RATING: 2 Keys RESULT: Win REMAINING: 9:55
The skeleton of a great game is there, but a few bones seem to have been broken during this doctor’s experiments.
Dr. Fritz Von Hoffen has been labeled a “Mad Scientist.” He has dedicated his life’s work to creating THE ANTIDOTE – a cure to the terminal illness which has befallen his beloved wife Hilde. Two days ago, he finally perfected it. Fritz was framed by a group of jealous colleagues who call themselves THE NUCLEUS. With Fritz locked away, wrongly accused, they plan to weaponize his powerful ANTIDOTE and sell it on the black market to some of our country’s deadliest enemies. THE NUCLEUS must be stopped. You must locate THE ANTIDOTE and use it to clear Fritz’s good name, allowing him to finally cure his darling wife Hilde!
As a mission-driven game, the only story you seem to get in Mad Scientist is the information you’re given before the game begins. Who is Dr. Fritz Von Hoffen? Why has he been labeled a “Mad Scientist?” Who are The Nucleus? Why are they jealous? What illness has befallen Hilde?
It’s such an interesting and compelling story, but once that timer starts, you’re tasked with retrieving the antidote and virtually all references to it seem to be tossed to the wind. I would have loved to have seen more tie-backs to Fritz, Hilde, and The Nucleus as we played. Unfortunately, Mad Scientist simply didn’t seem to expand on what was presented to us before the game began.
I’ll save you the suspense and inform you that Mad Scientist does indeed take place in a single gigantic room. While this makes the area easily accessible to wheelchairs and large groups (as I was told when I inquired about it), it also makes the space seem less like a mad scientist’s laboratory and more like… well, an escape room.
The decoration fits well enough, with plenty of test tubes, beakers, and lab coats to go through, but there’s not nearly enough items to mask how cavernous this room truly is.
On a more positive note, however, the antidote is clearly on display during the majority of the duration of the game, yet just out of reach. I love when games taunt their players like this, and it makes for a fun element as you seem to get closer and closer to unlocking your final objective!
Its puzzles are, for the most part, what make Mad Scientist shine. There’s a great assortment of physical tasks that must be solved, including several that will have you and your teammates working together.
While our team of two was able to make our escape with antidote in hand, some of these puzzles would have been much easier had a third person been in the room with us. That being said, I wouldn’t recommend playing with only two people unless you’re very confident in your dexterity.
Unfortunately, during our game, there were also several items that did not seem to be working properly, and our game master even had to come in at one point to literally hit a puzzle until it worked. This really took us out of the action, which is always jarring to have happen in the middle of a game. It’s also been brought to our attention time and time again that other people seem to have similar issues, which really says something about MindQuest Escape Games’ ability (or unwillingness) to manage and upkeep their games properly.
MindQuest Escape Games seems to fall into the same trap with every game they create: coming up with a great story, incoporating some cool puzzles, and then letting it all go to waste via poor management. It’s a pity, really, because this story has such amazing potential. Antidotes and scientists are common tropes in Escape Rooms, but their stories generally don’t revolve around a bedridden wife and jealous colleagues quite as much as zombies and plagues. Instead, Mad Scientist devolves into a simple race against the clock to complete all the seemingly random tasks left by Dr. Fritz Von Hoffen to unlock his antidote, rather than utilizing and expanding upon a clever story.
For having such a large space and wide variety of decorations, Mad Scientist feels incredibly empty and could have benefited from a few additional walls to separate the room into different areas. Unfortunately, due to its sheer size, this game lacks any sense of wonder or discovery, something which is desperately needed to make up for the absence of any sort of narrative once the game begins.
For me, the worst part of Mad Scientist was the inattention of our game master and the broken puzzles we encountered during the game. Lack of story and giant room aside, this is not a bad game, and I would even go so far as to say that I enjoyed the multitude of physical tasks we needed to complete. Mindquest would do well to invest in additional game masters and proper upkeep for their rooms to assure that every guest receives a top-notch game every time.
Venue: MindQuest Escape Games
Location: Orlando, Florida
Number of Games: 5
GAME SPECIFIC INFORMATION:
Duration: 60 minutes
Capacity: 8 people
Group Type: Varies / Must book at least 4 spots for a private game or you may be paired with strangers
Cost: Varies / Public $28 per person, Private $31 per person