|Floating in a tin can|
Written by Brad Melluish. Maze Rooms' "Lunar Mission" is the first escape room I've encountered that is fully committed to a hard science fiction theme in a space setting, so I was excited to give it a spin when I found out it would be part of our recent Los Angeles escape room marathon. The room did not disappoint, and it was refreshing to see this room boldly go into a genre that is so surprisingly unexplored! From their site:
"Try to escape lunar station in disrepair and survive. Far in the outer space. Only team work can return lunar crew home."
Puzzles, Technology & Set DesignThe puzzles were generally both entertaining and immersive. While many of the problems we were tasked to complete were par for the escape room course, we never found ourselves reduced to 'just' rummaging around for a key or lock combination. Everything is highly automated, and the room includes several engaging, novel exercises that really round out the experience.
The first leg of the experience includes a number of puzzles that must be solved separately to reunite your scattered crew before advancing to further content. While breaking the party up can often leave a gimmicky aftertaste, the mechanic was executed impeccably in the context of Lunar Mission's narrative. However, this can also significantly slow down the group and break up a party's rhythm if one group gets stuck and others are left twiddling their proverbial (or literal) thumbs waiting for the narrative to advance.
A lot of effort seemed to have gone into the set. Everything in the room looked like it belonged and jived with the theme. While loath to use the term 'realistic' to describe an experience roughly on par with the set design of one's local laser tag arena, I can confidently say the set design was on the high end of the escape room spectrum.
Memorable MomentsWhile traversing a crawl-space section of the experience, the word 'zombies' was muttered, as a joke, by one of our party—panic and hilarity ensued. Crawl spaces are always great!
The final moments also proved quite exciting. After seeing many otherwise great escape room experiences hampered by lackluster endings, it was great to see this one close out with a roar.
Room For ImprovementLunar Mission definitely had its highs and lows. While it was thematically one of my favorite rooms of our LA experience, it had a rocky start with a mix of eardrum-shattering ambient sound and poor-quality radio equipment. The room also features a few puzzles that seemed irrelevant to the ultimate objective, but I'm willing to chalk that impression up to a happy mix of luck and obliviousness on the part of our brave lunar astronauts.
Overall ThoughtsEveryone seemed to enjoy themselves. Lunar Mission did turn out to be somewhat overshadowed by the overwhelmingly good time had by all afterward in the "Magic Kingdom" room at the same Maze location, but "Lunar Mission" nonetheless proved a memorable, highly recommendable experience.
The room is billed as being for 2-5 players, but 3 seemed to be the sweet spot for a group of mixed experience levels. I would avoid parties over 4 persons if at all possible.
- Set design: Feels like a spaceship!
- Difficulty: Medium-Hard
- Price: $33/person for parties of 3 or more
- Number of players: 5 max (recommend 2-3), private
- Duration: 60 minutes
- Overall Rating: ★★★★