SCAM New York [Review]

Magic, comedy, puzzles… and a dollop of vulgarity

Location:  New York City, NY

Date Played: May 30, 2021

Team size: 1-8; we recommend 4-8

Duration: 2 hours

Price: Start at $55 per player

Ticketing: Public… but if you book as a group of 8 you’ll have a mostly private experience

Emergency Exit Rating: [A+] No Lock

Physical Restraints: [A+] No Physical Restraints

REA Reaction

New York City’s Society of Conjurers And Magicians (SCAM), blends magic, comedy, and puzzles (more or less in that order).

SCAM is set in a nifty karaoke bar where each room has a unique design. The audience is split between these rooms, and magicians circulate from room to room performing their acts to the small groups. In between the acts, each group has the opportunity to solve a series of puzzles.

The performers are a rotating cast of quality New York City magicians. Some left us dumbfounded, others performed classics with elegance, and they all made us laugh.

Magicians Harrison Greenbaum & Patrick Davis wearing cloaks and dramatically holding candles.
Harrison Greenbaum & Patrick Davis

SCAM was co-created by comedian & magician Harrison Greenbaum (the emcee for our convention RECON). I tell you this both to disclose that relationship, and to give you a sense of SCAM’s style. He is talented, funny, and vulgar. (He tones this last part down a lot for RECON.) To varying degrees, the other performers are cut from the same cloth.

If you aren’t sure whether you’ll enjoy the humor of SCAM New York, I recommend taking a good look at their secret society logo. Study the details, identify the layers… really take it in… because this shit is hilarious…

Society of Conjurers And Magicians logo depicts many people with devil tails arranged in a circle with their heads up one anothers' asses.
While at SCAM, I recommend asking why the logo is designed this way.

If instead you are bothered by it… perhaps Disney’s The Lion King is more your speed and it’s only a few blocks away from SCAM. No judgement from me; I want everyone to have a good time.

SCAM New York was the first show or game that Lisa and I had experienced post-quarantine. I cannot think of a better show for the era. Meeting up with a small group of friends and spending most of the show in a room with them while entertainment came to us was exactly the speed that we were looking for. If you enjoy magic, comedy, or puzzles, there’s something for you at SCAM.

Who is this for?

  • Magic fans
  • Comedy fans
  • Puzzle lovers
  • People looking for an unusual night out
  • Any experience level

Why play?

  • It’s funny
  • It’s entertaining
  • The puzzles do a good job of filling in gaps between acts

Story

We were invited to an initiation into a magical secret society.

A hand reaching out for a small chest secured with a padlock.
Continue reading “SCAM New York [Review]”

Logic Locks – The Verdict [Hivemind Review]

The Verdict is an audiovisual immersive experience akin to a larp, created by Logic Locks in Amsterdam, The Netherlands.

Group photo of the Jury and the court assistants.

Format

Style of Play: audio-visual immersive experience… of jury duty, literally.

Required Equipment: computer with internet connection

Recommended Team Size: 12 people. You can book a single ticket into a public-ticketed event or you can book for a larger group all together.

Play Time: 2 hours, but allow an extra 30 minutes for a post-game debrief

Price: €21.50 per person

Booking: book online for a specific time slot

Description

The Verdict was an immersive experience akin to a larp. We were essentially serving digital jury duty. We needed to have a large, diverse jury to investigate and deliberate.

Hivemind Review Scale

Eschaton [Hivemind Review]

Eschaton is a virtual nightclub and immersive experience that includes a light puzzle hunt.

A well dressed man on video speaking into a camera.

Format

Style of Play: an audio-visual experience that includes a light puzzle hunt

Required Equipment: computer with an internet connection

If you plan to solve the puzzles, you’ll want a way to take notes and maybe a Google Sheet to keep organized.

Recommended Team Size: 1-2 people per connection

Play Time: 1 hour per visit

Price: $15 per connection (prices go up for holiday events)

Booking: book online for a specific Saturday night performance

Description

When Eschaton opens, its website provides you with a Zoom link. From the Zoom link, you learn how to get to other Zoom rooms. Players move from room to room throughout the experience at their own whims. You might stumble across a puzzle.

The Eschaton puzzle experience is somewhere between a puzzle hunt and an ARG. There is a lot to find and tons to solve. It would require multiple visits to complete.

Of note, Eschaton is an interesting experience with great performers, but it is not an escape room in any way.

Hivemind Review Scale

Everything Immersive Livestream – First Episode!

Last night we kicked off the first Everything Immersive livestream with our friends at No Proscenium.

YouTube's red play button logo.

Everything Immersive

In early 2017 we quietly created the Everything Immersive Facebook group with NoPro and Ricky Brigante (founder of Inside The Magic).

This collaboration has created a thriving group dedicated to the various branches of immersive entertainment.

The Livestream

Last night’s discussion spanned a variety of experiences and ideas with 3 people that we adore (Noah, Kathyrn, & Anthony).

Given that this was our maiden voyage, there were some technical issues… but it did work. Early on there were some echoes, in the middle Anthony got into a fight with Skype, and near the end we had some audio drop.

If you make it to the end… you might hear some details about our next tour. You’ll see the full announcement publish here in the not too distant future.

The Best Medicine Productions – The Shadow Space [Review]

We will, we will haunt you.

Location:  Los Angeles, CA

Date Played: May 30, 2019

Team size: 10 tickets per time slot

Duration: ~60 minutes

Price: $50 per ticket

Ticketing: Public

REA Reaction

With a simple setting and an elegant premise, The Shadow Space offered a fun and unique combination of immersive theater, escape room, and murder mystery.

