Nintendo’s ‘Zelda Escape Room’ proves to be a Legendary Disappointment
Signature Color: Grey
“To call this an escape room isn’t exactly fair; while it was entertaining, the core if this experience feels more akin to being herded through a hero factory like cattle instead of the expansive adventures synonymous with Nintendo’s flagship franchise.
I would like to begin by sharing that our team was consistently the first one at every station; I’m not saying this to brag but to highlight that we never experienced the problems with waiting on long lines for our turn to access the various stations (which seems to be the only thing anyone else ever mentions about this game.) I also can’t really see a reason for those lines; once we were granted access to a station, there was literally nothing to do inside but to take the object you came for and move along. To everyone that might have been stuck on lines in your play-throughs and wished you had been just a little bit faster, take comfort in the joy of having interacted with the various denizens of Hyrule while you waited; the Zora woman guarding the entrance to the aquatic kingdom didn’t even speak to us.
The challenges themselves fared only a bit better, but more because of the thought process that went into them and not for the puzzles themselves. It’s easy to imagine the entire company brainstorming a list of everything a player might expect when playing a Zelda game and crossing each one off after it had been shoehorned somewhere into the experience (Bombs? Check. Fairies? Check. Treasure chests? Check!) but the effect comes across as largely forced and results in an inflated number of ten-second mini-puzzles reminiscent of those found on cereal boxes. That’s not to say that 1 or 2 of them weren’t incredibly memorable or nearly impossible to figure out, but to be remarking on that few out of so many is not at all the level of quality or innovation one would have expected of anything officially connected with the Zelda series.
The sheer volume of little tidbits that needed to be digested and solved did, at least, keep the entire team involved, if not always completely engaged. As the game progresses, the morsels grow until the final step commands the entire teams’ attention. By this time, the boss battle music began to play and my Pavlovianly conditioned increase in anxiety prevented me from remembering that every obstacle on our journey throughout was essentially lifted right out of the Boy Scouts of America Handbook.
The designer did a commendable job cobbling together so many disparate elements into something surprisingly coherent and even fun. However, it’s clear to this player that the ‘partnership’ between Scrap and Nintendo is largely one way. After having seen the amazing life-sized shrine Nintendo built for their Zelda themed E3 presentation, the cardboard cut-outs and do-it-yourself locations left me feeling cheated and underwhelmed earning this experience the signature color of Grey.
If you just so happen to live in a city on the tour schedule and can keep your expectations under control, check it out; but if you travel more than ten miles for the experience, say goodbye to both your money and your dignity.”
Welcome to the land of Hyrule, where mazes from kids’ restaurant menus are collected in binders from OfficeMax, or “hidden” at inconvenient points in a depressing warehouse amid ramshackle tents and cardboard cut-outs of Zelda characters. Gasp with wonder as the uninspired staff reward completed worksheets with stickers, then hurry back to your school-cafeteria table (no running!) and work on the next worksheet, and if you’re lucky, maybe you can touch a plastic sword for five seconds.
This game depressed the hell out of me. Scrap couldn’t care less about you. They’re showing off, not their game-design skills, but how clever they were to license an IP they don’t understand so they could sell it to you without having to do make anything look good. They made me wish I’d brought a book.
They should be paying you to go there. Unless they do, stay away.”