RATING: 3 Keys RESULT: Win REMAINING: 17:38
Because nothing says “American” quite like a Russian spy scandal… wait, is this 1962 or 2017?
It’s October the 27th 1962. The tensions between nations brought on by the Cold War are almost unbearable. A renegade state agent is planning an attack which will plunge the world into a nuclear war. In his secret bunker full of explosives he has built his own nuclear bomb and the countdown timer has already started. In just one hour from now humanity’s last war will begin, unless you can defuse this weapon of mass destruction. Your team’s mission is to infiltrate the agent’s secret base, defuse and disarm the nuclear bomb in less than 60 minutes, otherwise, we all must face the worst….. The chance the whole of humanity will be destroyed by a nuclear armageddon!
Cold War Crisis manages a solid job of sticking within its storyworld – no matter how clichéd it may be. At its core, this is another defuse the bomb game – which, I don’t think I need to point out we have by now seen our fair share of.
That not withstanding, Cold War Crisis exists for the most part pretty solidly locked within an accurate, authentic-feeling moment clearly frozen in time – and on that level, it does justice to creating at least a moderately immersive narrative for players.
Of American Escape Room’s four games, Cold War Crisis unquestionably features the highest quality scenic. However – that’s not at all to say it was noteworthy. This game is spread between two rooms, and the decor is fine. Nothing more, nothing less.
Clearly meant to evoke the feeling of a Russian spy’s apartment frozen in the 1960s, this room does it job selling the storywood in a way that we can suspend disbelief. You won’t find any “wow” moments in its appearance, but at the same time, it doesn’t exactly need them to achieve what it’s aiming for.
The second room is clearly hoping to be the bomb shelter / bunker – but nothing about it really gives that message to players beyond the fact that it’s hidden between the venue’s only secret passage – and even that will be fairly evident at first glance to even the least experienced of players. Don’t expect to find steel-reinforced walls, big rivets, concrete blast shields – etc to protect you from the blast. It’s basically just another room within the apartment. And that’s not even touching on the fact that for some reason, the actual bomb is *inside* the bomb shelter.
(I’m reminded of a scene when The Simpsons visited Africa, and their mosquito nets were inside out, trapping all the bugs in the bed with them rather than keeping them out.)
Cold War Crisis’ puzzles were perhaps on the easier side of the spectrum – and while to some of you I recognize that may come across as a negative, I don’t necessarily agree. I think there’s great value in a venue having a range of game difficulties, because simply put not every player is going to be as experienced in this still-newer genre of entertainment as you or I.
What American Escape Rooms definitely does well is keep the puzzles locked within the game’s storyworld. Each step along our journey within Cold War Crisis linked well to a vintage military-era flavor that helped evoke the mood – right down to the inclusion of old records and an antique computer that still functioned.
Perhaps most satisfying, the final puzzles of this game centered around a multi-step process to physically defusing the bomb itself — not just entering a number into a keypad.
American Escape Rooms is one of Orlando’s newer venues, though the product itself doesn’t necessarily feel new. Perhaps at its core this is due to the fact that these games – including the venue itself – are duplicates from their sister European chain, Exit the Room. The games themselves are very low tech affairs — in fact, all but one of the games are almost exclusively no tech affairs at the end of the day. And while we can most certainly appreciate and enjoy a lower tech game, we also recognize that many of our readers are growing a bit tired of just keys and codes. If that sounds like you, be known in advance that is exactly what you will find here.
If, however, you – like us – are able to appreciate games of either extreme of the technological spectrum, Cold War Crisis is a fun game that we enjoyed our time it – albeit short due to its somewhat more novice difficulty levels. For me personally, beyond the conversation of tech, one downfall of the American Escape Rooms product is their sparse-at-best scenic model. The rooms tend to have the bare minimum of props and decor required to operate the game, without much more embellishments to help create a truly immersive, real-feeling world.
I think, however, that at its core the biggest challenge this venue will face loops back to where we began – these games do not exactly feel new, because they are not; And though they are brand new to the Orlando market, this long-existing international venue has not quite evolved with the industry in the years to follow before setting up shop in Central Florida. With each new venue, expectations naturally grow higher and higher, and I believe many of us walk in with the excitement of “how will they be different from what I’ve seen before?!” On that level, the honest answer is they are not. However – for those like me who can appreciate a bit of a more old school flavor of escape game from time to time, American Escape Rooms is still worth the visit.
Venue: American Escape Rooms
Location: Orlando, Florida
Number of Games: 4
GAME SPECIFIC INFORMATION:
Duration: 60 minutes
Capacity: 6 people
Group Type: Public / You may be paired with strangers.
Cost: $30 per person