Evil Genius Escape Rooms – Chapter 1: Occam’s Apartment [Review]

Simple and elegant solutions.

Location: Los Angeles, California

Date played: June 2, 2017

Team size: 2-6; we recommend 3-4

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: $38 per ticket for 2 players, $32 per ticket for 3-6 players

Story & setting

We had arrived at Occam’s Apartment to investigate the resident’s suicide… but it was a set up by the Evil Genius. Now we needed to escape with the evidence before the police caught us at a crime scene.

Occam’s Apartment was a typical, gritty bachelor pad. It was dimly lit, with old, mismatched furniture, and appliances that had seen better days.

Game exterior: The old white bricked entrance to Occam's apartment.
Occam’s Apartment Exterior

Puzzles

Evil Genius Escape Rooms designed puzzles that utilized the bachelor pad and its contents. Occam’s Apartment rewarded keen observation.

The puzzling wasn’t particularly in depth or labor intensive. It was mostly about making connections and many of these were seriously satisfying.

Standouts

In Occam’s Apartment, Evil Genius Escape Rooms introduced us to their title character, and through him, added drama and a twist on what had seemed like a straight forward mission. Additionally, our hints arrived in character, supporting the narrative and keeping us engaged in an exciting and cohesive narrative.

There were a few particularly clever puzzles that made use of the space in simple but satisfying ways.

Evil Genius Escape Rooms designed the late game to instill a sense of urgency, even in players who are far ahead of the 60 minute game clock. This added to the drama of the narrative.

For players who booked Evil Genius Chapter 1 & 2 back-to-back, the final moments of Occam’s Apartment were pretty great.

Shortcomings

Occam’s Apartment wasn’t a particularly exciting setting. While it made sense in the story, it was still a dim, gritty room with a couch and a table, which didn’t entice exploration.

Although we enjoyed a few clever puzzles, Occam’s Apartment didn’t deliver any show-stopping, jaw-dropping, memorable moments.

Should I play Evil Genius Escape Rooms’s Chapter 1: Occam’s Apartment?

Occam’s Apartment was an incredibly clean execution of a basic escape room.

It relied on a simple set, typical puzzle styles, and analogue technology.

With these basics in place, however, Evil Genius Escape Rooms created an exciting and cohesive narrative that permeated the entire game. Their title character added a plot twist and the additional drama needed to sell the simple escape room. It worked.

We recommend Occam’s Apartment to both newer and experienced players alike. It’s a beautiful execution of the building blocks of escape room design.

Furthermore, we were in for a fun surprise when we escaped Occam’s Apartment… Because we had booked it back-to-back with Evil Genius Escape Rooms’s Chapter 2: Norcross Art Gallery.

Book your hour with Evil Genius Escape Room’s Chapter 1: Occam’s Apartment, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.

Full disclosure: Evil Genius Escape Rooms comped our tickets for this game.

 

Evil Genius Escape Rooms – Chapter 2: Norcross Art Gallery [Review]

Art leaves room for interpretation.

Location: Los Angeles, California

Date played: June 2, 2017

Team size: 2-6; we recommend 3-4

Duration: 60+ minutes

Price: $38 per ticket for 2 players, $32 per ticket for 3-6 players

Story & setting

In Evil Genius, Chapter 1, we investigated the death of Bill Occam and the evidence lead us to an art gallery owned by a multi-millionaire of questionable repute. We had to investigate further to determine if he was in cahoots with the Evil Genius.

White walled and covered in prints of famous art pieces, from lighting to displays, Norcross Art Gallery accurately captured the stereotypically sterile gallery aesthetic.

In game: A white statue of a nude woman holding a bowl in the middle of an art gallery. Paintings and statues rest in the background.

Puzzles

While Evil Genius’ Chapter 1 was built around padlocks and other low tech interactions, Chapter 2 leant heavily on technology to drive the puzzles and interactions.

The puzzles required keen observation: visual and auditory.

Standouts

The Norcross Gallery nailed the art gallery aesthetic. This clean look hid surprises well.

When booked back-to-back, the transition from Chapter 1 to Chapter 2 was pretty damn cool.

In Chapter 2, Evil Genius Escape Rooms continued to tell the story of their title character. They again used his presence to build dramatic tension and escalate the urgency of the experience.

There were a handful of brilliant, well-executed interactions.

Shortcomings

In Chapter 1, Evil Genius had a series of simple, but elegantly implemented interactions. Much of Chapter 2’s puzzling felt bumpier and at times ambiguous.

