|Game experience: GOOD
|A very refined mystical atmosphere.
Sophisticated trigger effects replacing padlocks.
|One somewhat repetitive puzzle.
A shorter game than what it seems.
Hour to Midnight is one of the first escape game venues that opened in Portland. The owners have been working for long in the theater and haunted house industry – so when it comes to create an immersive environment, they know what they’re doing. The feature currently two rooms (with more in constructions), which are quite different and complementary: The Secrets of Nibiru, a very immersive experience; and Assassin’s Deadly Game, a room with a great gameplay. Let’s start with the first one, which I played with a couple of strangers who registered at the same time.
For those of you who didn’t know (like me), the term “Nibiru” refers to the equinox, and the astronomy objects associated with it, in Babylonian astronomy. It has led some conspiracy theorists and eschatologist to view it as a 12th planet in the solar system that is supposed to collide with the Earth in the future. The Secrets of Nibiru does not really explicitly refer to this myth, though:
“William Elshoff has scoured the globe for artifacts of great power. He claimed he had found the key to Nibiru! He locked himself in his study and began to work. When we went to check on him we discovered he had vanished. That’s why we have summoned you here. We are hoping with your unique skill set you can unlock the secrets to Uncle William’s whereabouts, and bring him home!”
The immersion is definitely a strong asset of this room. You start in the dark, listening to a pre-recorded voice explaining your mission, that immerse you right away in the theatrical atmophere. The room is very nicely decorated with artifacts from various civilizations, and the use of electro-magnets, sound and visual effects enhance the feeling of magic in the room. You will really feel in a contemporary Indiana Jones’ office!
The puzzles are well made, and mostly involve elaborate mechanisms rather than padlocks. They are fun to solve, except one that grew a bit repetitive and long. The item searching ranged from easy to difficult, which made it interesting. Many puzzles can be solved in parallel, which is quite adequate for large groups – I would recommend a team of 4 to 6 in this room, depending on your experience. Also, you might expect the game to be longer than what it is – so manage your expectations accordingly. This does not mean though that the game is easy to solve: the escape rate is currently of 44%, which is I think challenging enough to make it interesting, while still being doable by many teams.
Finally, the gamemaster gave us helpful hints; as there were only three of us and we were taking too much time on the above-mentioned repetitive puzzle, she helped us, avoiding too much frustration. Because we expected the game to be longer than what it was, we thought we were late, and asked for more hints that what we would normally have, so we ended the room with more than 15 minutes left (although I must say that we were extremely lucky to solve the final puzzle by chance!).
Overall, this was a really nice escape game, with great immersive effects. Moreover, the two owners are real passionate and very friendly, and are continuously working on improving the experience of their existing games – and developing new ones. A recommended game!
Game played in August 2018
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