- Played September 2018
- Los Angeles
- 60 minutes
- 2-8 players
- What People Say
When going to Hatch Escapes in Los Angeles you can’t quite tell what to expect from the outside. There isn’t a parking lot, so you will have to allow some time to find street parking. However, once you get into the entrance you quickly get an idea of how much space this company has to work with. It is a shame that the space isn’t utilized well, with a sitting room and a table being the only things of interest aside from a display of merchandise to purchase. Perhaps it is intended as the lobby is wide and open, preparing you to feel small as you head on to take your place as miniature lab test subjects in their room “Lab Rat”.
The scenario involves your group being one of many test groups made to serve as an experiment being held by a massive rat scientist, portrayed by a costumed actor projected on a large wall gazing down at you. He plans on disposing of you as failures if you do not succeed in showing that humans have a passing amount of intelligence. It then becomes a race against the clock to impress your rat overlord, and perhaps find a way to escape in the process.
Though the lobby is spacious and empty, the room itself is chock-full of interesting pieces that almost distract you from the fact that the clock is ticking. There’s so much visually to take in but all of it is clever, intentional, and well made. From the cage you start out in to the maze you’re led into, everything is scaled up to make you feel insignificant. All the props replace humans with rodents, making allusions to the Rat Pack and Justin Beaver as a comical twist on reality. What’s more, you really feel like you a test subject in a maze with all the running back and forth you do.
The miniaturization and captivity, coupled with the rat scientist’s constant berating and your means of obtaining hints (a button labeled “I’m an Idiot”) really motivate you to prove yourself. The puzzles are varied enough to test vastly different thinking processes. You’ll be tested on thinking spatially, recognizing patterns, logic, and a bit of creativity. Thankfully none of the puzzles require vast leaps in logic and usually have a rather straightforward answer once you can determine what it is you’re looking for. You won’t find any lock and key puzzles here; most of these involve some physical aspect and are a refreshing display of real effort on the creator’s behalf. The story advances little by little with each puzzle solved and each new room you enter, either by the voice of the scientist or through a cutscene.
Though the room supports eight people, that might be too many bodies and not enough of the puzzles can be worked on simultaneously. We recommend a group of 4-6, though it can be done with as few as two. And be careful with younger children, as part of the room’s ambience changes, reminiscent to the boat ride in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.
With so much packed into this space, most groups will use up the entire 60 minutes provided to them. Thankfully, any of the acted out cutscenes that play at certain checkpoints pause the timer so you can relax and enjoy them without being pressured by the clock. The scenes themselves are amusing and offer a breather between the frantic scurrying about looking for clues and puzzles.
This room is one of our favorites. From the variety of puzzles and the amount of things to do, to the quality of the props and the ambience and cinematics, it really shows the creators care about attention to detail. We appreciated the feeling of satisfaction with each puzzle’s solution, and we’re looking forward to seeing more of what this company creates next.