The Other Tales – The Anomaly [Review]

Not as it seemed…

Location:  Hawthorne, NJ

Date Played: October 17, 2019

Team size: up to 8; we recommend 3-5

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: $29.95 per player

Ticketing: Public

Emergency Exit Rating: [A+] No Lock

Physical Restraints: [A+] No Physical Restraints

REA Reaction

I really like The Other Tales. When my mom wanted to play an escape room with her friends, I sent her to play their first game, The Forgotten Room. The Anomaly was a big step up on every level: puzzle design, game design, intrigue, set design, and interaction design. And it accomplished this while staying true to the handcrafted, made-with-love vibe of The Forgotten Room.

We also appreciated the detailed story conveyed by The Anomaly even if it felt a little too bogged down with reading.

Our biggest worry for The Anomaly was that it was showing wear, and some of the materials really ought to be beefed up. This game is too fun to fall apart.

In-game: A wall with furniture stuck within it.

The Other Tales is a gem in the northern New Jersey escape room market. Although their experiences aren’t the most impressive builds in the region, they combine puzzles and story with memorable moments, and they provide a gentle touch that we highly recommend for players of any experience level.

Who is this for?

  • Story seekers
  • Puzzle lovers
  • Any experience level
  • Players who don’t need to be a part of every puzzle

Why play?

  • Unusual story
  • Interesting puzzles
  • Intrigue curve
  • Cool props and surprises

Story

We were part of a special task force investigating a scientific lab. After some strange happenings and a disappeared person, it seemed this lab might not be exactly what it seemed. We needed to set things right before the Feds arrived.

In-game: a computer on a desk with a Verge Ventures login screen.

Setting

At first glance, The Anomaly looked pretty standard – maybe even subpar – with white walls, assorted cabinets, and a table in the center of the room.

As the game progressed, however, The Anomaly revealed its secrets; the nature of the game and space transformed.

In-game: An unusual coil-like device sitting atop a locked cabinet.

Gameplay

The Other Tales’ The Anomaly was a standard escape room with a moderate level of difficulty.

Core gameplay revolved around puzzling, observing, and making connections.

In-game: an unusual metal crate with all manner of machinery on it.

Analysis

➕ The puzzles flowed beautifully through an appropriate difficulty curve. They started out approachable and built up in challenge and complexity before backing off again in the conclusion.

➕ The Other Tales used a variety of interaction types in this game. They combined physical locks with tech-driven opens. The puzzles and interactions were largely tangible and inviting.

➕ The Anomaly told an unusual story. As we played, we learned about a character, his motivation, and his plight. We were invested in the game not only to solve puzzles, but to play through the story.

➖ As much as we enjoyed the story, it was sometimes burdensome to follow. While some of it evolved through play, it also required substantial reading. There was opportunity to show – rather than tell – more of the story beats.

➕ Although The Anomaly didn’t look impressive at the onset, as we solved puzzles, it offered more intrigue in the form of new props and available interactions. With each new open, we were increasingly impressed by what the room had to offer.

➖ The Anomaly hadn’t been open long when we visited and some of the materials, props, and set pieces were already showing wear. The Other Tales would be better served with some stronger, more interesting construction material.

The Anomaly included memorable moments that linked the physical props and the story.

Tips For Visiting

  • Parking: There is a parking lot.
  • Food: There are numerous casual restaurants nearby.

Book your hour with The Other Tales’ The Anomaly, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.

Disclosure: The Other Tales comped our tickets for this game.

The Other Tales – The Forgotten Room [Review]

Ready your steamer trunk.

Location: Hawthorne, NJ

Date played: February 6, 2017

Team size: up to 8; we recommend 3-6

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: $29.95 per ticket

Story & setting

We entered the headquarters of the Amazing Adventure Society to find the treasured artifact hidden within.

The Amazing Adventure Society headquarters had a simple, warm, and cozy grandfather’s study aesthetic. The setting felt homemade yet adorably homey.

In-game: Amazing Adventure Society Departure Points of Expeditions Map

Puzzles

The puzzles in The Forgotten Room were beautiful. In a mix of tech and more traditional components, The Other Tales crafted their own puzzle elements with care and love.

Both tangible and paper-based, the puzzles varied in structure, skills, and difficulty.

Standouts

As we approached the Amazing Adventure Society headquarters, our gamemaster established the story sincerely and reverently. He gave us reason for the adventure we were about to undertake, and even his own role in our experience. It worked.

The room was comfortable. Its atmosphere was heartwarming. It was a fun place to explore.

In-game: Two large trunks locked shut with many destination stickers attached to them.

The Other Tales designed and built the puzzle elements with clear attention to detail and beautiful craftsmanship. Where many companies would cut corners and telegraph their technology, The Other Tales put in the extra effort to hide seams and tech. These pieces, both large and small, were fun to explore.

We loved many little moments. One particular layered decipherment puzzle really caught our fancy.

Shortcomings

We weren’t a loud group, but we found it hard to interact with our gamemaster during the room escape. It was hard to hear him over the PA system.

Some of the more paper-based puzzle components could have been worked into the set more thoroughly.

As much as we loved many of the unique puzzle elements, we worry about the durability of these game pieces. That said, The Other Tales has thus far done a spectacular job of maintaining their game.

Should I play The Other Tales’ The Forgotten Room?

The Forgotten Room was adorable and beautiful. The atmosphere, attention to details, and craftsmanship brought this adventure to life. It wasn’t a fancy game, but it was so cleanly executed.

I worry about the longevity of the props, but that might be the tradeoff for their charm.

This was a fun, exciting, family-friendly room escape that is perfect for its suburban location. It will be challenging, but approachable for newer players.

More experienced players will find some interesting puzzling in The Forgotten Room, much of it memorable.

If you’re in the area, visit The Other Tales and see an example of escape room design on a budget done right.

Book your hour with The Other Tales’ The Forgotten Room, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.

Full disclosure: The Other Tales comped our tickets for this game.