RATING: 0 Keys RESULT: Win REMAINING: 4:45
Orlando’s first escape room venue is also Orlando’s worst escape room venue.
According to The Great Escape Room’s website, this room does in fact have a story. As an apprentice to Sherlock Holmes, your help is needed to uncover a hidden object essential to his battle against the nefarious Professor Moriarty. Sherlock has created a series of deceptively clever games that must be successfully played and only the winners will go on to continue the battle.
Unfortunately in reality, this is a complete misrepresentation of what you’re about to walk into. The Gameroom has no story. At all. Not even close. There is no hidden object hidden by Sherlock that you must find. And definitely nothing near the sophisticated Sherlock Holmes tale they try to present beforehand. The presentation and execution is perhaps the most amateur one will find in an escape room.
They don’t even try.
Their way of running puzzles is a bit bizarre; everything is color coded, so you know all the red clues go with the red puzzle, all the green clues go with the green puzzle, etc. It felt entirely juvenile as a result.
All of that nonsense notwithstanding, The Gameroom willingly broke the one true cardinal sin of escape room design not once – but twice. Allow me to dust off the old caps lock key to state this with the proper emphasis it really needs:
YOU CANNOT EVER HAVE A GAME THAT REQUIRES PLAYERS TO ARRIVE WITH PRIOR KNOWLEDGE OF A TOPIC IN ORDER TO PARTICIPATE.
Listen – don’t at all think of this as a spoiler; think of it as giving you the tools you need to even consider playing this train wreck of a game: if you don’t know the specific titles and locations of every single position in the game of baseball, or the sequential order and full names of the astronauts who landed on the moon, don’t even bother considering to play this game.
As a designer, literally the *worst* thing you can do in a game is simply expect that everyone walks into your room with pre-programmed prior knowledge needed to solve a puzzle. That’s worse than puzzles that don’t make sense. That’s worse than convoluted clues. It’s *the* *worst* *thing* you can do. And The Gameroom does it twice.
It’s ok to use prior knowledge-based puzzles if the information is also hidden somewhere in the room that a player can reference – for example if there were a baseball coach’s play book that marked out the player’s positions, or a NASA poster showing which astronauts participated in what missions. That is not the case in The Gameroom. You simply have to *know* the information on your own, prior to walking in – and if you do not, you literally cannot continue game play any further.
We brought this to the attention of the venue’s manager and were told those things are in the room. When we asked their locations after the fact, the response we were given was “Oh, I guess they must have been damaged and are temporarily removed.” Sorry. I don’t buy that. Not even a little bit.
We did escape The Gameroom with 4:45 left on the clock – thanks in part to half of our party of two walking in with some of the prior knowledge needed for one puzzle, and the other half of our party of two simply making a lucky guess to brute force the other. To be clear – that doesn’t make it ok. This is terrible, terrible game design.
Beyond those two unforgivable game steps- we had at least a moderate amount of fun with the rest of the game, which *might* have come close to earning it 2 Keys otherwise – but really if one strips emotion away, the prior knowledge puzzles alone should cause The Gameroom to get the 0 Keys it ultimately received.
There’s some fun, well-designed games in the Orlando market. The Gameroom is absolutely not one of them.
Venue: The Great Escape Room
Location: Orlando, Florida
Number of Games: 3
GAME SPECIFIC INFORMATION:
Duration: 60 minutes
Capacity: 10 people
Group Type: Public / You may be paired with strangers.
Cost: $23+ per person (prices vary between weekdays and weekends)