Mystery Room NYC – Chapter 4: Forgotten Library

50 shades of brown.

Location: New York City, New York (Mercer Street facility)

Date played: June 26, 2017

Team size: 2-10; we recommend 3-5

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: $28 per ticket

Story & setting

We followed Mystery Room NYC’s evasive villain into his fourth crime. This time we were attempting to rescue an abducted girl by following the clues in a small, private library.

The set was large with bookcases, desks, and a card catalog. Most of the bookcase shelves had still lifes in them, protected by plexiglass. Aesthetically speaking, Forgotten Library was a step up for Mystery Room NYC.

In-game: A dimly library environment with a white stone bust sitting on a shelf.
The lights can be made brighter. Lighting was not a challenge in this room escape.

Puzzles

All of Mystery Room NYC’s escape rooms have been built around puzzling and Forgotten Library was no exception. Many of the challenges focused on the library components of the space, while others explored additional, stranger themes that were slowly introduced as the plot progressed.

Standouts

Most of the bigger, more critical puzzles in Forgotten Library played well. They made good use of the environment and resolved to satisfying conclusions.

Shortcomings

While Forgotten Library was a big step forward in terms of set design, Mystery Room NYC needs another leap or two forward in order catch up to the level of set design that we’ve come to expect from escape rooms.

Mystery Room NYC elected to up their set design by putting a lot of the nicer things behind plexiglass. This could work in moderation and in environments where putting things behind glass makes sense. In a private library, it was weird to have things permanently behind glass. They used this approach a lot.

Triggered events were a little funky. There were times where we knew that we’d released something, but had no idea what or where to look. Better feedback would have made these moments more triumphant and exciting.

The story in Forgotten Library was incredibly silly, which could have been ok if it hadn’t taken itself seriously.

On the subject of story… I appreciate Mystery Room NYC’s commitment to building all of their room escapes around one recurring villain, but he isn’t a compelling or believable character. This would have been a better experience without him and his bizarre crime.

The final puzzle was ambiguous and annoying and I was happy when it was over.

Should I play Mystery Room NYC’s Chapter 4: Forgotten Library?

In Chapter 4: Forgotten Library, Mystery Room NYC delivered exactly what I was expecting to see, but not what I was hoping to find. They are a company that has consistently delivered puzzle-y room escapes with weaker sets and zany recurring crime stories. That’s what we received again in their fourth installment.

If you’re looking for grand adventure, brilliant story, interesting technology, or an immersive experience that will leave you wanting more, this is not the escape room for you.

Wide open, unthreatening, and family friendly, Forgotten Library would make a fine escape room for introducing newbies who are a little afraid of the escape room concept, but are excited by the prospect of solving puzzles.

Mystery Room NYC isn’t out of the race, but they haven’t been keeping up with their competition. I’m hoping that their eventual Chapter 5 signals a rebirth.

Book your hour with Mystery Room NYC’s Chapter 4: Forgotten Library, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.

Full disclosure: Mystery Room NYC provided media discounted tickets for this game.

Mystery Room NYC – Chapter 3: Cafe Belim [Review]

Cafe Belim is an adorable Midtown Manhattan lunch spot with a diverse menu of inedible food and a curious selection of puzzles.

Location: New York, New York

Date played: November 29, 2015

Team size: up to 10; we recommend 6-8

Price: $28 per ticket

Mystery Rooms NYC
Yup. It’s still the best logo in the business.

Theme & story

Mystery Room NYC Chapter 2 had us chasing the trail of a terrorist to his place of business in a bio-tech lab.

Chapter 3 put us in a small cafe where many people have fallen ill and died.

Cafe Belim looked cafe-ish. It had a lot of cafe-esque items and it put those items to good use for the puzzles. The room never fully sold itself as a cafe, but it was strong enough to serve the theme.

As with all of Mystery Room NYC’s games, the story was faint. If I looked at it really hard and squinted, I could kind of see it.

