Room Escape Adventures – Still Hungry [Review]

Where the shambling corpse is in better shape than the room.

Location: Somerville, MA

Date played: August 27, 2016

Team size: up to 10; we recommend 6-8

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: $28 per ticket

Story & setting

In Still Hungry, Room Escape Adventures presented another adventure with their zombie, Dr. Oxy, first created for their original game Trapped in a Room with a Zombie.

Dr Oxy’s lab still wasn’t much to look at. It was vaguely themed as a lab, meaning it had some lab-type items staged in the room, but primarily, it was a room full of toys. Most of the items and puzzles in this lab seemed entirely random and unrelated to the setting or story.

The staging and the props were unabashedly junky. However, the zombie created a fun vibe. This atmosphere and the story were humorous and not at all scary.

Green and white wall with blood red paint reading,

Puzzles

Still Hungry was packed full of interactive set pieces, some of which were custom construction while others were toys repurposed as puzzles. We tackled these set pieces primarily through dexterity puzzles, which required us to spend uninterrupted time in various locations around the room.

The puzzles weren’t challenging on their own, but were rendered inordinately more difficult by the zombie’s presence. We had to solve everything with one eye on the zombie. The challenge arose from the disrupted game flow and interrupted concentration.

The more brain-centric puzzles were lower production quality and far less exciting. These were generally written rather than integrated into the game environment.

Standouts

Room Escape Adventures has designed theatrical productions, which they refer to as a “shows” rather than as room escapes. The live actors were by far the best part of this game.

Our zombie, Sam, was hilarious to interact with and fun to escape. Our lab intern, Dominic, was the gamemaster. He stayed in the room the entire game to protect the zombie, help the game progress, and observe our team. He also dealt with puzzle breakage… which he had to do far too often.

Room Escape Adventures was the only company we’ve seen give a walkthrough that focused on our team more than on the game. Dominic was the most alert and present gamemaster we’ve seen in a while, in part because he was in the room with us. After the game, Dominic walked us through the show by explaining the role we each played on the team.

Additionally, Dominic gave us clues in his own way. He was aware of the flaws in the game and helped us move past them.

Shortcomings

Many of the props in Still Hungry were broken. These weren’t just little pieces; these were the major interactive set pieces all around the room. While Dominic was able to push our game forward once we’d figured out the solution to a broken puzzle, that didn’t replace the thrill of making that solution happen ourselves.

Messily designed scenic with an orange

One major broken prop occupied two people continually (not always the same two people) for the entire game. We knew what to do, but couldn’t get it to work right. We didn’t realize until we had escaped (having circumvented it) that it was actually too broken to use. That prop was a major disappointment.

Room Escape Adventures also included a magic eye. Luckily we had a player who could see it because neither David nor I can.

There were far too many toys that were squished into puzzles. They weren’t integrated into either the set or the story.

Our team of six adults was paired with a family of four including two younger children. Still Hungry took place in a tight space and ten people was too many for the game. We weren’t thrilled to be paired with kids (we have nothing against them, but we’ve seen this pairing go wrong before) but in this instance, it worked out well because the children brought different skills and took up less space. Luck aside, Room Escape Adventures should rethink a ticket model that packs too many bodies in the game and pairs families with groups of adults. This scenario could have gone very poorly for all involved.

Should I play Room Escape Adventures’ Still Hungry?

Room Escape Adventures’ Still Hungry was a junky game, with a junky story, junky props, junky set, and a great pair of actors. It was a one trick pony… but it was a great trick.

The zombie / player interaction was the only thing that made this game special. Because of this, the game was a lot of fun in spite of a long list of flaws.

Still Hungry was an improvement on Trapped in a Room with a ZombieThe game was better designed around the space and its moving character. This made it more engaging and fun. In fact, this game was more fun than it should have been, given the amount of breakage we encountered.

Still Hungry wasn’t a particularly difficult game; our inexperienced team escaped with time to spare. It was a game that was more about the theatrics than it was about the puzzles, set, or story.

This is a game for mobile people who are open to having fun with an actor trying to eat their brains. It’s also worth noting that your mileage may vary in this experience based heavily upon the actors and how you mesh with them (and here are 6 tips for playing actor-based games).

Note that you can play the two Dr. Oxy games in any order; you don’t need to start with the first one. Of the two, Still Hungry was a better game.

Book your hour with Room Escape Adventures’ Still Hungry, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.

