RATING: 3 Keys RESULT: Win REMAINING: 7:41
T-Rex doesn’t want to be fed; he wants to hunt (for where the line is in IP fair usage.)
During a preview tour of a park stocked with ferocious dinosaurs, the power goes out and the predators break free. Your only chance at survival is to seek refuge in a remote dinosaur pen and find a way to restore power to the electric fence to keep the nearby T-Rex at bay in this game designed for 2-10 people.
Park goers are enjoying a nice peaceful tour of this island full of dinosaurs when the electric fence shuts off. The most dangerous of the creatures, a T-Rex, breaks free of his enclosure on the north end of the island and starts charging towards the south, where the tasty humans are located.
With his big legs and tiny arms, it will take him exactly one hour to reach the compound surrounded by a not-so-electrified fence.
Park guests must solve puzzles to break into a secured control room and restore power to the perimeter wall. The hungry T-Rex can smell them from miles away, and time is most certainly not on their side.
Tour members enter the park through a large stone gate. The entire enclosure is visible upon walking through the gate and consists of an “outdoor” area and a control room locked on the other side of a security fence.
The walls surrounding the space are impressively textured and intricate. Three rows of electric wiring top the exterior barrier, running along the entire perimeter of the park enclosure. Several areas of interest immediately demand exploration, including a giant pile of dinosaur dung.
The attention to detail is excellent between one inch off the floor and the top of the electrified wall. Outside of those parameters, it is entirely evident that this is a game plopped down in an office space. A carpet below and a drop panel ceiling above destroy the immersiveness of T-Rex Lockdown.
The perimeter wall stops about one foot shy of the ceiling, making it easy to see the space outside of the themed environment. This gap also allows any noise from the lobby or backstage to filter right into the space.
T-Rex Lockdown is chock full of puzzles that directly relate to the storyworld. Every task that park goers need to complete to secure themselves from the charging beast nicely ties in to either the dinosaur story or the “we need electricity” drama.
The puzzles are varied in style and physicality, allowing all members of the tour group to participate in some capacity. Ample instances of simple tech bring the puzzles alive in this high-tech dinosaur research environment. Multiple traditional locks and roadblocks balance the experience perfectly.
Problems arise at a few points as the linear game flow bottlenecks. The first such hinderance occurs early on, right after the initial exploration of the park. Guests are confronted with a single puzzle that requires three steps to procure a numeric code. We found the process of arriving at the correct solution to be unintuitive without the help of a clue.
Lacking any clear direction during the bottleneck puzzles, we ended up aimlessly retracing our steps to see if anything had been missed.
This issue repeated itself throughout our attempt to restore electricity to the perimeter wall. Small logic leaps made us reliant on clues. Each puzzle we had trouble with made perfect sense once our group was nudged in the right direction, but seeing the game designers thought process without hints proved to be difficult.
T-Rex Lockdown’s flow from one puzzle to the next provided a couple of nice “AHA!” moments. With only a couple exceptions, it was very clear when each step of the process was successfully completed. The first time a milestone wasn’t easy to recognize came in the form of very faint text lighting up on the wall directly above the puzzle. The faint light turns off if players step away from the wall, making it quite easy to miss this reveal.
A second unclear hiccup occurs when park guests need to weigh four rocks by hand to determine which is heaviest. The rocks are identical in size and very, very close in weight.
T-Rex Lockdown showcases creative puzzles, but several would benefit from additional built in clues.
T-Rex Lockdown attempts to throw guests into the world of Jurassic Pa….uh I mean a generic park stocked with ferocious dinosaurs not bound by Intellectual Property laws.
Several very obvious nods to a movie with a strikingly similar plot leave little room for interpretation of the intended theme. Unless, of course, every dinosaur park has Barbasol cans and fossilized bugs in chunks of amber.
Guests are technically limited to three clues, but Exit 4 has no problem giving more help if it is needed. In fact, our game master needed to be so helpful that it actually further diminished the game immersion. In order to advance through the game, guests will have to unlock a set of handcuffs. It turns out that unlocking handcuffs is pretty difficult without prior experience. Our game master eventually walked in to the room to unlock them for us.
Exit 4 succeeds in creating a pretty environment with very challenging puzzles. It falls short on delivering a truly immersive space. T-Rex Lockdown has an ending that works perfectly within the storyworld, but after hearing rumors that we’d come face to face with a giant T-Rex, we left a little underwhelmed at the big reveal.
Venue: Exit 4 Private Escape Rooms
Location: Collingswood, NJ
Number of Games: 3
GAME SPECIFIC INFORMATION:
Duration: 60 minutes
Capacity: 2-10 people
Group Type: Private / You will not be paired with strangers.
Cost: $28 per person