Wonderful toys

Mystery Room NYC – Chapter 3: Cafe Belim had an incredible array of interactive objects. All of them felt in line with the theme.

wonderful toys

Mystery Room NYC used creative technology repeatedly in Cafe Belim, as well as one particularly nifty piece of custom puzzle furniture. I spent about 10 minutes figuring out this one piece of furniture; it’s rare that a single object in an escape room captures my attention so thoroughly.

For all of the interesting objects in Cafe Belim, most of them ultimately resolve in a way that didn’t relate to the severe bio-terrorism story that was supposed to be playing out.

Locks with no keys

One of the first things that we noticed in Cafe Belim was an inordinate volume of locks; it was staggering.

Near the end of the game, it became clear that many of those locks weren’t in play; they were there to physically lock things down. It would have been possible to cover up these locks or even tell us they were out of play. Absent that knowledge, however, the game’s end snuck up on us very suddenly.

“That time we didn’t know we won”

We plowed through Cafe Belim very quickly. Upon finding the exit key, we also found a piece of paper that said something like, “you’re free to go or you can stay and save the world.”

With about 30 minutes remaining on the clock, we all agreed to “stay and save the world.”

I put the key into the lock and turned the knob on the exit door just to make sure we had everything correct before we began our heroic world-saving bonus game.

After about a minute or two of us trying to figure out what to do next, our gamemaster opened the door and was comically exasperated that we had won, but didn’t exit the room

We all had a good laugh about it… And I’m betting that the paper paired with the exit key has since been edited.

Myster Rooms NYC Chapter 3
“23:59 – But we chose to stay”

Should I play Mystery Room NYC’s Chapter 3: Cafe Belim?

Cafe Belim has the most interesting technology of the three Mystery Rooms NYC games. It also puts those objects to more creative uses than the previous two games.

Awkwardly, Chapter 3 is considerably easier than the previous chapters. This left us feeling a little unsatisfied.

Similarly to its predecessors, the story is incredibly light and the game would benefit greatly from a more compelling narrative woven into the puzzle interactions. The concept of chasing a dangerous criminal through a series of episodes is really cool… I wish that Mystery Room NYC would do more with the idea.

And I am hoping to see more from Mystery Room NYC in general. They are an interesting company with some great ideas. I’d love it if they put more polish on their games, and really integrated the story in a more profound way.

Nevertheless, Cafe Belim is packed with creativity. It’s worth playing just to see how the technology is turned into puzzles. There are better games than Cafe Belim, but you should definitely still play it.

Book your hour with Mystery Room NYC’s Chapter 3: Cafe Belim, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.

Mystery Room NYC – Chapter 2: BioTech Labs [Review]

Mystery Room NYC’s second game was engineered in a lab for both fun and difficulty. Can their work withstand a peer review?

Location: New York, New York

Date played: October 23, 2015

Team size: up to 10; we recommend 6-8

Price: $28 per ticket

Mystery Rooms NYC
Still the best logo in the business…

New Location; Continued Story

Mystery Room NYC has designed a mystery that players solve in steps, across their games. We played Chapter 1: Penthouse 116 at their downtown location ten months ago and it stood on its own. Now Chapter 2: BioTech Labs continued the story in the company’s new Midtown Manhattan location.

We don’t often see a company link their games in this way, which encourages players to return for the next experience.

That said, the story is loose, and doesn’t really factor into the game so much as it is a wrapper around the game.

Mystery Room NYC's - Chapter 2: BioTech Labs

Custom Furniture

Chapter 2: BioTech Labs includes intriguing, custom built furniture. The construction quality is excellent and the puzzles created through the furniture are so damn fun.

Puzzles

We experienced a brief puzzle derailment, but our gamemaster was quick to stop the clock and come to the aid of the set piece.

We saw a few puzzles of types we’d never before encountered. We appreciated the creativity in both the furniture and the puzzle design.

Still, all roads led to a lock and frequently, a solved puzzle could have opened one of a few different combination locks in the room. Mystery Room NYC could enhance the experience they offer by relying less heavily on physical locks… Or at the very least, using locks with different combination lengths so that players aren’t forced to input the same combinations into multiple locks.

10 People

Chapter 2: BioTech Labs suffered from the same problem that we remarked on when we played Chapter 1: Penthouse 116: It’s not a 10 person game.

