BACK TO THE 90s ESCAPE ROOM
Played April 2017
Up to 8 players
Room Escape Adventures
Fine Arts Building
408 S. Michigan Avenue
RATING: 6 / 10
Best time: 38 minutes with 8 people
Clues allowed: Unlimited
Did we beat it? Yes!
2nd best score with 20 minutes remaining
It's New Years Eve 1999 and your totally lame Cousin Lenny has hid floppy disks needed to override Y2K all over grandma's apartment. So bunk! There's only 60 minutes remaining until the clock strikes midnight and the Y2K bug wreaks havoc on the world's computer systems. As if!
In this 90s-themed room, teams travel back in time to find the disks and save the future.
Ideal for 4-6 super awesome escaper dudes, this room earns high marks for an extremely well-executed theme. Fully-stocked with Capri Sun and stacks of Seventeen magazine, you're welcomed by a saggy futon and Nintendo entertainment system loaded with Super Mario Bros. Look to the right and you see piles of scrunchies, Power Rangers, and a zoo of Ty Beanie Babies. To the left, stacks of CDs, a Jansport backpack containing a neon Trapper Keeper, and a VHS tape collection with popular films like Jurassic Park and Titanic. Even the game master embraced 90s fashion with a band tee, flannel button up, and stone-washed jeans. With all these spot-on elements, there's no question that you've traveled back to the 90s.
Aside from the props, this escape game has a few standout elements that I liked a lot. As you find floppy disks, you load them into a working computer that counts down to stopping the Y2K bug. Also, the way you apply the final clue and exit the game is very original - I'll resist the urge to spoil it for you so let's just say it was really cool. Lastly, you get to dance to the Macarena. Enough said.
This room had only been running for about 6 weeks when we played it, so I'm optimistic they'll be refining and enhancing the experience over time. Here are some areas that I hope they work on:
- Entering the game. Players are asked form a single file line, put on fuzzy blindfolds (gross), and place their hands on the shoulders of the player in front of them to complete 'time travel' back to 1999. The game master leads you all over a step, into the second room of Grandma's apartment and locks the door behind you. This is a clumsy way to start the game so I'd love to see this improved and better tie to the theme.
- Multiple rooms. While there were two rooms to the game, the key to unlock the second room wasn't well hidden, so the discovery felt cursory and anticlimactic. There was a fair amount of moving between both rooms required after you unlocked the second room, so it'd be nice if more took place in the first room before advancing to the second.
- Puzzle variety. This room lacked the complexity that I've come to expect from modern escape games. There was one challenge that hinged heavily on scavenging and the majority of the puzzles involved collecting like items to complete a list. Uses of word play weren't all that difficult and there were just a handful of combination locks to solve.
- Accommodating large groups. For 6-8 players, there needs to be more problem-solving puzzles or riddles to balance out all the scavenging. There were a couple of challenges that required persistence, but often these could only be worked on by 1-2 players at a time.
To close it up, if you're new to escape games and enjoy reliving your youth -- this room is for you. If you're a more advanced escaper, it's still worth playing -- just have a few drinks before and dress as your favorite NKOTB band member to spice things up a bit.
Local tip: parking is non-existent in this area, so if you plan to drive, allow time to find parking a few blocks away and walk. Or, take the train or Uber to the Performing Arts Building.