|Theming||A few puzzles are loosely themed. Most are random.|
||Poor. They weren’t rude or anything like that. Go to the full review for
||The room was okay at best. The staff/hint situation really soured the
experience for me.
Mystery Room – Downtown
422 Dundas Street West
Toronto, M5T 1G7
Cross Street: Spadina Ave. and Dundas St. W
Group Size: Space Odyssey (4-8), Tomb Explorer (4-8)
Game Time: 60 minutes
Price: $22/ Person (Group Rates, Point System, Extra Hint if you like them)
Phone Number: 647-350-0288
As many readers might know, I really dislike Mystery Room. It started with The Shadier Side of Room Escape post, where I wrote about some of the less than above-board tactics this facility was going with. It wasn’t even all I could say, but I didn’t want to write pages of hearsay. It really irked me that the facility (in Downsview) was essentially cutting corners, not fixing their equipment, and more-or-less being a cash grab facility. They focused their efforts on marketing (you might have seen their posters or their subway ads). If you delve into it a little, that’s pretty terrible for the industry. They are generally going to be making money off first-timers and not people who bother to research into escape rooms. These same customers are more likely to have a bad time and say “Well that sucked. I don’t know what the big deal with this fad is, but I don’t want to do one ever again.”
Well, a great deal of time passed, and Mystery Room opened up a new facility downtown. I went in with a group I had never played before with. I’ll try to be objective.
On to the actual review of Space Odyssey. I’ll start off with the explanation of the low customer service rating. To start the game off, my team received a very thorough introduction. The introduction was maybe 5-10 minutes… and I think maybe 30 seconds of that was on the hint system and the usual spiel about what not to touch. The staff member spent the majority of the time explaining the mechanics behind multiple puzzles. Wait, what? That really caught me off guard. The staff quite literally started going into what the first thing to do was, and then the next thing, etc. The next offending strike against the establishment is that staff walked in on us (without us summoning them). They offered two hints, and infinite ‘direction’ (which was defined as being given a general clue of what to do next), so I question the necessity of the intrusion. Why do they do this? I asked around, and apparently my group wasn’t the only ones subjected to this strange behaviour. I have an unconfirmed theory that I’ll write about at the end.
The decor was a little bit of a mixed bag. It mustly felt thrown together, with one room that actually felt like a spaceship. They didn’t go all the way and make all the rooms match in decor, which I think would have made the whole setup look much nicer. They did have two tubes which resembled the Jeffries Tubes from Star Trek, so that’s kind of cool. Maybe two puzzles actually seem related to space or spaceships, but most of the game was random and could have been pasted on with something else. If you beat the game, you were treated to a spaceship video projected against a wall, which I assume was ripped from a movie I haven’t seen. Most of the puzzles were random, but not necessarily bad.
My theory (and it’s just an uncorroborated theory) is that they bought this whole setup; The puzzles, the look, the technology and everything else were a prepackaged escape room. To those of you who are incredulous, you can in fact buy rooms from certain Chinese vendors. The reason I think so is that it seems likely they ended up with a game that’s harder than then they expected, but they lack the technical know-how to actually adjust the game in any meaningful way. They cannot alter the design to make the game easier. Instead, they supplement this by what they can control – how much help they give you. You get to call for two hints and infinite ‘direction’. On top of that, a staff member came in to give unsolicited help. Is this something people care about? I don’t know, but I definitely didn’t enjoy that. If I’m correct, the real concern comes when something breaks down. If they don’t have the ability to re-program parts of the game, it seems unlikely they’ll have the ability to fix anything either.