RATING: 4 Keys RESULT: Win REMAINING: 25:00
This beginner’s room looks and feels like it was crafted by the brilliant Dr. Jekyll himself.
You’re welcomed into the storyworld by Dr. Jekyll’s assistant, who, for being a scientist, seemed remarkably uninterested in talking to us about his research unless we specifically asked for a clue. Rude.
This was my first encounter with a game master in the room with me since Sherlock Holmes’ Library, so I think I can be forgiven for being nervous about the experience to come. Labyrinth hits somewhere in the middle of my ranking of locations that use this particular form of surveillance; while not exactly an actor, your game master at least makes an attempt to become a part of the story rather than simply watching you play.
The story itself, while simple, is also the first time I’ve seen a venue use the classic tale of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, which is surprising considering how macabre the legend is (and how well it lends itself to the haunted attraction background of escape rooms.) Although quite serious in nature, it still retains a sense of whimsy, especially once you enter Dr. Jekyll’s lab.
HYDE utilizes its space well, transforming a rather derelict Portland building into a gorgeously detailed room that even takes advantage of some of the less conventional fixtures that are unavoidable, such as pipes running across the ceiling, to really give the appearance of Dr. Jekyll’s study and lab.
There’s a plethora of items to peruse and admire as well, which lends itself to HYDE’s main goal of finding ingredients for an antidote. Although it might seem overwhelming at first, you’ll quickly learn that most of them are simply for decoration.
Better yet, HYDE’s use of technical elements, lighting, and sound all work together to create a truly believable space, throwing you right into the middle of the story.
From the beginning, HYDE sets a very distinct goal, even going so far as to tell you exactly what you’ll need to do in order to complete your objective (albeit through several coded notes.) I love goal based games, and knowing exactly where we were at in terms of our final objective made things all the more exciting.
Each puzzle has a scientific theme to it, keeping the player engrossed in the story even during some of the more time consuming portions. Although there are technically multiple paths to follow, HYDE flows very naturally. There was never a moment during the game where we felt confused on what to do next, something that goes a long way in a room meant for beginners.
There’s also one puzzle in the room that I’d never seen before, but fit the scientific theme of the room extremely well and was definitely the “wow” moment of the room for me. Without giving too much away, I will say that you are given very explicit instructions on what to do… And I blatantly ignored them, thinking that I needed to find a blacklight somewhere since there was no way the instructions could be correct. Spoiler: No black light was needed, and I was wrong.
There are a lot of things I love about HYDE, but also a few things that could be improved (although it should be mentioned that the game had just opened when I played and may have since been changed.) One of my biggest concerns, now that I’ve written this review, is the use of a sand hourglass rather than a traditional timer. While it sticks with the time period of the storyworld, the escape time listed at the top of this review is only an approximation. In reality, I’m not actually sure what our escape time was. While an hourglass can provide some of the same pressure as a timer, nothing quite compares to the feeling of watching the seconds tick by. Perhaps an old clock of some sort might make a better fit here, while also letting players see exactly how many minutes they have left to complete the game.
There are a lot of great puzzles in HYDE, and my only complaint is that I wanted more. Being the only experienced player on my team (and even trying to take a step back and let the others enjoy it), I was surprised to escape just after halfway through our time limit. Although it is considered to be their easiest room, a few extra additions wouldn’t go amiss in making even novice players feel like they’re getting their money’s worth.
Labyrinth definitely stands out in the Portland Escape Room market for their scenic quality, fully decorating each room well beyond what one might expect, all while managing to not be too overwhelming. HYDE’s story, scenery and puzzles all work together to tell an enchanting story, one that those new to the concept of escape rooms will not soon forget.
Venue: Labyrinth Escape Games
Location: Portland, Oregon
Number of Games: 3
GAME SPECIFIC INFORMATION:
Duration: 60 minutes
Capacity: 6 people
Group Type: Public / You may be paired with strangers.
Cost: $36 per person
We thank Labyrinth Escape Games for inviting us to play this game. Although complimentary admission was generously provided, that in no way impacts the opinion included within this review.