There was an interaction that focused a couple of players in a specific way, drawing them away from the rest of the team puzzling. It was available too early in the experience, leading to a unnecessary confusion.

The final act had a series of frustrating puzzle design choices converging at the same moment. It seemed poorly thought out.

Should I play Evil Genius Escape Rooms’ Chapter 2: Norcross Art Gallery?

Like so many art galleries, the Norcross Art Gallery contained some things that were my taste and some things that weren’t.

Evil Genius Escape Rooms designed one narrative-driven adventure in two parts. It’s absolutely worth playing Chapter 1: Occam’s Apartment, and if you’re already visiting, you ought to play Chapter 2: Norcross Gallery… if only to experience the story and its clever, multi-stage delivery.

Norcross Gallery had some frustrating flaws, but through it Evil Genius Escape Rooms continued to build a character and story that instills urgency. They are doing something different and that in and of itself is exciting.

Book your hour with Evil Genius Escape Rooms’ Chapter 2: Norcross Art Gallery, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.

Full disclosure: Evil Genius Escape Rooms comped our tickets for this game.

Countdown Live Escape Games – Pandorus Mission [Review]

That’s it, man. Game over, man. Game over! … Oh… We won!

Location: Los Angeles, California

Date played: June 2, 2017

Team size: 1-6; we recommend 4-5

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: $30 per ticket

Story & setting

As mercenaries flying about the galaxy doing work for pay, a new client had hired us to create a weapon that would wipe out a hated parasitic species.

Pandorus Mission was set in a magnificently hacked together starship. Made largely from found objects, the set looked like a gorgeous mixture of technology and biology.

In-game: A cockpit glowing green with red accents. It looks like a mix of technology and biology.

Puzzles

The puzzles in Pandorus Mission were baked into the set and its interactions. They generally required us to make connections that weren’t necessarily easy to see at first, but came together swiftly as soon as we understood.

Standouts

The set was beautiful and otherworldly. I loved how Countdown Live Escape Games constructed it largely from junk materials that combined to make something strangely beautiful.

In-game: Part of the ship with glowing green tendrils. Everything looks like a mixture of technology and biology.

Pandorus Mission was hilarious.

The interactions that were born of the set were the highlights.

Shortcomings

In some instances, the set was so busy that it was difficult to find the puzzles.

There were a number of tech failures that cost us somewhere between 5 and 10 minutes of gameplay.

A couple of puzzles repeated a few times; this was a wasted opportunity.

Pandorus Mission attempted to tell a serious story with consequences. This was completely lost on us until our gamemaster pointed it out at the end of the experience. The humor and some of the muddy interaction design completely undermined the narrative. We made a moral decision in this room escape without realizing that we were making a choice.

Should I play Countdown Live Escape Games’s Pandorus Mission?

Countdown Live Escape Games crafted a beautiful set and strong bones in Pandorus Mission. I love it when an escape room company builds a game from inexpensive parts and makes it look like it cost a fortune.

The downside here is that Pandorus Mission is essentially an incomplete game. It looks great, has a number of excellent interactions, and follows a narrative. It’s missing some content, and parts of the experience need additional refinement so that they can carry the narrative weight that they are supposed to.

As we exited Pandorus Mission with seconds on the clock, we had an unusual, and frankly refreshing, interaction with the owner, who pointed out everything that he knew was wrong with the escape room. It seems that this ship is in the shop for a lot of repairs over the next couple of months.

My advice: Play Pandorus Mission, but wait until after summer 2017. If Countdown Live Escape Games sees their iterations through, this will likely become a truly special escape room. It’s got so much going for it, but this ship needs a little more love if it’s going to soar.

Book your hour with Countdown Live Escape Games’s Pandorus Mission, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.

Full disclosure: Countdown Live Escape Games comped our tickets for this game.

 

Exodus Escape Room – Masquerade Manor [Review]

Let’s dance.

Location: Anaheim, California

Date played: June 4, 2017

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

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: $30 per ticket

Story & setting

We had infiltrated a masquerade ball to find a stolen object.

Masquerade Manor looked like a puzzle room, loosely themed on a masquerade ball. The set pieces and props were mostly musical.

In-game: A large gestures mask hangs in the upper corner of a room above a black piano.

Puzzles

Exodus Escape Rooms designed standard, escape room-style puzzles. We searched for oddities within the set pieces and props and followed the clues to the correct connection. Once we made the right link between puzzles pieces, we usually had to reason our way to completion.

