RATING: 0 Keys RESULT: Win REMAINING: Not timed
In a land rich with the imagination of what could be, one castle sits tall atop a mountain of NEVER BUY THIS PRODUCT.
First, allow us to reiterate just what IAAPA is: For the uninitiated, IAAPA stands for International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions. Basically, it’s a giant four day theme park convention that literally takes over Orlando each November.
It’s essentially the mecca for theme park fans, designers and owners. Literally every aspect of the industry is represented, from theming companies, to roller coaster designers, to popcorn vendors, to carnival games, to water slides, to ticketing media – I could go on. The event has literally miles of aisles of industry vendors from literally every aspect of the business you could imagine.
In 2015, escape games made their debut on the sprawling show floor of the Orange County Convention Center. What began as one lone company, Pale Night Productions, quickly expanded to several the following year..
Today we pay a visit to the VEQTOR booth – an interactive design company based out of the United Kingdom – to check out their offering to the escape game industry: Escape Castle.
VEQTOR takes their first swing at the escape game genre with a modest tent in the middle of their booth – lined by vinyl graphics of stone bricks and dubbed “Escape Castle.” And it’s a miss.
Although escape games are still somewhat new to the IAAPA show, in just their second year, several competing companies were prominently on display, and all but VEQTOR applied great effort to create a scenically superior product. By comparison, the production value of VEQTOR’s Escape Castle left us believing that to them.
And apparently, so is less than good enough.
Very little thought went into VEQTOR’s puzzle offerings. For starters we should stress they were not laid out in a linear fashion, but rather took a modular “these are pieces you could purchase for your game” style.
Not one of those modular pieces were one I would recommend you consider purchasing for your game.
Some made no sense and required repeated instructions from the staff at the booth. Other puzzles were just literal brute force guessing games of “figure out the right combination of all these buttons by just mashing them repeatedly.
Some of the puzzles were so convoluted in their logic leaps that, I kid you not, the booth staff presenting the game did not understand how they were intended to work.
As Escape Authority continues to grow and more and more realize its goal of becoming the undisputed social hub for our industry, we recognize that we serve value to both fans and owners alike. After having several reach out to us to say they’ve begun to design future games based on the very standards we preach in each review, literally using Escape Authority as a sort of guide to their own future greatness, we felt that spotlighting some designer reviews specifically catering to them would be a very beneficial move.
Let’s face it folks, this is still a very young genre. It’s a phenomenon unlike any we’ve really encountered in our lifetimes. The closest thing we can compare this industry’s wide-spread success to is that of the theme park business, but even that has decades upon decades of precedence to guide your course. But ours? Well, for the United States you can still count its years of precedence on a single hand.
And with a barrier for entry virtually non-existent, it’s not uncommon for potential new owners to jump in unprepared for the daunting task of launching their own unique new brand. For them, the wise move is to turn to experienced professionals to help them grow, oftentimes meaning purchasing at least their first batch of games pre-designed.
We feel it is incredibly important for that reason to share these designer reviews, to give a feel for just what range of qualities are out there. And the truth is, most of what we saw for ourselves at IAAPA 2016 would likely make a great quality attraction – but VEQTOR stood out as the one exception.
So, if you’re in the market to purchase your games, do your research. There is a lot of good quality out there – but as VEQTOR teaches us here, there’s just some bad apples that can do your new brand more harm than help.
Location: Orlando, Florida
Number of Games: 1
GAME SPECIFIC INFORMATION:
Group Type: Private / You will not be paired with strangers.
Cost: Free playtesting for all IAAPA attendees