Location: Fairfax, VA
Players: 2-7 (We recommend 3-4)
Price: $27 per person
Time to Escape: 60 minutes
I’m afraid I can’t do that, Dave… Until you solve a puzzle!
From the Escape Room Fairfax website:
You and your teammates are members of a time-traveling resistance group from a dreary future where civilization itself has crumbled due to the rise of an Artificial Intelligence system gone haywire. A.L.I.S.O.N. (Artificial Lifeform and Intelligence System for Optimization of Nations) was created to improve society across the globe, but as it gained power, the system also became self-aware. Your team has arrived in the year 2233 on the very day A.L.I.S.O.N. took control of the arsenal of three global superpowers. She is not happy to see you. With time until chaos and destruction ticking down, will you and your teammates find a way to deactivate A.L.I.S.O.N. before you are short-circuited? The fate of the future is in your hands. Good luck.
As far as we can tell, for the Northern Virginia area, Escape Room Fairfax boasts the largest amount of rooms in one business. Most of them had some pretty interesting themes, and their two newest rooms came recommended to us from one of our favorite GMs of all time, so we were excited to give them a shot! Our first was a very high tech looking sci-fi room; an exciting way to start! It also didn’t hurt that the evil A.I. was named after one of our teammates, injecting an excellent shot of humor into the experience.
I always enjoy a well themed entrance to a room, and this one had cool lighting to boot!
2233: Fighting for the Future has an interesting theme and set up, pitting players against a hostile A.I., and allowing for competitive pairing with Escape Room Fairfax’s other in-universe room, 1960: History of the Future. Both rooms have the goal of shutting down A.L.I.S.O.N. before she can eradicate humanity, and cross over with each other in interesting ways, filling out the story as you puzzle along. The room is filled to the brim with tech, as expected for a sci-fi story, and it works flawlessly, ensuring the room gives off a highly advanced vibe. There are some really great surprises as well, including a couple of moments where the lab’s time travel theme is capitalized on in a fascinating way! Almost everything within the room serves a distinct purpose, and it is mostly intuitive what goes where, eliminating red herrings from the game flow. The individual areas of the room cross over well with each other, and a couple of meta puzzles are built towards as teams work through all the enigmas, providing a real sense of progress from point to point. After the initial stages of the game, the flow opens up excellently, and allows for some great non-linear solving, with a few good teamwork puzzles peppered in to ensure everyone remains engaged. The climax provides some fantastic hands on interactions to round out the story, leading to an exciting conclusion to our showdown with the rogue A.I.
The game flow worked alright for the most part, but was especially rough during the beginning of the game, with a linearity that caused some major choke points during our experience. The culmination of this choppy initial stage was an escape room standard that was very lightly clued, and one critical part of the solution was completely random, causing us to fumble for a bit, wondering if this was even that kind of puzzle until the GM nudged us to keep following our original train of thought. When we triggered the solution for this one, we were completely bewildered as to how we were supposed to know to do what we did. The story for the room worked well for the most part, but A.L.I.S.O.N. was mostly absent from the proceedings. After the build up in the briefing towards this all powerful, malevolent A.I., we were really hoping to hear more from her, and actually face her down, but this did not happen. The props are nicely tactile, but fairly underwhelming for the theme, consisting mostly of wooden or plastic items that felt more fake than usual. While almost everything is important within the game, there are a few strange stickers around the room that detract from the high tech feel and serve seemingly no purpose.
While there are hiccups here and there, 2233: Fighting for the Future is a solid experience that escape enthusiasts and new players will enjoy. While there isn’t too much that will absolutely blow a veteran’s mind, there’s still some good puzzling fun to be found within the walls of A.L.I.S.O.N.’s lab. Book your time fighting for humanity’s future here!
Full Disclosure: Escape Room Fairfax provided media discounted tickets for this room.