Masquerade Manor was a puzzle-driven room escape.

Standouts

Exodus Escape Rooms hid information well and clued it fairly. This created a solid puzzle flow in Masquerade Manor, which was, at its core, a puzzle game.

A few of the puzzles in Masquerade Manor were gems. We really enjoyed one puzzle that made excellent use of the escape room’s theme.

Shortcomings

The series of puzzle rooms did little to build a fiction or make us feel like we’d entered a masquerade ball. While we appreciated the thematic nods, we never really left a puzzle room.

Two puzzles in Masquerade Manor relied on a piece of technology that didn’t seem to belong.

Masquerade Manor never built to a climax.

Should I play Exodus Escape Room’s Masquerade Manor?

Masquerade Manor was a well-designed and executed basic escape room. It was first and foremost about the puzzling and had a few standout puzzle moments.

Exodus Escape Rooms is targeting new players, introducing them to the concept of a themed puzzle room. For that audience, I think Masquerade Manor delivered. It will be challenging, but fair.

For more experienced players, this isn’t an adventure at a masquerade ball; it’s an escape room. Don’t go in expecting set design, narrative, or any suspension of disbelief. For those primarily interested in puzzles, however, you might enjoy a quick twirl through Masquerade Manor.

Book your hour with Exodus Escape Room’s Masquerade Manor, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.

60 Out – Titanic [Review]

I’ll never let go.

Location: Marina Del Rey, California

Date played: June 2, 2017

Team size: 2-6; we recommend 2-3

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: $26-40 per ticket depending upon team size

Story & setting

Trapped in steerage aboard the sinking RMS Titanic, we had to escape or lose our lives to the freezing North Atlantic.

Titanic’s set felt industrial and ship-like. The walls looked like metal lined with rivets. The ceiling was deliberately designed. All of the puzzles were born of set-based interactions.

In-game: A hallway with metal walls, doors, and pipes.

Puzzles

Worked deeply into the set, each interaction felt part of the ship. Most of the challenges weren’t all that difficult, but they were satisfying.

Standouts

The set and the interactions built into it were tons of fun.

Each solve felt large and frequently cinematic.

Early in the game I encountered a puzzle that I thought was truly out of place and silly… until later in the room escape its presence suddenly felt brilliant.

In-game: a locked door beside a stack of bunk beds.

Shortcomings

A few props and interactions had too much wear and tear. They could be refreshed with minimal investment.

Titanic felt a little light on content. It would have benefitted from another puzzle or two.

Given the exciting interactions along the way, I wanted a bigger, more intense ending.

Should I play 60Out’s Titanic?

Yes.

Titanic was a lot of fun. The puzzling and large set were wonderfully intermingled and satisfying to solve.

Titanic was a cinematic adventure that put the players in the staring role. We experienced the drama. While it wasn’t the most challenging of escape rooms, the journey was exciting and fun.

When my biggest critique is that I wished Titanic delivered more of what it did so well, it’s a room escape worth visiting.

Book your hour with 60Out’s Titanic, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.

Full disclosure: 60Out provided media discounted tickets for this game.

Arcane Escape Rooms – The Hideout [Review]

Step back. I’m about to play with science!

Location: Newhall, California

Date played: June 5, 2017

Team size: 2-6; we recommend 2-4

Duration: 50 minutes

Price: varies based on team size and time of booking

Story & setting

A sequel of sorts to Arcane Escape Rooms’ beginner room The Agency (review to publish soon), The Hideout had us on the run from the evil enforcers of dystopian rule that had previously captured us. Now locked up in my brother’s hideout, we had to follow the clues he left in order to throw open the gates to freedom.

The Hideout was a small bunker built from wood, metal, and tubing. It had an unusual unfinished construction site aesthetic that had less to do with establishing setting or carrying narrative than it did with facilitating unusual mechanical puzzling.

In-game: A wooden wall with pipes and a big red valve mounted to it.

Puzzles

Arcane Escape Rooms built The Hideout with two goals:

  • Have no silicon-based technology in the room
  • Use as few locks as possible (there are two keyed padlocks.)

Everything was mechanical and it made for a refreshingly unusual series of puzzles.

Standouts

The mechanical puzzling was a lot of fun and honestly different from the overwhelming majority of escape rooms.

In-game: A close up an an intense barred door held shut by a chain and laminated padlock.

