RATING: 5 Keys RESULT: Win REMAINING: 26:59
My name is Chris, and I love a square box, white office game. No, Escape Authority has not been hacked.
Welcome to your dream, After being put into a deep trance, you enter a room that is all white, blank, and a bit bizarre. Your mind has conjured a series of tricks and challenges that you must overcome to bring color back to this world.
Our experience in the Zen Room begins before even entering the space. A transitional hallway from the venue into the game’s storyworld provides a bit of a preshow moment. Solid black, it’s a stark contrast for what’s to come. A soothing voice prepares us for our impending nirvana, putting us into that aforementioned deep trance prior to beginning our experience. The sudden opening of a clunky garage door snaps us out of that blissful moment – offering the perfect paradox to the peaceful splendor we were promised, and instantly setting up the realization that Zen Room does not take itself too seriously – in fact, this may be 60out’s very first comedy game. And it works, so well.
Once inside, we find ourselves in a very bland testing facility of sorts, where we must solve various sensory-based puzzles to bring color back into its drab existence. I realize much of this sounds a bit “off” when read on (digital) paper – and it did to us as well before we entered – but in execution it’s one of 60out’s most entertaining storyworlds.
“Ok – so let me get this straight, you’ve read Escape Authority before, and now you want me to play a game set in a square box, white office, capped with a drop panel ceiling? Has that ever ended well for anyone before?”
You guys, Zen Room’s setting is perfect!
Look, I know this is going to sound crazy coming from us. And no, Escape Authority has not been hacked. This is really us giving some of our highest scenic marks to a room that is nothing but four white walls and a drop panel ceiling.
But here’s the thing – 60out embraces the blandness of it as a very intentional design choice. And it’s not just the walls and furniture that are solid white. Everything in the room follows suit, including a plant, and even a cat. It’s the best kind of goofy. It’s an over-exaggeration of a boring existence, and even better, it directly connects to Zen Room’s storyworld when certain objects in the space actually change color right before our eyes as we achieve milestone steps in our testing process. The room itself becomes a narrative payoff!
Zen Room’s puzzles are beyond outside the box. They’re something we’ve rarely ever seen before; they’re silly. And in a game like this one, with the mood it creates, “silly” is the biggest of compliments. Zen Room is refreshing, because Zen Room never takes itself too seriously. It’s just a bunch of goofy activities shared with a group of friends, and as such, it’s guaranteed to be an enjoyable and memorable time.
This is a very different style of game from 60out, but frankly it’s one we hope to see more of. Rather than rigidly linear, the majority of Zen Room’s tasks can be completed in any order. A literal checklist of items must be completed, and it’s up to the test subjects to choose their order and how to split them among the group. At times we chose to all work together, while at others, we split up to each focus on our own individual objectives.
Every step, as unique as they may be, are logical and intuitive. But don’t expect to find any of your standard escape game puzzles here. This is a fresh and new take on what the genre can be. At any given moment, you may be signing karaoke, doing pull-ups, or yes, washing a cat. Makes sense? Well it shouldn’t – and that’s exactly the beauty of what makes Zen Room such a fantastically fun experience.
Let’s just put it right out there — prior to playing, we expected Zen Room might be our least favorite 60out game ever. I mean, I’ve played enough games to have an idea of what to expect based on the theme, scenic, etc – and let’s face it – there’s just nothing that I loathe more than a square box office room with plain walls and a drop panel ceiling. How in the world could anyone ever pull that off to a degree that I’d fall in love with it?
Well 60out answered that question with a resounding “hold my white beer.” This game is so silly, so goofy, so wacky that it’s absolutely impossible to not have fun. Whether you’re a novice player, whether you’re the jaded veteran like myself, you’re absolutely guaranteed to have fun in Zen Room. This game is so different that it plays out like a breath of fresh air and just as the name implies, brought our experienced group of game designers and owners our own little taste of zen.
Location: Marina del Rey, California
Number of Games: 4
GAME SPECIFIC INFORMATION:
Duration: 60 minutes
Capacity: 6 people
Group Type: Private / You will not be paired with strangers.
Cost: $40 per person (a minimum of two people are required for booking, then prices vary for each additional player.)
We thank 60out for inviting us to play this game. Although complimentary admission was generously provided, that in no way impacts the opinion included within this review.