RATING: 5 Keys RESULT: Won REMAINING: *Not timed
What’s the coolest birthday present I’ve ever gotten? Obviously my own personal custom designed escape room!
Dateline: Parc Vue Apartments, #106. There has been a murder. And after unknowingly arriving at the scene of the crime for my long-awaited birthday party, I now find myself as the prime suspect. They’re not going to pin this one on me. I’m not going down for this one.
I HAVEN’T EVEN HAD MY CAKE YET!
I need to get my head in the game and work fast to search every room of apartment #106 to find clues that may lead me to the true culprit before the police arrive. With my prints all over the murder weapon, there’s no doubt I’ll be locked up for life otherwise!
This isn’t some cliched game where I “have just 60 minutes” to solve the crime. This time the consequences are real. I’m the only one here. No team. No hints. No time to lose.
If you find yourself wondering how you’ve never heard of this game before – well, that’s for good reason! Investigation of Parc Vue #106 was a one night only game designed by my dear friend Jenny, specifically for me as what would become the single coolest birthday gift I’ve ever received. She answered the question of “what do you get that friend who already has everything they want” with a resounding “you turn your entire apartment into a freaking escape game!”
How. Cool. Is. That!
The first thing I realized when playing a game in a REAL apartment – as opposed to the number of permanent games I’ve done that are themed to apartments is just how daunting a real, lived in space can become. As an experienced – and sometimes somewhat jaded player, clues and puzzle pieces often stick out like a sore thumb to me when entering a game. It’s just one of those things you come to expect – and I’m sure you all can relate.
However, when you walk into a real home – shelves lined with various collectibles, drawers full of junk, cabinets full of baking goods – it really creates an intimidating challenge while trying to decipher what has hidden meaning and what is just…. stuff! It was a neat change of pace that definitely helped to further bring the story to life.
Or, perhaps to the contrary, death – as I arrived at Jenny’s apartment to hear the shower running though there was no one to be found. Upon my tentative inspection, I pulled back the curtain to find a large steak knife covered in (ketchup) blood sitting on the edge of the tub. I don’t know what happened, but I know it wasn’t good!
Investigation of Park Vue #106 was never intended to be your average game. It was operated with no time limits, and was designed with the intention of running long. In total, I spent nearly two hours tackling the puzzles that were artfully created literally just for me – and here’s the coolest part – at no point did I feel stumped or at a loss for direction.
This game – this personalized game in my friend’s apartment, designed by a person who could count on one hand how many actual escape games she’d played prior, was logical and intuitive from the start to a finish that came almost twice as long as an average game would. At Escape Authority, we always stress when a game’s puzzles were intuitive, because sadly, although it should simply be accepted that they must be, that just isn’t always the case. Yet here, in a casual setting from someone who has no claim at being an escape game designer, I find a game with more solid flow than a large majority of professionally organized ones I’ve paid money to see. I believe this is where the kids would say “SMH” and perhaps utilize a surprised emotion emoji facial expression.
And honestly, beyond that, the game itself was great, with some clever connections to the theme along the way – for example, I’ll use this ultra-rare opportunity to be able to speak in spoilers in a review to give a specific – what’s the first thing that came to your mind when I mentioned pulling back the shower curtain to find the bloody knife? I’ll bet you immediately thought of Psycho, right? Well you’re not alone, and you’re correct, because I found my next clue inside the DVD case of an Alfred Hitchcock anthology disk on her DVD shelf. Little things like that in game design, where you just obviously connect two otherwise seemingly unrelated objects, might as well be an art form.
From there was a great mix of discovery-based puzzles, riddles and logic puzzles. There was even a themed computer login that gained me access to a windows desktop full of game specific content. Talk about attention to detail!
Have you ever had that weird nervous feeling when someone close to you is about to give you a gift they worked hard on? Of course you have – because you no doubt know what it feels like to worry “What if I don’t like it. I don’t want to hurt their feelings after they put so much effort into it just for me!” I naturally walked into apartment #106 with that fear – and let’s be honest, I’ve seen my fair share of bad games – and people buy tickets to play them!
But that nervousness quickly eased with the realization that Investigation of Parc Vue #106 would end up being the single coolest birthday gift I’d ever receive in my lifetime.
And I know there are probably some of you who think I’m only speaking so highly of this to be nice to Jenny in return. To you I say: posting this review is of no benefit to Escape Authority. No one else will ever be able to play this game, nor was ever able to play it before me. With a back log of well over 150 game reviews still left to write, I chose this one from my list to post today, a full year later – on my birthday – because it will forever be one of the coolest memories I’ll be fortunate enough to receive.
Venue: Jenny’s Apartment
Location: Orlando, Florida
Number of Games: 1
GAME SPECIFIC INFORMATION:
Duration: *Not Timed
Capacity: 1 person
Group Type: Private / You will not be paired with strangers.
Cost: Free / This game was a one only time event.