Arcane Escape Rooms packed a lot of intrigue into a small space.

There was a great illusion in the game.

As we puzzled, we worked through training wheels, so to speak, for some of the mechanisms, which made the puzzling more approachable. This also enabled us to experiment with what we found and discover our way through the puzzles.

While the gamemaster delivered hints whenever he thought we should get a nudge, they arrived in such a way that we could ignore them if we chose to do so. (We always accepted them; they were useful and welcome.)

Shortcomings

The story was a little hard to follow.

One puzzle would have benefited from a little more clarity.

The hint system was used to provide verification that we were on the right path, but it would have been far more fun if they could have confirmed our decisions without it feeling like the gamemaster was providing the thumbs up.

Should I play Arcane Escape Rooms’ The Hideout?

The Hideout was fun and refreshing. It’s rare to find a puzzle room that is completely unusual, but playable from start to finish… and Arcane Escape Rooms built just that.

Additionally, because The Hideout deviates significantly from the norm, it is roughly as challenging for newbies as for experienced players. I’d recommend that regardless of experience level, you give it a shot.

The tangible nature of mechanical puzzling made for some seriously satisfying solves. I recommend that you go out and experience them for yourself.

Book your hour with Arcane Escape Rooms’ The Hideout, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.

Full disclosure: Arcane Escape Rooms comped our tickets for this game.

Scout Expedition Co. – The Nest [Review]

So many feels.

Location: Los Angeles, California

Date played: June 2, 2017

Team size: 1-2; we recommend 1-2 (see below)

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: $65 per ticket

Story & setting

As the next of kin for a recently deceased relative that we’ve never met, we were given access to her long-lost storage unit.

Staged within a beautiful and dark storage unit, we explored the life of this stranger. We got to know her through her personal effects and her audio recordings on cassette tapes that narrated most important moments of her life.

In-game: A close up of an old portable cassette player with a tape that is labeled in a child's handwriting: "My 12th Birthday"

Puzzles

The Nest used a variation of the escape room format to tell an intimate and moving story. There were puzzles within this experience, but it was not a puzzle game.

The puzzles were easy obstacles that served as gates between chapters of the story. The puzzles weren’t the point of The Nest.

A row of lockers. The closest locker has the words "Goodby Josie" painted on it and is sealed with a combination lock.

Standouts

The story was painfully moving.

The set was gorgeous and brilliantly designed.

In-game: a closeup of a flashlight illuminating a crumpled piece of paper that appear to be notes from a journalism class.

The puzzles served as clever gates that also made sense within the narrative.

The voice acting on the cassette tapes was magnificent.

Shortcomings

The darkness added to the atmosphere, but necessitated carrying around a handheld flashlight along with the cassette player. This was clunky and distracting.

The flashlight was in bad shape and frequently flickered out on us.

Should I visit Scout Expedition Co.’s The Nest?

Lisa and I emerged from The Nest and couldn’t bring ourselves to speak about what we heard, saw, and felt for hours. The Nest wasn’t a puzzle game and it wasn’t an adventure: it was a journey through another person’s tragedy.

It was powerful and beautiful.

If you approach The Nest as a game to win, you will completely miss the point. Don’t look for clues or meaning in the props as you would in an escape room. The puzzling simply leads you through the experience. You aren’t at risk of losing.

The Nest is incredible, but it’s not for everyone. The content is mature, not in a violent or sexual way, but because it’s emotionally heavy. It’s also an experience that requires some crawling, so if you aren’t up to that, don’t buy a ticket.

Additionally, when you buy a ticket you can choose to go alone or with another person. Both options are viable, but will profoundly change the experience. I have to imagine that a solo experience would be haunting and intense and maybe a little cumbersome when dealing with the flashlight and cassette player. I was happy to experience The Nest with Lisa, but she is the only person that I know with whom I would have wanted to feel those feels.

The Nest left me feeling exposed and I am so happy that I was there. Tickets are limited, but if you can get your hands on one, take as much out of it as you can.

The next wave of tickets go on sale on June 18th at 12pm Pacific.

Book your visit to Scout Expedition Co.’s The Nest, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.

 

Real Escape Games by SCRAP – Defenders of the Triforce – Los Angeles [Review]

It’s dangerous to go alone…but awfully crowded in groups of six.

