Location: Durham, NC
Players: 2-8 (We recommend 3-4)
Price: $25 per person
Time to Escape: 60 minutes
From Mission X’s website:
You and your friends are on vacation in a rental beach house. Without warning, a category five hurricane suddenly appears in the horizon. Waves of thunderstorms and strong winds are pounding the house relentlessly. The house suffered considerable damage and is on the verge of collapsing. The power is out and you are trapped in the dark! The emergency channel warns the devastating landfall is within the hour. Staying in the house is not an option. You must escape to safety!
Though the theme sounded a little bit far fetched, (a category five hurricane suddenly appearing on the horizon,) Mission X is usually a lot of fun, so we were excited to help out with their most recent beta test for Hurricane. This would would be replacing their most difficult room, Butcher Shop, so we were ready for the challenge as well!
Taking a cue from Butcher Shop, there is an item in the room that helps direct players to answers with some slight clues, but this has been improved as the prop is a puzzle to solve in itself, adding to the experience rather than just making it simpler. A couple of highly original puzzles encourage teamwork and allow for multiple players to engage in an otherwise linear room. In fact, the initial puzzle of the room starts the whole experience off on an exciting, team based moment we really enjoyed. The soundtrack was good, bringing environmental tension to the game, but could definitely use more dynamic implementation by adding lights and perhaps by ratcheting up the intensity as the timer ticks on. The connective tissue of the game is mostly excellent, with bread crumbs leading from room to room intuitively, allowing for a couple awesome ah ha moments.
A few of the puzzles were vaguely clued, leading us to feel as though we needed to read the minds of the designers in order to solve them. Fortunately, we were able to make several of the leaps of logic after some intense brainstorming, but for some of these issues, we needed to call for hints. While hints were delivered quickly to keep us going, GMs still enter the room in order to give them to us, and they were a bit too direct to keep the puzzle puzzling. The set itself was much more basic than we expected, as the house seemed to have sustained very little damage. It would help the immersion to have more damage showing and to perhaps have the damage seem more extensive as players make their way through the room. The linearity of the room tended to ensure that at least one member of our team of four was standing around while others solved the riddles within, making the maximum team size of eight highly dubious. Escaping felt fairly anticlimactic because the room itself didn’t really deliver a story, but was more of a puzzle room.
Overall, Hurricane was a fun room, but didn’t really feel as immersive as it’s predecessor, Butcher Shop. Our newest teammate, however, had a great time, so new players will probably enjoy Hurricane more than enthusiasts. This is complicated slightly due to the high difficulty rating, so newer players might want to get a room or two under their belts before taking the Hurricane on. here!
Note: The score above is based on the beta test we completed. We, and the other beta testers, identified areas of improvement, so I expect the room will have been adjusted by the time this preview goes live.
Full Disclosure: Mission X provided comped beta testing tickets for our group.