The Asylum

6.5 Overall
Room Quality
Puzzle Design
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The Asylum

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Over the past year, the city of Hamilton, Ontario has become a hotbed for new escape room companies. One of those new companies jumping into the mix is Rubix Escape Rooms. The Toronto ERA team recently visited and had the honour of testing their only room available: The Asylum! Did this room create a desire to be committed, or did we find our emotional balance in the end?

The location is easy enough to find. It’s in an industrial park, with ample parking, a fairly nice lobby, and some comfy couches to lounge on. A tv monitor in the lobby acts as the staging area for the game, and the pre-room video was perfect for establishing the mood and atmosphere of the game to come. The shining star of the pre-room experience however is the level of customer service you’ll receive at Rubix. They are incredibly friendly, helpful, and always wanting to interact with their customers to learn more about how they can improve. Unfortunately their pre-game video was followed by a large break of listening to health and safety instructions, and additional tidbits explained by the staff. We’re hopeful Rubix will find a way to change the order of their pre-room routine to capitalize on their strong customer service and pre-game video so that it’s a seamless transition for immersion. Despite the ups and downs however, it was a decent start and we were ready to play!

Our team felt the room quality was probably the least developed area of the game. We were split into two rooms, with each starting room having its own strengths and weaknesses. Without giving too much away, both rooms were unique in design which impressed us, but one room was thought to be more impressive. Both rooms had some issues with props being either too fragile, being of plastic quality, or presenting potential harm for those who aren’t careful. The rooms were also fairly under-used in their space management. Was it all rough around the edges? Not at all! The unique designs of each starting room were interesting, and it made each team feel a little envious of what they didn’t get to explore in the opposite room which is a good thing… Overall we’d say there’s a bit more work to be done with the design and build quality, but it’s not far off the industry norm and definitely showed signs of potential!

The level of immersion seemed to depend on which starting room we were placed in. Again, we won’t give any spoilers, but one team definitely felt more connected to the story and environment than the other team. Both teams also felt the story connection between the pre-game video and the in-game experience wasn’t tangible. This is a shame because one of the more immersive aspects of the whole experience is the pre-game video and story introduction. The Asylum video really sets the mood and creates a great story you’ll want to learn more about. With such a different experience between our two teams, we’re not quite sure what to say except there’s some interesting and strong points that can be had, but there’s also potential to feel somewhat disconnected from being in the moment.

By this point in time one would expect if the immersion and room quality were on the lower side of industry average, then the other areas we review would be the same correct? That certainly isn’t the case and we’re happy to say the puzzles and tasks we had in The Asylum were very strong! We enjoyed the reliance on teamwork, communication, and outside the box thinking. For our group of four (two teams of two) the puzzles were perfectly designed to have everyone engaged, included, and feeling a common struggle to complete the game. Again one of our teams felt there was a bit of imbalance between the two starting rooms, but overall both rooms’ puzzles were solid. Most beginner to moderate level puzzle enthusiasts will find these puzzles fit their preference, but even advanced puzzle solvers who enjoy working together as a team will enjoy the inclusive and teambuilding nature found within The Asylum.

So how much fun did everyone have? Well… this is one of those times where four different ERA members had four different perspectives on our shared experience. A couple of us had a lot of fun with the emphasis on teambuilding, communication, and diversity of room experiences. Others felt the experience would’ve been better with more things to do and some higher room quality components. At the end of the day however, we agreed there’s a good amount of fun to be had here and The Asylum is definitely more than the sum of its parts. Will it be everyone’s personal preference and style? No. Hard core puzzle enthusiasts, set design enthusiasts, and lone wolf personalities, will struggle to find the things they enjoy. However, if you’re the type of person where having fun ‘together’ is an important part of your escape experience, then this room is definitely worth a try! Because of the theme and imagery used, we’d recommend you keeping the kids home for this one, and bringing a team of 4-6 players (no less, no more).

We want to hear your thoughts! Be sure to comment in the section below or send us a message via ERA’s email, Facebook, or Twitter… As always, happy escaping!

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