RATING: 5 Keys RESULT: Win REMAINING: 10:00
Who you gonna call? Literally every person I know, because there’s a legitimately licensed GHOSTBUSTERS game, and it’s pretty damn cool!
WHO YOU GONNA CALL? Help Venkman, Spengler, Stantz and Zeddemore capture Slimer, the Librarian and Stay Puft and flush them from the city before it’s pandemonium! Can you help save NYC?
Inspired by the original film franchise, with demons split between Ghostbusters and Ghostbusters II, Escape Room Live drops us right into the middle of the action. New York City is under siege yet again by legions of sinister spooks – only this time, the Ghostbusters aren’t here to save the day.
And that’s where we come in.
I mean sure, we haven’t exactly been TRAINED on how to safely use a Ghost Trap, but how hard could it be, right?
This game brilliantly is not about the cliché of “escaping the room;” Not only does it craft a familiar story that is instantly easy to become immersed within, but its objective based gameplay masterfully makes us the main characters in a whole new Ghostbusters adventure wherein we literally have to use actual, physical Ghost Traps to capture some of the film’s most infamous baddies and then deposit them into the central Containment Unit at GBHQ.
And it’s so much fun.
While we always start with learning a game’s story through the venue’s website, for many guests scenic, upon opening the door and walking into the space may well be their first real impression – and if that’s the case for you here, you’re absolutely going to be impressed. It’s easy to notice in the blink of an eye that Escape Room Live, as a venue, takes scenic quality very seriously. Each of their rooms is truly stunning, on a level which we as a site long for the industry as a whole to reach.
But in a venue full of great, immersive environments, Ghostbusters! stood out as the best of the best.
The game takes place within the confines of the Ghostbusters Headquarters. Brick textured walls instantly evoke the flavor of that familiar old abandoned firehouse. Fast food flyers scattered around clearly paint a picture that our heroes don’t get much time off – that is at least until they suddenly vanished.
One wall is lined with lockers, inside which you’ll find the actual uniforms Peter Venkman, Egon Spengler, Ray Stantz and Winston Zeddmore wear in the field – or, you know, would be wearing if they weren’t currently missing. On another wall hangs a rather menacing painting of Vigo, next to an open window with a perfect view of a very much alive Stay Puft Marshmallow Man utterly destroying New York City.
Escape Room Live took one of the most iconic storyworlds of our childhood, brought it to life brick by slimed brick, and locked us inside it.
Ghostbusters! is one of those rare “total package” games that we always hope to find, combining not only a strong, compelling story and immersive scenic decor, but also clever, original puzzles that are from start to finish 100% interconnected with that storyworld.
Every single step we took within this game made total story sense, and progressed that story in a logical way building towards its climax – from beginning with gathering cursed objects to summon the spirits to ultimately battling them head to head to save the city. And more importantly, the steps were logical, intuitive and fun.
This is a heavily tech-driven game, and among other really neat uses of it, Ghostbusters! has without a doubt the coolest use of Augmented Reality (AR) we’ve ever seen. And to be clear, that’s not compared to other games, but literally compared to any current use of AR we’ve encountered in any spectrum of the Amusement Industry. A large hand held ghost scanner brings objects around the room to life – or afterlife, as it were – teeming with supernatural activity that would be otherwise invisible to the human eye.
Several video screen effects bring larger than life iconic ghosts into our reality, and well thought puzzles force us to interact with them directly in an attempt to capture them in strategically placed Ghost Traps.
And let’s talk about those Ghost Traps, because holy cow are they cool! Actual physical props that look identical to the “real thing” from the films – and not only are they vital milestone steps throughout the game, but they even really function! When a ghost is ready to be captured, the trap will open as the spirit is sucked inside, emitting a (very real) puff of glowing purple smoke before closing its doors. From there, you and your fellow Ghostbusters-in-training step on a release pedal to eject the storage cube housing the freshly secured entity, which ultimately must be loaded into the main Containment Unit at GBHQ, locked and powered on to finally restore peace to the city.
Perhaps you’re reading this thinking “Why does Escape Room Live sound so familiar.” If it feels like you may have heard of them before somewhere, well, it’s because you probably have. Ginger, the venue’s owner, pitched her concept on CNBC’s West Texas Investors Club tv show, and did it in such a compelling way that she won over the hosts on the viable promise of the Escape Room genre as an entertainment attraction. After getting the opportunity to visit the venue personally, I’ve got to say it’s no wonder they chose to vote in her favor.
Escape Room Live is one of the most polished attractions you’re likely to find. From the moment you walk in the door you’ll be wowed by how stunning the lobby and waiting area is; it’s perhaps the most beautiful of any venue we’ve seen before. The staff is over-the-top welcoming – and I’ll be the first to admit that at the start, we wondered if their enthusiastic hospitality might have been stoked by the fact that they knew we were coming in to review them – but the simple truth is we witnessed repeatedly between our games random guests walking in off the street get treated with exactly the same amount of warm, friendly gusto. It’s very clear that this paramount level of guest service is quite simply the norm for everyone in this venue, and that’s so very inspiring to witness.
Spanning two floors, Escape Room Live is a massive space perfect for everything from family outings, gatherings of friends and corporate team building activities. Sure to only further set them apart, those of our readers 21+ may be excited to hear the venue just secured their permanent liquor license, and will actually be incorporating an upscale bar into the lobby area in the coming days. What’s cool about this – even as personally someone who does not drink – is it creates a scenario that compels past guests, who may have already played all five of their games, to have a reason to return to the venue anyway. It really just has that “cool hang out vibe” to it.
Circling back specifically to Ghostbusters!, upon walking into the room for the first time, I took a quick look around me, turned to Taylor and simply said “Please let this be good! It looks like it can be so good!” And it was so good. Escape Room Live uses IPs more successfully than any venue we’ve encountered previously, of the dozens and dozens we’ve seen. They selected solid, known brands that every single one of us is bound to have some sort of emotional connection with from our past. What results is not only some of the most compelling gameplay we’ve seen anywhere, but an instant trip down memory lane, literally bringing some of our fondest childhood memories to life while simultaneously casting us as the new main characters.
So, who you gonna call? There’s really only one valid answer to that question anymore – because the only call you need to make is to Escape Room Live to book your tickets right away.
Venue: Escape Room Live
Location: Washington, D.C.
Number of Games: 5
GAME SPECIFIC INFORMATION:
Duration: 45 minutes
Capacity: 8 people
Group Type: Public / You may be paired with strangers.
Cost: $28 per person