Paradiso – Path of Beatrice [Review]

Adventures in (public) space.

Location: New York, NY

Date played: September 8-12, 2017

Team size: 1-4

Duration: spread out over a week with shorter options available

Price: from $300 per ticket with a $100 price break with each additional participant

Story & setting

Path of Beatrice was not an escape room, nor was it a puzzle game or immersive theater. Path of Beatrice was an alternate reality experience (ARX) produced by Paradiso, the creators of the escape rooms The Escape Test and The Memory Room.

All of Paradiso’s experiences are set in the same world against the same Dante’s Inferno-inspired narrative: The Virgil Corporation is running experiments on the human brain with unknown goals and there is an underground movement trying to infiltrate, investigate, and stop Virgil from achieving its ends. Path of Beatrice dropped us in the middle of New York City, in between these two warring factions.

Paradiso Path of Beatrice logo, a silhouetted woman looking out a window upon Manhattan.
Image via Paradiso

Over the course of the 5 days leading up to our booking of The Memory Room, we spent our evenings meeting clandestinely with representatives of both the Virgil Corporation and the resistance group, Stop Virgil. Both gave us assignments and tasks to spy on the other. It was up to us to pick a side and execute on the missions assigned to us.

Paradiso staged Path of Beatrice in Midtown Manhattan across a variety public spaces. It can be played leading up to either The Memory Room or Escape Test.

Interaction

We had daily interactions with the characters of Path of Beatrice. Text conversations, email exchanges, in-person clandestine meetings, and missions in public spaces made up the bulk of the experience.

As we explored Path of Beatrice’s real world segments, we could not tell who was a simple pedestrian and who was an actor in our experience.

Participating in Path of Beatrice also changed the gameplay of the culminating escape room experience. Playing Path of Beatrice had a surprisingly significant impact on our playthrough of The Memory Room.

Standouts

Paradiso chose the public spaces that they incorporated into Path of Beatrice wisely. They put these locations to good use. They also reframed how we thought about public spaces that week.

In-game: A monolithic and ornate gate.

The actors that we encountered were impressive. When they weren’t invisibly blending into New York City, they were comfortably improvising with us as we interrogated one another.

Paradiso included some shockingly unnecessary, yet impressive details in Path of Beatrice.

Path of Beatrice conveyed the story of Paradiso quite well. From playing the escape rooms alone, the story could be a little difficult to understand; this filled in so many gaps.

We were given the freedom to enjoy Path of Beatrice as we wanted. We chose the side that we wanted to support.

Shortcomings

Scheduling a recurring week-long experience was a little bit tricky. We keep a busy schedule (not complaining, just stating the fact) and it was difficult for us to get to the locations that we needed to visit at the allocated times. Paradiso worked with us to make this work, but they don’t share scheduling in advance, largely because the story was unfolding as we played. This made Path of Beatrice a challenge for us. It would be similarly difficult for people with families and anyone traveling to New York with a rigid schedule (say, traveling escape room enthusiasts).

Path of Beatrice was expensive. There was no way around it. $300 per ticket with a $100 price break with each additional participant bought a lot of actor interaction, planning, logistics, and customization. When we stopped and thought about how much was involved, the price point didn’t feel crazy. The fact that the price made sense, however, did not lower it.

The text message and email exchanges seemed like they were trying to create a Morpheus-esque, first 45 minutes of The Matrix vibe. The trouble was that we couldn’t control when these were coming in, so sometimes we’d have to wait hours to reply.

Additionally, I had a problem of trust. The actors were great, but all of the characters operated under the assumption that you trusted them, even when everyone was telling you that everyone else was a liar. When I attempted to make a character earn my trust, I got a “you’re-with-us-or-against-us” type response. Ultimately I just gave in and the experience became a lot more interesting… but I also had to betray my own nature and that kind of stung.

