Nemesis

4.8 Overall
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Nemesis

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Located five minutes west of Chinatown in Toronto, you’ll find Lost Canada, the location of our most recent visit. We were invited by the Lost Canada staff to try their newly updated Nemesis room, which unfortunately hasn’t received a lot of love from the Greater Toronto escape room community. Other noted reviewers and industry insiders have publicly made comments such as ‘’This is the worst room ever, I’ll never go here again!’’ and ‘’I’ve never experienced something so bad!’’ but as an organization, the ERA team doesn’t feel it helps anyone by letting dominant personalities determine other people’s perspectives, so we thought why not see for ourselves? Maybe, the newly renovated rooms would put to rest the dramatically harsh critics…

Lost Canada is a 2nd floor location and only accessible by a large flight of stairs. Keep your eyes on the lookout for a small company sign wedged in between two regular store fronts. Parking is limited to downtown streets and parking lots, so it’s best to book a time outside of rush hour. Some interesting but malfunctioning sensors were on the stairs that allowed you to play music on your way up and down. Once we got to the lobby at the top, there was an open and spacious area with a decent amount of seating available. Refreshments were available for purchase, and the walls were appropriately themed with advertisements for their rooms. At the time of our arrival there was only one staff on duty who kept nervously hopping back and forth between the front desk and the rooms around the corner. When we introduced ourselves, she quickly shook our hand, said ‘hi’, then returned to hopping back and forth. Behind the front desk there was a large pile of construction and storage items scattered across the floor. It looked like someone had just returned from a construction job and needed to sort what was valuable and what was garbage by laying it out everywhere. Admittedly things were starting to get a bit weird. In any event, we were ready to try the newly renovated Nemesis, and overall it was a fairly decent start…

Was there something we were missing about this place that caused such disdain from others?

For a brief moment our host stopped running back and forth and asked “Ready to play?”, and we were happy to respond ‘’Ready to go!’’ She led us to the hallway she had been disappearing to and began a verbal introduction of the room. It was at this time we realized a couple things: First, there was a clear language barrier that prevented her from feeling confident or knowing how to accurately describe our mission. (This could explain why she nervously avoided us at the beginning which is understandable, and in a way, helped prepare us for more issues to come). The second introductory issue we noticed was after being handcuffed and led into the room, there were no safety releases on the handcuffs, nor was there an emergency key or button on the door. We were legitimately locked inside with no way out apart from the staff coming in. Hopefully we understood enough of our mission to save ourselves, and the rest of the world!

The room quality was…how can we say this? It was hard to ignore. Low quality building materials and props were used throughout the experience. The game design was out of date, and the tech that could have impressed us was poorly installed and implemented with lots of visible wiring everywhere. What worried us most however were the obstacles we encountered (E.g. a shopping cart inside a small office sized room which blocked the door unless you shifted things around within the room). It was an unintentionally, fun, challenge trying to figure out how the heck they managed to get a full sized shopping cart into that small room. A single layer of paint that was cracked and peeling partially covered the windows creating an unpleasant obstructed view of downtown Toronto. We could go on with several more examples, but you get the idea…

The immersion was better than the room quality, but also below average. From the partially painted window, to the odd choice in props, to the poorly installed technology, there were so many things that had us asking ‘’Why? …Why would is this out of context item located here? Why would people choose to do this action in this scenario?” Or even, “How does this puzzle integrate with the point of the story?” (Was there a reason for clothing to be screwed into the drywall? Or a random box glued on the side of another wall?) Little things like this make a big difference in how people experience a room, and again, points to this room being out of date… Having said that, there was one positive we experienced with the immersion. The first room did a pretty good job of creating ‘fun tension’ for us. Partly because we were actually handcuffed together with no way out of the room in case of an emergency, but also because they did a good job of setting the mood.

This leads to the puzzles in Nemesis which weren’t horrible, but again they were out of date and out of context. A couple leaps in logic and odd choices in implementation had us feeling underwhelmed most of the time. It was mostly 3 and 4 digit locks throughout the experience, and the puzzles beyond the first room didn’t require much thought. In one case, we skipped using an associated prop with a puzzle because the answer was visible and obvious without going through the motions. Given the language barrier we faced with the staff, it wasn’t easy understanding the clues given to us through the old style intercom buzzer they used… But just like the immersion, we did enjoy the first set of puzzles in the first room. Although there was some poorly translated wording, minor leaps in logic, and intentional red herrings, we still appreciated we had to at least think our way through the room.

By this point in time you’ve probably guessed the newly renovated Nemesis room wasn’t our cup of tea. It’s clear that beta-testing and consultation were desperately missed in the development of this room. This resulted in too many room quality issues, safety issues, and out of date design choices for us to enjoy the experience. It’s never easy writing reviews like this because we know there are thousands of people who use ERA’s experiences and scores as a guide for which rooms they’ll play across Canada and the USA. We feel badly knowing the Lost Canada staff seemed like good people who honestly wanted to make a room people would enjoy. We suspect this is a case of the owners not knowing how far the industry in North America has advanced these past four years. Had this room opened at that time, it would have caught people’s attention and even been considered an ‘average’ room, but there’s a reason why most of those older designed rooms have closed down in Toronto. Back then an average escape room required less than $6000 investment and maybe 4-6 weeks of set up time by one person. Skip to the present where modernized escape rooms can easily reach into the hundreds of thousands, and sometimes require teams of highly skilled engineers and/or professional set designers several months to put together an experience that is memorable. In short, the escape room industry has entered a new era which means parting with the old ways things used to be done, and embracing the new reality of high budgets and long build times….

So there you have it. We won’t tell you Nemesis is the worst room, but it is fair to say this room is a reflection of what escape rooms used to be like. So if you’re looking for one of the few remaining old design games out there, this is it. It wouldn’t be a choice we recommend, but there is something to be said about nostalgia…

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!

Final Verdict:

4.8/10

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