RATING: 1 Key RESULT: Win REMAINING: 2:53
In Space, only the Dyson bladeless fan can hear you scream.
The pretense of players actually existing in a real story world, on a real space ship, simply does not exist in this game. There is some text that scrolls on a computer monitor showing a ship’s log and detailing which planets or space stations were visited. Transfers of cargo to one person or another. But beyond that, there is not a story presented. The primary goal of the game is to reboot the ship and engage its systems to return to Earth. This is accomplished by completing four key tasks that each grant a piece to an activation code. It’s not clear why these tasks would be a part of a security or maintenance protocol for the ship, but nevertheless, it’s what player must do.
There are a lot of missed opportunities here to work through solving a mystery of why the ship has powered down, or why players need to restore the ship to its normal operating mode.
The “bridge” and a supply closet. In the bridge, there’s a control console (a windows keyboard), a view port (a stationary poster of a galaxy), and another exterior view of a planet surface with a rover (a collection of rocks seemingly on the space ship as well?).
Another odd element was an open vent inside of the supply closet that led to an empty crawl space showing the back of set flats.
I could go on about the office ceiling tiles in the bridge. Or the lack of any way to pilot the ship. Or the poorly projected star map on the ceiling. Or the completely out of place Dyson fan sitting in the room…
Few puzzles actually exist in this game. We spent a large portion of time working out how to even input solutions to a few puzzles. This mostly was caused by temperamental technology and a poor maintenance routine. The first puzzle of the game involves using Auxiliary cables to restart the power system. The steps of this puzzle were actually enjoyable, but most ports were loose and not well maintained. Even with the correct solution we had to jiggle and play with the cables in order for the sensors to register.
Another puzzle involved a series of concentric circles each marked with different symbols. It uses magnets to register the position of each circle. These must each land at a precise position. Unfortunately, the way the puzzle was constructed allowed the wheels to spin rather freely and not rest at any particular position. Placing one wheel at the correct spot would misalign the others. The puzzle became more about wrangling the object and trying to determine at what points a sensor would actually be triggered at instead of putting in a solution. There was not any direct feedback from the environment to let us know an answer had been registered. We spoke to the game master afterward about it and his was response was that you had to just keep messing with it until it worked. Not an ideal situation.
With a room set in a high-tech environment, one expects to see high tech elements. Meeting guest expectations is important, and Escape Games NYC just does not deliver. Beyond not having high-tech in their space ship, some simple tech did not even function properly. One key puzzle in the game involves surfaces with lights behind them. Several of them failed to illuminate resulting in us needing to get the answer over the radio instead of really being able to complete the challenge. This type of experience occurred several times with the room showing us it had not been checked regularly to ensure every element was functioning.
I love rooms that innovate and integrate tech and sensor driven puzzles in a way to enhance the story and environment. Space games are the perfect place to do that, but time and again we see venues biting off more than they can chew with this story idea. Outer Space at Escape Games NYC is a cautionary tale about not overpromising and under-delivering.
Venue: Escape Games NYC
Location: New York, New York
Number of Games: 3
GAME SPECIFIC INFORMATION:
Duration: 60 minutes
Capacity: 6 people
Group Type: Private / You will not be paired with strangers.
Cost: $100+ per group of 2 (price varies for additional players)