RATING: 5 Keys RESULT: Win REMAINING: 14:30
Are you prepared for an epic battle of wits with a brilliant criminal mastermind? You’d better be, because the Evil Genius will see you now.
Bill Occam was dead. They said it was an open/shut case: textbook suicide. While we didn’t agree, we just wanted to put this nasty chapter behind us; just clean out his apartment and move on with our lives.
The hallway seemed never-ending. To most people, it was just another hallway leading to another rundown apartment. To us, well, we might as well be falling down the rabbit hole. We stand frozen outside of his door as a feeling of dread washes over us. “What is wrong with me? There is nothing to be afraid of,” we each think. We steel ourselves and open the door…
As long-time friends of Occam, we knew something just didn’t add up – and although we told even ourselves that our purpose for returning to his apartment really was solely to collect the remainder of his belongings, I think we all knew that once we stepped foot inside it would be up to us to solve a mystery.
It’s finally time to go head to head with the Evil Genius behind Occam’s untimely demise – but will this battle bring a finale at last, or just the end of Chapter 1?
Our experience starts in a seedy back alleyway; it’s the kind of place that makes you question if you were to scream for help, would there even be anyone around to hear it? We may not have even continued this far had it not been for the annoyed glances from the property manager we pulled away from his dinner break to let us inside. After unlocking Occam’s front door, he tells us we’re on our own, adding even more apprehension to the scene of the rundown old apartment we’re about to enter.
Once inside, the decor is that of a fairly standard apartment. There’s really nothing extraordinary to catch our eye. And while – in any other review – that would be the set up to discuss how much of a let-down the scenic is, Occam’s Apartment is the stark opposite. This place doesn’t feel like a standard apartment for lack of effort; to the contrary, clear effort went into creating a world where it feels so well-lived in.
Dirty dishes in the sink. Food in the fridge. Even empty – dirty – Chinese food take out containers left on the end table next to the couch. In his bedroom, Occam’s clothes fill the drawers, and notes and papers litter his far-too-modest-to-be-productive work area.
This place doesn’t feel like a standard apartment; it unquestionably is a standard apartment.
The quest to solve the mystery of what happened to our old friend Bill Occam plays out like a classic detective story – and while every escape room we’ve seen naturally starts with searching the room for clues, that directive takes on a whole new meaning in a world so well created to feel like a true to life crime scene.
Nothing in Occam’s world, when viewed from our own real world, comes across as a “puzzle for puzzle’s sake.” Much to the contrary, each and every step smoothly progresses to the next logically, fluidly and in such a themed manner that it feels more like a story unfolding than just another game.
Even “necessary evils” that tend to hinder many of the best of game’s storyworlds fit into place within Occam’s Apartment. The property manager tells you he’ll be back to lock up in one hour, and checks an actual digital clock next to the couch to tell you what time it currently is. It’s a perfectly tongue-in-cheek way of starting your proverbial countdown timer without ever breaking the fourth wall. Hints are handled over the telephone – and always fully in character – delivered by a fellow spy checking in on your progress.
And when you near the end of your mission, it won’t be dramatic music or a ticking sound effect from a monitor that builds up your adrenaline; No, no – this world is real, and whether or not you initially planed to become this involved – now, you are. The Evil Genius just framed you for his crimes, and your clock ticking down is now literally the police pounding on the outside of the apartment’s door – the only door – screaming at you to open up and surrender.
Evil Genius Escape Rooms came to us very highly regarded by several key industry folks who in their own right tend to be very tough critics. Honestly, it created a situation wherein The Evil Genius had some very lofty expectations to meet.
Like a true criminal mastermind worthy of his legendary alias, he managed to exceed them.
Chapter 1 had everything we look for in a game experience. Believable scenic that brings the world to life. Logical, intuitive, original puzzles that seamlessly exist within the storyworld. And it’s all tied together by a compelling story that makes us active participants in the conflict, with clear consequences that impact us directly to inspire a sense of urgency.
And what’s better than that – this is only Chapter 1. Evil Genius Escape Rooms have chosen to follow an ambitious cinematic-style path where each game is a chapter in a single over-arcing narrative. Each chapter builds to the next, and by the end, you’ll know the true story behind the infamous Evil Genius himself. There’s just no better way to inspire repeat visits each time a page is turned to the next Chapter in this tale.
And for us? Well, we’re here to tell you about it- so clearly we found a way to sneak past the police, and at least for now, we can say we won the first battle against the Evil Genius – but this war is far from over.
Venue: Evil Genius Escape Rooms
Location: Los Angeles, CA
Number of Games: 2
GAME SPECIFIC INFORMATION:
Duration: 60 minutes
Capacity: 6 people
Group Type: Private / You will not be paired with strangers.
Cost: $38 per person (for 2 people) or $32 per person (for 3-6 people.) You must book a minimum of two tickets.
We thank Evil Genius Escape 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.