RATING: 2 Keys RESULT: Win REMAINING: 1:54
If I had a dollar for every time I’ve broken out of a jail cell by now, well, I wouldn’t need to keep committing crimes!
It’s the mid-1970’s and you have been wrongfully accused and arrested by a small-town Sheriff. He has you in a holding cell next to his office. You must find your way to freedom, while retrieving the evidence he holds against you. He plans to take you in front of the judge and prosecutor after his lunch break.
This one is pretty cut and dry. We were arrested. We don’t want to be arrested. We break out of jail.
It’s not the most original of tales. (Perhaps you’ve heard of a little article we penned titled The Four Unforgivable Themes™?)
The reason we coined that phase is because there are certain themes that are just so overdone that they become drab and predicable. Near the top of that list: breaking out of jail.
Jail Break spans two rooms – the holding cell itself and the warden’s office. Scenically, it’s like going from bad to worse with regard to the mundane.
While we recognize and accept that if you have to do a jail cell as your theme, by its very nature it should be minimal – because that’s how it would be. The better ones are aged and distressed to imply you won’t be getting out any time soon, but here, the cell essentially feels like an extension of the office next door, simply divided by bars.
The office itself is as drab as offices get, again decorated minimally with the classic “Escape Cocoa Beach old furniture collect.” It does little to transport you to a fantastical world that you cannot find in your day to day existence.
Within the cell exist some clever discovery based puzzles, as well as a bit of “think like a criminal” problem solving that always makes themes like this one enjoyable. In the office, puzzles get a tad more tedious, involving the combing of case files and a whole lot of red herring keys.
And let’s touch on that for a moment – because to many fans of the genre, the very notion of a red herring is met with firm resistance. We actually typically tend to like their inclusion generally speaking, at least to a degree – because we feel as though if games were real world scenarios, they wouldn’t always be linearly cut and dry.
That being said, Escape Cocoa Beach’s Jail Break shows us what it’s like to share in that disdain for red herrings that many of you have- giving us a giant key ring of what feels like hundreds of different misdirect keys in hopes of finding the five or six that are real to open a few locks. It becomes such a tedious time sink puzzle that we almost got to the point of not wanting to play any longer.
Credit where credit as due – at least once we finally did get those five or six locks open, we received the story payoff of actual items in the evidence locker to escape with – a detail venues often mention but rarely actually include.
Jail Break is unique in a sea of similar flavored games in that all players of the group, for once, actually start together in the same cell. The benefit here is that players can remain truly working together as a group, without the hindrance that can come in split start games if teams are not evenly divided by skillsets.
Beyond one or two memorable moments early on in the cell, sadly the thing that sticks strongest in our mind is the red herring keys we just touched on, and that’s not good. It exhibits how one bad puzzle can hinder an entire experience – and the fact that it comes at the end instantly makes it what most casual players will hold with them long after they’ve regained their freedom.
When I visit a game, I want to escape reality, and most important I want to have fun. The second you frustrate me with an overly tedious puzzle, it’s sometimes difficult to recover.
Venue: Escape Cocoa Beach
Location: Cocoa Beach, Florida
Number of Games: 4
GAME SPECIFIC INFORMATION:
Duration: 60 minutes
Capacity: 10 people
Group Type: Public / You may be paired with strangers.
Cost: $29 per person