There were a lot of things that we had to read, some of which required a computer. When we received something from a character, we’d then go about our evening in the New York City, frequently getting home after midnight. It would be hours, or even the next day, before we could dive into the Path of Beatrice material. We continually received texts asking if we had done the thing yet. This was clunky. Then we ultimately rushed the reading and missed the important detail (even though it was literally the first thing that I read).

Should I play Paradiso’s Path of Beatrice?

Paradiso does things differently and I mean that as a compliment. Their escape rooms, The Escape Test and The Memory Room, stand on their own as unique experiences. That is a true achievement in an industry where there’s a fair amount of sameness.

Path of Beatrice was another artful and unique experience. This came with unusual idiosyncrasies. The road less traveled has a lot more bumps along it; creating new things is not for the faint of heart.

We interviewed a few different people who played Path of Beatrice 4 and 6 weeks prior to us and they had profoundly different experiences than we did. Ours was significantly improved and Paradiso confirmed that the ARX is always evolving as they and their actors create new and interesting ways to iterate upon their real-world game.

Price is ultimately going to be the big deciding factor for many and that’s understandable. Path of Beatrice stands out as the first experience that Lisa and I have reviewed that we would not have been able to afford if the tickets were not complimentary. I call this out because it’s the first time that price would have kept us out of an experience. This is an expensive experience.

If you’re a puzzler, Path of Beatrice is not for you. You can fully enjoy Paradiso’s escape rooms without completely understanding the deeper story that ties them together.

If you’re drawn to actor-driven immersive experiences, Path of Beatrice is an interesting one that delivers a lot of intrigue and actor interaction. If you’re going to miss the money you spend to experience Path of Beatrice you should not go. If you won’t miss the money, there’s a clandestine world hidden within NYC for you to enjoy.

A few pro tips for those who go: Have access to a computer. While this is no big deal for locals, if you’re traveling it could be a significant issue. Give Paradiso a phone number and email address for each individual ticket holder. They communicate differently with everyone. Make sure that you’ve left ample time in your schedule to accommodate Path of Beatrice. We enjoyed it, but I think we would have liked it a whole lot more if we weren’t always rushing to our actor appointments.

Surrender to the experience, have fun with the characters, and become a character yourself in Paradiso’s Path of Beatrice.

Book your experience with Paradiso’s Path of Beatrice, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.

Full disclosure: Paradiso comped our tickets for this game.

Paradiso – The Memory Room [Review]

More than meets the eye.

Location: New York, NY

Date played: September 12, 2017

Team size: 4-10; we recommend 4-5

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: from $35 per ticket

Story & setting

The Memory Room was the second chapter of Paradiso’s saga about the secrets of the elusive Virgil Corporation. We had discovered that Virgil Corporation was researching the human mind and we aimed to save one of their research subjects.

In-game: A dark room with featuring a table lit dramatically with 4 boxes, each with a card greeting a different player.

Upon first glance, The Memory Room looked unremarkable. From the largely blank walls, to the minimalist seating, to the single table set with player greetings, the space appeared practically empty. This stood in sharp contrast to the detailed sets of Paradiso’s first escape room. It turned out that there was far more complexity hiding in The Memory Room than was initially apparent.

Puzzles

The puzzles required astute observation. As the setting transformed and introduced a character and puzzles, we needed to carefully observe, build connections, and make sense of what we were seeing. The Memory Room included more abstract thinking.

While of the most puzzles resolved in a physical lock, there were a few more unusual methods of triggering solutions.

Standouts

While The Memory Room initially appeared unexciting, especially in comparison to the grand staging of Paradiso’s first chapter, The Escape Test, it surprised us. Behind the minimalistic facade, it turned out to be unusual and complex.

The Memory Room introduced a design concept we’d been awaiting for more than 2 years. Paradiso used the unadorned space as a canvas. With technology, they transformed this simple gamespace into a dynamic story and puzzle component.

We’ve never seen another escape room like this one.

In The Memory Room, Paradiso introduced a character whose presence helped build narrative and drive gameplay. The actor in this role was both engaging and withdrawn, intriguing and inaccessible. She was outstanding.

