Escape Authority

In-Depth Escape Room Reviews

Review: Paradiso: Chapter 1

RATING: 5 Keys  6 Keys          RESULT: Loss          REMAINING: X:XX

Submit yourself to the promises of a mysterious cult-like organization and reap the rewards of a euphoric paradise more immersive than any you’ve encountered before.

Story

 

Paradiso tells the story of the Virgil Corporation, a global mega-corporation led by a team of behavioral scientists who seek conclusive proof of the Escape Gene — a rare quality that raises extraordinary people above the ordinary. The Virgil Corporation has sought to isolate this gene for years. They believe those with the gene may help to lead our precarious species into an enlightened paradise of order, balance and peace. Do you have what they are looking for?

Enter the world of the Virgil Corporation – an intriguing organization offering promises of a brighter tomorrow – a more balanced, enlightened existence much more akin to paradise than the world we currently call home. Their invitation is welcoming and inspiring – almost as though it was designed to tell you everything you wanted to hear.

The Virgil Corporation sounds almost too good to be true – yet this mysterious organization is very much real – but are their motives?

Paradiso puts perhaps more effort into the storyworld than any venue we’ve ever seen before it. It’s so easy to suspend disbelief and accept everything about The Virgil Corporation is very much now your own reality. And for those, like me, who truly want to get lost within an attraction’s storyworld, within the world of Paradiso, it begins long beyond the moment your proverbial sixty minute game timer begins.

Much to the contrary, your experience within the world of Paradiso begins the moment you purchase your ticket. You’re immediately introduced to the ominous Virgil Corporation through its very-much-believable official website. Each page is lined with euphoric buzzwords clearly designed to manipulate your mind to drive you to a comforted, complacent – and more importantly complicit state.

The story is far from finished there. The Virgil Corporation fully infiltrates the entirety of your existence – seamlessly ingraining itself into each and every one of your safe spaces, including continued email contact, and yes, even your phone. And the best part – some of these interactions might just impact your experience once you finally step foot into The Virgil Corporation’s headquarters.

Paradiso isn’t a simple escape game; it’s not even simple immersive theater. No – simply put, Paradiso is an experience.

Scenic

Your first physical encounter with the Virgil Corporation does not begin within their headquarters. Oh no; they’re certainly not about to just give out that address. Your journey to paradise begins in a bar – literally. An actual, unrelated, real establishment. The authenticity of this start, including an interaction with the bartender that is very much real instantly validates the world of Paradiso that lies before you.

It is within this bar that your contact from the Virgil Corporation will collect you. Expect no information to be provided to you. Simply submit to their invitation to join them, and your rewards will become limitless.

Navigating hallways full of unmarked doors, you finally reach the nondescript entry to the Virgil Corporation’s lobby. It is here that you finally get your initial firsthand taste of the world of Paradiso.

Although the surroundings are at their core, any given corporate office lobby, there is something distinctly unnerving about this space. Despite the continued promises for a better tomorrow, it’s difficult to not instantly wish you were somewhere else – anywhere else. It quickly becomes clear that the Virgil Corporation may not be all that it seems.

It is here that you also meet the next member of the Virgil Corporation’s staff – a sort of receptionist who doubles as your orientation facilitator – and subsequently your brainwasher. Something is distinctly not right with her; Thanks to expertly placed theatrical lighting and sound effects, her human face literally glitches before you while she speaks, as if she’s some type of soulless robot. It’s without a doubt one of the most effective game starts we’ve ever encountered, instilling a sense of pure urgency like never before.

This is merely the start of your journey through Paradiso. What follows that reception area is a series of grand scale Hollywood-style sets, decked out from ceiling to floor with furnishings, fixtures and props that leave no question this is a very real place. It’s among the most real escape game environments we’ve ever seen.

Secret passages, hidden rooms  and several additional actors draw you into the Virgil Corporation’s storyworld casting you in a highly active starring role – or perhaps as that of its next victim depending on how well you fare.

Puzzles

 

Each of Paradiso’s many rooms contains at least one core puzzle – and in some cases, several. It should come as no surprise in such a fully flushed out world that every puzzle from start to finish fits organically within the storyworld, furthering the narrative as seemingly logical objectives you might be tasked to complete by the Virgil Corporation to test the quality of your Escape Gene – or, later in the adventure, active and urgent objectives you might use yourself in hopes of finding a desperate means of escape.

Paradiso seamlessly integrates its four actors spread throughout the experience into the puzzles in such a way that they are never obtrusive to the player experience. This allows for real world interactions that make these puzzles feel far more like real world tasks.

 

The puzzles themselves are intuitive and engaging. They created a satisfying challenge for our group of two without ever feeling truly overwhelming in an attraction designed for much larger group sizes.

Perhaps most satisfying in Paradiso’s world of manipulation- the choices you make at different moments throughout your journey can actually impact the outcome of your own story.

Overall

 

Paradiso checks every box for things we look for in an Escape Game. The level of immersion it delivers, and by doing so the degree of urgency it succeeds in creating may never be surpassed.

No other actor-based game has ever provided the degree of personalized, authentic interactions that we received from the Virgil Corporation. And simply put, for an Escape Game, the sheer size of the cast is mind-blowing. Gone are the days of encountering high schoolers in latex zombie masks; these are legit Broadway-caliber performers, interacting with you directly on a highly personalized level that rivals that of nearby immersive theater attractions the likes of Sleep No More or Then She Fell.

Paradiso also offers a unique premium experience: The Path of Beatrice. If you’ve got some extra change in your pocket at the time of booking, selecting this option will expand your experience even longer before, and even more so after you escape the Virgil Corporation’s headquarters. It’s the perfect way to prove this story never truly ends – and reinforces the notion that your safe exit is no victory – but rather all just part of the grander plan.

And that’s only Chapter 1. Paradiso: Chapter 2 premiers in New York City tomorrow, even further extending this incredible immersive adventure.

Paradiso is an interesting beast in its own uniqueness, making it rather difficult to classify or market. So what is Paradiso? Is it an Escape Game? Well, yes. But is it Immersive Theater? Well, yes to that too. But is it a Haunt? Not directly, but there’s definitely some very thrilling and intense moments within.

To understand Paradiso is to allow yourself to broaden your own horizons, as well as your preconceived notions of just what an interactive attraction can – and more so – should be. Paradiso is more. Paradiso brings the proverbial game to a whole new level.

 

 

Venue Details

Venue:  Paradiso

Location: New York, New York

Number of Games: 2

GAME SPECIFIC INFORMATION:

Duration: 60 minutes

Capacity: 10 people

Group Type: Public  / You may be paired with strangers.

Cost: $50 per person

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Paradiso: Chapter 1
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