RATING: 3 Keys RESULT: Win REMAINING: 0:14
The Cold War might be over for us, but in this spy game who can you truly trust?
Clue Chase’s Lost Spy is a small scale espionage game. A CIA Operations Officer has gone missing. Your team must investigate his office to find where he has gone and uncover a Russian plot to destabilize the United States. Typically spy Escape Rooms involve infiltrating an enemy base or office, so changing this to a friendly’s office is a different change of pace. This alters the setup from the typical “the general will return to his office in 60 minutes” to a more simple “solve the mystery in 60 minutes”. There is a surprise time-based objective that reveals itself later along in the journey, but the story itself does not break any new ground.
What Clue Chase does that is unique is a reversal of expectation in regards to a specific Escape Room element that is constant across games. This leads to a finale that had us asking the always enjoyable question, “Do they really want us to do that?”
There’s not much scenically to do in a room that takes place in a simple office. Props, chairs, and lamps have a 60’s cold war feel to them, but there’s nothing that stands out as being particularly noteworthy.
The entire space uses lamps as the sole lighting source for the room – which while that may seem like a minimal thing to point out, really does give an improved ambiance and the feeling of the mission taking place late at night.
It’s clear this game is designed for a large group. Multiple puzzle threads exist that can be completed simultaneously and often unlock items to be used in a “gather all the pieces” puzzle. There is some integration to the story world with the puzzles. You can expect to decode transmissions and use a spy tool to find a hidden message straight out of the Cold War spycraft handbook.
However, quite a few puzzles come from the generic puzzle handbook. The most egregious offenders are a Sudoku and Newspaper Crossword puzzle. These scream time-sink filler to me. While it’s important to make sure there is enough for an entire group to work on, especially with a group size of ten, puzzles must still fit within a story world and ultimately offer an experience guests can’t easily replicate in their home.
We also experienced another issue that perhaps will be unique to our group, but is still worth mentioning. As a group of three playing the room, the owner informed us that we could actually ignore the Crossword and Sudoku puzzle and the answers or information we would have gained would be provided to us since those are just filler puzzles. This turned out to not actually be the case and we did not end up being provided with that information. These answers ultimately led to information to assist with the end game that put us at an unintended disadvantage.
We had our first experience with a fully wireless sensor driven puzzle at this venue. We were placing items on an object to go along with a puzzle’s steps, but talking among ourselves about how there wasn’t any logical way completing these steps could unlock anything, “but let’s keep doing it anyways.” And sure enough, it unlocked an element on the complete other side of the room and left us stunned at this new piece of tech.
Clue Chase’s The Lost Spy starts at somewhat of a lower footing for opting to take on one of the more prevalent themes of Escape Rooms without a twist on the story. The office setting and some generic puzzles don’t help its case either. Despite these few negatives, The Lost Spy still manages to create a fun gameplay experience with a unique finale. It exists in a weird middle ground space where its favorable merits and negative merits sit at direct opposition to each other, thus its three keys rating from us.
The staff for The Lost Spy was great. Our game master handled hints in the right manner and performed well during one of the game’s more… unique moments. We spoke briefly with the owner of Clue Chase while we were at the venue and he had a clear passion for the industry and seemed very interested in making sure our experience was the best possible.
You can expect to enjoy The Lost Spy, but with a few small alterations it could be a four keys game. Finding a few more story suitable puzzles to replace the generic puzzle book ones, and revamping the way the final puzzle of the game works would go a long way to bringing the quality of game up.
Venue: Clue Chase
Location: New York, New York
Number of Games: 3
GAME SPECIFIC INFORMATION:
Duration: 60 minutes
Capacity: 10 people
Group Type: Public / You may be paired with strangers.
Cost: $29 per person