|Game experience: EXCELLENT|
The mimetic logic of the room
After playing more than 180 escape rooms, I still enjoy them very much, but it is uncommon for me to find something that rocks my (escape the) world. That’s why I was very intrigued when I heard of Revo-Escape’s so-called “mimetic rooms”.
In regular escape rooms, there is always some kind of artificiality. Usually, even when a puzzle fits well with the theme, one cannot but wonder: why is such a puzzle here? Quite a few venues go the easy way and explain that “someone arranged this room to test your wits”, but that’s hardly satisfying.
Mimetic rooms, by contrast, follow a very different logic. They aim at fully making sense: every item that is placed in the room has a believable reason to be there. Also, there are many items that make sense in the story but that play no role in any puzzles, as you could expect in real life.
“You and your friends were camping in a remote forest when you get a radio broadcast message through your walkie-talkie. ‘If anyone can hear me, we needs your help, please respond!’
You respond to the call and talk to a commander. She has lost contact with the crews in a nearby military facility; even worse, they suspect that an experimental artificial intelligence in there is trying to launch a nuclear missile from the facility. After a short discussion, you decide to help, not just because of your heroism, but more because there is a chance for the nuclear bomb to explode right next to you!”
Immersion: You might think: yet another bunker… However, I can assure you that you will never have experienced a bunker in an escape room with such a degree of realism. All mechanisms perfectly made sense. So here, the score in immersion does not reflect some extravagant decor, but rather the coherence of the whole setting.
The scenario was surprisingly rich, with four possible endings, depending on your successes or failures, and the choice you make. The hinting system was also very well integrated in the scenario: you will be in permanent control by walkie talkie with the commander who will guide you.
The only less convincing elements in the immersion were the “dead” body dummies that were not so realistic. Well, I guess it’s not a bad thing that they did not use real corpses!
Puzzles: As explained earlier, many elements were not used in any puzzle. This should bring immediately a question to the mind of any enthusiast, namely: how do they avoid red herrings? Well, there must be some kind of magic here, because they DO manage to avoid them. At no point during the game were we stuck trying to use an element that we were not supposed to. Surely, a lot of high-quality beta-testing must have been performed for such a well-polished experience.
All puzzles made perfect sense, and they required a quite different kind of logic from classical escape rooms. I’m sure that some people who are at disadvantage in classical escape rooms could perform quite well in such a room. Reciprocally, someone who is used to classical escape rooms could be slightly disoriented by such a room. Note that because of some puzzles, it would be good to have someone in your team who has at least some very basic programming experience.
Several puzzles require some kind of physical coordination. Very interestingly, there is at least one such puzzle that be solved in several different ways, depending on the physical characteristics of the members of your team. You definitely have to be creative here!
Hosting: Like in many escape rooms in Toronto, the welcome is a bit anonymous, though not as much as in “escape factory” places like Omescape. After our adventure, however, we had the chance to get an extensive debriefing by the owner, who explained how he came to the idea of mimetic room. Interestingly, the first time he heard about escape rooms, he imagined they would follow this “mimetic” logic. After playing a few of them, he was disappointed by the somewhat artificial logic of escape rooms, and therefore stopped playing them and started building his owns!
There was no glitch whatsoever during our adventure, which is remarkable given the sophistication of the involved mechanisms. Note that there are a lots of dialogue, and they are not so easy to understand if, like me, you’re not a native English speaker. Try to have in your team at least one such person.
Finally, there is a score measuring your progression, depending on how much time you needed for each puzzle.
Performance: We exited the room in 63 minutes (out or 75) with a difficulty score of 16 and obtained the best possible endings of the four scenarios. We also managed to beat the all-time record with an overall score of 11,016 (the room was only six months old at the time though, so it doesn’t mean much).
Overall, this is a fantastic room that absolutely everyone should try: newcomers, enthusiasts, and even people who do not like regular escape rooms!
Game played in August 2019 (Picture by Revo Escape; text inspired by Revo Escape)