RATING: 5 Keys RESULT: Win REMAINING: 17:00
When the evil Shredder attacks, sometimes even those turtle boys need some help making sure he gets cut no slack!
Having the opportunity to step into the real 3-D world of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is like seeing my fondest childhood memories brought to life. And even better, not only are they alive, but now they need MY help, making me the star of the latest TMNT adventure. Cowabunga dudes!
Our experience begins as innocent by-standers on a run of the mill subway ride home from work. Then like in any good comic book conflict, something goes terribly wrong. Shredder, evil leader of the nefarious Foot Clan has attacked the central subway station directly under the city, placing a bomb which will completely destroy downtown. The Turtles are on their way, but this time they can’t do it alone.
After freeing ourselves from the train, and stopping it at the correct station, it’s up to us to locate the bomb and find a way to stop it. This won’t be easy – but we’re not on our own. Until the Turtles arrive, Master Splinter is watching over us from afar and will lend his guidance.
And hey – if we save the city on our own before the Leonardo, Donatello, Raphael and Michelangelo arrive that just means all the more pizza for us!
TMNT exists in a storyworld beautifully crafted to hit all the major beats of its narrative. Beginning in a small narrow space, it’s clear that we are in an old NYC subway car. The walls are a distressed, almost dirty metal texture. The car’s windows hide TVs that create the sense of rapid movement down the tracks. Occasionally Michelangelo himself even pops up outside the window to check on our progress before returning to his brothers in some unseen area of the tunnel to resume their battle with the Foot.
We’re able to gain access into the conductor’s booth at the front of the train to help get us to the proper station, and once there, we disembark into the dismal underground terminal to begin our search for the bomb.
Escape Room Live makes an art form out of tastefully recreating the somewhat otherwise less than enchanting environment of a NYC subway station. Attention to detail is everywhere, from perfectly distressed surfaces that almost look like they’d be filthy if you were to touch them to outdated product advertisements fighting for our consumer dollar. They’ve brought the experience of subway transit and all the burdens it carries to life in a very real way, making it easy to become immersed in this storyworld.
Some very clever puzzles accentuate this game from start to finish in a way that furthers the reality of its storyworld. Common items that, on their own in a real world setting can be almost puzzle like – for example navigating a subway station map – are used to great success to further enhance the sense of world-building.
Each room’s puzzles logically connect to the storyworld existence of their respective space. Puzzles in the first room organically fit with objects one would expect to find on board a subway car, and once in the station, every action you take naturally links to what you may encounter before or after your transit.
Even the act of defusing Shredder’s bomb – which if we’re being honest is a bit of an over-done trope we’ve seen many times before elsewhere – is achieved through a clever series of steps that feels organic to what Donatello himself might have done.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, as a game was one of the primary reasons we made a dedicated trip to Washington, D.C.. After growing up in the ’80s, how can you not make it a priority to see the officially licensed Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles attraction?!
As a game, TMNT didn’t disappoint. The puzzles were clever and unique. They were completely intuitive allowing us to smoothly flow from one to the next without any speed bumps along the way, but provided a very enjoyable challenge to our small group of greatly experienced players. TMNT may be a brand we fondly remember from our childhood, but this is not an easy little kids’ game at all. Though certainly suitable to bring kids along – there’s nothing PG13 or anything like that – this game was clearly designed for those like me – kids of the ’80s who grew up loving the Turtles, and still have a fond emotional connection to that memory of our youth. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is a challenging game clearly meant to evoke the fond memories of our past while engaging us in complex and clever ways.
Though this review highlights the game as it was during our visit, we’re shell-shocked to learn that just recently, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles has altered themes to a bit more generic “Runaway Subway.” The gameplay will still match the great experience we had – as many of the original puzzles were truly only loosely rooted within the TMNT mythos to begin with. And the scenic that made this game truly shine (or, not shine, being a dingy subway station) is sure to continue to wow players, with or without an invasion by the Foot Clan.
Be it Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles or Runaway Subway, make no mistake that at its core, this is a really cool experience, full of clever and original gameplay moments that left our very experienced group completely satisfied. Escape Room Live is clearly out to set the standard for branded game-based entertainment, and after Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and their incredible Ghostbusters! attraction, we definitely cannot wait to see what the next classic property from our childhood is they bring to life!
Venue: Escape Room Live
Location: Washington, D.C.
Number of Games: 5
GAME SPECIFIC INFORMATION:
Duration: 45 minutes
Capacity: 8 people
Group Type: Public / You may be paired with strangers.
Cost: $28 per person