The Memory Room dove deeper into the workings of Paradiso’s Virgil Corporation. The gameplay unlocked a story.

Shortcomings

Although The Memory Room told a story, many of our teammates didn’t fully understand what had transpired. As a standalone experience, The Memory Room didn’t fully communicate to the players what they’d effected and how this connected to the Virgil Corporation.

The set wasn’t particularly well fabricated. More polished construction would improve the stark contrast between the seemingly barren physical space and the complex experience within it.

The Memory Room included one safe-style spinning combination lock that lacked adequate in-game operation instructions. This was incredibly frustrating… and it’s worth noting that spinning safe locks are generally frustrating devices.

Should I play Paradiso’s The Memory Room?

The Memory Room was a unique standalone room escape experience. It manipulated a gamespace, turning a simple setting into an unexpected myriad of environments. We’d never seen anything like it.

The Memory Room had fun and satisfying puzzles, most of which resolved through physical gameplay components.

David and I played Paradiso’s more theatrical Path of Beatrice add-on experience (review forthcoming) in the week leading up to our booking at The Memory Room. The add-on Path of Beatrice enhanced our experience in The Memory Room. Our playthrough included some additional character interaction, which was really exciting. Furthermore, we had a better grasp of the Virgil Corporation, its research initiatives, and our goals.

We didn’t tell our teammates for The Memory Room that we’d been engaged with the Virgil Corporation for few days already. We wondered whether they’d notice that we were executing sneaky side missions. Our friends never realized that anything out of the ordinary had occurred, but they did enjoy the differences once we explained them over dinner.

The Memory Room offered something different in terms of the set and story behind the puzzling and the role of an actor. (Review these tips for playing room escapes with live actors.)

If you’re looking for a grand scale, outrageous set pieces, and large tangible interactions, this won’t be your favorite escape room.

If you’re interested in more cerebral puzzling, as you’re led through an unusual story and a changing environment, visit The Memory Room. It will be memorable.

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

Full disclosure: Paradiso comped our tickets for this game.

 

Clue Chase – Alien Encounter [Review]

The power of an endearing hint system.

Location: New York City, New York

Date played: August 2, 2017 (David) & September 14, 2017 (Lisa)

Team size: 6-12; we recommend 4-6

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: $29 per ticket

Story & setting

It was the year 2053 and we were making first contact with alien life. They had beamed us aboard a ship and had presented us with a series of challenges to prove humanity’s worth.

In-game: A glowing purple tube of light, in the background is a glowing skeleton.

The set of Alien Encounter was interesting. Designed as a spaceship, it was large by Midtown Manhattan standards. Upon initial reveal it looked impressive, but with up-close interaction, many of the set pieces looked cobbled together and unrefined.

Puzzles

Clue Chase creates puzzle-dense escape rooms and Alien Encounter was no exception. There were a lot of puzzles and many of them had a few layers of complexity. Each puzzle was connected to an early pivotal puzzle.

Standouts

Clue Chase created a really smart hint system for Alien Encounter. It brought personality to the gameplay. It also enabled the gamemaster to subtly focus us on critical steps, which was important in the large gamespace.

I truly enjoyed the way that Clue Chase tied nearly all of their puzzles together. The room may have been a collection of largely unrelated puzzles, but this one act made them feel cohesive.

The finale was fun.

The initial feeling that I had when stepping onto the set was otherworldly.

Shortcomings

I wish that the otherworldly feeling that the set instilled had continued throughout the escape room. It fell apart when I started to touch things and could easily identify the hacked together hardware that Clue Chase used to built the set.

While many of the puzzles played well, one of them could easily be interpreted in multiple different ways. We found ourselves having to systematically yet blindly try different approaches… and when we stumbled upon the correct solution we weren’t even sure why it worked. The explanation that we received post-game was that we had to use “non-human logic.” This could have been ok with adequate clue structure. Plus, there were plenty of puzzles that did use typical human logic.

