RATING: 2 Keys RESULT: Win REMAINING: 6:12
Our journalist friend took a bite bigger than he could chew and needs our help. Maybe just stick to the funnies next time Walter.
Your friend Walter, a renowned journalist, is heading to a remote cabin in the woods to do some research. From what he’s told you there have been a number of disappearances over the past year and he wants to get to the bottom of it. Rumors say someone, or something, is up there patiently waiting for its next victim. Unafraid, Walter packed his bags and took off. That was a week ago. This morning Walter sent you a series of texts that were frightening and you fear for his safety. His last message was quite disturbing, and it looks like you have very little time if you want to see him alive again…
This relatively interesting back story is given at the beginning of the room and does its job to create intrigue. After the initial setup, however, the plot itself is not particularly engaging. It was difficult to decide whether we were trying to escape from a haunted cabin or rescue a friend from a frightening demon. This led to quite a few stagnant moments that deprived the game of pace and momentum. The story did establish a creepy overtone that created an atmosphere of suspense throughout the game. This adds a bit of adrenaline to each puzzle and gave the experience a sense of excitement.
At the end of the game there is an attempt at a twist ending. Although well-intended, the ending wasn’t executed strongly and left our team a bit confused rather than shocked and blown away. This could be attributed to the lack of cohesive storyline mentioned above and the room’s inability to draw the players into the plot. The choppiness of the narrative did well to establish the thrilling atmosphere of the room but did a poor job cultivating interest and establishing momentum.
The design of the room was broken down into two main areas: indoors and outdoors. The inside of the cabin was a relatively small room decorated with demonic symbols and drawings on the walls. Again, the initial glance established the spooky vibes of the haunted cabin as intended. Upon further inspection, however, it was clear that there wasn’t a strong attempt to incorporate the puzzles into the design of the interior. Clues stuck out like sore thumbs and ultimately drew attention from the aesthetic of the room.
The “outside” of the cabin (which was really just another room) did not help establish the world any more than the interior did. Plastic sheds and forest wallpaper were used to decorate the exterior but the quality was just not there. The design did not particularly help the plot either. Couldn’t we just run through the forest to escape our demon Cabin captors or were we still looking for our friend? The scenic of the Cabin is another detractor from the immersive nature of the game and is a missed opportunity to add a bit more excitement to our experience.
The Cabin houses an assortment of puzzles that are about as average as it gets in the escape game industry. None of the tasks were particularly difficult, the majority being combination locks and various ways to get their numbers. One or two non-traditional puzzles were used which definitely added to the experience, but not so much that they put Unity Escape Rooms ahead of their peers.
As previously mentioned, the puzzles were not very well hidden into the design of the room. This meant it was clear where to look for the next step and gave the room a steady rhythm. This type of flow is great for beginners but felt a bit like our hand was being held through the room. While it feels great to breeze through tasks, there was never a clear why, which distracted from the storyline.
The puzzles in the Cabin were not the most innovative we’ve seen, but they were exactly what you would expect from an escape room: direct, clear, and from time to time satisfying.
With many games popping up all over Southern California, it is clear that escape rooms are getting more and more popular. Inevitably, there will be two categories of companies in a growing industry: those passionate about the product and those trying to capitalize off of the hype. The former companies consistently put out imaginative and creative games that push the envelope. The latter companies usually produce lukewarm games that just meet the minimum requirements of what an escape room is supposed to be.
Unfortunately, it seems that The Cabin falls into the second category. Minimal story, a below-average design, and mediocre puzzles just do nothing to advance the escape game community as a whole.
Venue: Unity Escape Rooms
Location: Redlands, CA
Number of Games: 4
GAME SPECIFIC INFORMATION:
Duration: 60 minutes
Capacity: 8 people
Group Type: Public / You may be paired with strangers.
Cost: $30 per person