RATING: 5 Keys RESULT: Win REMAINING: 9:12
The creative minds at Two Bit Circus took their first jaunt into the escape room genre with the tech-focused and narrative driven Story Room concept Cosmic Contagion.
Two scientists have gone missing while investigating a meteorite landing. Your team must retrace the experiments conducted in their lab to discover the secrets they found about the crash. Along the way, new revelations are made about the true nature of the meteorite that just might impact your opinion of the events that transpired.
With a name like Story Room, expectations were high for Two Bit Circus to create something that transcended the typical Escape Room storytelling tropes. Almost immediately it was clear this was something different. Guided by an AI character, with its own set of personality quirks, players work through a number of in-world tasks to gain information found by the researchers. These bits of information aren’t inconsequential, but actually shape how the story progresses. A unique aspect of the game was its approach to game time. Instead of having one overall time of 60 minutes, the game is split into three different periods divided among the three rooms of the game. Each room has a type of fail state to allow guests to move on to the next room, but with a story consequence.
A unique aspect of the game was its approach to game time. Instead of having one overall time of 60 minutes, the game is split into three different periods divided among the three rooms of the game. Each room has a type of fail state to allow guests to move on to the next room, but with a story consequence.
On top of these room by room story changes, there were also multiple endings possible depending on player actions and decisions. Gameplay impacting the story on a meaningful level is something very few games do, so Story Room’s decision to incorporate these changes is particularly noteworthy.
The elaborate lighting and audio triggers were quite impressive for a game developed in the time period it was. When Cosmic Contagion first opened, very few games had much in the way of show controlled systems at this level. Even by today’s standards the game had great effects.
The physical dressing of the first two rooms had a fairly standard lab setup, but machines and pieces of equipment actually functioned; a rarity in most lab game environments. The final room, meant to be a rover of some kind, didn’t quite sell that concept, but its interactive elements made up for that shortcoming. Cosmic Contagion’s overall interactivity is where it truly shined.
The first room was the closest to a “typical” escape room, but with many clever and creative flairs. This lab environment featured a host of equipment all with custom modifications to trigger different effects and work as if they were functioning pieces. The second room involved a mixture of AR tech and alien artifacts. In the big finale, a custom-built video game required input from every player on a variety of in-world themed input devices to complete the final objective.
We played Cosmic Contagion early in its life cycle and experienced some issues getting the AR to register properly, a bug which we were told was being worked on as it was tech still in the research phase for them.
Two Bit Circus’ creativity and the drive to build something unique made all the puzzles and challenges in this game ones we had never seen before. When every puzzle is a new game to discover, player enjoyment goes way up. It hits that little part of the brain that constantly craves something new and different.
With a real focus on a story driven experience, Cosmic Contagion delivered an incredibly satisfying game.
From an operational standpoint, Two Bit Circus also innovated by designing the rooms in a way that multiple groups could play at the same time. By placing a time limit on individual rooms, groups are forced to move forward thus allowing resets to occur before a group has fully finished the game. Group two can enter room one while room two is being reset and group one is solving puzzles in room three.
Cosmic Contagion was designed as a proof-of-concept for the Story Room model and as a testing ground for new, custom built tech. After this game ended its run Two Bit Circus began working on a new room which has opened in its first location at a Dave & Busters with more to come.
Venue: Story Room
Location: Los Angeles, California
Number of Games: 1
GAME SPECIFIC INFORMATION:
Duration: 60 minutes
Capacity: 6 people
Group Type: Public / You may be paired with strangers.
Cost: This game’s limited run has ended.