Location: Apex, NC
Players: 2-10 (We recommend 4-6)
Price: $29 per person, private pricing available, see website for details
Time to Escape: 60 minutes
I would like, if I may, to take you on a strange journey.
From the Whole Brain Escape website:
Dr. Conundrum has broken the laws of space and time, and opened a doorway to the Luniverse. Will you restore order to this world, or be trapped in this psychedelic madhouse?
Whole Brain Escape is one of our favorite new spots in the Raleigh area, and we were thrilled to hear that their fourth and final, (for now,) room would be opening its doors. The room seemed to have a Dia de los Muertos theme, along with some wild and colorful interactions from the promotional materials, so we could not wait to see what the designers had come up with this time!
In the past, we’ve enjoyed how Whole Brain puts together their sets, but have noted that sometimes they didn’t quite feel as immersive as they could. Each previous room in which we noted this has seen an upgrade, and we think that’s an excellent sign. In Mystery of the Mad Scientist, however, this was not a problem. The set is fully decked out as a whimsical and subtly sinister place to puzzle, and this theming keeps up throughout the experience. There’s also a great point in the story which triggers a moment that changes the whole set, allowing for whole new clues to pervade the room, and adding a great surprise to the adventure that I thought was an amazing touch. By my estimation, this room is easily Whole Brain Escape’s most atmospherically complete and exciting set, bolstered by a fun soundtrack and simple touches that evoke some fantastic world building. The props, puzzles, and side items all remain in theme, and honestly, I’d love to see more of the Luniverse universe that has been created here.
The storyline of Mystery of the Mad Scientist is simple, but highly effective, peppered with the great humorous touches that we’ve come to expect within a Whole Brain room. The whole journey is a weird, abstract romp through a loony world, and I loved every strange minute of it. As a result, the theme is wholly original; a mad scientist room that doesn’t take place within a boring lab or converted office. Everything ties up into an appropriately mysterious climax that left us wanting more in the best possible way, tying up the room’s mission while leaving us with some entertaining questions to ponder. Puzzle wise, the game flow is astoundingly good, with multiple paths of linearity that come together and branch out multiple times, allowing for no choke points and ensuring that we remained fully engaged with the game for a good while. In fact, it has become common for our team to break out of rooms fairly quickly, but the density of interactions within this one kept us puzzling well beyond our average time, which is always great.
The enigmas we faced were varied and clever, and no puzzle type was repeated within the room. Every step of the adventure felt fresh, and the system used to tie solutions to locks was subtle and intuitive, removing any need for trial and error at any point. There’s truly so many great puzzles in this room that it’d be impossible to discuss them all, but one favorite engaged us all with a bit of tech that ensured we’d have to work together in a hilarious way, and another run of puzzles engaged us during the most surprising point of the experience, playing with perception in fantastic ways.
There are a few points that include seeming red herrings, parts of clues that hint towards puzzles, but really aren’t. While it is overall pretty easy to spot that which is important and that which isn’t, these could trip up and frustrate some players, especially those who are easily led down rabbit trails. For enthusiasts, this may be on the easier side, and those looking for six figure set designs might be disappointed, but our group still enjoyed the challenge it presented and thought the set was more than appropriate.
Presenting a truly immersive experience filled to the brim with puzzles, Mystery of the Mad Scientist is absolutely my favorite room at Whole Brain Escape. The addition of a little bit of technology coupled with continued light hearted game design, I think this room is a perfect recommendation for escape room die hards and new players alike. Book your time in the Luniverse here!
Full Disclosure: Whole Brain Escapes provided comped tickets for this room.