RATING: 5 Keys RESULT: Win REMAINING: 26:30
London’s most notorious mystery is finally about to be solved, because we’re really good at escape games.
It’s 1888, East End London, and the world’s most notorious serial killer, Jack the Ripper, is still at large. You have one hour to gather the clues and unravel the mystery to Scotland Yard’s most infamous unsolved case.
Maze Rooms creates their most historically accurate experience by casting players into the role of lead detectives in the mystery of Jack the Ripper. This dark, ominous world is clearly full of secrets waiting to be uncovered.
As we’ve stated in other cold case-themed games, it’s always an awkward story trope to use the justification of “just one hour to…” in a situation like this. For a case that’s been cold longer than any of us have lived, whether we solve it in one hour or three hours or one week is truly not the headline; we’d be heroes. Luckily, this story crutch, though used to pressure a sense of urgency, is really not needed in Jack the Ripper – a game solid enough to draw players in on its own merit and keep them there on its own quality.
Maze Rooms takes us through the gritty reality of the horrors that existed during the string of Jack the Ripper murders. Starting in a dimly lit alleyway – a place no one wanted to be in 1888 London, we find bloody evidence of the latest victim.
Conveniently slaughtered steps from the detectives office, our next move is there, where we gather the evidence. This second room is as you’d expect for an office, though cluttered with just the right amount of period objects to add a flavor of authenticity that helps further enhance the storyworld.
It’s where we go next that will determine whether we end up heroes of this timeless tale, or just another name on the list of victims. This sense of flow added an organic feeling of actually investigating the grisly crime before us, and truly worked to immerse us into Jack the Ripper’s reality.
Jack the Ripper helped usher in a new standard for puzzles in a Maze Room game. Each step, as intuitive as they are, is heavily intertwined with the storyworld to make them feel like logical and authentic actions we’d take in the course of solving a crime.
Nothing here comes across as a puzzle for puzzle’s sake, making Jack the Ripper seem at times much like an attraction as a game. And importantly, the difficulty level felt “just right,” keeping our very experienced team engaged, while certainly being achievable to a more novice group of players.
Culver City is home to one of Maze Rooms’ newest franchised locations, and it’s clear from the start that this venue strives to be known for an attention to detail and dedication to story. It is possible, however, in rare cases to have a bit too much story – and if we’re being honest, our experience here did come close. Upon arriving at the venue, things began by being personally told the intricate, detailed, and at times a bit drab story of Jack the Ripper. We are very supportive including a backstory or preshow of sorts before a game to set the mood, but in truth, that shouldn’t span more than ninety seconds at most (and really should aim closer to one minute.) Our Jack the Ripper exposé lasted more than ten minutes – nearly fifteen before we were allowed to begin our investigation. We recognize that this is evidence of the venue’s passion for their product, and that is certainly to be respected – but we humbly suggest they tone the process down just a bit in the future.
Just the same, we’d certainly rather have too much story than none at all. What often results with a story-driven attraction is a more fulfilling overall guest experience, where in the games have a clear narrative beginning and ending, and the steps along the way are dictated by the players’ interaction with the world. Jack the Ripper is one of Maze Room’s most satisfying offerings, and a clear cut above many others in such a competitive market. Do you see what I did there? Do you see?
Venue: Maze Rooms
Location: Culver City, California
Number of Games: 2
GAME SPECIFIC INFORMATION:
Duration: 60 minutes
Capacity: 7 people
Group Type: Private / You will not be paired with strangers.
Cost: $99+ per group for up to 3 people (plus $33 per each additional person)
We thank Maze Rooms for inviting us to play this game. Although complimentary admission was generously provided, that in no way impacts the opinion included within this review.