Once Upon an Escape – Neverland [Review]

Off to never never land

Location:  Las Vegas, NV

Date Played: January 30, 2022

Team Size: 2-8; we recommend 2-4

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: $39 per player

Ticketing: Private

Accessibility Consideration: Players are all required to duck under a low doorway. One player is required to crawl.

Emergency Exit Rating: [A+] No Lock

Physical Restraints: [A+] No Physical Restraints

REA Reaction

Neverland was Once Upon an Escape’s first dive into non-linear gameplay. The game was based on a fairytale we had always wished to see an experience designed around. Similar to the other games by Once Upon an Escape, the puzzles encompassed some traditional escape room puzzle play with numerous twists on their typical implementations. Puzzles were overall fun to solve and interact with, including a handful of dexterity challenges. Because this room had multiple communication puzzles, it was nicely designed for teamwork.

Neverland carried the strongest story out of Once Upon an Escape’s three current offerings, with a cohesive adventure traversing varied sets that showcased a creative use of space. With this being said, the experience felt less polished due to a few of the puzzles not making sense thematically. Additionally, Neverland had the ability to break sequence, allowing us to bypass a series of puzzles and ultimately finish the game with leftover clues.

A well-like table with a thatched roof beside some tropical plants.

If you’re visiting Once Upon an Escape, check out the room with the fairytale that calls out to you, whether it be your childhood favorite or a novel theme you have never played before!

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Third Gate Escape – Third Gate Hotel [Review]

Third Gate Hotel is one of the best escape rooms in Las Vegas. Here are our recommendations for other great escape rooms in Las Vegas.

Welcome to Hell

Location:  Las Vegas, NV

Date Played: January 29, 2022

Team Size: 3-8; we recommend 3-5

Duration: 70 minutes

Price: $45 per player

Ticketing: Private

Accessibility Consideration: One player must be able to crawl

Emergency Exit Rating: [A+] No Lock

Physical Restraints: [A+] No Physical Restraints

REA Reaction

Third Gate Hotel was a memorable experience, grounded in a consistently haunted ambiance, and punctuated by a unique interaction in the middle of the experience.

Transitions between the vast set spaces were polished, with each door leading us to unknown and increasingly eerie scenes. The gameplay traversed these areas, making this linear escape game feel more layered than it was. While the spaces made sense to be in a hotel with the detailed décor to match, we left wishing to see more of a fleshed out story carried throughout the experience.

The final puzzle was weak and included elements of what seems to be a previously designed puzzle. The components from this ghost puzzle solved well, but they ended up being unused for the actual solution. Following the mid-game climactic sequence, this conclusion was a let down.

A luxurious couch in a room covered with flower wallpaper, in the center of each flower is an eyeball.

We really loved the haunted hotel vibe at Third Gate Hotel, and can’t wait to see what this game looks like once all of the kinks are ironed out.

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Meow Wolf (Las Vegas) – Omega Mart [Review]

Clean up, aisle ♾️

Location:  Las Vegas, NV

Date Played: December 17, 2021

Group size: we recommend 1-4

Duration: We recommend at least 90 minutes to explore the space, and at least 4 hours to follow the story, possibly many more.

Price: $49-55 per adult (less for children, seniors, and military)

Ticketing: Public

Accessibility Consideration: The first floor of the exhibit is ADA accessible. There is also an elevator to access the second floor, but some areas include steps or narrow passage ways.

Emergency Exit Rating: [A+] No Lock

Physical Restraints: [A+] No Physical Restraints

REA Reaction

Las Vegas in and of itself is a surreal alternate reality, and Meow Wolf’s second location, Omega Mart, felt like the perfect immersive art installation to mimic, mock, and embrace the consumeristic excesses of Sin City.

The sprawling Omega Mart storefront was packed full of actually purchasable, real, fake products. It’s a hilariously dissonant world, and it’s worth the price of admission simply to spend some time walking the aisles of Omega Mart, reading the product packages.

… But there was also a much deeper and considerably larger world behind Omega Mart. This world felt like the original Meow Wolf… if it had been built by Disney. This massive step up in production value added a polish that isn’t present in Santa Fe, but that sheen came at the price of some of the grit, oddity, and soul that grabbed me in the House of Eternal Return. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing so much as it is an aesthetic preference. I can see plenty of folks preferring the Disneyification of Meow Wolf to the grittier artsy vibe of their earlier work.

Where my feelings about Omega Mart turned to disappointment was in their game design choices. The mystery and game within this world started off fantastic, and hit a wondrous climax… and then it kept going and going and going well past its “sell by” date. This could have been fine, but many of the associated touchscreen interfaces were clunky, space was limited, and lines formed at key locations. The net effect was that when we were about to have a big moment in the plot, it was destroyed by watching half a dozen people have that exact moment that I was about to have while I waited.

