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July 19, 2017

Evil Genius: Occam's Apartment & Norcross Art Gallery (Los Angeles, CA)

Chapter One > Chapter Two
Evil Genius created a two chapter adventure that you can book in a single two hour slot. This was the first time we had seen such a scenario and we hoped that there would be a natural transition between the rooms. Chapter One came out a few years ago and they more recently added Chapter Two, so these rooms could also be played separately. When played in one session, teams can bank the extra time from Chapter One and put it toward Chapter Two and that's exactly what we did. The transition between the chapters was fun and the layout of the location also helped make it feel more immersive.

Chapter One: Occam's Apartment
The story: "Bill Occam was dead. They said it was open-shut: Textbook suicide. While you didn't agree, you just wanted to put this nasty chapter behind you. Just clean out his apartment and move on with your life. The hallway seemed never-ending. To most people, it was just another hallway leading to another rundown apartment. To you, well, you might as well be falling down the rabbit hole. You stand frozen outside of his door as a feeling of dread washes over you. 'What is wrong with me? There is nothing to be afraid of,' you think. You steel yourself and open the door..."

This escape room starts off with an actor/game master introducing you to the scenario and he was pretty funny. We really like the interaction with the GM and the storyline which is one of the strong points in this game. Searching someone's apartment is probably nothing special for many enthusiasts but the manner in which the story progresses and is revealed is top of class. Despite the ordinary theme, the setting and the puzzles were entertaining and enjoyable. While experienced players may blow through this room, we don't mind easy puzzles. All we really care about is how enjoyable the room is and how immersive the overall experience feels. Along with a funny GM/actor and a believable setting, the transition to the second room is impeccable and only possible given the physical layout of their building.

Norcross Art Gallery
The story: "All current evidence leads to the Norcross Art Gallery, owned bu the infamous multi-millionaire Lang Norcross. Mr. Norcross has a questionable reputation at best, but could he be in league with the evil genius?

Across the moonlit street lies the building, violently at rest, as if it were a dormant, volcano. No matter, you have no choice. Even if there is only a sliver of a chance that there is evidence inside, you must go. What secrets hide between the marble statues, antiques vases and priceless paintings? Only one way to find out..."

After escaping the first chapter (not sure how the story unfolds if you don't escape) you end up at the art gallery. Did it look like an art gallery? It sure did! Was it enjoyable? We would say it was average. Now keep in mind that most of the rooms that we play are generally top rooms so when we say average, it's average relative to the best rooms. There were some major downsides to this room in that clues are found but most of the time you don't have enough information to actually solve anything. The problem is that you reveal a puzzle and down the line a cryptic clue for it is found and it seems like you should be able to solve it. We encountered this issue numerous times so I feel that most of our time was spent trying to solve things that were not even solvable. We've seen this in other rooms where you have something done correctly but there aren't any indicators that you are right so you doubt yourself when you're actually missing something completely different. That, in conjunction with a time out lock, makes for a lot of standing around doing nothing.

Overall we feel that Chapter One was great but Chapter Two has some challenges that make the game slow and tedious.

Pros: Chapter One has some good storytelling and fun puzzles
Cons: Chapter Two has frustrating puzzles
  • Set/room design: Great!
  • Technology/automation: Gen-2 room
  • Difficulty: Easy (Chapter One), Hard (Chapter Two)
  • Price: $32-$38/person,  
  • Number of players: 2-6 (we recommend 2-4 ), private
  • Duration: 60 minutes
  • Overall Rating: Chapter One: Occam's Apartment ★★★★½, Chapter Two: Norcross Art Gallery ★★★
See their website here: http://www.evilgeniusescaperooms.com

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