Alien Encounter cannot accommodate 12 people. While there was physical space for 12 and then some, there wasn’t enough gameplay. At multiple points, Alien Encounter was entirely linear. The hint system exacerbated this design decision. While newer teams will likely want a larger group, 12 is a few too many.

Should I play Clue Chase’s Alien Encounter?

Of the 4 escape rooms currently available at Clue Chase, Alien Encounter was the most interesting. It had personality and fun game mechanics that I haven’t seen before… and they worked.

It was not a perfect game, but with some set design improvements as well as refinements in puzzle flow, this could be a truly fantastic game.

Experienced puzzlers will find Alien Encounter a challenging opponent. Regardless of your level of experience, don’t be afraid to experiment or take a hint. Not everything was thoroughly clued.

One last note on team size and booking: You physically need 4 people at one point in the game and Clue Chase advertises the minimum at 6 people. I call this out because a few people have written in mentioning that Clue Chase cancelled their reservations near the last minute. This happened to us twice when booking Alien Encounter, even though we always met the minimum number of people. In over 400 games, this is the only company that has ever canceled on us multiple times.

If you’re looking for a challenging game with interesting design decisions, Alien Encounter is a solid choice. I hope that if you choose to book with Clue Chase, they will choose to honor your booking.

Book your hour with Clue Chase’s Alien Encounter, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.

 

BrainXcape – The Haunted Hotel [Review]

Haunted McKittrick Hotel.

Location: New York, NY

Date played: July 24, 2017

Team size: 2-8; we recommend 4

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: varies by number of players per team and day of the week

Story & setting

Locked in a hotel in the midst of a haunting, we had to find our way out.

BrainXcape created another beautiful set for The Haunted Hotel. It looked and felt like an older living space – maybe from the 1950s – had been ensnared by an angry spirit. It was detailed and dramatic.

In-game: A Ouija board in the foreground, a aged hotel with an old television in the background.

Puzzles

The Haunted Hotel was a challenging puzzle game. The puzzles individually required their own unique detective work with all solutions leading to a lock (and usually a 4-digit number).

Standouts

BrainXcape began The Haunted Hotel in a clever, unusual, and immersive manner.

We enjoyed the set and atmosphere. It was spooky, but not scary. Once again, BrainXcape hired a set designer from the famed immersive theater experience Sleep No More, and this room escape’s set felt like it could exist within that experience. That is to say, it looked fantastic.

All of BrainXcape’s room escapes are booked through private ticketing. This is on the very short list of New York City escape rooms that will never pair you with strangers.

The puzzling in The Haunted Hotel was challenging. We felt like we had earned our win.

Shortcomings

While the puzzling in The Haunted Hotel was fun and challenging, it was still missing a fair amount of clue structure. We were fed a lot of unrequested hints, especially early in the escape room, and frankly, we needed them. While we thought we’d received a lot of hints, we learned in the post-game that compared to most teams we used relatively few. The Haunted Hotel could be significantly improved by baking the most commonly required hints into the experience. Finding a clue always feels far more satisfying than receiving a hint.

Our team of 4 felt severely hindered by the dim lighting and limited number of flashlights. We regularly had someone acting as light holder and other players asking for lighting. Additionally, the flashlight that we had was player powered and required regular squeezing of a lever to get any light at all. More lighting would eliminate an unnecessary source of frustration. It could be added strategically to facilitate puzzling without aversely affecting the ambiance.

In one instance, The Haunted Hotel stumbled because it required precision, but the puzzle wasn’t designed in a way that we could know the exact way to execute it.

Should I play BrainXcape’s The Haunted Hotel?

The Haunted Hotel had an exciting start, a gorgeous set, and challenging gameplay. Additionally, all of BrainXcape’s experiences are private; they will not lock you in a room with a stranger.

Upon entering the room, the set will feel a touch scary to more jittery players. Note that there are absolutely no jump scares or actors in this room escape. It was not a terrifying game. If you can make it through the door, you can make it through The Haunted Hotel.

Newbies will likely struggle through The Haunted Hotel. It will be hard, but playable. Use your hints and don’t be shocked if you lose. If you need to win, try something easier.

