Decode Ann Arbor – Pt. 1: The Minerva Project (Review)

Location: Ann Arbor, MI

Players: 2-10 (We recommend 4-6)

Price: $28 per person

Time to Escape: 60 minutes

We, for one, welcome our robotic overlords.

Theme:

From the Decode Ann Arbor website:

The Minerva Project centers around Minerva, an adolescent artificial intelligence who has ambitions that are too big for her motherboard. Will you help Minerva escape or take a risk by working against her?

First Impressions:

Decode Ann Arbor are masters of immersion, with the entire business designed to keep with the running theme of the games they offer. The Minerva Project is just the first of a three part epic escape adventure, and the folks who run the show have absolutely ensured that the story is one hundred percent immersive from the moment you step through their front door. I could tell immediately that we were in for something truly special.

decode-detroit-minerva

Welcome to The Minerva Project!

High Points:

The storyline running through the entirety of this room is fantastic, and is further bolstered by the game master’s presence throughout the game to deliver what I felt were interactive “cut-scenes” of a sort. His enthusiasm and ability to improvise, (I like to engage actors and have a… weird sense of humor to put it mildly,) were great assets towards making this room shine. Minerva’s constant presence within the rooms is astounding as well, and her interactions with our group were a lot of fun. Affable and just ever so slightly threatening,  you really become attached to this feisty AI in a way I’ve never quite seen in an escape room. All these interactions culminate in an exciting climactic choice you’ll make during the room, and the story can end in a few different ways depending on your success, failure, and choices. The way the story has been so closely integrated into the game is astounding, and Decode Ann Arbor deserves all the praise that comes with accomplishing this feat.

The adventure itself contains a dense array of tactile and engaging, non-linear puzzles, allowing for a fairly large group to keep busy for the entire experience. We had seven players, and not one of us stopped puzzling until the finale, and I’m certain that the maximum of ten would still be will entertained by the absolute smorgasbord of enigmas on offer. Of the many interactions, there are several that are technically themed takes on classic puzzle types, somehow managing to keep these much loved, but standard mind games feeling completely fresh. Decode Ann Arbor also provides a dynamic difficulty experience, ensuring that escapists of varying experience levels can all have an amazing time. Through the clever puzzles, a completely engaging story, and emphasis on a divide and conquer method of teamwork, The Minerva Project truly does evolve beyond the standard escape room game to become a true adventure.

clipboards

Suit up, it’s time to escape!

Low Points:

The initial parts of the game are a bit scattered, theme-wise, though there is a perfectly reasonable in-universe explanation for this. However, it is still rather basic to start, and takes a little bit to get to the really excellent parts. Slow start aside, once it does get going, it gets going fast, so it’s a small critique. There is one crucial part of the game that I feel was a bit vaguely explained to start with, leading to some confusion when we began the game. Luckily, the Game Master provided a free hint (that we all promptly ignored until it finally clicked with us, totally our fault there,) and corrected our course excellently.

Verdict:

The Minerva Project is an amazing escape room that absolutely must be experienced if you’re ever in the Ann Arbor area. Escapist of all ages and experience levels can enjoy this room, and I highly recommend getting a team together to take this room on! The best thing about it, though, is that once you finish, the story continues! With two further entries into Minerva’s Saga, this truly is an epic experience. Book your time in Minerva’s den here!

9/10 (Excellent)

Full Disclosure: Decode Ann Arbor provided media discounted tickets for this room.

One thought on “Decode Ann Arbor – Pt. 1: The Minerva Project (Review)

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