Ubisoft Escape Games – Beyond Medusa’s Gate [VR Review]

A VR Odyssey

Location:  at Up the Game in Amsterdam, The Netherlands & at Trap’t in Stamford, CT

Date Played: May 7, 2019 & May 17, 2019

Team size: 2 or 4; we recommend 4

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: $40 per player at Trap’t (consumer pricing varies by licensee)

Ticketing: Private

Emergency Exit Rating: [A+] No Lock

Physical Restraints: [A+] No Physical Restraints

REA Reaction

Beyond Medusa’s Gate was a gigantic, dramatic, and intense journey through the worlds of Greek mythology and the Assassin’s Creed video game series.

Ubisoft Escape Games published a worthy sequel to their first VR escape game by refining and expanding upon the concepts introduced in Escape The Lost Pyramid.

In-game: A gigantic statue of Atlas wrapped in a snake holding up the ceiling of a cave.

Beyond Medusa’s Gate wasn’t the most puzzley game. However, it accomplished what I believe is the key to a great virtual escape game: the gameplay provided experiences that cannot be created in real life escape games.

I wholeheartedly recommend playing Beyond Medusa’s Gate. (We took my parents to play it.) I’d encourage you to play Escape The Lost Pyramid first so that you’re comfortable with the controls and mechanisms that Ubisoft expanded upon in this sequel.

Who is this for?

  • Adventure seekers
  • Puzzle lovers
  • Scenery snobs
  • Any experience level (with VR, escape rooms, or Assassin’s Creed)

Why play?

  • Fantastic collaborative puzzles
  • Beautiful graphics
  • Massive set pieces
  • Puzzles that aren’t possible in a real-life escape room
  • A cool boss battle

Story

Set in the fantastical ancient Greek world of Assassin’s Creed Odyssey, we were off in search of a powerful lost artifact.

The Poster for Beyond Medusa's Gate featuring a stone door with a sculpture of Medusa.

Setting

We boarded the Argo, the legendary ship of the Argonauts, and sailed through a magnificently rendered Mediterranean cavern filled with huge structures and mythological beasts.

In-game: a burning cauldron in a temple.

Gameplay

Ubisoft Escape Games’ Beyond Medusa’s Gate was a VR escape game with a moderate level of difficulty.

Core gameplay revolved around teamwork, puzzling, shooting, climbing, observing, and making connections.

In-game: The Argo in the Mediterranean.

Analysis

➕ Ubisoft included some additional character customization options allowing us to change the color of our avatar’s clothing.

In-game: a team of avatar's getting suited up.

 Assassin’s Creed factors in minimally. On the one hand, if you’re familiar with the series, there are some lovely nods both in the gameplay and in the introduction. On the other hand, you can enjoy the game almost fully without knowing anything about the Animus.

➖ If you’re completely unfamiliar with Assassin’s Creed, then the introductory exposition will sound something like, “Blah blah blah Ancient Greece. Blah blah blah powerful artifact. Blah blah blah genetic memory.”

➕ The opening puzzle sequence was really clever, both as a standalone puzzle and as an introduction to manipulating the game world.

➕ Beyond Medusa’s Gate had a greater diversity in puzzles and challenges than did Ubisoft’s first escape game, Escape The Lost Pyramid.

In-game: A statue of Athena in a cavern.

➕ As with Escape The Lost Pyramid, Beyond Medusa’s Gate did a wonderful job of providing experiences that could not be created in a physical escape room.

❓ While the puzzles within Beyond Medusa’s Gate were enjoyable, the emphasis was on adventure. If you’re seeking serious puzzle-play, there might not be enough of it for you.

➕ Ubisoft ramped up the opportunities for teamwork and collaboration. There were lots of moments were we solving as either a duo or quartet.

➕ The world of Beyond Medusa’s Gate was gorgeous. There were points where I stopped playing and found myself getting lost in the beauty of the world and all of its detail.

➕ The use of a boat to facilitate movement through the game world was an improvement over the floating blocks from Escape The Lost Pyramid. Not only did it make more sense within the fiction, it also made the game more friendly and approachable for players with vertigo or a fear of heights.

➕ While Beyond Medusa’s Gate incorporated the climbing as well as the archery introduced in Escape The Lost Pyramid, it limited its reliance on them and put some interesting twists on both as the game progressed.

❓ There’s a learning curve to staying within the play area. If you’re comfortable playing video games and VR, you could acclimate almost immediately. If you aren’t comfortable with the technology, it could be a game-long process .

➖ When one player struggles to execute, the game can grind to a halt and provide little for idle players to do… aside from break pots and look at the beautiful world. (I have a high capacity for breaking pots from years of Zelda.)

➖ If you are the struggling player and you’re holding your team back, you’ll quickly feel a lot of additional pressure.

❓ We played this game twice, once with a wire (at Up The Game), and once wireless (at Trap’t in Stamford, CT). It was a substantially better experience playing wirelessly.

