This Room is a Good Match for
Book your Wild West experience here!
Book your Wild West experience here!
Experience: Jigsaw Escape Room
Location: Manhattan, NY
Date Played: October, 2017
Team Size: 4
Duration: 15 minutes
Price: Free with NYCC badge
Given such an easy opportunity to create a next level experience around a brand that is basically a series of horror escape rooms in itself, Jigsaw really missed the mark. Combining a VR experience with a 5-minute escape room sounds great on paper, however in practice, the event failed to take either element to the next level.
NewYork-ComicCon 2017 oftentimes seemed like an endless progression of waiting in lines. We loved all of the pop-ups that the event had to offer, but we would have loved them even more had we had the opportunity to participate in any of them without devoting hours to waiting in lines. Many even capped out in capacity and closed for the day by the time we arrived to the convention. Jigsaw proved to be more of the same, as we waited four hours to get to the experience. This would have been less disappointing had the VR and escape rooms at the end of the line been incredible. Lines are definitely unavoidable for conventions of this scale, but we hope that as time goes on and pop-ups continue to pop up, that companies take steps to decrease wait time. Having multiple copies of each experience or developing a system similar to Fast Passes where attendees can return at a later time would greatly improve the overall experience.
I talk a lot about the wait time because we spent four hours in line to escape the room after one minute and thirty seconds.
As mentioned, the VR element seemed great on paper. However in the actual room, it proved to be awkward and buggy. The first half of the room splits the party of four into two groups of two and leads you into separate but mirrored rooms. You and your partner are escorted to back to back chairs as one person within the room gets you fitted to your VR headset. My VR showed a man wearing a mask and yielding a knife in a barn, I had trouble hearing it and it proceeded to revert to the menu screen for the VR system as it finished. As there was only one person to help us get set up, I had my headset put on first and my VR ended well before my partner’s did. I was instructed to look around the room as he sat there still in the headset.
As I began to search the room, I opened an electric box, only to be told that that part of the game was removed, as it had taken too long with previous players. The only other item in the room to touch was a block in the wall which fell through to the other players’ room. I was wrong in thinking this was part of the story as their helper placed it back telling me that wasn’t supposed to happen either.
When my partner’s VR experience finally ended, we were shown to the second half, the escape room section. After feeling like I did nothing in the VR portion, I was excited to have a cool Saw-like experience.
Within one minute, we found a flashlight, found a code, and opened the box to get the key to escape. After four hours of waiting, we completed two steps and were finished. Our grand total was about under five minutes for the entire experience.
Other noteworthy elements include the fact that they had us place our belongings on an unmanned table prior to entering. Although the table was near the room, our items could have been easily taken. It would have been a much better call to provide lockers, as most escape rooms do. Additionally, they had actors in full Saw makeup walking around outside of the room. We were sure that we would have one pop up once we were inside. However, it seems as though they were just used to walk around the event for promotional purposes.
The concept of a Saw-themed escape room sounds enticing and very immersive, given the fact that the series is built upon victims being forced to escape. However, the game execution was sloppy logistically and was a huge letdown given the amount of time we had to wait to experience it. The VR element had technical issues and didn’t flow well into the escape portion, as you were immersing yourself into one world and then leaving to enter another. If executed again, the experience should focus on building out the escape room element more with more creative puzzles, rather than leaning so heavily on the set. We’d have liked to “play a game” had the game not seemingly been over before it even began.
Puzzles presented throughout the castle were challenging and were comprised of a good variety. They were a bit more puzzle-y than most Komnata rooms, requiring a good mix of both brain and brawn.
First and foremost, the set design was impressive. It was a time piece executed well through good use of lighting and space. We were really transported into the dungeons and halls of the castle.
The set also appeared to keep going and going. Room transitions were creative and resulted in an interesting flow that was not-so standard and linear.
The Game Master also did a great job of introducing the story and setting the tone of the game right from the beginning. He remained in character throughout as he communicated with us. It is also worth noting that his clues were clear and easy to hear. We have played games in the past where it was almost impossible to catch information from the Game Master as they attempted to stay in character for clues but ended up basically whispering.
