|Game experience: VERY GOOD
|The great humor
The roleplaying welcome and voice gamemastering
|A very sequential puzzle structure|
As escape games become more mainstream, it is harder and harder for companies to stay competitive. Some large franchised venues are following the Hollywoodian road, investing a lot of money in their room to enhance the immersion thanks to a heavy use of hi-tech. But this does not mean that more modestly funded escape rooms have to become second-class citizens of the escape world, and I see no better illustration of this than the exhilarating Cat’s Lady game at Portland’s Mad Genius Escape Rooms.
“Your neighbor Mrs. Humphreys has always been a little bit of an odd-ball. I mean, she does have 23 cats, after all! But she’s been acting stranger than normal lately, complaining about things being out of place and feeling like someone’s watching her. She’s decided to take the whole feline family to the vet for a check-up, buying you time to snoop around the house undisturbed. But you’ll have to be quick- you only have one hour to get to the bottom of this!”
The immersion in the game started right when we entered into the venue and were welcomed by Mrs. Humphreys herself! As you could expect, her apartment is devoted to her passion of cats (even if, of course, there will be no real cat in the room – remember, they are at the vet! and they were nice enough not to leave any hair behind, so that even cat allergic people can play the game). The scenario is one of the most original I’ve ever seen in an escape room – with a very refreshing humor. It is hard to explain without spoiling the scenario, but the Cat Lady elaborates on a classical escape game plot that you won’t recognize at first, but with a twist!
The puzzles are quite good too, with several original ideas that will test your creative thinking – although some of the latest puzzles were more classical. Even if the room looks antique from the outside, quite a few advanced electro-magnet devices are hidden and participate to the exciting gameplay. The room is overloaded with cat paraphernalia, but there is not so much item searching; one puzzle though rested on a very original observational challenge. Note that the puzzle structure of the room is largely sequential, so I would recommend to play it in a team of three experienced players or four beginners.
Finally, the hosting was wonderful, with a very convincing gamemaster in her role, who participated to the great humor of the game, and hints being provided at the right timing.
The two of us eventually exited the room with barely a couple of minutes left. With an escape rate of 32% and a record time of 33 minutes 49 seconds, this room is not easy but still doable. And as I said, it proves that next to the super-production escape games that are remarkable for their special effects, there is definitely some room (pun intended) in the escape world for smaller-scale games that draw a great value from innovative ideas or humor (although there are definitely quite a few well-used technological devices here). If you’re passing through Portland, do not miss this game!
Game tested in August 2018 (Photos 3, 4, & 5: Mad Genius Escape rooms)
The room also features the cutest piggybank ever (the video won’t spoil anything from the game, except maybe the surprise of interacting with the box):
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