Location: Los Angeles, CA*

Date played: February 12, 2017

Team size: 6; we recommend 6

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: $30 per ticket early bird, $35 regular price, $40 at the door; might vary by city

Story & setting

The story was reworked from The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time: As the titular Defenders of the Triforce, our job was to work as a team to find the legendary Master Sword in order to free Princess Zelda and defeat the evil Ganondorf.

SCRAP Zelda Defenders of the Triforce poster featuring silhouettes of Ganondorf and Link.

The gamespace was a hotel ballroom with a couple dozen tables seating teams of six. Stations around the room represented locations in Hyrule, but most of the gameplay took place at the tables.

The decor was minimal—it felt precisely like being in a hotel ballroom—but staff members were dressed for the occasion and interacted with us in character.

Like SCRAP’s other large-scale events, the game was introduced by an emcee and the story was delivered through an intro video, with the gameplay loosely following the story.

Puzzles

In typical SCRAP mass event fashion, we spent most of the hour at the table solving paper puzzles. These were a bit more inventive than past SCRAP pencil puzzles, but familiar to those of us who had played their games before. Some were moderately challenging, but others would not be out of place in a children’s puzzle book.

The more dynamic moments involved basic items reminiscent of the Zelda series, as well as certain tasks that required us to interact with staff members.

At first glance the puzzle flow appeared linear, but it turned out to be more complex. We were given a way to organize our progress, but we still struggled to keep things straight at times.

Solving the puzzles and reaching the ending demanded close attention to the clues we had available. We never had to guess or make logical leaps.

Standouts

The puzzle flow was elegant. Defenders of the Triforce kept our interest and provided an increasing challenge. The first task was simple enough to be almost like a videogame tutorial, and the hardest tasks were last, which made the ending feel like an accomplishment.

We enjoyed the physicality of wearing Link hats and manipulating various props. The final sequence was fun, especially for Zelda fans. We were all delighted by one particular prop interaction that felt unexpected and exciting even though it was low-tech.

In-game: A ballroom full of seated players all wearing green Link elf hats.

Our success in the game depended on teamwork and attention to detail, rather than an insight that could make or break the ending. This was a welcome departure from past SCRAP games, which have notoriously relied on unintuitive leaps of logic in the final puzzle.

Shortcomings

Having approximately 150 people in the same space was a challenge. It was hard to concentrate in a room full of adventurers; waiting in lines to access certain clues created significant bottlenecks.

Because some elements of the game were accessible out of order, we ended up doubling back and uncovering clues we no longer needed. We also spent several minutes fiddling with a (probably) unintentional red herring that could have been prevented with a small design tweak.

We would have appreciated a hint when we got stuck, but there was no discernible hint system.

Due to the venue and the focus on pencil puzzles, we never truly felt like we were adventuring through Hyrule, despite all the references to the Zelda series.

We didn’t get to keep the hats, which was a letdown for some of us (and also made us wonder if they’d been laundered between games).

Should I play SCRAP’s Defenders of the Triforce?

Defenders of the Triforce was lighthearted and not terribly difficult—unlike most of SCRAP’s large-scale games, the majority of the teams made it all the way to the end.

The more physical elements of the game were especially cool for those of us who were Legend of Zelda fans, but non-fans could enjoy Defenders of the Triforce without a knowledge gap.

Because of the theme and difficulty level, Defenders of the Triforce would be a safe bet for younger players, families, and less experienced puzzlers—with the understanding that this game format is missing the sense of mystery and exploration of a typical escape room.

Defenders of the Triforce is a fun game with lots of references for Zelda fans, but the videogame series has so many story and gameplay elements that could be great fun in an escape room, and this implementation only scratched the surface.

If you’re looking for an immersive adventure or a puzzling challenge, Defenders of the Triforce is probably not going to be your thing, even if you are a Zelda superfan. At its heart, it was a low-tech opportunity to put ourselves in Link’s shoes (…or hat) and be the heroes of a real-life Zelda legend.

If you’re looking for an hour of Zelda-themed fun (and there are still tickets available in your area), Defenders of the Triforce is worth your time.

Book your hour with SCRAP’s Defenders of the Triforce, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.

*Defenders of the Triforce is coming to Los Angeles, Phoenix, San Diego, Seattle, San Francisco, Houston, Chicago, New York, Montreal, Toronto, and Vancouver. The event dates and ticket sale dates vary by city.

Lisa & David will be playing in New York on May 4 at 9PM. Look for them there!

 

Escape Room LA – The Detective [Review]

Soft-boiled crime drama.