Full disclosure: Room Escape Adventures provided media discounted tickets for this game.

Room Escape Adventures: Trapped in a Room with a Zombie [Review]

Location: New York, New York

Date played: December 14, 2014

Team size: up to 12; we recommend 5-8

Price: $28 per ticket

Plot

“Prepare to be locked in a room with up to 11 other people and a Zombie that is chained to the wall! Hidden in the room is a key that will unlock the door to your freedom. To find the key you must locate numerous clues and solve riddles. Every five minutes the hungry Zombie’s chain will be released another foot.  Within an hour, the Zombie will be able to reach you. You have 60 minutes to the find clues, solve the puzzles, unlock the door and escape the room without getting eaten!”

IMG_0810

Many Locations

Regardless of where you live, you probably don’t live too far from this game. Room Escape Adventures is far and away the most prolific room escape company in the United States. They have more than a dozen locations all offering the same game. They are slowly rolling out a second zombie themed game starting in Chicago.

We experienced one of the two New York City locations, but the puzzles are the same regardless of where you play.

Zombie

The zombie is the big differentiator in this game.

Played by an actor in full costume and makeup. The zombie is a massive obstacle. I mistakenly assumed that the zombie would be easily avoidable.

Our zombie, played by a talented actor named Jesse, was a formidable and funny opponent. After the game we were told that every actor plays the part differently; I enjoyed ours quite a bit.

When I tell you that the zombie thew us off our game, I can’t understate that enough. Our seasoned room escape team buckled hard on this one. We never really got it together.

Trapped in a Room with a Zombie

Puzzles

This game has solid puzzles. Each one offering a unique challenge, and it’s not all keys and combos.

Two that stand out to me involve:

  • a notorious toy from the 1980’s that my brother and I used to play with
  • a replication of a famous movie puzzle

Both were good fun.

There aren’t many puzzles that are especially challenging, however the zombie is a massive complicating factor that makes otherwise easy puzzles vastly more difficult.

Host

Another huge boon to this game was the host (Matt, in our case). Our host introduced us to the game; gave us the rules; and then silently observed from the corner as we played. Occasionally he scribbled something down on his clipboard.

From time to time, he would communicate hints to us through intense stares, or gestures.

His true reason for being in the room was to offer protection to the chained up zombie (it seems that some lesser lifeforms actually do attack chained-up actors), and to prevent players from brute-forcing puzzles.

One of the standout aspects of this game was the recap our host gave at the end. He highlighted entertaining moments and how each player contributed. I haven’t seen other companies do this, and I think more of them should.

Theming

One of the less-than-stellar aspects of this game was the theming… Which was non-existent.

Our host told us we were entering the lab of Dr. Oxy; who tragically turned all sorts of undead. Upon entering the game we found ourselves standing in what looked like a beat-up living room. It bore no resemblance to a lab, and none of the puzzles had a lab or sciencey vibe to them. They could have, but they didn’t.

As a child a friend of my father’s came to visit us on Christmas Eve dressed as Santa. When he left, my brother looked out the front window and saw Santa get into an old, beat up sedan, and shouted, “He doesn’t have reindeer… Santa drives a stinking car!” That’s how this rooms design made me feel.

Too Many Tickets, Too Little Space

This room is billed as a 12 person room. That’s a joke. We had 10 people, and we were tripping over each other (I actually fell).

Maybe locations outside of New York City are larger; I don’t know. This location realistically fits 8 people.

When players are touched by the zombie, they are dead, and have to stand on an orange “X” (dead players can speak, but they can’t physically interact with things). I had contemplated sacrificing myself to make more room, but the Xs are smack in the middle of the best places to stand to avoid the zombie. It’s kind of a cruel joke that your “dead players” end up consuming your safe space.

One of the worst trends in the room escape business is overfilling rooms. It’s pretty crappy to do when there isn’t a zombie chasing you around. In this game it was too much.

Should I play this game?

You absolutely should. The puzzles are by-the-numbers, but the zombie makes it awesome.

We had some incredibly cool moments with our zombie that are not ever going to happen in a more typical room escape experience.

Go with 6 to 8 people. It’s up to you to decide if you want to buy up all of the rest of the tickets, or leave them and hope that you don’t end up with extra strangers.

I don’t recommend playing this with more than 8 people. Room Escape Adventures should contemplate a “buy the whole room” flat rate that is reduced. It would be a kinder way to make a buck.

Book your tickets with Room Escape Adventures, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.