There were one or two puzzles that required the Game Master to physically witness us complete. One we had solved, but moved too quickly for him to notice and confirm. This brought us back a step and let to a bit of confusion. We prefer rooms to be a bit more autonomous but this element wasn’t such an issue that it was make or break.
We were given a walkie-talkie to communicate with the Game Master throughout the game. As stated before, this was a successful and clear way to receive information, however, it did not quite fit the theme. We would have liked to see a more creative means of communication, such as how we are required to call upon the gods in Komnata’s Maze of Hakaina.
This room would be good for anyone who is looking for more of an adventure. The room was well-rounded in that it combined horror and active elements into a cohesive story.
While you do not necessarily have to be a fan of Game of Thones, the theme would be a special treat for anyone who is.
After arriving at an abandoned-looking warehouse, we were greeted by actors shouting to back away from the entrance until they were prepared. Waivers were thrown at us on clipboards, we were instructed to put on full-body jumpsuits and soon after, we were blindfolded and handcuffed. Being that everything escalated so quickly, by this point, we were thoroughly disoriented. Instead of blindfolding us and moving us in a straight line, our eyes were covered very early on, we were separated and moved throughout the space. This did a great job to establish the chaotic and uneasy tone that we were promised from the start.
As we were lead to our own cells, it was all orchestrated in a very organized but forceful manner. So we were never unaware of what we were supposed to be doing but it was still within the theme of the room. Many VR experiences break immersion as you are sometimes unaware of when you should take off the gear, and instructions are not incorporated into the story of the room. In This is Real, however they did a great job keeping us informed as to how to proceed. Instructions as to when we could remove our blindfolds and where we were to go were very clear.
Once in our cells, we were provided with headsets that threw us deeper into the world as they provided the soundtrack for the gruesome scene that took place before our eyes.
As the scene before you escalates and your captor leaves the room, you are encouraged by a fellow victim to discover how to escape your cell as soon as you can. After trying to discern who resides in the cells adjacent to your own – friends or your captors!? – you soon realize that the other half of your party resides within an entirely separate room. We loved the way in which we were lead through the experience by the actors, as they remained in their roles. We were never confused as to what we should be doing, but it also kept the immersion in-tact. Additionally, it’s worth mentioning that splitting the groups was executed well. With the heightened sense of urgency and mirrored rooms, you were always in survival mode and never felt like you were missing out on pieces of the game.
The experience heightens to an immersive survival quest mixed with escape room elements once you manage to get out of the cells. Adrenaline kicks in as you scramble to find a way to escape the room beyond your cell as the other half of your party finds themselves in the same situation on the other side of a wall. The sound of jingling keys and footsteps from the hallway warns you of your captor returning and you are forced to use your creativity to discover the plethora of hiding spaces so your captor will not catch you. However, be warned, as your captors discover them, you begin to find yourself with less and less options. This is a great mechanic to keep the game moving along, otherwise it would become repetitive after choosing the same place to hide and it would be silly to suspend the belief that your captor is continuing to forget these places.
Each party member is given 3 lives to survive the game. If caught by your captor, you lose a life. Player elimination aspects are typically frowned upon in games, as it seems unfair to be removed especially after having paid so much to participate. However, given the storyline, this seemed very fitting and was orchestrated in a way that gave every player ample opportunity to remain in the game for most of it.
The entire plot escalates to a point where the group becomes further separated, new rooms and passageways are discovered, and it becomes a race against the clock and your remaining lives in order to escape the labyrinth of cells they have constructed. The very real element of your life counters being taken away as you are caught by your captor and the game moves on really increases the sense of urgency and your adrenaline.
The rooms ended with us scrambling through keys as lights flashed and sirens went off. Only two of our group actually made it out. Immediately greeted by officers shining lights on you and telling you to put your hands up, the final nail in the coffin is that it is a trick and it actually being another one of your lives lost. This was a cool climax to the whole story, but having an automatic life loss at the end of the game, regardless of what you do seemed like sort of a safety net to lower the win percentage for the game.
Overall, This is Real was a riveting, totally immersive, hands-on experience. The set production value, the actors, the level of instruction, and the sense of emergency were all executed well. We are looking forward to the next experience NightmareNY can devise.