RATING: 1 Key RESULT: Win REMAINING: 2:00
Completely unprepared for opening night, this limited run game left us wondering if it was bad design, bad operation, bad puzzles or just bad in general.
After being released from his record label, cult punk-rock icon Evan Mayhew retaliates by building a label of his own. Notorious for cutting himself on stage, spitting on his bandmates, and assaulting fans with microphones and stands – his controversial nature has cemented him as an anarchist demigod in the music industry. Men and women from all over the world are tripping over themselves to be a part of Evan’s new imprint, lusting for his fame and fast lifestyle. But an insidious evil beyond that of his antics begins to emerge within Evan, as he begins to harness control of others while losing control of himself.
Trap House attempts a unique spin on the story an insane murderer-type. Unfortunately, it quickly unravels after the first room leaving us lost in the world of what appears to be some type of mad scientist’s laboratory, for some reason.
One of the many ways Trap House failed to engage us is with its utterly disjointed use of story – crafting a tale that would take only one moment of stepping back and proof-reading it to realize the two scenes in no way connect or pay off. It’s almost as if the game is as uninterested in itself as we are in it, because clearly it just stops trying to make any sense.
For a very limited run pop-up installation, the scenic quality within is fairly impressive. Themed walls are distressed and worn. The spaces are cluttered with stuff – from the first recording studio room that actually connects to the theme and even spilling over into the nonsensical laboratory space.
It may not make any sense within the storyworld – or have any logical connection to what’s happening around us, but at least it looks pretty enough if you’re into the whole blood and gore aesthetic, because horror escape room.
Both rooms were fairly large scale so as to cram as many people through as possible before this game closed at the conclusion of its barely three week run.
An actor – portraying lead character Evan’s assistant Crystal accompanies guests throughout the experience, but in truth added next to nothing to the story.
If story is where this game struggles and scenic is where it makes it best attempt at shining, puzzles – arguably the most important part of any given game – are where it died a slow and painful death.
Trap House was full of a collection of convoluted and poorly thought out puzzles riddled more with logic leaps than actual riddles themselves. Several moments in the game became a literal guessing game of “well, do they mean this or that” wherein we basically had to just take a blind leap in one direction or the other to see if it’s ultimately where the designers wanted this to head.
The game was frustrating and lacking in originality. Worse yet some of the puzzles were not even clear. One in particular that comes to mind involving a collection of x-rays (because band member) were meant to spell out a code word for a lock once properly overlapped. (because escape room.)
Except that they didn’t. At all. And the only reason we managed to proceed past that point was due to my ability to brute force a letter lock. After the fact, we discussed this with the designer who struggled to assemble the x-rays in such a way that the word would be revealed. “Look! See it?” “No.” “You don’t see it? It’s there! Look!” “No. I don’t see it.” And that just made the step another bad puzzle in a collection of bad puzzles that joined together under the name Trap House.
Trap House was terrible- but Think Tank Gallery promised at least one ambitious aspect to the experience. Interactive moments wherein things you do within the game will trigger physical effects throughout the art gallery itself, as well as moments where patrons of the gallery could trigger things within the game. The premise is that while you peruse the gallery prior to your entry time, you might learn vital secrets that act as clues, giving you unseen advantages once you get into Trap House.
Unfortunately, none of it worked. Zero. Zip. Nada. And it’s not that the gags were broken, but rather not even installed yet. And to be clear, we were invited guests to the grand opening – not to a preview night or beta test. This was to be the night to show off what made them unique, and Think Tank Gallery dropped the ball entirely.
Trap House is to escape rooms a form of art wherein its artist is clearly too pretentious to recognize how much he missed the mark; far too self-absorbed to realize the puzzles he’s created make sense to no one but him, and exist completely without appeal to his audience.
Perhaps had the promised interactions been installed on time, this game would have at least had some moderate appeal to us, but the fact remains that all we can do is review what we experienced, and beyond some decent scenic for a limited run attraction, Think Tank left us mindlessly disappointed.
Venue: Think Tank Gallery
Location: Los Angeles, California
Number of Games: 1
GAME SPECIFIC INFORMATION:
Duration: 30 minutes
Cost: This game’s limited run has concluded.
We thank Think Tank Gallery for inviting us to play this game. Although complimentary admission was generously provided, that in no way impacts the opinion included within this review.