Well, this was terrible. We finished the uninspiring Houdini game in 34 minutes, only to find we had unintentionally bulldozed over… most of the puzzles… simply by doing what intuitively made sense. Doing what any normal person would do (before you find the series of clues you “need” in order to get there) will “accidentally” solve most everything.
So… “Oops,” we won.
We had no idea we were about to finish the game, it was just… all of a sudden, the victory happened, like, “what, now?” It felt premature… what’s the phrase I’m looking for… premature something. Ah, yes:
This room opened prematurely, they should have developed it a little more, run some playtests. The staff were wonderful this time (truly) and this was a welcome improvement over the hilariously discourteous people who used to work there. Two claws for this room, and that means it’s twice as good as the room in this venue it replaced. Come here if you hate both money and life.
We vowed never to return after our first visit, and the game they comped us after that. But they claimed to have mended their ways. Had they? Let’s see.
The gifted duo from Get Out designed this room, and I’d played it before, back when the game was in their capable hands. [EDITOR: Partly Wicked regrets that Get Out has closed.] The folks at Great Escape Room thoroughly un-funned it, and it seems money was no object, because the new owners have meticulously removed everything that seemed magical and replaced it with a four-digit padlock. Weird. And eerie, since they basically did to this room what the villains in Get Out did to… oh, spoilers.
Anyway, we “played” through padlock after padlock after padlock, and soon found we had accidentally solved the room in record time by doing a couple really obvious things that didn’t seem like puzzles at all. There were no high-5s, there was no satisfaction in it, but the (perfectly friendly) gamemaster came in and showed us everything we missed, and it could have been some kind of skit. He kept opening all these panels and locks that were supposed to be absolutely necessary, and I know there was some collective relief that we’d been spared all of that. I’m not sure it was that the challenges were all terrible, it was just that as we were being talked through the chain of all the stuff we missed, we couldn’t help but notice it was all light brain work, without much relevance to the theme, decor, story, or anything else; they were only as satisfying as story problems from a 3rd grade math book would be. None of that stuff would have resulted in surprise, there was no trace of ingenuity or even cleverness anywhere. There was nothing that made us think, “aww, I would have liked to have seen that.” No novelty, no reward, no point.
So, was it true, did Great Escape Room’s Orlando venue mend their ways? Actually, yes. One area that has improved tremendously is the staff. The two staff members we talked to were very cool. Our gamemaster was alert, smart, and professional, which is great, and the room was clean, well-maintained, and wow, I’m really reaching for something positive to say… this dull half-hour really was a great improvement over their older stuff, so I guess they’re surging ahead to 2016. Are we supposed to clap?
They’re not a struggling mom-and-pop. They have the resources to develop better experiences, to help their staff get more involved in the ER community, and to just plain be good. But they’re more interested in protecting themselves from having to be good. And they need your money for that, they seem to be saying.
Why are they pretending that they tried? Whoever makes the decisions there is starting to remind me of those people who faked having disabilities so they could win the Special Olympics. I wonder if I didn’t like them better when their failures were so extreme, they were actually kind of spectacular (though you couldn’t root for them back then, because they were rude.)
Has Orlando’s Great Escape Room improved? Or did they just lose the ability to fail like they used to, with their signature drooling panache?
Note: This may surprise you, but the fact that we were comped passes to this room, didn’t influence this review in any way. (Also, we didn’t get our passes from the venue, we got them from Escape the Roomers, thanks guys!)