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Review: Lab Rat

RATING: 6 Keys          RESULT: Win          REMAINING: 10:29

Today we prove that we are not idiots, because at least we’re smarter than rats. You know, saying it out loud… that really doesn’t help our case, does it?

Story

Lab Rat takes place in a laboratory where giant rats are doing experiments on human beings, specifically you! The somewhat unhinged Ratkenstein, a doctoral student in the field of human intelligence (or, in his estimation, the lack thereof), has tasked you with completing a series of tests and puzzles. If you succeed, he can finally write his dissertation. If you fail, he’s going to put you and your friends in the old test-subject chipper (like a wood chipper, but for test subjects!). You’ll have one hour to complete the tests and attempt to get out of the laboratory for good, before Ratkenstein turns you into mulch!

I think most would agree that experimenting on helpless animals is wrong. But what happens when the animals experiment on us? I’ll tell you what happens: we all look like idiots!

Hatch Escapes creates an outlandish bizarro world where everything you know is wrong. Lab Rat casts us – as its test subjects – into an over-sized rat race, leaving us vying to prove our doubtful intelligence. Naturally, this world is ruled by even more over-sized rats – the worst of which is Ratkenstein, a typical pointy-nosed-with-whiskers student obsessed with proving his own intelligence at our expense. Also he’s a giant rat who’s taken human form. So there’s that.

Throughout the course of this probably-entirely-scientific experimentation, test subjects are put through the ringer of, you know, everything humans have done to rats over the years: arbitrarily retrieving objects, navigating convoluted mazes and of course, spinning the giant hamster wheel (because they just look really cute when they do that.)

Every second of Lab Rat is a wacky cinematic adventure full of ridiculous humor, clever puns and insults. A whole lot of insults. (If you’re not ready to be called an idiot several thousand times, this may not be the super-sized rat cage for you. But we’re just saying; if you don’t play it you’re an idiot.)

And if you need a little bit of urgency to keep you motivated, we’ve got three words for you: test-subject chipper. (Wait, is it technically three words or two when one is hyphenated? I don’t want to sound like an idiot!)

Scenic

Lab Rat begins with likely unintelligent human test subjects locked within a giant rat cage. There’s no frills here; metal bars surround us, with a hamster wheel on one wall to keep us active and a functioning water bottle on the other to keep us, you know, alive.

Beyond the cage is a fantastical world of larger than life objects that would seem entirely common if not for their absurd scale: pencils the size of people (which I guess isn’t that odd when you’ve already got people the size of rats), a Rubik’s Cube that could double as a dinner table and a room-sized package freshly delivered by Amousezon Prime. Even if you had no idea what type of mousetrap you were walking into, Lab Rat’s sense of humor becomes instantly apparent.

But for those slightly above average idiots who manage to actually escape the cage, an entire maze of puns, seemingly appropriately circled by a massive Rube Goldberg machine inspires a sense of exploration around every corner. There’s enough twists and turns within this science experiment in stupidity that it’s entirely possible for test subjects to get lost within the labyrinth. Also because they’re idiots.

Perhaps the most impressive aspect of Hatch Escape’s over the top ambiance is its use of a full wall-sized projection screen, which serves to set the stage for not only the gigantic rat world that lies just off the edge of the table our cage sits on, but also for “live” interactions with Lab Rat’s lead protagonist, Ratkenstein. Throughout the adventure, he’ll “enter the room” multiple times to check on us face-to-buck-toothed-face – occasionally prompting us towards our next task, but mostly just to tell us what a disappointment we are.

Puzzles

We hate to sound like rats, but the first task of this adventure was a bit tough for us to chew – even with our sharp human teeth. But – once we managed to fill our food bowl with treats, the rest of our testing flowed smoothly and logically. Although things started off a bit frustrating, it’s important to note that this in no way impacted our overall opinion of Lab Rat.

Once the experience got rolling, we felt like a hamster in one of those clear ball-things. Free to explore a massive maze-like space, we found ourselves (sometimes literally) bouncing off the walls to discover clues hidden in every square inch. (Or do rats use the metric system?)

Lab Rat is jammed full of clever, original puzzles – offering the perfect blend of physical tasks and logical roadblocks to keep us on our toes. The wide range of puzzle styles guarantees that each member of your group, no matter their skill set, will find something they can specialize in, while putting several different senses to the test. At times throughout, teams will even need to split up and utilize unique methods of communication in order to achieve a common goal as a group.

It’s probably worth mentioning that humans are not actually smart enough to run in the hamster wheel, so don’t expect to get inside to give it a spin yourself. You can, however, actually drink from the water bottle, although it’s probably also worth mentioning that Hatch Escapes does not offer tetanus shots if you do.

Overall

It’s no secret that we typically prefer to play a game in a smaller-sized group. We played Lab Rat as a (very experienced) party of two – and frankly this was one of those instances where having at least a couple more test subjects in our party could have probably been beneficial. Yes – we did outwit Ratkenstein – so that’s proof that Lab Rat is entirely achievable with just two players – but we found ourselves running non-stop without even so much as a second to catch our breath. Also, we’re like really smart now you guys, you don’t even know.

Lab Rat is one of those rare games that we heard about non-stop before finally getting the chance to experience it for ourselves. Every bit of praise hyped it as one of the most unique new offerings in the booming Southern California market, though this can sometimes work as a double edged sword. Will it live up to the hype? Will it wow us, even with as many amazing games as we’ve seen? Sometimes that in itself can be as nerve-wracking as the test-subject chipper (which, by the way, is two words; we looked it up. Now who’s the idiot?!)

Well we’re here to tell you that Hatch Escapes lives up to that hype. There’s very few games – if any – that put such a solid focus on story while still maintaining a puzzle flow continuity in a heavily themed environment. Lab Rat may be one of the most entertaining game-based stories we’ve encountered. And while, sure, the first puzzle may have cheesed us off just a bit, the over-arcing experience is so strong and so compelling that Hatch Escapes instantly became one of our favorite venues.

So, what does the future hold for this outside the box new-comer to the LA escape game scene? The answer to that may actually lie inside the box. We can’t say too much, least we face the test-subject chipper ourselves, (which, again, two words) – but Hatch Escapes inhabits a floor of a massive six story building… and owns the entire building. One could say the future for this venue is bright – much brighter than a human, in fact. Because humans are idiots.


Venue Details

Venue: Hatch Escapes

Location: Los Angeles, California

Number of Games: 1

GAME SPECIFIC INFORMATION:

Duration: 60 minutes

Capacity: 12 people

Group Type: Private  / You will not be paired with strangers.

Cost: $39 per person (A minimum booking of $100 is required.)

 

EAR Disclaimer

We thank Hatch Escapes for inviting us to play this game. Although complimentary admission was generously provided, that in no way impacts the opinion included within this review.

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Hatch Escapes - Lab Rat
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