Experienced players will find a beautiful set containing a challenging and slightly frustrating opponent. If you love escape rooms and are up for something more difficult than the norm, look no further.

The Haunted Hotel was a big step up from our first visit to BrainXcape. We are looking forward to seeing what they create next.

Book your hour with BrainXcape’s The Haunted Hotel, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.

 

Escape the Room NYC – Clock Tower [Review]

Don’t fritter and waste this hour in an off-hand way.

Location: New York, NY

Date played: July 20, 2017

Team size: up to 8; we recommend 5-7

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: $30 per ticket

Story & setting

Clock Tower was a steam-punkish adventure to correct time.

The escape room took place in a laboratory called the Clock Tower, home to an eccentric keeper of time. The space included different mechanisms for altering and experiencing time. These were the crux of both the set and the puzzles.

In game: A table covered in steam-punkish machinery. An image of a Tardis rests on the wall of the detailed and weathered space.

Puzzles

The puzzles in Clock Tower were born of the incredible environment. The set pieces themselves were the puzzles.

Clock Tower’s puzzles ran the gamut of mechanical, observational, mathematical (nothing brutal), auditory, logical, and at one point, even “magical.” Multiple puzzles involved clocks, but with dramatically varied approaches. These different puzzle types all included tactile components.

Standouts

Clock Tower transported us not just through time, but into a space so unlike the midtown building that houses Escape the Room NYC. The room was composed of larger set pieces that contributed to a cohesive environment. Each set piece was exciting, beautiful, and intricate, but not distracting (mostly).

More importantly, the puzzling existed through the set. We explored, fiddled, manipulated, and even constructed parts of this set as we solved the puzzles. This made the puzzling that much more dynamic.

Many of the puzzles in Clock Tower were tech-driven, but the tech driving these interactions varied enormously and frequently felt invisible.

Through a combination of set, puzzles, and tech, Clock Tower delivered multiple cinematic moments. Each one delighted us.

Clock Tower included multiple puzzles we’ve never seen before. This wasn’t limited to different takes on familiar concepts. Clock Tower forced us to think of new ideas.

Clock Tower demonstrated that an escape room can be seriously challenging and still fair.

Shortcomings

The initial gamespace bottlenecked, both in physical space and gameplay. Clock Tower required a large team, but it initially couldn’t involve the full group.

Two of the early puzzles felt too similar, even though they ended up being quite different. This created confusion about whether they were standalone puzzles or somehow intertwined. It lead us needlessly off track for a bit.

While certainly both challenging and fair, in a few instances, Clock Tower would benefit from a little more clueing within the game. When we received hints from our gamemaster, they were always additional indirect clues; we would have liked to uncover most of those details ourselves within the environment.

Most of the puzzles in Clock Tower furthered our time-centric mission, but one seemed entirely out of place. It was a good puzzle, but we didn’t understand why it belonged.

Should I play Escape the Room NYC’s Clock Tower?

Clock Tower is an ideal game for escape room enthusiasts. It had a gorgeous set, integrated and tactile puzzles, and it will still be exciting and challenging even for seasoned players.

Very experienced teams will be happier in slightly smaller groups, if they can finagle such a booking, as there was some bottlenecking that left folks hanging and unable to help puzzle. We recommend that new players play at least a few other escape rooms first before booking Clock Tower.

With Clock Tower, Escape the Room NYC has nailed so much of what makes escape rooms exhilarating, from the interactive puzzling to the cinematic moments.

While they can continue to improve narrative integration so that all the puzzles feel natural in the space and deliver more story arc, they are making strides in that direction.

When the doors out of Clock Tower opened up, we felt that we had truly righted time and earned that victory in a fun little world hidden in Midtown Manhattan. That’s what escape rooms are about.

Book your hour with Escape the Room NYC’s Clock Tower, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.

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

Presale Signup! REA Exclusive Event – Escape, Immerse, Explore: NYC 2017

This announcement is now out of date. This has all of the updates.