There are a lot of puzzles to solve, but not enough to warrant the communication breakdown caused by a 10 player experience, especially near the end when most game elements are already solved. At the end, quite a few players were onlookers in the final challenges.

Escalation

Chapter 2 starts off strong.

The first half of this game includes the more interesting set pieces and the majority of the unique puzzles. This game actually deescalates as time progresses.

In stark contrast to Chapter 1’s explosive ending, the Chapter 2 finale fizzles as everything culminates in a truly forgettable puzzle.

If Mystery Room NYC would work the story into the actual puzzles of this game, they could create a lot more drama in their escape room.

Should I play Mystery Room NYC’s Chapter 2: Biotech Labs?

We brought a mixed team to this game: half seasoned escape game players and half newbies.

Mystery Room NYC - Chapter 2: BioTech Labs Victory
Why mess up the pretty logo with the red glops?

This is an introductory style game, but a difficult introduction to room escapes. New players will be able to approach this game, but will likely find themselves stumped by some of its more challenging elements. Experienced players might be better able appreciate these unique elements… After all, this is Chapter 2.

This is a solid, well-constructed, fun game. It’s the type of game we’ve come to expect from Mystery Room NYC. Even if the ending of Chapter 2 pales in comparison to its predecessor, it elevates the level of play from their first creation.

Book your hour with Mystery Room NYC’s Chapter 2: Biotech Labs and tell them the room escape artist sent you.

Mystery Room NYC – Chapter 1: Penthouse 116 [Review]

Location: New York, New York

Date played: December 2014

Team size: up to 10; we recommend 6-8

Price: $28 per ticket

Plot

“You are a group of detectives, investigating a report of a missing employee. As you enter his residence, the door locks and you realize that there is much more to his disappearance than you were led to believe… You will have an hour to escape the room. As you and your team find clues to liberate yourselves, you will slowly unravel the sinister story you are now a part of.”

An Immediate Twist

The moment you enter the room, there is a twist that adds a sense of urgency to the typical room escape. Many room escape plots promise twists and intrigue; few actually deliver. This is by far the most interesting thing in Mystery Room NYC – Chapter 1: Penthouse 116.

Mystery Rooms NYC

Theming

There’s nothing fancy in this room, but it’s well-themed, and clearly designed with love.

The puzzles follow the themes that unfold in the game (themes that I don’t want to divulge).

They do enough to make you suspend your disbelief.

Solidly Built & Well Maintained

This is one of the most solidly constructed rooms we’ve ever escaped. At no point did we worry about breaking things.

I also didn’t feel like the room was too heavily worn from past players.

This may seem trivial, but I’ve gotten really tired of broken, worn-out, and easily breakable items in room escapes.

Escaped Mystery Room NYC - Chapter 1: Penthouse 116

Lots to Do & Good Variety

There’s plenty to do in this game, and the variety of puzzles is more than entertaining.

There’s also a fair amount of misdirection, and a handful of puzzles that I had never seen before.

10 People?

This is billed as a 10 person room, and we brought a 10 person team.

Physically there’s more than enough room for 10 people. You could probably fit 15 people in the space.

From a gameplay perspective,10 people was a few too many. Early on there was enough to keep everyone entertained. As the game progressed, things became increasingly linear, and we had large groups of people bunching up on one or two puzzles, while a few people kept to the sidelines.

It was never horrible, but I’d say this is a 8 person game, if you want to keep everyone involved for the full 60 minutes.

Should I play this game?

Yes. This is one of the more solid room escape experiences I’ve encountered.

It has good theming and build quality, and there’s just enough intrigue to keep you interested.

What it lacks is a truly awe inspiring moment, but what the room lacks in awe, it makes up for in a level of quality that I wish more rooms would have.

I keep using the word “solid” in this review because that’s what this room is. It’s not the best at anything, but it doesn’t do anything wrong. It’s just a very solid experience.

If you’ve never done a room escape before, this is a wonderful room to start with.

If you’re experienced, I think the puzzle master of Mystery Room NYC has a few tricks up his sleeve that are worth experiencing.

Reserve your hour with Mystery Room NYC, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.