In-game: a massive ballista mounted to the side of a ship.

➕ The boss battle was a strong conclusion.

➕ Ubisoft added a delightful post-game photo system.

Tips For Visiting

  • I would strongly encourage you to play Ubisoft’s first VR escape game, Escape The Lost Pyramid, prior to playing this sequel.
  • Yes, you can wear glasses with the VR headset.
  • If you have a fear of heights or are prone to vertigo, there will be one section that you might want to skip, but you should be fine playing most of this game.

Book your hour with Ubisoft Escape Games’ Beyond Medusa’s Gate, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.

If you’re interested in licensing this game, you can learn more from Ubisoft Escape Games:

Disclosure: Ubisoft Escape Games offered free play-throughs of this game on the show floor at Up the Game.

Disclosure: Trap’t comped our tickets for this game.

Trap’t – Time Chasers: Race for the Cure [Review]

Hold onto your top hat; we’re going steampunk time traveling.

Location: Stamford, Connecticut

Date played: November 25, 2017

Team size: 4-10; we recommend 4-6

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: $30 per ticket

The 2017 Golden Lock-In award, the REA logo turned into an open padlock with a golden ring around it.
2017 Golden Lock-In Award winner

Story & setting

As members of the Time Chaser Corps, we needed to manufacture and deliver a cure for our terminally ill President Palmer. (There might be a few pop culture references.) We would travel back in time to glean information from those who had not survived this disease.

In-game: An elaborate ceiling hanging light, a wall of assorted clocks, and an illuminated control console.

Time Chaser Corps Central was bright and open. It had a steam punk-meets-lab aesthetic that fit the theme.

During Time Chasers: Race for the Cure, we traveled to different settings, in different times. With each shift, the aesthetic shifted completely. I’d tell you where we traveled, but… spoilers.

Puzzles

Time Chasers: Race for the Cure was packed with puzzles. These required observation, dexterity, logic, decipherment, counting, and reading comprehension, among other skills. There was more than something for everyone.

In-game: A blue and purple glowing wall hanging.

Standouts

Trap’t researched thoroughly to fit this narrative together around historical characters. They paid attention to historical details at every turn. They even went out of their way to justify the inclusion of modern technology in historical settings. While Time Chasers: Race for the Cure doesn’t teach history, it doesn’t contradict it either. It fits right in with our known narrative.

Trap’t minded other, nonhistorical details that enabled smooth puzzle flow. For example, they used unique input forms at a crucial juncture that could easily have had players wasting time on unnecessary mixups.

In-game: Three steampunk goggles with different colored lenses.

While the narrative of Time Chasers: Race for the Cure was laid out from the beginning, the sets still managed to surprise us. In one instance, Trap’t substituted the expected reveal with an initial unexpected open. This was a nice touch.

We particularly enjoyed puzzles that used common escape room techniques differently. These were dispersed throughout the different sets.

Written clues were well designed so as not to be arduous. Reading took place in bright lighting.

With Time Chasers: Race for the Cure, Trap’t raised the level of their set design. In this escape room we traveled through 4 different sets, each a common escape room setting, and each more aesthetically pleasing than the majority of escape rooms with these themes.

Shortcomings

While the sets looked great from afar, upon close inspection, there was room for improvement. Some of the wall hangings were more polished than others. Additionally (and this is nitpicking), they could remove price tags and the like from their purchased props.

Time Chasers: Race for the Cure took us through multiple different settings, but our time wasn’t balanced. We entered the third set for only a short puzzle segment. Trap’t clearly put a lot of effort into constructing this segment and we would have liked to have spent more time puzzling through it.

We encountered multiple counting puzzles in Time Chasers: Race for the Cure. If Trap’t is looking to improve the puzzle distribution, we’d vote for fewer counting puzzles.

One puzzle was unnerving in that it seemed to require us to do something potentially unsafe (if you know what you’re looking at). This puzzle was brilliantly clued and perfectly safe, but it was unsettling all the same.

Should I play Trap’t’s Time Chasers: Race for the Cure?

Time Chasers: Race for the Cure combined multiple escape room sets into one cohesive narrative. This was a fun premise and exciting to explore.

Time Chasers: Race for the Cure was a challenging puzzle game. There were a lot of puzzles to work through. While most of these resolved pretty quickly, a few required a bit more process to implement.

We recommend Time Chasers: Race for the Cure for players who’ve completed a few escape rooms already. There’s a lot to puzzle through. Escape room veterans will also have an additional appreciation for the brief stopovers in familiar escape room settings and the framework that ties all of these together. Everyone else should play a game or two before enjoying this one. It’s worth leveling up your escape room skills to play it.

Time Chasers: Race for the Cure was a big leap forward for Trap’t. This is a special game and we really enjoyed racing through it.

Book your hour with Trap’t’s Time Chasers: Race for the Cure, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.

Full disclosure: Trap’t comped our tickets for this game.

