Allow me to geek out and talk about all things escape rooms. As a reference, I have played a lot of games across the city (and beyond). I have a lot of friends from the industry- from game designers, reviewers, enthusiasts and fellow owners. We attend conferences, we read blogs and talk endlessly about the business. We’re always trying to focus on what makes a game great and a player’s experience memorable.
Lately I have been receiving a very interesting question in regards to our game and that is, “How many rooms does your game have?” It’s not an unexpected question considering that many people are now past the point of their first escape room and eagerly looking for more games to play. It is a question that I can’t seem to answer well. I usually reply with the statement that we like to ‘answer questions about the game AFTER the game’. I know it’s not really an answer but we like to keep our game mysterious. I hope that players of our game appreciate the great lengths we go to protecting its secrets.
What I would like to say that I don’t believe a multi-room game makes a great game or even if it does impact the game experience slightly, there are other more important variables that do. I feel that so many of our newly seasoned customers are misleading themselves into believing that a multi-room makes or breaks a room. I have played some fantastic single room games and some very terrible multi-room games.
What makes a great game and your ultimate experience? Well first, there isn’t one set answer and there certainly isn’t one ultimate game across Canada or the US that is considered the ‘best’. It is important to be selective, it’s your money and you want a good time. If you’re looking for an amazing experience consider finding out these things about a company and the games they offer:
- Read Reviews: Hopefully no spoilers will be present but check a variety of reviews from a variety of sources to try to give you an idea of who likes the game and what they liked about it. Do specific reviews mention puzzle design? Immersive factors? General reviews such as ‘awesome’ won’t give you as much information as something a little more detailed. Check for substance when reading reviews. Pay special notice to lower ratings or reviews from more discerning players because they might have more games to compare their experience with.
- Review company website: Is it professionally done? Does it have a lot of errors? Does it make sense? If there is no attention to detail on the company’s website, your game might suffer the same consequences. Review the stories of the games and themes. Are the stories compelling? Is there effort written into them? A strong story makes for a great immersive experience.
- Review the booking calendar: This is a tricky one because the company might be new or just ‘undiscovered’ however news of great games travel fast and you might be able to get an idea of how booked this game is. What do their Saturdays look like? Are they fully open or have people booked in advance? If a company looks to be in demand, there is probably a reason for it.
- Call the venue and ask them: How is the customer service? Will they return your call? Do they want your business? A business that puts the effort into their service will put the effort into their customer experience as a whole and hopefully this includes their games. Are they accommodating? helpful? friendly? Are they willing to lose out on a booking because your group doesn’t meet the criteria? Ask the staff how they are different and what makes them special. If they’re overconfident that could be a red flag as they’re just telling you what you want to hear. They shouldn’t compare themselves as the best across their territory but understand that each venue is unique and many are great and worthy of a visit.
- Follow the game criteria: Each game is designed for a set amount of players. How many players do you have in your group and does it match the suggested amount of players? Are you experienced? Inexperienced? What is the difficulty of your game and go with something based on your experience. Don’t play a game suggested for 8 people with just 2 people. If you’re unsure call and ask why the minimum and maximums are set. The staff at the venue should care enough about each experience to adhere to the game’s criteria. Listen to their suggestions on what games to play based on your experience and your group size.
- More details worthy of investigation: If you really want to totally analyze, I asked the enthusiast community what they try to gleam from each company. Here are some suggestions on what to look out for. What is the escape record? Check this to get a sense of how the game is set up. If you’re looking at a 60 minute game and records are often set in 22 minutes, that could be a red flag that the game may need a few more puzzles– keeping in mind that a super elite team of enthusiasts probably had that score, it stills gives you an idea that perhaps you’re not getting a whole lot of puzzles. What is the time between games? Too little and you might be rushed and be prone to mistakes during a reset. Check twitter feeds and facebook company page. Are they engaged with their customers? Are they involved with the community? Do they seem to care about the industry?
- Google is your friend: From ‘secret’ slack chats to enthusiast facebook groups, the enthusiast community is very present around you. All you need to do is ask opinions of several enthusiasts. Everyone may have a different opinion of their favorite game, but a seasoned enthusiast will understand that you don’t need to search for the best of the best and just measure the pros and cons of each game.
- Be a good sport: If you want to have a good time, be open to plenty of suggestions. Roll with it and enjoy the good (and sometimes not so good) of each game. Keep an open mind, stay positive and focus on having a good time out with your friends. Plan a spot afterwards to debrief and share your own experience. Understand that there is a variety of experiences out there and what works for one person, might not work for another. Multi-room or no multi-room there is plenty to enjoy and plenty of variety out there. Find what was inventive about the game you just played, thank your gamemaster and offer suggestions for improvement. Appreciate that you have discovered a fun and unique thing to do, find another game to play and enjoy your new hobby!
Looking Glass Adventures hosts “The Danforth Escape”. Our game is designed for a variety of players including families. We will customize your game depending on your group. Please read about our player’s experiences on Tripadvisor, Facebook or Google. We will not give you details from our game as all our amazing reviews should tell you enough. We will also happily recommend other great escape rooms to play around the GTA.