Location: Escape Game Abilene, Abilene, Texas, USA
Date completed: Feb 2016 (2 players). Saved the world!
Creativity: 8.5; Difficulty: 6; Atmosphere: 7; Fun: 8.5
- Fluent English
- 2-8 players
Pa and I (Trapspringer) were recently invited by Escape Game Abilene to do a test run of one of their rooms. Given that they are half a world away in Texas, this opportunity came in the form of a Skype conversation where we would play the room through the host, Wey. This idea interested us and we’d never skip the chance to play an escape room, especially when we’ve been invited!
In this game, terrorists have gained a copy of a Cold War era ‘Apocalypse Gas’ and threaten to unleash it on the world. The players assume the role of US Government agents who venture into the apartment of the cutting edge (but deceased) scientist who designed this weapon. They have one hour to find Dr. Walker’s Antidote and save the world!
Before we begin, it’s worth noting the challenges that come with playing through a Skype conversation and that our review of this test run can only reflect what we experienced through a camera. Like all VoIP conversations, cameras take time to adjust for focus, the video doesn’t really provide a sense of depth or perspective and incoming phone calls can disrupt the VoIP video footage. On top of all that, Wey has only so many hands (two, to be clear) and he was tackling the puzzles according to our instructions while positioning the camera so that we can see what’s going on. Luckily, Wey is a good communicator and we got through the experience quite well.
The game is kickstarted when players enter the apartment of Dr Walker, closed since the 1970s. It turns out that he was quite an eccentric chap and there is plenty to find straight up. You discover really soon, for example, that he was a scientist, but also a fan of Houdini, the magician.
Furniture and decor generally fit the era, however, there were some items which presented a more ‘steampunk’ feel, originating from the dawn of the 20th century. This drew a mixed response from us as Pa liked this eclectic mix while I found this to be visually conflicting. Nevertheless, the room didn’t look bad. Separately, the immersion of the game was well achieved through letters from Dr Walker and puzzles which used the environment.
I should add that there was a particular puzzle requiring teamwork in which the ‘wow factor’ would have been far greater if we played the game in person as opposed to playing it remotely through Skype.
There is a great mix in the types of activity players can do. There are tactile/construction puzzles, observation, some with 19th/20th century technology that would be challenging to Millennials, teamwork puzzles… There’s a lot of technology involved here, though it definetly does not look ‘geek’ – it’s well applied to match the setting.
One strong feature of this room is that it requires people to follow their hunches. Don’t be afraid to get in amongst it and play with the items. Many elements of this game require direct and physical interaction from the players. Go for it! We had a fun time telling Wey what we wanted him to do and checking the results… A word puzzle got especially funny when, instead of the proper solution, we got the name of a random body part as a result.
In terms of difficulty, Dr. Walker’s Antidote is on the higher range of an ‘easy’ room. There are sufficient hints within game and there is a fairly nice flow to the game. A large amount of ‘hide and seek’ items means that teams of up to 3-4 players (our recommended size) would have plenty to do. The only issue we had was that the ‘hide and seek’ could have been spread further throughout the room to challenge players a bit more.
There were a few red herrings (unintended, according to Wey), but nothing that took us out of track. It was interesting to find out that Escape Game Abilene had reduced the difficulty of this room over results of previous tests and it was our opinion to refrain from this trend as this would make the room too easy.
Out of the room?
Due to the circuntances, we can’t comment on Service, Communication (which would normally be done through walkie-talkies according to Wey), or Surroundings of Abilene like we would normally do in a review. What we can say though is that Wey is extremely friendly, has excellent communication skills and really cares about making the escape room better. This beta test would not have worked otherwise.
Dr. Walker’s Antidote opened a week after we tested it so some things would have changed by that point and player experiences might differ. Wey was also very keen to improve the room even more. He wanted our opinion and sought positive criticism following the game. We think this is a very good sign for Escape Room Abilene.
Check what local TV channel KRBC said about Escape Game Abilene.