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Review: Operation Dream State

2 Keys

RATING: 2 Keys         RESULT: Won          REMAINING: 3:39

In order to solve save the world, sometimes you have to go into the mind of the criminal. Wait, you meant that literally?


After a decade of meticulous searches and raids, the FBI have finally captured William Lee Woods – #1 on their “Most Wanted” list. His crimes include mass murder and heinous acts of terrorism. During the capture of Woods, the FBI found evidence of his next act of terror. It is up to you and your team of highly skilled agents to expose the details of his next attack before it’s too late!

There’s a few things wrong here – but let’s start with the 800 pound gorilla in the room. We’ve caught William Lee Woods. He’s in custody. We’ve already stopped his next act of terror, because he’s no longer free to enact it.

So there’s that. Then there’s also the little chestnut about how we end up literally inside Woods’ brain for the second half of this game.

Basically I have no idea what’s going on here.


This two room game takes place in two very different worlds, and frankly neither really make sense within the context of the narrative. The first room feels like a large meeting space frozen in the 1970s. This is the setting of the FBI office, though it’s not at all clear why we have to search the FBI office for clues if we are working with the FBI to take down Woods.

The second room is, how can I put this in technical terms, all sorts of cuckoo bananas. So basically as it was explained to us, we’ve entered the mind of William Lee Woods. Like, literally, we’re in his brain. This dark space is surrounded by black walls, because evil?, and those walls are graffitied with images painted in fluorescent colors that glow in the room’s blacklight setting. Also there’s a mailbox.

I swear to you I’m not writing this review while drunk. Operation Dream State really, truly is this incoherent.


Operation Dream State’s puzzles are a bit of a mixed bag. Some where clever and intuitive, creating solidly enjoyable moments of game play. Others left us asking for several hints and further clarification beyond that.

A few puzzles suffer from not really giving the players enough solid information to allow them to deduct informed decisions which would lead to a solution. We found one involving a set of clocks to be a significant leap, and offered some pretty extensive feedback on how it could be improved for future groups. It is our hope that perhaps by the time of this writing it may have been resolved.

Especially once “in the mind of Woods” the puzzles felt more like puzzles for puzzles sake than active tools intended to further the narrative. To me, as a player, that is not a satisfying conclusion to be driven towards.


Operation Dream State was a truly odd game for probably all the wrong reasons. It had some decent moments that get muddled by others that left us scratching our heads. Comparatively speaking, we found the venue’s other game, Professor White to be a much more solid experience overall.

It’s no secret that I like unique themes and unexpected story twists – and the truth is that Operation Dream State tries very hard to fit that bill. Unfortunately it just doesn’t handle the transition in a way that actually reads clearly to players. We literally had no idea we had crossed over into the mind of the killer until asking just what the heck the second room was supposed to be after we’d already won. Even now knowing the intent, I still don’t get it.

At the end of the day, the fact most important to me is that the staff of Eskape Rooms was very enthusiastic and welcoming, and seemed very interested in hearing our feedback after our visit. That, to me, is proof that a venue wants to grow and improve, and it leaves me confident that Eskape Rooms as a brand will only continue to get better with time.

Venue Details

Venue:  Eskape Rooms

Location: Irvine, California

Number of Games: 2


Duration: 60 minutes

Capacity: 8 people

Group Type: Public / You may be paired with strangers.

Cost: $30 per person (a three person minimum is required for online bookings; call the venue for smaller or larger groups.)

EAR Disclaimer

We thank Eskape Rooms for inviting us to play this game. Although complimentary admission was generously provided, that in no way impacts the opinion included within this review.

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