RATING: 5 Keys RESULT: Win REMAINING: 4:00
5 Wits takes their streak of creating highly immersive environments and stories into a new galaxy of adventure.
After no contact for years, a distress signal is received from the abandoned starship, Nebulous. Using the transmission’s coordinates your team must transport aboard the ship to discover the fate of the crew, and your own.
5 Wits knows story. In Deep Space, they synthesize a number of Sci-Fi story tropes into a familiar tale that makes it easy for players to connect with and understand. On a personal level, it also drudges up memories of all the referenced source material and presents it in a different context since players are actually in a physical environment and part of the narrative. For a fan of spaceship stories, this will feel like stepping into a recognizable space.
Throughout the game, an Artificial Intelligence System aids players while repairing and exploring the ship. It’s personality shifts back and forth between a comforting and helpful tone to something that seems a little more… off.
Deep Space creates a clear reason for its mission and delivers a satisfying conclusion to the mystery of the missing crew. However, learning that answer might uncover secrets that should have stayed hidden.
The Nebulous’ bridge could easily fit into an episode of the Original Stark Trek series. Its campy sci-fi look takes on a higher tech appearance as player’s venture further into the ship. Each of the three main rooms has a distinct feel and expands the scope of the world.
In one of the coolest show moments we’ve seen in an escape room, players do actually beam aboard the Nebulous. With some clever misdirection, lighting cues, and sound effects players are standing in New York in one moment and in the next aboard a starship. As far as entry into the play space goes, this one is light-years beyond other offerings.
The standout element for Deep Space is its beautiful lighting design. Control consoles and panels glow and react to players actions. The interior of the ship also alters its look based on the ship’s current condition. When first transporting onto the ship, the Nebulous is powered down. This “dead ship” feels hollow and empty with only the silence of space and the cold dark void of the universe casting the smallest of light onto the bridge. With this simple setup, players immediately sense something is amiss even if they weren’t primed with the introductory story of the Nebulous’ mysterious past. After powering on the ship, mechanical whirs and hums permeate the space’s soundscape. It has that “just right” feel.
This is how a spaceship game should look.
The goal of Deep Space is to power on the Nebulous and recover information on what happened to the crew. Every puzzle step and activity in the game directly relates to this objective. Whether it’s defending the ship from asteroids, re-wiring electrical panels, or interfacing with the onboard AI, players truly feel like they are having an impact on the world around them.
5 Wits handles puzzle resetting in these automated quests in an impressive way. Everything is designed so it is either fully tech/screen driven and requiring no reset or involves moving an object from point A to B thus allowing the next group to move the objects from B to A. This doesn’t diminish the quality or difficulty of the puzzles as they do still provide a challenge. In fact, this increased physicality makes the actions more memorable than standard lock and key activities.
Beyond just keeping track of what puzzles were solved, 5 Wits measures the time taken to complete each puzzle, how many hints were provided by the automated system, and if any “secret” objects were found during the game. All these elements factor into a score given to teams in addition to their overall completion time for the game. Players can compare their performance against other teams on a leader board on display in the lobby.
5 Wits is the leader in creating immersive adventures that guests of any age can play and walk away feeling like they had an experience they couldn’t get anywhere else.
Across all 5 Wits adventures, not just Deep Space, players receive different story endings based on their performance. While there is not enough of a difference to warrant replaying the adventure again just to see the alternate ending, it does allow groups to compare notes on their experiences. It also gives an extra incentive to be the quickest and smartest group to see the best possible outcome.
5 Wits has also created an adventure model that allows every player to see a complete story. With its dynamic hint and story system players are essentially guaranteed to be able to move on to the next room even if they weren’t able to fully complete its challenges. For a game focused on creating an experience accessible to young children this is great, and a group of adults will be able to solve the challenges before it comes to the point of receiving too much hand-holding.
Multiple groups can also be in the experience at once since each door you enter closes and locks behind you. This lets 5 Wits have a higher hourly capacity than other venues and is a smart business decision.
Deep Space is the best space themed escape room in the United States. Its integration of a high-tech environment with an exciting stakes-filled narrative sets it apart from its competition.
Venue: 5 Wits West Nyack
Location: West Nyack, New York
Number of Games: 3
GAME SPECIFIC INFORMATION:
Duration: 35 minutes
Capacity: 12 people
Group Type: Public / You may be paired with strangers.
Cost: $19.99 per person ($25.99 per person for two show combo ticket)