*****

This has been in the works for a really, really long time… and it’s finally happening!

Come experience the best of New York City’s escape rooms and interactive entertainment with Room Escape Artist this November!

If you don’t need to hear any more… sign up for the presale.

About Escape, Immerse, Explore: NYC 2017

Join us November 3-5, 2017 for this first of its kind high-end escape room and immersive experience tour.

Escape Immerse Explore NYC 2017 logo

During our weekend-long event, we will be taking participants on a largely personalized journey through some of New York City’s most interesting escape rooms and immersive games. 

Escape Rooms

As part of the event, you will visit at least four escape rooms from some of the best escape room companies* in New York City including, but not limited to:

Your escape room tour will be led by an experienced escape room player who knows how to get around New York City.

We worry about the logistics of this city and you escape the rooms!

*Not every tour will visit every company.

Group Events

First Person Xperience’s RED in Long Island City is a 75-minute psychological thriller where guests are immersed in an apocalyptic story, interact with real actors and special effects, and work together to complete an objective. RED is a live action experience where your actions and decisions matter, because in this show, YOU control how the story ends!

Escape Entertainment in Herald Square will be our hosts for a morning of breakfast, networking, and escape games.

Lisa and David will be giving a talk by players for players. Lisa and David have been featured speakers at Transworld’s Escape Room Shows in Chicago in 2016 and Niagara Falls in 2017 and at Up The Game in The Netherlands in 2017. This presentation will be exclusively available to event participants.

In Accomplice’s The Cabinet of Curiosities, only available for large group bookings, guests enter a mythical establishment like no other, with an upscale carnivalesque steampunk atmosphere and inventive games and puzzles, led by a colorful crew of misfits called the Curiosities. In this immersive party, you are also invited to participate in a hunt to uncover a secret moonshine recipe, sure to make your morning all the more extraordinary. That is, of course, if you succeed!

Packages

Escape, Immerse, Explore  – $829

This includes RED, Networking at Escape Entertainment, Lisa and David’s talk, a guided
tour with at least four escape rooms, and The Cabinet of Curiosities.

VIP Escape, Immerse, Explore – $999

This includes RED, Networking at Escape Entertainment, Lisa and David’s talk, a tour
with at least four escape rooms led by Lisa or David, and The Cabinet of Curiosities.

With this ticket, you will have either Lisa or David as your tour guide. (Only 12 available!)

Particulars

The event begins on Friday, November 3rd at 5pm. The Friday evening event is in Long Island City, Queens, a short subway ride from Times Square (NOT on Long Island). Note that booking times on Friday evening will vary. You are welcome to request an earlier or later booking time.

The event will wrap up at 1pm on Sunday, November 5th. At the conclusion of the event, you will be near Times Square.

Presale

By signing up for the presale, we will send you a PayPal invoice to purchase your tickets before they are sold to the public. I’m in!

After purchasing tickets

After purchasing tickets, you’ll receive the link to a short survey about your experience with New York’s escape rooms. You’ll also receive additional information about:

  • Recommended accommodations
  • Traveling to New York City
  • Discount codes for additional escape rooms with some of the participating companies for the week before and after the tour

FAQ

Why New York City?

We live here. This city has outstanding escape rooms. We want to show them off!

Why November?

It’s not winter. It’s not summer. And the escape room conferences were back in May.

Why these particular companies?

We selected them because they showcase some of the best in escape rooms and immersive games.

How will we get from game to game?

It will be a combination of walking and subway. Because New York. So you need to be relatively mobile to participate. You don’t need to know anything about New York. You’ll have a guide.

Can I choose my teammates?

The escape room tours will be groups of 4 or 6. You may select a buddy or put together a full group.

I don’t have a team. Will that be a problem?

Not at all. We’ll put you in a group with other escape room enthusiasts from far and wide.

I’ve played most of the games from these companies. Can I still participate?

Contact us. There might be an opportunity. We’ll try to make it work.

Will I get to choose which escape rooms I play?

