5 Wits West Nyack, NY [Overview Review]

The cream.

Location: West Nyack, NY

Date played: November 20, 2016

Team size: 2-15; we recommend 4-6

Duration: 30 minutes per game

Price: $17.99 per ticket for one adventure, discounted if you play multiple adventures

What’s 5 Wits?

Founded in 2004, 5 Wits has offered incredible immersive puzzle adventures with Disney-level production value since long before escape rooms popped up in Budapest and Tokyo.

We reviewed four of their games in 2015 and loved them. They weren’t quite escape rooms, and the folks from 5 Wits would be the first to tell you that, but the core concept of puzzling through a timed adventure absolutely overlapped.

Game reviews

Located in the Palisades Mall, the West Nyack 5 Wits facility has three of the four games offered at their Syracuse location. We reviewed all of these  in 2015 and we’re standing behind those reviews (even though they are in our older style), while adding a few additional notes specific to the experiences we had in West Nyack.

Tomb

5 Wits Syracuse – Tomb

The Tomb in West Nyack had an updated middle section. That segment of the game had a completely different set of challenges from the ones offered in Syracuse. As great as the Syracuse game was, the new one was leaps and bounds better.

5 Wits Syracuse Tomb Photo 3

Deep Space

5 Wits Syracuse – Deep Space

When we played Deep Space in Syracuse, it had just opened and we encountered some bugs in the gameplay. None of those bugs was present during our playthrough in West Nyack. It was an impressive sci-fi adventure oozing with pop culture references and a few honest challenges.

Deep Space had a puzzle in it that was a riff on a classic video game. When we played Deep Space in Syracuse, we were a group of adults. This time, however, we brought friends and their pre-teen daughters. During this playthrough, we noticed that while that particular interaction design was intuitive to adults, the girls were baffled by that portion of the game.

Drago’s Castle

5 Wits Syracuse –Drago’s Castle

Drago’s Castle remained our favorite of the 5 Wits games; I may have liked it even more on the second playthrough. To the best of my memory, it was identical to the game we played in Syracuse and I cannot possibly recommend it more highly.

5Wits Drago's Castle Story Book

Should I visit 5 Wits in West Nyack, NY?

Whether you’re visiting Syracuse, West Nyack, or Albany (the games in Albany were produced in tandem with those in West Nyack), 5 Wits is worth a few hours’ visit.

Each game offered an immersive experience with beautiful set design, compelling puzzles, and mind-boggling automation.

If you have adventurous kids about 8-12 years old, it’s a must visit.

If you’re an escape room enthusiast who loves brilliant tech and scenery, it’s a must visit.

If you’re an escape room owner or potential owner, you need to visit 5 Wits. You’ll feel like you’re looking at the future. Then you’ll realize that they have been doing this for years.

Book your sessions with 5 Wits and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.

Full disclosure: 5 Wits comped our tickets for these games.

5 Wits – Deep Space [Review]

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“I’m sorry Dave, I’m afraid I can’t do that.”

Location: Syracuse, New York

Date played: August 31, 2015

Team size: 2-15; we recommend 4-6

Duration: 30 minutes

Price: $17.99 per ticket for one adventure, discounted if you play multiple adventures

Theme & story

“After no contact for years, and assumed destroyed, there’s been a distress signal from the starship Nebulous! You have just 30 minutes to teleport aboard the craft, figure out what happened and get back safely. But be prepared to battle an asteroid storm, rewire the engines, refuel the power supply and stop an evil Artificial Intelligence in time to save the world!”

This game was equal parts Star Trek, Portal, and 2001: A Space Odyssey.

We were repairing a failing starship with a psychopathic AI “helping” us. The AI was basically one joke about your weight away from being GLaDOS.

GladosAs a sci-fi puzzle nerd, the setup couldn’t be more my speed.

Staging

As with the other games we’ve played at 5 Wits in Syracuse, the 5 Wits production quality was in full swing here.

From start to finish, the look and feel of this game was staggeringly cool. There was a moment early in this game that made me forget I was in a game; that doesn’t happen often enough.

Captain’s chair

There was a captain’s chair on the bridge. I confess that sitting in it filled me with joy.

Bugs & prompting

During our playthrough there were buttons and puzzles that didn’t work.

This is 5 Wits’ newest game (we saw it under construction during our visit in May). While the game looked exceptionally polished, it was buggy.

In two separate instances, we know we solved puzzles correctly, but our solutions didn’t register with the system.

Then there was the puzzle where we had no idea what to do. Maybe our team missed something, but I don’t know what was expected of us during the “refuel the power supply” portion of the game. We needed more prompting.

5wits-deep-space

Should I play 5 Wits’ Deep Space?

