Location: New York, NY
Price: $30 per person (Private games are available on a sliding scale, see website for more information)
Players: 2-8 (We recommend 3-4)
Time to Escape: 60 Minutes
From the Exit Escape Room NYC website:
The USS Growler submarine has been decommissioned since 1964, but with the the sudden rise of a new attack threat to New York City from a hostile enemy submarine carrying a destructive missile due to be deployed in one hour, the Pentagon has ordered an immediate counter-operation. With the absence of naval submarines on the East Coast, you and your team were ordered to re-activate the Growler, submerge her and carry out “Operation Dive”. Can you stop the attack and save the city before time expires? Operation Dive is our newest and most high-tech escape room- a fully immersive and unforgettable experience.
High Speed NYC was such a fantastic room, we had to return later that day for another highly recommended room, Operation: Dive. The promise of another high tech, fully immersive experience was just too much to resist! (And let’s be real, if I’m given the option of doing an escape room, very little is going to prevent me from doing said escape room.)
Operation: Dive is certainly a very high tech room, with all puzzles, save for one, relying on some sort of technology rather than a lock. This leads to a slew of extremely original puzzling that is based within the sub itself, ensuring that everything remains well integrated into the theme. Speaking of theme, submarines have become a more ubiquitous theme for escape rooms, but Exit Escape Room NYC puts their own cool twist on things by setting up a modern day missile attack we are forced to fight off using a Cold War era sub. The set design is interestingly implemented as well, taking place within a small, narrow room, filled to the absolute brim with the trappings of an old time submarine. The use of space here was pretty amazing, hiding so many clues in plain sight, and submerging us within the world of the USS Growler effortlessly. Lighting, sound, and tech effects further added to the immersion, and though the storyline was fairly straightforward, it was superbly told via the submarine’s reactions to our puzzling.
The game flow was interesting, as the small space ensured that we could see most inputs and their clues, but much of the challenge was working out what needed to be activated, when, and how. For the most part, all of this was signposted so that once something had been activated, it was very clear, though there were a few points where we tried to solve things out of order that would’ve benefited a bit from some extra feedback. On the whole, this method of giving us all the information up front was a fun way to throw us immediately into the action. By tossing us directly into the deep end, forced to figure out the game as we progressed, the feeling of being operatives on a time crunch attempting to figure out Cold War technology was expressed very cleverly. The climax of the game is great, providing some excellent pay off to the adventure via a highly satisfying final run of puzzles and interactions.
Though the size and shape of Operation: Dive conveys the experience of being within a submarine fairly convincingly, I think an eight player maximum is a few too many. With four, we were able to comfortably move around, but another player would’ve had us tripping over each other. The room is starting to show some signs of wear and tear, with several props and areas showing dents and dings, detracting a bit from the overall effect. One main prop was majorly banged up, and it was a shame, since it was one of the focal points of our mission. A particular type of clue is used a few times within the room, and since most of the clues to all puzzles are hidden around the sub, this can result in some unintentional red herrings that get in the way of the game’s flow. Though Operation: Dive was billed as more challenging than High Speed NYC, we found that the challenge mostly stemmed from making the connections between clues and puzzles, and that once those connections were made, the room was generally a good bit easier, overall.
Operation: Dive is an exciting game that does an excellent job portraying its theme through the unconventional game flow. While there are some rough edges around, and can unintentionally become rather befuddling, it is overall a good time. I recommend giving it a go, but definitely advise either taking a small group of no more than four. Book your descent on the USS Growler here!