No, but you’ll fill out a survey and based on that we’ll put you into games that we think will work well for you. You’ll find out your tour schedule far enough in advance that you can book additional games for yourself before or after the weekend.

I’m an escape room owner/employee and/or immersive experience designer. Can I participate?

Yes!

I have nothing to do with the escape room industry. I just want to play all the games! Can I participate?

Yes!

What should I do about airfare and hotels?

Your ticket does not cover travel or lodging. However, we will send you recommended hotel accommodations and information about travel to NYC after you purchase a ticket.

Are meals included in the ticket price?

The ticket includes brunch at Escape Entertainment on Saturday and brunch as part of The Cabinet of Curiosities on Sunday. Saturday’s escape room tour will have a meal break where you can purchase food.

I can’t make it that weekend. Will you run this again?

If it goes well, we’ll consider running it again in New York or elsewhere.

Why can’t I purchase tickets right now?

We are hammering out a few final details. If you sign up for presale, you’ll get to purchase your tickets very soon.

Can I buy a ticket for someone under 18?

Contact us.

How many tickets are available?

There are 50 tickets available. They will go to the first 50 people who either sign up for presale or purchase them when ticketing opens.

That’s an expensive ticket…

We know. It includes 4 escape rooms, 2 immersive games, 2 meals, an unlimited metro card, a tour guide, a talk, and a mystery… and we’re taking care of all the logistics. Plus, New York is expensive. You know, it’s a pretty good deal!

How long have you been planning this?

A very long time. We’re pretty sure we’ve got something great here.

Can I sponsor this event?

Contact us about sponsorship opportunities.

What if I have other questions?

Contact us.

We look forward to seeing you in New York this November!

Sign up for presale now!

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.

SOS Escape Room – Planet SOS [Review]

Lost in translation.

Location: New York, New York

Date played: June 13, 2017

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

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: $25 per ticket

Story & setting

With the Earth in turmoil, our team of scientists sought to send a message to alien beings in the hopes that they might be our salvation.

Planet SOS was a small set in a dark space lit largely by flashlights. The walls were decorated with stick-on and projected stars.

A dark room filled with speckled blue stars, a large stick-on star, and a console with 16 glowing white buttons.

Puzzles

Planet SOS was made up of about half a dozen challenging puzzles. They were all solvable, but they were difficult to understand due to sloppy execution.

Standouts

A couple of puzzles in Planet SOS were genuinely interesting.

Shortcomings

Planet SOS desperately needed editing from a native English speaker. SOS Escape Room’s entire experience, include the website, would benefit from this. They could probably hire a college student for an hour or two and significantly improve the quality of their written puzzle and promotional materials.

The tech in Planet SOS was haphazardly implemented. Even when it worked correctly, it felt broken. We solved puzzles and then waited 15 seconds for confirmation from the tech.

Even the most interesting puzzles overstayed their welcome.

Should I play SOS Escape Room’s Planet SOS?

Planet SOS was a strange escape room that did not feel cohesive or refined. Even the genuinely interesting portions of the escape room felt slapped together.

In speaking with the gamemaster, I got the impression that they are truly passionate about their escape rooms. It also felt, however, like they have no concept of the escape room market in New York City in 2017. I probably would not have recommended Planet SOS three years ago and I certainly cannot today.

Komnata Quest – Chinese Jewelry Box [Review]

A pass / fail class.

Location: Brooklyn, New York

Date played: June 19, 2017

Team size: 2-6; we recommend 3

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: $38 per ticket on evenings and weekends, $28 per ticket on weekdays

Story & setting

We befriended our ill-tempered teacher’s daughter in order to gain access to his home and steal a copy of his class’s final exam. The twist: she locked us in the home with a laugh, warning that her father would be home in an hour… and he would be furious if he were to find us there.

In-game: A metal comb with a dragon on it beside a coin with a snake on it.

Chinese Jewelry Box was one of Komnata Quest’s rare family-friendly room escapes. Taking place in a well-lit home with a Chinese flair, the set was simple and elegant.