5 Wits is just as much a playground as it is a puzzle game. The spaces that they have fabricated are such a pleasure to inhabit.

It is worth seeing the automation, engineering, and care that went into building Deep Space. Even if I had known it would be a buggy experience, I probably would have played it anyway. 5 Wits creates a wonderful escapist experience.

This is billed as the most challenging game 5 Wits has to offer and it is. But in its current state, some of that difficulty is likely derived from bugs and minimal instruction.

5 Wits Syracuse’s three other games, Drago’s Castle, Tomb, and Espionage are stronger games, so if you need to choose among them, skip Deep Space for now. But if you have time, it’s well worth the $3 extra dollars it costs to tack this one on.

Book your time with 5 Wits Deep Space, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.

Full disclosure: 5Wits comped our tickets for this game.

5 Wits – Drago’s Castle [Review]

From start to finish, this is 5 Wits’ best creation.

Location: Syracuse, New York

Date played: August 31, 2015

Team size: 2-15; we recommend 4-6

Duration: 30 minutes

Price: $17.99 per ticket for one adventure, discounted if you play multiple adventures

Theme & story

The game started with a video projected onto a colossal story book; the characters came to life and so did the game. The intro was equal parts impressive and fun.

It's all animated!
It’s all animated!

Drago’s Castle was impeccably themed from our initial interaction with the game through the dramatic conclusion.

Physicality

Characteristic of 5 Wits’ games, Drago’s Castle was fully interactive. We pulled, pushed, and placed large game elements. As we moved between the rooms of this castle, we unlocked gates, opened imposing doors, and crawled through a passage.

This felt like a real life Zelda game, and based on the wonderful and not-so-subtle Zelda reference, the game designers knew it.

It'sDangerousToGoAlone

Teamwork

5 Wits designs their games around teamwork, but in this game a few puzzles actually required multiple players. Mostly, more players sped these puzzles along. But in one instance, the additional people participating were an added challenge. I’m confident that anyone of us could have solved the puzzle quickly on our own, but as a group we intellectually tripped over one another. This variety was interesting.

Set design

The set design was out of this world. Literally. We were in a castle chasing a beast.

In all seriousness, the rooms and their puzzles were thematically appropriate with awe-inspiring theatrical production value.

Climax

As the story reached completion, Drago’s Castle delivered a dramatic climactic moment that wowed us. We were all grinning. Young players might be scared. It was surprisingly exciting.

5wits Drago's Castle logo

Escape room genre

Of the four games 5 Wits offers in Syracuse, Drago’s Castle was the most like a traditional escape room.

The puzzles drew on different intelligences  – spacial, logical, pattern based, observational – and were of the type found in a more traditional escape room. They were more challenging than many other 5 Wits puzzles, but children will still be able to engage with them.

Automatic reset

Through ingenious set design, this game continually reset itself after we completed each puzzle. Half the fun is trying to figure out what’s different for the next team to pass through.

Should I play 5 Wits’ Drago’s Castle?

You have to appreciate the 5 Wits style of game to truly enjoy Drago’s Castle. It was physically interactive and less intellectually challenging than a traditional escape room. It transported us into a fairy tale and the set created the magic.

I recommend Drago’s Castle to families. But I also recommend it to adults; our team of four adults had a great time.

Furthermore, I recommend it to players interested in theatrics and engineering. The production value far exceeded industry standards.

Book your time with 5 Wits’ Drago’s Castle and tell them the Room Escape Artist sent you.

Full disclosure: 5Wits comped our tickets for this game.

5 Wits Syracuse – Espionage [Review]

An enhanced playground experience.

Location: Syracuse, New York

Date played: May 15, 2015

Team size: 2-15; we recommend 4-6

Duration: 30 minutes

Price: $17.99 per ticket for one adventure, discounted if you play multiple adventures

Plot

“The Fate of the Free World Depends on You!

Time is ticking and everything is on the line when the evil CABAL Corporation threatens the world. Do you have what it takes to infiltrate an enemy base and disarm the missiles before it’s too late?

Dodge lasers, crawl through vents, defuse a giant missile and stop a madman from triggering a world war in this action packed spy thriller! Every puzzle you solve, challenge you conquer, and mistake you make will change the outcome, so stay sharp, move fast-and don’t get caught!”

espionage-logo

Espionage

You are the team that has been tasked with disarming a missile to save the world. A kid-friendly agent personality leads you through a series of puzzles culminating in this task. Espionage is the most physically involved of the games that 5 Wits offers in Syracuse. Players feel that they are infiltrating high command.

Puzzle difficulty

The puzzles in Espionage are less cerebral than those in their other game, Tomb. They are significantly less intellectually challenging than those in traditional room escape games.

