The Escape Test

8 Overall
Room Quality
Puzzle Design
Fun Factor
Users (0 votes) 0

The Escape Test

  • Played March 2017
  • New York, NY

  • 60 minutes
  • 2-10 players
  • $50 ($250 Extended Experience)

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Get ready for an escape room experience unlike anything you’ve done before. In fact, Paradiso pushes the boundaries of your definition of an “escape room”. Yes, the doors are locked and you’ll need to solve puzzles to open the doors. But at Paradiso you are not alone and The Virgil Corporation is not what it seems.

The Escape Test is an eery, immersive, theatrical experience that places you in the midst of a multi-faceted adventure. The majority of the game takes place in an easy to locate building on 32nd St; however, the story begins days before your reservation time. We strongly recommend you book at least a few days in advance and provide them with your cellphone number (Paradiso is careful not to share your details—no need to worry about spam or telemarketers). You aren’t required to share your contact info and the information you gain from their messages does not provide any major clues to help you escape, but if you’re paying the steep fee ($50) to participate, then you might as well take full advantage of the entertainment. We found that the pre-game interaction left us more confused than when we started and this is exactly what Paradiso is trying to achieve. As our reservation time grew close, our intrigue and anticipation continued to build.

Paradiso gave us a new perspective on what is possible for an immersive escape room experience. When most ERA reviews describe the Pre-Room, we are usually referring to things like the waiting area, introductory storyline, and friendliness of the staff. This time we aren’t sure where the Pre-Room begins and ends. In fact, we were drawn so much into the story from the moment we submitted or reservation that we weren’t always sure what or who was part of the game. In the elevator up to the Paradiso entrance, we debated whether the office building doorman was just a regular guy who wasn’t familiar with where we were going or if he had been given instructions to make our visit more confusing (we think the former). Was the man who greeted us on the 14th floor unfriendly or was he specifically tasked with making us uncomfortable (we think the latter). Was the office next to Paradiso a fake business or had they just not updated their sign in decades (jury is still out on that one). From a practical standpoint, we would have liked somewhere to sit because our start time was a bit delayed and it would have been nice to use the restroom without needing an escort to unlock the door. Minor complaints when we consider everything else that preceded.

You’ll experience more than one room while progressing through your adventure and the overall quality throughout was slightly above average. Most of the props were in good condition, but there were some instances where it was easy to tell where to explore because a specific item was more worn than others. We loved the well-decorated and consistent props laid out in each area, but were less impressed with some exposed wires and a broken panel that revealed the layout of another room. The live actors aren’t technically “props”, but from a room quality perspective, they did a fabulous job of staying in character.

We didn’t feel quite as impressed by the quality and quantity of the puzzles. Paradiso is as much about the overall experience as they are about the escape, so there aren’t as many puzzles to solve as there are with other companies. We also felt that some of the puzzles were a bit abstract in their relationship to the story. While it may not seem relevant to the quality of the puzzles, we didn’t like that they have a staggered approach to their reservations. The speed of the group ahead of us meant that our team was actively led astray at one point in order to be slowed down. We all love a good red herring as a sneaky way to keep us on our toes, but being purposefully pointed in the wrong direction was frustrating. For those of you who are mostly interested in puzzles, you may not be satisfied with the quality and difficulty until you reach the final area.

As you may have gathered already, the immersive aspects of Paradiso are what set this room apart. We were constantly on edge and we were wary about every clue and person that crossed our path. Each player had been given slightly different information along the way, which resulted in some interesting overlaps in our goals and even some questions of whether one of us was “in on it”. As for the broad storyline, we didn’t always understand what we were immersed in, but we always felt like we were part of something larger. There were some shocking and adrenaline powered moments and the actors did a great job of pushing the limits of truth vs fiction. We appreciated having a character along with us for some of the adventure rather than just as a living prop. However, one thing that was missing was an understanding of how we fit into the play that was happening around us. We would have loved to be able to participate and interact in a quality way, but we weren’t able to conceive who we were in the story. We have lots of praise for the production value of Paradiso’s immersive experience, but we were a little dissatisfied with the actual story. We had a hard time understanding the progression of the narrative and we never felt like any of the mystery came to a conclusion.

We had a very good time at Paradiso. The build-up over the course of days meant that we were pleasantly anxious before we even got to the location. We weren’t amazed by the puzzles nor did the room quality feel top notch, but neither of those aspects took away away from the overall immersive and enjoyable experience. This is a good room for the experienced escaper who is looking for something different than a regular ‘solve and open’ game. We’d also recommend this to people who love an interactive environment that still offers some challenging puzzles. Beginners may be overwhelmed by it all, although the Paradiso team seems perfectly capable of tailoring the experience to the skill level of the participants.

We noted that Paradiso also offers an extended experience that continues the saga over the course of a week. This seems to be completely unique to Paradiso and we’d love to hear from our users who take the plunge for this added adventure.

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