How to Sound Like a Pro in an Escape Room Review
Whether it's movies, restaurants, online purchases, or even college professors, it feels nice to leave a review and weigh in on the quality of an experience. Small businesses especially thrive off the honest, thoughtful feedback. However, unless you've played a lot of escape rooms or built one yourself, you may feel ill-equipped to give a helpful critique.
It's dangerous to go alone. Take these critique points.
WARNING: Use of these topics in a thoughtfully constructed, well written review may result in "likes," "thumbs ups," personal responses from companies, and unsolicited invitations to beta test escape rooms.
Like a good movie or book, the more an escape room is able to draw you into its world, the more you're going to enjoy it. Frequent "immersion breakers" in escape rooms may include a game-master-to-adventurer relationship independent of the storyline, too many "Do Not Touch" or "How To Use" labels, laminated clues, out-of-theme props, or even the cliché unexplained countdown clock.
In a good escape room, puzzles and discoveries fall into sequences to create a natural order of events, sometimes with a few "paths" so that players can divide and conquer objectives. Each puzzle solved should provide a clue or object that logically points toward the next step(s). Without a well orchestrated puzzle flow, you mal like you're in a never-ending sea of mini-games with no way to gauge your progress.
While multiple escape companies boasting similarly themed rooms or containing similar puzzles is to be expected, don't be surprised if you find yourself steering clear of "bank heists" and "prison breaks." I give ample credit to any room that puts a new twist on an overused theme. But, as a rule, when critiquing an escape room, I deduct points for every word scramble, crossword puzzle, letter-to-number cypher, blacklight, collect-the-object plot, locked safe, and object hidden under a chair.
While some escape rooms go with a "loose premise" approach and simply piece together a series of puzzles that match a given theme, the BEST escape rooms are the ones in which your team plays a defined role with a reasonable motive in a compelling story. When the story is poorly developed, you may find yourself asking, "Why are we doing this?" or "What's the goal?"
Most players probably struggle to put their finger on this elusive aspect of the escape room experience, much less critique it. When a puzzle is the perfect balance between intuitive and challenging, it creates a sense of accomplishment for players. That "Aha!" moment combined with an appropriate reward (a key, special instructions, or an object you've been looking for) is what separates the great escape rooms from the incredible ones.
Go ye therefore and write incredible reviews.