Finally, the conclusion of the game was utterly disappointing… it fizzled into forgettable nothingness.

Omega Mart would have been better with a little less game, or a lot more thought put into the game and the way that players would engage with it. For all of the improvements that Meow Wolf made to their overall production, it felt like they badly needed to hire some proper game designers.

My advice: absolutely go experience Omega Mart. It’s a wonder. Play the game too… but once you hit a point in the game where you feel like you’ve substantially impacted the world, not just for yourself, but for others… stop playing and go about exploring.

Who is this for?

  • Adventure seekers
  • Story seekers
  • Scenery snobs
  • Any experience level

Why play?

  • The store and its products are a riot
  • The world was gorgeous, truly a Disney quality production

Story

We entered Omega Mart as customers, with the opportunity to become employees, learn the ropes of the business, and explore the exciting opportunities afforded to us by its revolutionary parent company Dramcorp.

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Once Upon an Escape – Arabian Nights [Review]

I can show you the world

Location:  Las Vegas, NV

Date Played: January 30, 2022

Team Size: 2-8; we recommend 2-4

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: $39 per player

Ticketing: Private

Accessibility Consideration: Players are all required to crawl a short distance.

Emergency Exit Rating: [A+] No Lock

Physical Restraints: [A+] No Physical Restraints

REA Reaction

Once Upon an Escape’s Arabian Nights was an adorable game chock-full of cute references to a cult-favorite childhood movie. With solid puzzle flow and creatively hidden technology, Arabian Nights was able to design a nostalgic game for players who are familiar with the Disney rendition of the story.

Assorted clothes on a clothing line beside a pair of windows.

The puzzles throughout the room solved cleanly and easily, although the game could have benefited from including some more layered puzzles to enhance the team experience. Even though the challenges of the room were rather simple, we always had something to do. Some of the puzzles felt like homework in style, with a few of them feeling like they belonged in a puzzle book rather than an escape room.

Spotlighting was plentiful for ease of puzzle-solving and clue-reading, with reliable and sturdy technology integrated into the set.

Some sections of the game contained more content than others. An under-utilized yet aesthetically pleasing space mid-game could have used a bit more puzzle content. This area was one of the best decorated portions of the set, yet we weren’t in there long enough to enjoy the atmosphere.

Once Upon an Escape executed their theming spectacularly from the moment we entered the venue. With a gorgeous lobby, doorways painted specifically for each game, a live fish tank, and themed cloaks for their gamemasters, the space was joyful to spend time in between games.

For newer players, this game is good as an entry level experience that will provide satisfying solves, and experienced folks will still find the game enjoyable.

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Once Upon an Escape – 7 Dwarfs [Review]

Heigh-hi, heigh-ho, it’s off to puzzle we go

Location:  Las Vegas, NV

Date Played: January 30, 2022

Team Size: 2-8; we recommend 2-4

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: $39 per player

Ticketing:  Private

Accessibility Consideration: Players are all required to duck under a low doorway.

Emergency Exit Rating: [A+] No Lock

Physical Restraints: [A+] No Physical Restraints

REA Reaction

Once Upon an Escape’s 7 Dwarfs was a whimsical adventure into the childhood story we all know and love. From the nostalgia-inspired puzzles to adorably dwarf-sized props, Once Upon an Escape did a good job of taking intricate details from the fairytale and implementing them into puzzles inspired by key moments of the story. On its own, though, the game didn’t tell the story to a player without the prior knowledge of the fairytale. Our players who were unfamiliar with the fairytale did not grasp the story of the room, and felt as if there was room to integrate more storytelling throughout.

A bird house with a small cardinal atop it.

I adore One Upon an Escape’s overall atmosphere, bringing whimsical and magical moments into the smallest details of their venue. The lobby was decorated from floor to ceiling (complete with the cutest fish tank), and each entry to each escape room had an accompanying doorway designed around the fairytale. While the décor inside the room was adorable and thematic with multiple, vastly different sets, it felt lesser compared to the lobby. With multiple “do not touch” labels and out-of-play red locks, the immersion was broken early on.

From a gameplay perspective, the puzzles flowed well, with only short moments of hesitation and quite a few aha moments. Once Upon an Escape did a good job of taking puzzles we’ve seen before and surprising us with unusual applications.

Overall, 7 Dwarfs was a cute fairytale experience filled with traditional puzzles, adorably small booties, and whimsical moments.

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