The Alpha Lab
The Alpha Lab
- Played August 2016
- Des Plaines, IL
- 60 minutes
- 4-12 players
- What People Say
Another stop on our Chicago area visit, this time…Escape Brigade! Located in Des Plaines, you’ll find this company close by the airport and just a short hop on the highway from downtown Chicago. What caught our attention first were the signs on the building asking people to remove their guns upon entry. Wow, we’re assuming escape rooms take on a far more serious level of competition in the Chicago region! But in all seriousness you will have to pay extra attention when finding this location because it is located in a government building and isn’t easily recognizable as an escape room company. There’s a sign posted on the side of a cargo van by the road which helps, but out of town folks like us needed to do a second drive around just to be sure.
Upon entering the building we were escorted to the specific office location within the building, which had a fairly spacious business looking lobby. There wasn’t too much available in the way of amenities but the lobby was clearly built to attract corporate and community team building groups (and did a fairly good job in projecting that image). So we’ve got a company with a clear goal of team building for the corporate sector and a very worrisome security notice on the outside of their location… I think we’re ready! How about the room itself?
The pre-room video was interesting and definitely did its job in piquing our curiosity. Once we entered the room we immediately got to work with our team which was fairly large (12 people). Without giving too much away you’ll first enter into the Alpha Lab’s research facility where our own professional lab researcher was impressed by the quality and detail of how this room was built. In almost every way you might find yourself being convinced this was a former lab that simply got converted into an escape room.
The immersion was decent but left us feeling like we weren’t engaged in the bigger picture of the story as is the case with most companies that have “large group” bookings. I’m hoping somewhere down the road a company will figure out how to balance having many people in a room together and ensuring that everyone gets a chance to fully interact with the ongoing story and/or mystery of the room.
It’s always nice to see when puzzles are the stronger part of a room experience and Alpha Lab definitely is a good example. Whereas the pre-room experience could use a bit of sprucing up, the puzzles are a welcome strength. There were enough puzzles to keep everyone engaged in a task, and most of the puzzles required multiple people working on them together. There were enough logic puzzles for our thinkers, there were enough math puzzles for our wiz-kids, and there were enough visible clues for our searchers… A fairly good balance in most areas. We’d like to have seen a few more kinetic puzzles but even then there were at least two puzzles that required physical cooperation. If puzzles is what makes a good experience for you this will not disappoint.
But was it fun? Yep! Aside from the basic pre-room experience and the need to wait upon other people as they finish their assigned puzzles, there really wasn’t too much which detracted from the experience here. Admittedly we first met the owners of Escape Brigade when they came to visit Toronto. They impressed us with their knowledge of escape rooms then, and now we can see they truly do have a lot to offer to their customers. If you haven’t already done so and you’re in the Chicago region, go check out Alpha Lab at Escape Brigade – just be sure to leave your weapons at the door when you enter.
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