How exactly do you review something when you’ve been asked not to spoil almost every individual thing about it, yet your invite to see it was contingent upon you writing about your experience in some way? Oh, wait, I get it – it’s an impossible mission, so to speak. Yet as I’m a writer who said yes to checking out this thing, this was my mission and I did choose to accept it. So just like Jon Stewart interviewing Tom Cruise without mentioning the crazy, abusive cult he represents, I’ll try to sum up the room escape without spoiling what the puzzles are.
I’ve done one room-escape type thing before – The Purge: Escape, which actually featured multiple rooms, and a giant Bubba-type with a machine gun firing blanks at you if you lose. I figured there was less of a chance I’d have to put my hand in a toilet in this one, and I was correct. The M:I experience is just one room, and it doesn’t even have a roof. In a group of around six people, you have to figure out clues to bust a rogue agent and unlock the door.
I think I can describe the room in broad terms without giving away too much – it looks like a secret control room, with a large map of the world on one side surrounded by headshots of suspects, a computer screen on another wall with what looks like a jigsaw puzzle on the monitor, diagrams of the underwater safe room from the movie, a big chart of the links between world financial institutions and terrorism, and a wall of walkie talkies and dossiers full of newspaper clips. We were advised going in not to look for clues that are too subtle – the major things would be of obvious use once we figured them out.
There’s also a guide in the room who offers extra hints if things are going too slowly, though you only get 20 minutes.
The time limit is what’s most frustrating to me in these things – it usually runs out just as your team of total strangers are cooperating and things are starting to click. If this were a video game, you could restart the level and play again knowing what you just learned, but I suspect you’d have to come back another day to go unrecognized here. Plus the competitive element is key – winners earn free IMAX tickets to the movie.
The room escape is available in Los Angeles, San Francisco, New York and Boston, and you can make reservations online or just walk in and hope.
I really like the way it forces strangers to start talking to each other…and then feel kinda bad that we go our separate ways and never say a thing to one another again. Though that also keeps me from yelling, “Dammit, how could you be so slow with the math on that one thing?”
Wonder how well Tom Cruise would fare? None of the puzzles include hanging off of things. Spoiler.