RATING: 0 Keys RESULT: Not Playable REMAINING: —
Join us as we’re yet again kidnapped by a serial killer awkwardly obsessed with math, and please disregard the fact that he isn’t aware how to properly solve the equations he himself writes without making significant errors.
Enter: SERIAL KILLER WHO BUILDS ESCAPE ROOM TO TEST VICTIMS BEFORE MURDER.
Today’s Cliché Murder Spotlight: Helter Skelter – a twisted killer clearly obsessed with math, though he lacks the understanding of how to actually structure a simple equation. He’s also not very big on fact checking.
Just like in the movie.
For the most part, the space is just one large room. Yes, there is a cell for one member of your team, and yes there is a partition dividing the rest of the space, but it’s difficult to classify as separate rooms when caged bars you can see right through are your wall.
This is not a bad thing, mind you – because there is no rule that it needs to be solidly defined multiple spaces – and effort is clearly put forth to create a space for Kidnapped which is scenically of a much higher quality than your average room.
Oh. I guess you probably do want me to talk about the puzzles. Sigh. Let’s do, shall we?
Kidnapped’s puzzles, at least in the state we experienced upon our visit, destroy anything this game could have had going for it. I won’t use the word “terrible” to describe them, simply because they’re worse than terrible.
They’re among the worst I’ve ever seen in any game I’ve had the pleasure of playing.
First of all, there’s A. LOT. OF. MATH. I’ll never understand why someone designing an entertainment based attraction intended to sell tickets would think solving lengthy math equations are a fun Saturday out for a group of friends.
Kidnapped, at its core, is a 60 minute math test. But here’s the bigger problem – that math test was written by the gym teacher.
I mean no disrespect to any actual gym teachers among you – but I think you’ll understand the analogy’s intent. If you’re slightly familiar with mathematics, you’ll know there’s a little something known as the order of operations. It dictates that multiplication and division take priority over addition and subtraction when existing in the same equation – meaning you solve those sections of said equation first.
Sorry to make this review so reminiscent of your 9th grade algebra class, but understanding that is key to recognizing that solving a lengthy equation without following order of operations – the only correct way a mathematical equation can be solved – and instead just reading it left to right like a book will yield an entirely different final sum value than if solving the problem correctly.
And guess what? More than one of Kidnapped’s codes uses an incorrect number, because they didn’t solve their own math problems correctly.
And that’s not even touching on the question of why in the story world is this killer challenging you with so much math in the first place. I just don’t even have the energy to get into that conversation.
Math, sadly isn’t even the only errors within this game. At one point you’re tasked with solving a riddle to get part of a three digit code – because serial killer – and the riddle’s clear, black and white correct answer is not the answer. I don’t want to give away specific puzzles, so let’s create something of a similar flavor just for example’s sake:
If you’re sitting outside and have three bowls of ice cream in front of you, you eat one bowl of ice cream, how many bowls do you have? Obviously your number of bowls has not changed. You have three bowls. Here, however, you “should just know” that because you’re outside, the sun melted the other two bowls of ice cream so you threw them away, leaving you with no bowls.
Sorry, but that’s not how riddles work. And that’s not how the world works. AND it’s more math. Ouch. It hurts my brain. Ok – back on track – it’s clear that if you have three of something, are given unrelated information and then asked to reiterate how many of that original something you have, you still have three of it.
Another convoluted step (on the very same sheet of paper as our ice cream sample puzzle) asked how many players were on a sports team. Just that. Yes, it did specify which sport, however it still requires prior knowledge. That’s never ok.
I was told later that the prior knowledge needed is actually available somewhere in the room, in one of the books on a shelf. The problem is, during the game, we asked the staff if this was something we could find in the room and were told no, and that we “just have to know!”
Oops – did I say that was the problem? Sorry, I misspoke. The problem is the answer to the question they sought wasn’t even how many players were on the sports team, but how many were active in the game in that moment. Nowhere was that specified, as it clearly asked in black and white “How many players are on the sports team.”
The staff radioed in after this moment and offered us a “free clue” – wherein they would give us that number of sports players, quote, “but first you have to do something for us.”
Ok – first of all – No. But for laughs, I’ll bite. What did you have in mind?
“You have to either answer a riddle that we make up or dance for us in front of the camera.”
Because escape room.
How impossibly insulting to treat a guest as an organ grinder’s monkey there for your amusement – especially in a scenario where your puzzle is so poorly written – or even worse, in this case, literally incorrect.
You should be dancing for us.
The original intent after leaving the venue was to rate Massacre Escape Room as a 1 Key attraction. The scenic quality is well done – and although the story is impossibly cliché, that notwithstanding is still something that really matters to me as a player. Their staff was wonderfully friendly and very welcoming – something else that is of high importance.
However, at the end of the day, all of the frills in an experience are nice, but an Escape Game is about the game. It has to be. And there’s just literally nothing more unforgivable than a game full of errors. There’s no excuse for that, and there’s no looking past that – and as such, none of the other positives that I did appreciate can possibly even be considered.
And ultimately, at the end of the day Kidnapped is a game which is literally not playable, because solving the equations correctly will give you answers that do not even line up with the codes one is solving for.
Now, I know what you’re probably thinking. Who would have ever thought getting Kidnapped could be such a terrible experience?
Venue: Massacre Escape Room
Location: Montgomery, Illinois
Number of Games: 1
GAME SPECIFIC INFORMATION:
Duration: 60 minutes
Capacity: 7 people
Group Type: Public / You may be paired with strangers.
Cost: $29.99 per person
We thank Massacre Escape Room for inviting us to review this game. Although complimentary admission was generously provided, that in no way impacts the opinion included within this review.