.) Meow Wolf will make many other experiences, and my guess is that plenty of other organizations will create their own versions of the concept, but I doubt that there will ever be another place like The House of Eternal Return.

The Meow Wolf bowling alley sign on a beautiful day.

Who is this for?

  • Adventure seekers
  • Story seekers
  • Scenery snobs
  • Any experience level

Why play?

  • It’s a big, beautiful, impossible world to explore
  • There’s nothing else like it

Story

The Selig family had disappeared from their home after experimenting with inter-dimensional travel. In their place formed “The Anomaly,” fractures in time and space. A secret government organization known as The Charter contained the situation and have disguised it as an art installation.

Lisa reading letters in the Pastore's mailbox.
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