Trap’t – Abducted: Escape from the Madman [Review]

Lighthearted conglomerated horror flick.

Location: Stamford, CT

Date played: December 3, 2016

Team size: 2-10; we recommend 3-5

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: $30 per ticket

Story & setting

We were abducted by a murderous madman and shut into his closet. The only thing to do was escape.

Although we were escaping our own demise, this wasn’t a scary game. Anything “gory” in this murderer’s home was campy enough to be neither scary nor unsettling. The setting was bright and a few cotton cobwebs away from being a haunted house for children.

In-game: Closeup of a clean work bench with three jars on it. One with plastic spiders, a second with yellow stones, and a third with something that looks a little gross.

Instead of scaring players, Trap’t made nods at horror, adding little Easter eggs that referenced famous movies.

Puzzles

Abducted: Escape from the Madman included many puzzles that flowed logically, one to the next.

The room escape front-loaded the more intense puzzling. While unusual, this worked well.

Standouts

Trap’t designed a game that flowed artfully through a massive set. In this way, Abducted: Escape from the Madman intensified the experience through sheer depth and size without instilling fear.

We really enjoyed a few of the more technologically-triggered interactions and their construction around horror film props. The best parts of this game leaned into horror cliches.

The Easter eggs were a cute touch.

Shortcomings

Some of the cluing was incomplete and demanded a logic leap or two.

While expansive, the set was ultimately bland. The closet gave way to a scarcely furnished house with little ambiance. Trap’t missed an opportunity to instill emotion.

With the name Abducted: Escape from the Madman, it would be easy to make incorrect assumptions about this game. It danced around horror-y themes, but it was never scary nor emotional; it wasn’t the thrill one would expect. Abducted: Escape from the Madman didn’t really know what it was trying to be or how to market itself to the right audience.

Should I play Trap’t’s Abducted: Escape from the Madman?

This was a room escape in the style of elementary school horror. It was a nod to the concept, but it wasn’t actually an embodiment of the genre. It was a game for those who don’t like to be scared, but those folks won’t get the jokes. Ultimately, this escape room was all chuckles and no adrenaline.

Although the set wasn’t much to behold, Trap’t designed the puzzles that kept us racing through to the end. The puzzles truly carried this game. Genre sentiments and expectations notwithstanding, this was a game for people who like to solve puzzles.

The problem is, how do the players understand what this game really is? It seems like those who go in expecting horror will leave disappointed, while those who want to play a solid puzzle game but aren’t keen on frights will outright disregard a game named “Abducted: Escape from the Madman.”

There were some good interactions and puzzles, but this was a game with an identity crisis.

Book your hour with Trap’t’s Abducted: Escape from the Madman, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.

Full disclosure: Trap’t provided media discounted tickets for this game.

Trap’t – Museum Mayhem [Review]

Guided tours are available at the end of the hour.

Location: Stamford, CT

Date played: December 3, 2016

Team size: 2-8; we recommend 4-6

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: $30 per ticket

Story & setting

Vandals broke into the museum and trashed the gallery the night before a gala. We had to swiftly put everything back in its place.

Museum Mayhem looked more like an unfinished exhibit than a vandalized one. While some items were scattered, others were neatly arranged, if out of place. We pretty much disregarded the circumstances and just puzzled out of the disarray.

In-game: A suite of armor a grail, and a medieval painting.

Puzzles

Museum Mayhem offered a strong and challenging series of puzzles. They ranged from straightforward to well-layered.

We easily picked up the thread of gameplay; the puzzles made sense and flowed logically from one to the next.

Trap’t constructed the puzzles primarily through the museum objects. They were tactile and satisfying.

Standouts

Museum Mayhem was first and foremost a puzzling experience. Trap’t packed a lot of puzzling into this escape room.

The space was filled with objects to interact with. We may have been “cleaning the place up,” but it was fun.

In particular, we enjoyed some technologically-driven interactions; great subterfuge covered up much of the tech.

Shortcomings

While some tech was masked, Museum Mayhem telegraphed some of these finer interactions due to visible technology. Experienced players may see these moments coming a mile away.

The cluing was sometimes tenuous. Not every connection came through as strongly as it could have.

At times, Museum Mayhem felt a little too aesthetically unrefined.

Should I play Trap’t’s Museum Mayhem?

Museum Mayhem was a puzzling experience. The theming was pretense to create experiential puzzling and it worked. Ultimately, neither the story nor the aesthetic mattered.

This was a puzzler’s game, and a fun one. There was a lot to do. For newer players, we recommend a larger group that can communicate well. Experienced players might anticipate a few of the tricks, but will still enjoy the room escape; we did.

Trap’t was well run with a comfortable, expansive lobby and clean, inoffensive games. This would be a great destination for anyone seeking family or corporate outings.

Book your hour with Trap’t’s Museum Mayhem, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.

Full disclosure: Trap’t provided media discounted tickets for this game.