Unreal Escapes – Disco 54 [Review]

Last Dance

Location:  Staten Island, NY

Date Played: March 17, 2019

Team size: up to 11; we recommend 3-7

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: $30 per player

Ticketing: Public

Emergency Exit Rating: [A+] No Lock

Physical Restraints: [A+] No Physical Restraints

REA Reaction

Disco 54 was all about atmosphere and fun. The look. The music. The theme. All of it.

Aesthetically, it looked and felt like a club, and it had a brilliant playlist underpinning it all.

Unreal Escape’s second game was significantly different from their first. It wasn’t as visually arresting as Battleship and it didn’t have the same volume of tech. Instead it felt more focused on gameplay.

In-game: the DJ's mixer.

That said, the party vibe of Disco 54 was occasionally distracting. There were moments when the dance floor and music called to us more than the gameplay did… which, honestly, was fine. We really enjoyed this dynamic.

Unreal is a bit of a hike to visit, but now that they are operating two games it’s an easier decision. For our taste, we preferred Disco 54, but if you’re visiting Unreal, you should play both. They both have something worth experiencing.

Who is this for?

  • Groups looking to party
  • Hustlers
  • Scenery snobs
  • Players who don’t need to be a part of every puzzle

Why play?

  • A unique story and set
  • You can dance (don’t worry; it is never required)
  • An unusual and authentic experience
  • Great song selection

Story

The legendary Disco 54 was closing down due to a… disagreement with the IRS. While the owner may have been in debt, that didn’t stop him from stashing cash throughout the club. We went in for one last party and a heist.

In-game: the VIP lounge.

Setting

Taking clear and heavy inspiration from Studio 54, Disco 54’s set was on point. From the dance floor, to the DJ booth, to the bar, to the VIP lounge, to all of the velvet, the escape game felt like a club.

All of this was elevated by a playlist that was as smart as it was fun.

In-game: the DJ booth labeled "Disco 54."

Gameplay

Unreal Escapes’ Disco 54 was a standard escape room with a moderate level of difficulty and the opportunity to dance.

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

In-game: a dance floor with colored lights shining on it.

Analysis

➕ A disco club was one of the more interesting and unique settings that we’ve seen for an escape game. It was refreshing.

➕ The club felt right. It was immediately clear to us just how passionate its creators were about nailing the right vibe.

➕ The music was perfect.

In-game: a disco ball

➕ Our gamemaster asked us what volume we wanted the music set to. We could request to turn the volume up or down at any time. We were quite content with our selection of “medium.”

Disco 54 flowed fairly well.

➖ There were some opportunities for stronger clue structure in a couple of puzzles.

➕ The open-ended goal of finding as much money as we could before escaping left plenty of reason for us to keep searching… we might find another way to earn more money.

➖ Not all parts of the set delivered the same scenic quality. The decisions made sense, but we felt when it lacked of grandeur.

➖ There was a missed opportunity that could have floored visitors.

➕/➖ There was some great use of tech within Disco 54. We wish that there had been better feedback and in-game notification of what we had accomplished. We had been instructed to “double check” things after we thought we solved something… and this was ok, but less than ideal.

➕ We really enjoyed taking a break from puzzling and dancing.

Disco 54 would make a great venue for a party.

Tips For Visiting

  • Unreal Escapes has a parking lot.
  • There’s a lot of great Italian food on Staten Island.
  • Unreal Escapes will reskin this escape room for bar and bat mitzvahs.

Book your hour with Unreal Escapes’ Disco 54, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.

Disclosure: Unreal Escapes comped our tickets for this game.

Unreal Escapes – Battleship [Review]

Hit!

Location: Staten Island, NY

Date Played: August 3, 2018

Team size: up to 9; we recommend 4-6

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: $30 per ticket

Ticketing: Public

REA Reaction

Battleship had one of the most beautiful sets that you can currently find in the Northeastern United States in 2018. It was detailed, tactile, and largely authentic. The interactions felt weighty and satisfying.

Unreal Escape faltered in the puzzle design and game flow of Battleship. We were intended to experience a clear narrative, but the puzzles were presented largely in a non-linear structure. This meant that we solved everything out of sync because the most enticing interactions were largely tied to the narrative endgame.

Although these flaws made Battleship chaotic, and at times unnecessarily frustrating, they didn’t detract from the fun of the set, props, effects, and overall playground of this Battleship. 

In-game: a view of the captain's desk and a big heavy door.

Who is this for?

  • Adventure seekers
  • Scenery snobs
  • Any experience level
  • Players who don’t need to be a part of every puzzle

Why play?

  • A gorgeous set detailed from floor to ceiling
  • Fantastic interactions
  • Some incredible effects
  • A handful of strong, narrative-based puzzles

Story

World War III had broken out and the entirety of the US Navy had been destroyed in an attack by an unknown power. Our crew had been assigned to recommission a World War II era battleship-turned-museum and fight back.

In-game: a torpedo in position for loading into a tube.

Setting

Battleship was beautiful. There was an intense level of detail from the floor to the ceiling.

Additionally, it felt phenomenally solid. Many of the props, set pieces, and even door hinges were made from beefy metal. Things had weight.

This was, without a doubt, one of the most aesthetically pleasing games that we’ve encountered in the New York metropolitan area to date.

In-game: the heavily detailed walls and ceiling of the Battleship.

Gameplay

Unreal Escapes’ Battleship was an atypical escape room with a moderate level of difficulty.

Battleship was heavily rooted in the narrative of reactivating an old ship and destroying a series of enemy vessels.

Core gameplay revolved around searching, making connections, puzzling, and following the narrative arc of the game.

In-game: a captain's wheel and glowing buttons, switches, and indicators.

Analysis

+ From the weight of the set pieces and props to detailed weathering, we felt like we were on a battleship. The set was phenomenal.

+ The interactions felt incredibly satisfying. They were solid, tangible, and scaled up.

+ We loved how the set changed gears.

– Battleship was heavy on exposition and instruction.

In-game: an old, ornate, and worn pressure meter.

Battleship was an opinionated game. Gameplay was technically non-linear; we had multiple puzzles open at any given moment. There was, however, a “correct” order in which to solve the puzzles, for narrative continuity. We didn’t need to play linearly, but Battleship really wanted us to follow its sequencing. I wish that the gameplay did a better job of keeping us on the narrative’s rails.

– We played a large potion of this game in the dark, with flashlights. We had no idea that this darkness was part of the story and if we’d just solved a particular puzzle, we would have restored light much earlier on. This was frustrating.

+ Unreal Escapes built an incredible effect that punctuated an onboard event. It was captivating and exciting.

– Battleship lacked gating. With so much of the game open to us at any given point, we always had something to work on and didn’t feel the urgency we should have from the events taking place aboard the ship. Instead of stressing that our vessel was malfunctioning, we calmly solved our way through battle tactics.

Battleship incorporated a lot puzzle variety into one escape room.

– A couple of puzzle felt incomplete, in one instance it was missing proper cluing.

+ Unreal Escapes committed to narrative, set, and period authenticity. We respect the lengths they went to to mirror reality.

In-game: ammunition chained up.

+ One central, layered puzzle combined props with technology across different gamespaces to facilitate coordinated teamwork. It was a ton of fun scoping out this sequence.

– We struggled with one prop that had us spinning our wheels for far too long. It didn’t function or respond intuitively.

+ The culminating series of interactions delivered an explosive ending.

Tips for Visiting

  • Unreal Escapes has a parking lot.
  • There’s a lot of great Italian food on Staten Island.

Book your hour with Unreal Escapes’ Battleship, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.

Disclosure: Unreal Escapes comped our tickets for this game.