As ghosts on a guided tour of the living, we got to experience the other side of a haunted house. Through observation, deduction, and some light haunting of the actors in the performance, we attempted to determine what had happened in the house and influence the characters towards a favorable ending.

4 hands on a ouiji board.

Playing as ghosts felt novel and invigorating. Being invisible removed the complexity and awkwardness of two-way communication that sometimes comes along with immersive theater, while still providing an entertaining new mechanic.

The Shadow Space will be back for a second run in October 2019. If you’re near Los Angeles and curious to experience a uniquely haunting hybrid show, The Shadow Space is worth checking out.

Who is this for?

  • Immersive theater fans
  • Mystery lovers
  • Any experience level

Why play?

  • Unusual interactions
  • Escalation
  • Collaborative mystery solving
  • The chance to be on the other side of a haunting for once

Story

As recently deceased ghosts, we were on a tour of the living. Our guides had promised us an evening of entertainment as we observed the inhabitants of a home on a day of celebration…and we encountered even more drama than we’d imagined.

The haunted house, a beautiful blue and white house with a yellow door and a porch.

Setting

The Shadow Space took place in a cozy Los Angeles home decorated with items of importance to its inhabitants. We haunted the first floor of the house, which included a kitchen, living room, study, and dining room where the two occupants were hosting another couple for a get-together. As we could not walk through doors, the rest of the space was off limits.

The house felt lived in, and the layout of the rooms allowed us to explore and follow the actors however we chose.

Rules of Haunting: No phones or smoking. The living can't hear you. Don't touch or block the living. Touch only what glows.

Gameplay

The Shadow Space was an immersive theater production with mystery and puzzle elements. Though it started out as a simple evening of ghostly entertainment, we eventually discovered that we needed to solve a mystery by uncovering clues and influencing the actors.

The Shadow Space emphasized the performances and the gameplay roughly equally. Though we encountered a couple of more traditional puzzles, most of the solving took place in the audience’s minds as we pieced together the clues to the central mystery.

As ghosts, we were invisible to the residents, but our hosts warned us not to haunt them too aggressively. Therefore, we could only touch objects that shone with a spiritual energy (i.e., items that lit up under a blacklight), and only when the living were not observing us. We could, however, interact with certain objects to spook the living—as long as they weren’t looking. We also could not pass through doors unless they were opened for us, which presented an interesting challenge.

Though it wasn’t all about winning, the gameplay had a medium to high level of difficulty. Between the puzzles and the central mystery, core gameplay revolved around observation, deduction, and timing.

Analysis

➕ The concept of a ghost tour and the presence of tour guides brought levity to a potentially somber and disturbing story. A pre-show icebreaker where the audience members revealed our (often humorous) causes of death also lifted tension, which helped prepare us for the experience.

➕ The premise of playing as ghosts haunting the living was inventive, and just plain fun. We enjoyed puzzling out how to affect the actors without interacting in the traditional sense.

➕/➖ Between exploring the house and observing the different actors, The Shadow Space provided a lot of possible threads to follow. On one hand, that freedom felt exhilarating. However, with nine audience members and six actors in the space, we struggled to keep track of everything, and communication became an additional challenge.

➖ For the sake of realism, the actors spoke at a normal volume, as if there weren’t a dozen other people in the space with them. This hindered our sleuthing somewhat, as we missed some moments that revealed key information about the characters’ relationships. If the more important conversations had unfolded in such a way that the audience couldn’t miss them, we would have felt more in control.

➕ The moment of transition from ghost tourists to mystery solvers surprised us and ramped up the excitement. The change in our objective felt seamless.

➕/➖ One early haunting opportunity brought the entire group together for a shared experience. That moment was fun and engaging, but it felt disconnected from the rest of the show. It would have felt more rewarding if that moment had paid off later, or otherwise been incorporated into the story.

➖ Our tour guides left us alone at one point, and we weren’t sure whether we still had to follow the rules without supervision. A bit more guidance on how the game worked would have reassured us in that moment.

➕ The actors did an impressive job of performing while both monitoring and ignoring the audience. On top of all that, their dialogue and actions often suggested what we were supposed to do next. This built-in hint delivery was subtle and effective while maintaining immersion.

➖ The clues we needed to solve the mystery were hard to piece together in such a whirlwind environment, and we only had a moment to decide on what we thought had happened. We would have benefited from another couple minutes to discuss our findings as a group before voting on what course of action to take.

➕ “Haunting” the actors felt thrilling and unique. We found ourselves wishing the show had been a bit longer so we could have had some extra time to play around with the ghost mechanics.

Tips For Visiting

The Shadow Space had a limited run in May 2019 and is not currently playing. In future performances, the venue and other details may change. You can sign up for The Shadow Space’s mailing list to be notified about the show’s return from October 8 to November 3, 2019.

Update 10/1/19: The Shadow Space will be running October 8 – November 3, 2019 in Hollywood. Tickets are available and for a limited time people can get a 1/3 off tickets by using the promo code “RIP.” The show has moved to the historic Hartsock House in the heart of Hollywood that was built in 1919 to house missionaries. There is parking. 

This experience has live actors. Review our tips for playing with actors. Interaction is minimal if you want it to be; this is a low-pressure event for less outgoing audience members.

The Shadow Space was tense and unsettling at times, but never truly scary. However, the October run may change things up in that department.

When the show returns in October, book your hour with The Best Medicine Productions’ The Shadow Space, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.