Puzzles

Komnata Quest’s escape rooms tend to be less puzzle-driven and more focused on adventure. Chinese Jewelry Box departed from their typical approach; it played and felt like a more traditional scavenge-and-puzzle escape room.

Standouts

This was a straightforward, but fun escape room. Most of the puzzles and even the searches felt satisfying.

One room within Chinese Jewelry Box was beautiful.

Chinese Jewelry Box was family-friendly. I imagine that younger players would have a lot of opportunity to contribute.

Shortcomings

Chinese Jewelry Box was light on wow moments.

Some of the closure mechanisms felt out of place, and in one instance, a bad idea.

Should I play Komnata Quest’s Chinese Jewelry Box?

The last time we saw Komnata Quest produce a more traditional escape room, we did not enjoy itChinese Jewelry Box was Komnata Quest doing a standard escape room design right.

It had all of the base components of searching, teamwork, set design, and puzzling present and working well together in a straightforward, family-friendly escape room.

While I cannot recommend that experienced players go out of their way to experience Chinese Jewelry Box, if you’re already visiting Komnata Quest and want to tack on an extra game, you’ll likely enjoy it.

Chinese Jewelry Box, however, will really shine for newbies and families. This would be a great experience for introducing new players to escape rooms. It’s approachable, fun, and unintimidating.

Book your hour with Komnata Quest’s Chinese Jewelry Box, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.

Full disclosure: Komnata Quest comped our tickets for this game.

Komnata Quest – Limitless [Review]

Limitless placed one big limitation on us.

Location: Brooklyn, New York

Date played: June 19, 2017

Team size: 2

Duration: 45 minutes

Price: $50 per ticket on evenings and weekends, $40 per ticket on weekdays

Story & setting

We explored a long-shuttered lab that had spent decades researching the limitations of the human brain. Now, locked in separate compartments of this abandoned research space, we had to work together to uncover its secrets.

In-game: A completely black image with nothing visible.
Actual game photo.

Limitless was a game for 2 players set in complete darkness. With the exception of the cameras, there was nothing to see. We had to explore the set and solve the puzzles using our other senses.

Puzzles

Limitless was built around darkness and separation. Every puzzle involved observing our respective environments, communicating, and collaboratively reasoning through our options.

Standouts

Komnata Quest used the darkness of Limitless to mess with our senses. In absence of sight, some simple interactions became perception-bending puzzles.

Similarly, the cooperative element was persistent and generally put to good use.

Shortcomings

There was some finicky tech.

We got stuck due to a missed observation and it was very difficult for the gamemaster to hint us back on track.

The story was a little hard to follow. Post-game, I only kind of understand it.

Should I play Komnata Quest’s Limitless?

Limitless was a lot like Komnata Quest’s Boxed Up, but more fun and less extreme. Both are games of courage, darkness, and collaboration between a pair of teammates.

I do not recommend that newbies play Limitless, as it would likely prove frustrating and incomprehensible to blindly sense through an escape room without really understanding the nature of these types of games.

For experienced players, I encourage you to give Limitless a try if you:

  • Aren’t afraid of the dark.
  • Have a teammate whom you trust and collaborate well with
  • Aren’t going to miss the $50 it costs on evenings and weekends ($40 on weekdays)

Don’t drag just anyone to Limitless; if one partner shuts down, the team shuts down.

As far as the value for admission is concerned, Limitless essentially costs $100 per pair to play. I don’t necessarily think that it’s worth it for every player out there. That’s a lot of money and there are a lot of great games with exciting environments that cost far less… You don’t even have to leave Komnata Quest’s building to find some of them. The choice to play Limitless is a value judgment.

One last note: Limitless is played without shoes, so wear socks… and unless you want to go barefoot through one of the puzzles, I’d encourage you to wear the lightest colored socks you own. If you want to find out why, you’ll just have to play Limitless.

Book your hour with Komnata Quest’s Limitless, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.

Full disclosure: Komnata Quest provided media discounted tickets for this game.