The challenge derives from their physicality. Crawl precisely; hit the buttons quickly. They rely on nimble teamwork.

There's a laser-grid that is larger than most escape games!
There’s a laser-grid that is larger than most escape games!

The experience

The game feels like you’re infiltrating an enemy base. As with the Tomb, it’s kind of nuts. The look, the feel, and the sounds are all on-point.

For a more about the 5 Wits experience, design and production value, see our aforementioned review of Tomb.

The environment

There is an intensity to the environment in Espionage that pushes the game forward. The scale and variety in the game are  impressive. The setting greatly elevates the puzzles.

Still, Espionage has a playground feel that is unlikely to intimidate a child. In fact, I imagine children will want to loop through these puzzles again and again… I know that I would have.

Like a playground, it is infinitely re-playable for children (less so for adults).

5 Wits Espionage Image 3

Should I play 5Wits Syracuse’s Espionage?

If you were a playground kid, you’ll love how 5 Wits integrates that rush into the escape room experience.

If you have kids and want to incorporate mentally stimulating games into a physically interactive environment, this room is a must.

If you have trouble with mobility, this isn’t the game for you. But you could still accompany children or friends to experience it from the sidelines. At the very least, you’ll have quite a sight to watch.

If you’re an escape game designer looking to create more physically involved puzzles or understand the possible scale of environment, you should play. 5 Wits sets the bar incredibly high.

If you’re focused more on the intellectual puzzle aspect of games, this isn’t the game for you. However, I recommend you try one of their other games just to experience the production value. If you are in the area, you should play, just for comparison.

You don’t go to 5 Wits to test your mind, and you especially don’t play Espionage for that reason. But there are other reasons to play this game.

No need to book in advance, just head over to 5 Wits Syracuse and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.

Images via 5 Wits Syracuse

5 Wits Syracuse – Tomb [Review]

An awe inspiring game, with Disney-level production value and family friendly puzzles.

Location: Syracuse, New York

Date played: May 15, 2015

Team size: 2-15; we recommend 4-6

Duration: 30 minutes

Price: $17.99 per ticket for one adventure, discounted if you play multiple adventures

Plot

Prove your worthiness and survive to tell the tale!

Enter a 3,000 year old tomb with only a flashlight and your wits to guide you! At an archaeological dig, you find yourself deep in an Egyptian tomb… face to face with the spirit of an ancient Pharaoh! Are you brave enough to make it out alive?

The only way to survive will be to best the Pharaoh at his own game and prove your worthiness… but watch out for traps along the way! Test your skills in this amazing adventure thousands of years in the making!

tomb-logo

Tomb

Tomb is an Indiana Jones-esque crypt raid where you disturb the ghost of a dead pharaoh who puts you through a series of challenges. This is billed as the more cerebral 5 Wits offering, and has more mentally challenging puzzles than their other games. Still, escaping the tomb isn’t difficult.

5 Wits Syracuse Tomb Photo 3

The experience

The game feels like you’re in a pyramid. It’s kind of nuts. The look, the feel, and the sounds are all on-point.

I have to imagine that the experience must be intensely cool for children (and maybe a bit too much for sensitive kids).

Literally every single puzzle is physically involved.

The game has a production value that is a few orders of magnitude greater than anything we have seen from any other escape game company.

5 Wits Syracuse Tomb Photo

Automation

A team of 2-15 players will begin with a recorded briefing (with solid, kid friendly acting), and advance into the first room. Everything from this point in the game is fully automated; the game mechanics push the team into each of the subsequent three rooms. Each team completes the game in 20 – 30 minutes.

The game mechanics are designed so that players reset the room for the next team. This allows 5 Wits to have a team in each of the four rooms at one time. It’s impressive. It is designed such that teams can’t butt up against each other.

The ceiling actually drops!
The ceiling actually drops!

Should I play 5 Wits Syracuse’s Tomb?

Yeah, you probably should.

If you’re an escape game designer, and you want to understand how high the bar is set for production value, go to 5 Wits.

If you have kids and want to do something fun and mentally stimulating with them, then you must go.

If you’re a live action puzzle enthusiast, this isn’t going to present a serious challenge to you, but I think you should see it if you’re near one of their locations (Syracuse, NY, Foxboro, MA, and they will be opening in West Nyack, NY soon). However I wouldn’t recommend rounding up a whole team and traveling specifically to play Tomb.

If you’re going to 5 Wits looking to test your mind, you’re profoundly missing the point. This is about the experience, family-friendly fun, and the brilliance of a fully automated escape game that reset itself.

No need to book in advance, just head over to 5-Wits Syracuse and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.

Images via 5 Wits Syracuse