RATING: 3 Keys RESULT: Win REMAINING: 38:55
Bravely venture to the top of Mount Olympus to prove your worth to the Gods of Math and Word Searches!
On paper, At Odds with the Gods is quite the unique story for an escape game – an opportunity to become immersed in the world of the Greek Gods, and perhaps a chance to prove our worth and become the stuff of legends. And for that reason, The Escape Effect absolutely got our attention.
Unfortunately, once the door shuts behind you, the story is essentially gone. Yes, the space is themed to fit the mood – but nearly no action you take will connect to the storyworld in any meaningful way. Puzzles for puzzles sake often left us scratching our heads and asking “why would a Greek God do *this*?”
Sadly, we were left feeling not like gods atop Mount Olympus, but rather, just people playing an escape game – and at times, people frustrated by an escape game.
At Odds with the Gods truly pushes the limits of what one can do with paint, creating a pleasant environment that stands out from the many square white box office rooms we’ve seen. The game’s four rooms are scenic painted to look aged, distressed and in some places crumbing – setting an appropriately expected tone for this theme’s subject matter.
Lightly textured walls do help the flavor here, but as is often the case, paint can only go so far – and while the room did certainly look good enough, it left us wishing for some sculpted and/or fabricated set pieces to really sell the Greek temple motif. Anything to break the monotony of four square walls would have gone a long, long way in this one to counterbalance the sense of being surrounded by painted murals and instead transport players into the storyworld it had hoped to create.
And while that is by no means to say a room’s scenic can only look good with fabricated sets, certain themes require them more than others to be executed in a believable manner. It’s definitely something we would have liked to have seen in a Greek temple.
At Odds with the Gods flounders in the puzzle department, and for the most part falls flat. The vast majority, with just a small handful of exceptions, feel like puzzles for puzzles’ sake. Early in the game, we encountered a great in-world puzzle involving authentic-looking Greek weapons and accessories that set the tone, and our expectations for what was to come in this “90 minute” adventure. Unfortunately many steps that would follow felt as though they lacked an organic connection to the storyworld of the Greek Gods – and essentially everything yielded yet another four digit code.
Again, as with scenic, we do not simply expect a venue to be full of high tech gadgets. We understand that not all venues have the budget or the programming experience to implement and maintain them. And as a rule, we do not rate a venue lower for being very code and key heavy as long as it makes sense within the intended storyworld of that attraction.
That being said, do I even need to point out that an ancient Greek Temple would probably not be locked down with countless four digit number padlocks? Things like this can truly hurt the overall flow of the attraction – and in essence are a paramount topic to ponder when in the early stages of designing a game. Simply put, if tech isn’t your thing, make sure you craft a story and setting where lower tech makes organic sense. The Escape Effect missed that mark.
A much bigger point of contention in the puzzle department, however, is the sheer number of lazy “puzzles” included in this game – ones that either lacked originality or were clearly intended to just be time sinks to run out a players clock – or worse in some cases, both. Multiple lengthy math “puzzles.” A giant, wall-mounted word search which – offensive enough on its own, somehow finds a way to make it worse by requiring players to use it not once, but twice.
Either of these is poor puzzle design for a game – but both together left us shaking our heads. Math isn’t a puzzle. Math is homework. And no one wants to pay $40+ to solve a puzzle they can get as an impulse buy at the CVS cash register for $1.50. I preach this often – but situations like this one remind me that apparently there’s no such thing as often enough: The “escape” of an escape game is escaping reality. Put me in a different world, and let me encounter something I cannot do at home in my everyday life.
And speaking of time, let’s talk about that for a moment. The Escape Effect prides themselves in having “Orlando’s only 90 minute game.” Except At Odds with the Gods shouldn’t have a 90 minute time limit. We finished this game with 38:55 remaining. Now, I’d like to be clear that we do not ever look down on a game if *we* finish it faster than the allotted time. It goes without saying that we’ve played quite a few games, so that’s to be expected from time to time.
But. We were a party of four, playing a game designed for up to TEN people. We finished with nearly 40 minutes remaining. At Odds with the Gods is not a 90 minute game, whether or not it offers players a 90 minute time limit.
We were excited to visit The Escape Effect, as the theme of this game stood out as different. We were even more pleased when the owners spent more than an hour asking for our feedback after we played. That’s something we’re always happy to share, because at the end of the day, a rising tide lifts all ships. We’ve intentionally held off a few months on posting our review of At Odds with the Gods, in hopes that some of the bigger puzzle design issues we brought to light might be corrected and replaced if given some time. Unfortunately, it has been brought to our attention from a handful of local readers that the game today is essentially the game we played a few months back.
So, at the end of the day The Escape Effect is far from the worst venue in the Orlando market, but they’re equally far from the best. We hope that with time and experience, they improve the puzzle design issues in an effort to make themselves more competitive in what is already a highly competitive Orlando market.
Venue: The Escape Effect
Location: Orlando, Florida
Number of Games: 3
GAME SPECIFIC INFORMATION:
Duration: 90 minutes
Capacity: 10 people
Group Type: Public / You may be paired with strangers.
Cost: $42 per person
We thank The Escape Effect for inviting us to play this game. Although complimentary admission was generously provided, that in no way impacts the opinion included within this review.