RATING: 1 Key RESULT: Loss REMAINING: X:XX
This Mummy tried to put quite a few curses on us, in fact – from lengthy algebraic equations to some of the biggest logic leaps we’ve ever seen, to perhaps the most unforgivable aspect of all – sand in our shoes. I never want to go to Egypt again.
X Room’s story for The Curse of the Mummy starts out like this – Ramesses II (Ramesses the Great) was the Pharaoh of the Nineteenth Dynasty of Egypt. He was the greatest and the most celebrated pharaoh who led the Egyptian Empire to climax of prosperity.
And just like the massive logic leaps in the gameplay (more on that in a moment) this backstory has nothing to do with… anything.
The actual story for this game? So there’s some hieroglyphic designs on the wallpaper and the floor is a sandbox. Sorry to spoil the scenic section so soon, but that’s basically the extent of the storyworld created here.
What results is proof that setting is only half of the equation, and turns out muddled and convoluted without a supporting story to compliment it and further flush it out in a way that engages the audience – or in this case, the players (or in this case, sad souls stuck for the next hour.)
Scenically, The Curse of the Mummy is leaps and bounds better than the other X Room game we had the… um, experience … of experiencing. But this time, that really should not be taken as a compliment.
Egyptian Tombs are working their way closer and closer to gaining a spot on our Unforgivable Themes™ list. But of those other Four Unforgivable Themes™, Egyptian Tombs can be the most hit or miss when it comes to scenic quality.
The thing about an Egyptian Tomb as a setting is that it wouldn’t be flat, plaster walls and drop panel office ceilings. Everything would be stone. Textured, carved, rough.
But here’s what it would never be: vinyl wall graphics.
I suppose honorable mention should go to department store mannequins in pharaoh Halloween costumes, with a mask for a head that will fall off repeatedly if you so much as breathe near said mannequin. You know, before the rest of said mannequin also falls apart.
So that’s a thing here. All of that.
As often as we’re asked “What’s the best game you’ve ever seen?” we almost equally hear “What’s the worst?” For a very long time, the two games at X Room shared that distinction. And though they may not be the very bottom of our worst list anymore, if we were to rank each game one by one (we do not) these two would easily be north of 150.
The puzzles were among the most convoluted collection of logic leaps either of us had ever seen.
Like nothing made sense. Nothing.
The bigger problem here was that after significant explanation from the game master, they *still* did not make sense.
X Room far crossed the line from challenging into just nonsensical. This level of poor design shows a complete lack of understanding of how the escape room genre even functions.
And just because I feel we’d be remiss if we didn’t mention this – this game (like their Escape the Prison game) had LOTS and LOTS of math. And even worse, no calculator or scratch paper to do these tedious algebraic equations on.
And here’s the thing – maybe you could argue storyworld integrity for the lack of calculator, but considering ancient Egyptians are among the earliest known societies to ever use papyrus as a form of paper (thanks, Spaceship Earth!) there’s no excuse.
But come on. There’s not a story here anyway.
Special recognition goes to Ben, who got so annoyed that he sat in the sandbox and drew the math equations with his fingers.
Let’s make a bold statement: X Room deserved to go out of business, and they did. Everything about this place was bad for the industry. The impression it gives a first time player is that they’re not smart enough to enjoy escape rooms – something that is entirely false.
X Room wasn’t smart enough to *design* escape rooms.
And as comical as the memory of Ben being forced to do math in the sand was, it should be noted that The Curse of the Mummy was the second game we played in this venue – and before buying a ticket, we asked if it had as much math as Escape the Prison (which we’d just completed.) We were assured this room had no math.
X Room is one of those venues that makes you angry. Either one of their games would leave you feeling wronged, but two back to back left us feeling completely violated. They’re frankly lucky to receive a single Key – and perhaps their only saving grace is that they at least fact checked their ridiculous math equations to be sure the answer was actually correct.
X Room’s closure was no great loss to the industry; it was a victory.
Venue: X Room
Location: San Gabriel, California
Number of Games: 5
GAME SPECIFIC INFORMATION:
Duration: 60 minutes
Capacity: 8 people
Group Type: Public / You may be paired with strangers.