Omescape (Joker’s Asylum)

Omescape
7501 Woodbine Ave, Unit 7
Markham, ON L3R 2W1
Cross Street: Woodbine Ave. and Esna Park Dr.
Rooms: 1
Group Size: 5-10
Game Time: 60 minutes
Price: $29.95/person weekends, $26.95/person weekdays ($5 discount with a like and checkin on facebook. There are combos that include bubble tea and board game play that I’m not going to list here)
Site: http://www.omescape.ca/
Phone Number: 905-695-9556

Rooms visited: Joker’s Asylum
Theming: Good. I’m not a fan of the particular storyline, but the artwork and decor do support the experience well.
Puzzle Design: Good, I liked it.
Customer Service: Good
Would I go back? They only have one room right now. They’re opening up the ‘Kingdom of Cats’ room in a week or two and I’ll be back then.

The Joker’s Asylum room is the best Markham/Unionvile room I’ve been to so far. There are plenty of escape room businesses in the area. In fact, just prior to going to Omescape, I went to another place in that general area that was terrible. Coincidentally, both places had the split-team setup that’s become increasingly common!

For those of you who haven’t been to a split-team scenario, I’ll write this brief little intro. Half your time goes to Room A, with the other half going to Room B. In my opinion, a chunk of the work is really done for the room designer already. To justify splitting up the team, the overall game design should have a few components. You expect an strong overall communication component, since the two groups are separated. You expect there to be an almost leapfrogging exchange of information – Team A has information that will help Team B, which will in turn unlock some information for Team A etc. This isn’t very strict, but if the teams don’t have to interact, you essentially just have two independent and separate games.

The first place my team went to that night (leaving them unnamed for now) did it all wrong. We were separated arbritrarily. The game was extremely unbalanced in puzzle weight and one side was filled with nothing but ‘thematic’ irrelevant items. What little my side could contribute to the other side only assisted in both parties joining up, meaning the other team could have just accidentally beaten the game without us if they solved a different line of puzzles. What this unnamed location did wrong, Omescape did right, with Joker’s Asylum. (The only reason I went to the other place was because I didn’t meet the Omescape player minimum of 5 at the time. That was what the Manpower post was about)

Joker’s Asylum definitely needed good communication. The overall design made sense. The puzzles made sense and needed interactions between both teams. It’s usage of technology wasn’t obtrusive. There was very little to complain about the game itself. It was good and I hope future rooms at Omescape are of this calibre as well. It’s easily the best room I’ve played in the region.
In the interests of a balanced review though, I will say that it was costly. It was $24.95 after liking them on Facebook on the weekend. I’m tempted to go on a tirade about how these Markham places are overpriced (is rent actually higher here than it is Downtown?!), but at least this particular room was good, and that’s not necessarily something you can say about other every other escape room in the area.

Omescape also has bubble tea and yogenfruz. My team and I got a combo package that includes freeplay with their boardgames. I’m an avid boardgamer myself and their collection is actually respectable. A lot of other places (rightfully) have small short games to pass the time (Coup, Mascarade, Love letter, Resistance, etc), but there are heavier games here you’d expect at a boardgame cafe, like Eclipse. I was considering writing about escape rooms and boardgames and boardgame cafes, but that probably deserves a post on its own. By the time we were done the Joker’s Asylum, my team and I were exhausted and we didn’t want to bother with a heavy intense game. A member of the group hadn’t played the classic Battleship, so off we went!

So you might be thinking – Battleship is a stupid game purely based on luck! You would be dead wrong.
Here’s my opponent’s setup:

Fairly spaced out. Respectable, if not generic arrangement.

They ended up losing by two ships.

Here’s Admiral EscapistTO’s Fleet Deployment Pattern™. I forgot to take a post game picture, but the little patrol boat and the big aircraft carrier at the top right were still alive at the end.

Invincible!

Happy hunting,
ETO

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