RATING: 3 Keys RESULT: Win REMAINING: 12:47
Escapology’s cyber-themed room feels “hacked” together, but still surpasses our expectations for the venue.
If you haven’t heard the name “Nitr0”, you haven’t been watching the news. Described as the world’s greatest hacker, Nitr0 has threatened the FBI with a virus that will drain millions of bank accounts of over $75 billion.
As the Cyber Crime Unit’s newest member, Alex Vargas, you’ve determined that the best way to a promotion is by catching Nitr0. Lucky for you, an anonymous tip comes in that Nitr0 has an apartment in Cambridge.
When you enter, however, the door locks behind you and you hear the static of a television screen coming to life. Nitr0 himself sent in the tip, trapping you in the apartment so that you’ll take the fall for the greatest cyber crime of all time! You only have 60 minutes before the FBI tracks everything to you in the apartment. Your only hope is to find the kill code for the virus and escape within the hour!
While the story works well on paper, I couldn’t help but wonder why Nitr0 so conveniently left me a trail of clues leading to his own kill code. How incredibly nice of him, albeit poorly thought through.
For a brilliant hacker, Nitr0’s apartment comes off more like a messy college dorm, complete with bean bag chairs and food left out on the living room table. While this type of scenery might be appropriate for the story, it felt rather lazy.
Coming into the game I expected to eventually come to a secret techie lair of some sort and was sorely disappointed. As we moved from room to room, it all felt a little too familiar: I was back in my college years living with a roommate who also happened to double as a complete and total slob.
The only thing that stood out in the decorum was the countdown timer. As the minutes ticked down, Nitr0 would occasionally make video appearances on the screen, taunting my team by reminding us of how little time we had left. These frequent interruptions were wonderful and I was often torn whether to continue working on whatever puzzle was in my hands or stop and listen to Nitr0’s updates on the FBI’s progress. I’d never seen this type of immersion through the countdown timer… and I would love to see more of it! I give major props to whoever came up with this.
Unfortunately, the most original puzzle of TH3 C0D3 was one that didn’t actually exist (let’s just say that you should make sure your actors aren’t randomly emphasizing the words “ate”, “to” and “for” when recording videos).
Every puzzle I actually encountered was ‘standard practice’. While most everything certainly fit the theme of a college-student-turned-notorious-hacker, they were things I had already seen before elsewhere, minus one nice flashy-gizmo type puzzle that is pretty cool, if it decides to work.
More memorable than anything were the solutions, which–without giving anything away–gave me a good laugh on more than one occasion. Thanks, game writer who shares my sense of geek humor!
Unfortunately, being a recycled room, TH3 C0D3 has some remnants of a past game that come back to haunt its players. Fun fact: UV ink bleeds through acrylic paint, no matter how many layers you try and put over it. Now, you would figure that a game designer would either omit any blacklight puzzles altogether or simply reuse the same UV scribbles on the wall, but that is sadly not the case here. Instead, I was told that the winding paths to dead ends on the wall I spent ten minutes following was a “red herring” – when in actuality they were merely a poorly handled oversight remaining from the previous game.
Attach the blacklight to the wall to limit its range, or remove it entirely. In all honesty, I don’t care what you do with it, but please don’t insult me by pretending that it’s meant to be there.
TH3 C0D3 is definitely among my favorite games at Escapology. Some may beat it out in the puzzle aspect, but this one is pretty high up there. The story flows very well through the whole experience. While not a “must-see” in the Orlando area per say, TH3 C0D3 still stands out as one of Escapology’s more solid escape rooms.
The feeling of urgency in the room is real, increasing every time Nitr0 takes over the screen to tell you just how close you are to taking the fall for his heist. It was always difficult to decide whether to continue working on a task or stop to watch these interruptions. It was a very fun added element, and one that I hope Escapology–and other Escape Room venues–employ in the future!
What it all comes down to is simply wanting more. To see an escape room giant like Escapology create a room themed around a hacker that fails to incorporate much technology at all is disappointing. There were many puzzles and other opportunities for technology to be used instead of a regular padlock, yet they simply weren’t.
Here’s hoping Escapology has time to “rec0de” this game, because it certainly could stand out as their best with a little added effort.
Location: Orlando, Florida
Number of Games: 7
GAME SPECIFIC INFORMATION:
Duration: 60 minutes
Capacity: 6 people
Group Type: Private (if selected) / You will not be paired with strangers.
Cost: $30 per person (minimum 2)