Published March 3rd, 2018 @ 11:43 am EST by Paul

2017 Room of the Year: The Man from Beyond

Please join us in congratulating the amazing team at Strange Bird Immersive for their brilliant game The Man from Beyond, the inaugural recipients of Partly Wicked’s Room of the Year Award.

We were lucky enough to find Strange Bird only a few months after they opened, and we became some of their earliest (obsessive) fans.

A large part of what makes The Man from Beyond so memorable is the cast.  We’re usually skeptical of any fusion of theater with escape rooms, but Haley Cooper’s portrayal of Madam Daphne made converts of us both.  She connected our team to the story, and to the object of the game, more deeply than any other experience we’ve seen, and, perhaps more importantly, she’s charismatic and funny.  A charlatan outmatched by supernatural forces, helping her out even though she tried to sell us a fake seance provided a unique set of choices, and impressively, they all seem to matter.  In our two-person team, one of us cried, and the other laughed at him.

As for the gameplay, we forgot we were part of a game and felt the heavenly guilt of hiding in a museum after hours, playing with everything we’re not supposed to touch, inside the dioramas and behind the velvet ropes.  Most everything was vintage, including the style of magical thinking needed to find solutions.  When modern technology was used, it was seamless and surprising.  Instead of the common RFID chips, Strange Bird created their own pattern recognition software and mounted secret cameras to constantly (and unobtrusively) scan the entire solution area.  The result is a more organic puzzle, as RFID-enabled items have tricky limitations and telegraph their use to players.  Their hint system was simple, but so much fun in and of itself, it might make you wonder why everybody doesn’t use it.  We even liked the part where we signed the initial boilerplate waiver.

While you can see our original review HERE, we want to emphasize that nowhere in this game are there luggage-style combination locks, double-locked handcuffs, or black-light torches.  All the posters are precise recreations of Houdini’s publicity fliers.  Amazingly, if you didn’t like theater or games, and just wanted to see a museum about Houdini, this is an exemplary venue on that basis alone.  Here’s hoping this kind of research and respect for theme sets a bar for the artform of escape rooms in general.

Rumors of a new project from Strange Bird have convinced us that if The Man from Beyond does set new expectations, Strange Bird will be able to exceed them with whatever their next production may be.

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