Location: Webster, MA
Date Played: November 10, 2019
Team size: up to 12; we recommend 6 (played as 3 vs 3) or 8 (played as 4 vs 4)
Duration: 60 minutes
Price: $27 per player
Emergency Exit Rating: [A+] No Lock
Physical Restraints: [A+] No Physical Restraints
At its core, Darklight Disco Fight was a competitive puzzle battle.
Outside the Box’s game design was deeper and far more nuanced than any other competitive escape game we’ve encountered to date. There were multiple ways to interact with and sabotage the opposition, and a great many opportunities for a team to approach the game strategically instead of just solving puzzles faster than the other folks.
This was a super fun, hilarious, high-energy game.
The tragedy of Darklight Disco Fight, however, was that we had to play it to truly understand how to play it well, or with any type of strategy. Now that we’ve solved the puzzles, we can’t play it again the way we would have wanted to play it.
Outside the Box did so many smart things in this low-budget production. The struggle with producing something novel and new like Darklight Disco Fight is that it’s essentially a public beta for all manner of new concepts. Some work; some don’t. In this case, a lot of them could benefit from refinement.
I absolutely recommend Darklight Disco Fight to a group of evenly matched puzzlers who are in the area. To the best of my knowledge, there’s nothing else quite like it.
Who is this for?
- Competitive folks
- Puzzle lovers
- Players with at least some experience
- Players who don’t need to be a part of every puzzle
- The massive volume of puzzles
- Competitive play
- Opportunity to interact with and affect your opponents
Two teams entered a head-to-head puzzle battle at the blacklight disco.
The Darklight Disco Fight set was split into two identical and mirrored spaces. Each team entered their own space to compete against the team on the other side of the wall.
From an aesthetic standpoint, Darklight Disco Fight had a bare-bones, old-school escape room look. The focus was on the gameplay. The room was basically filled with puzzle components and locked compartments, all bathed in blacklight.
The gamemaster was a key part of the world as we regularly had to show solutions on camera or announce them audibly to earn points. This interaction added to the experience as our gamemaster brought a lot of personality to Darklight Disco Fight.
Outside the Box’s Darklight Disco Fight was a competitive escape room with a high level of difficulty.
Core gameplay revolved around observing, making connections, puzzling, and moving quickly. It was also imperative to understand the structure of the game and helpful to strategize an approach. Pay close attention to the rules video and ask questions.
➕ Darklight Disco Fight had an infectious energy. It was dark, but fluorescent, with an energetic soundtrack. It pitted us against our friends in competitive play. This upped the stakes and our exuberance.
➕ Our gamemaster added great energy. He interacted with us, verifying our solves, calling out when we triggered new challenges, and DJ-ing the game.
❓ Darklight Disco Fight didn’t look like much. It was all about the puzzles. However, it had a gameshow aesthetic and it didn’t need anything else.
➕ Darklight Disco Fight was jam-packed with puzzles. These varied enormously in type of challenge and difficulty of solve. The puzzles also varied as to how they affected the gameplay, which added a level of complexity. There was something for everyone and every goal.
❓ The puzzles required more outside knowledge than typical escape room puzzles. We had to solve serious math equations, among other things. This worked fine because no team needed to – or would have time to – solve all the puzzles within the 60-minute game clock. If we didn’t know a reference, or couldn’t remember an operation, we could just skip the puzzle. This might irk some players, however, because it is different from typical escape room gameplay.
➕ We were equipped with the tools we needed to solve, including cipher charts and whiteboards.
➖ Outside the Box introduced Darklight Disco Fight with a video. This did not adequately explain the unorthodox gameplay. It covered too much information too quickly. While our gamemaster did give us a chance to ask questions at the conclusion of the video, we didn’t understand well enough to know what we were confused about. We had to figure out how to play as we played.
➕/➖ There could be tons of strategic approaches to this game. As an unusual set up with lots of variables, there could have been plenty of ways to approach gameplay. Unfortunately, our playthrough felt like a free-for-all due to our lack of strategic understanding. This neutered a lot of the depth that Outside the Box built into the game.
➖ Darklight Disco Fight lacked a clear way to keep track of puzzle progress across both teams. Although we had a scoreboard, it was limited. A bigger, more detailed board could have conveyed the action and taken over some of the organization that was put on the teams.
➖ The game structure enabled the teams to interact – to steal away puzzle components, rendering puzzles impossible for the other team, or to create other forms of sabotage. Not all of these were created equal. We could also trigger something we didn’t want to have happen.
➕ Darklight Disco Fight was a canvas for our own fun. Solving puzzles was gratifying… so was heckling, sabotaging, and otherwise enjoying competitive gameplay with friends.
➖/❓/➕ Darklight Disco Fight needed better onboarding before we entered the gamespace. We spent the first few minutes explaining to each other how to play. There were plenty of key nuances that far too many people missed, but would have made play smoother. At the end, we all wished we could play again with a strategy. But unfortunately, as it was an escape room, we’d already solved far too many of the puzzles for it to be replayable. In its current form, Darklight Disco Fight is trapped in a Catch-22 where players need to play once to learn how to play well, but after playing once, can’t ever play again.
We hope Outside the Box will consider making a “B” version with new puzzles. There is a ton of replayability within this structure, and with new puzzles, we expect many teams would return with a competitive strategy. We certainly would!
Tips For Visiting
- The entrance is behind the building.
- There is a parking lot behind the building and street parking out front.
- We highly recommend you play this one with friends where everyone feels comfortable together and wants to compete in a high energy puzzle showdown.
Book your hour with Outside the Box’s Darklight Disco Fight, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.