Location: Los Angeles, CA

Date played: October 16, 2016

Team size: up to 10; we recommend 6-8

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: $32 per ticket on weekdays, $37 per ticket on weekends

Story & setting

Set in the 1940s in the office of a private detective, we had to solve an open case and escape before the bad folks arrived.

The set resembled an office from an era that was distinctly not contemporary, but not necessarily specific to the 1940s. The office space included a lot of stuff and with the exception of a few interesting props, wasn’t a particularly compelling space.

In-game, a detective's office with a large desk in the middle, a typewriter, grandfather clock, and large bookcase.
Image via Escape Room LA

There was an in-game gamemaster assuming the role of the detective’s secretary. With the exception of a few hints, we barely felt her presence.

Puzzles

The Detective was a puzzle-focused room escape game. It was designed for a large team and packed full of puzzles.

The puzzles were somewhat varied but primarily paper based, leaning heavily on indexing and making connections.

Standouts

The Detective had plenty of puzzles. Puzzle lovers will enjoy the volume of material to work through and the complexity of some of the connections. There were a lot of “ah-has!”

The room escape included one custom-built lock. It felt neither modern, nor like a period piece, but it was particularly fun.

Shortcomings

For all the puzzles in the game, most of them didn’t need to be solved in that particular detective’s office. They could have boxed up and shipped to anyone, anywhere, to be solved with pencils and paper.

Neither the setting nor the mystery were particularly compelling. We never felt like we were in the 1940s or on a clandestine adventure. As the clock wound down, we felt a sense of urgency from the clock, not from the mystery or story of our own mission.

Should I play Escape Room LA’s The Detective?

The Detective was one of Escape Room LA’s earlier designs and the style and production value are from an earlier era, if we can say that in an industry that has only been prominent in the United States for three years.

That isn’t to say that this was a bad game; rather this was a game crafted in a particular style. It’s packed with puzzles.

If you love puzzles and you can gather a large group of puzzle-loving friends, give this one a go. Ignore the environment and enjoy the puzzles; they are solid.

If you enjoy escape rooms for the opportunity to be a part of a narrative or for the creativity and fabrication of other worlds, try The Alchemist instead.

If you’re interested in spoilers, you can watch Conan make a mockery of The Detective.

Book your hour with Escape Room LA’s The Detective, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.

Full disclosure: Escape Room LA comped our tickets for this game.

Maze Rooms – Secret Mission [Review]

The Spy Who… Had A Moderately Interesting Apartment

Location: Los Angeles, CA

Date played: October 15, 2016

Team size: 2-6; we recommend 2-3

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: $33 – $49.50 per ticket, depending on team size

Story & setting

We were Cold War-era CIA agents investigating the home of a presumed Soviet spy. We needed to find evidence against him and escape with it.

The story wasn’t especially complex.

His home was kind of cute. It wasn’t a particularly inventive escape room set, but it was detail-oriented. The lamps even matched the wall paper and it generally felt like the 1970s.

In-game, livingroom with an old television and record player in the background. A bottle of vodka and a glass rest on a small table in the foreground.

Puzzles

Secret Mission included a handful of puzzles of the standard room escape variety. They were fairly well-themed and fit into the space well.

There weren’t a ton of puzzles in this game. They generally proceeded linearly with each unlocking the next.

Standout

Secret Mission included some nifty puzzle interactions that integrated old technology. We most enjoyed manipulating the larger set pieces from the era.

Shortcomings

For the conscientious player, this older technology posed an unintended challenge: we handled one particular item too delicately. This isn’t to say that players should abuse the game, but it was challenging to know whether or not to interact.

Secret Mission, a predominantly linear room escape, fell victim to circumvention by outside knowledge. In one instance, we solved a puzzle too soon to by virtue of knowing something that Maze Rooms provided later in the game. Since we found the puzzle before we found the knowledge, we solved the puzzle out of order and disrupted the game flow.

Should I play Maze Rooms’ Secret Mission?

This was a standard, solid room escape game, but not an exciting one.

We entered the game, solved puzzles, confirmed that our man was a spy (as we’d expected), and got out. Neither the ambiance nor the puzzles built drama or intrigue.

That said, Secret Mission wasn’t a bad game. It was a solid execution of a themed escape room. The puzzles were fun, but not particularly challenging. The game worked well without excelling.

This is a good and enjoyable game; it just isn’t great.

Book your hour with Maze Rooms’ Secret Mission, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.

Full disclosure: Maze Rooms provided media discounted tickets for this game.