AWAKENED - Chronos Escape Room
This is Escape Mattster's game No. 38.
Venue: Chronos Escape Room
Address: 676 Fairplex Dr, Pomona, CA 91768
Here is a carbon copy of my Yelp review, posted originally on 09/23/2018:
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AWAKENED // Grade: A
"...Enthusiast's treasure, book it soon!"
(Psst. Check my "previous review" for "Inception". End psst.)
An apparently devil-possessed former classmate's up to no good at the seemingly innocuous high school reunion... drugging your drink, abducting you against your will, and left you in the now abandoned high school building to shiver in fear. Luckily for you, he kills in batches. You're the last of his survivors before he returns in 1 hour for more slaughter and bloodshed. It's your worst recurring nightmare come true--school's in session once again!
"Awakened" puts a new twist to the killer-will-return-in-1-hour horror escape room trope by switching the setting to a school setting, which to me, is very much inspired by the ever-so-popular haunt events and horror films from Asia. For whatever reason, mixing evil with education seems to tickle that terror-loving bone for Asian audience.
...And uh. Yup, I'm most def Asian. Worked for me.
I really love my experience with Chronos this time. Truth be told, just knowing the game takes place over a 1500 sq ft space, and having seen just how long the hallway is (ie the length of this room), I was already on board. I am a true sucker for a room-to-room-to-room adventure. And boy, Awakened is the valedictorian of this category. Plus, every room has a theme, the first is a classroom, then you see the long hallway, and so on so forth. Though only a condensed and miniature version of an actual school, the game space, for the most part, holds together cohesively (theme-wise) to provide a smooth and enjoyable experience.
Production value is decent. This room was constructed 1-2 years back, so it might not stand out among more recently published venues, but it hadn't aged poorly either. To me, it's on par with Knotts Scary Farm mazes, which is a teen-friendly type of pseudo-scare, just a tad away from reaching the greats of movie-grade props. Just some minor details fixes needed. Grade wise, maybe B+? Body parts and red blood galore, though only 1 or 2 true jump scares, if even, appeared in game. (And no actor!) It was about as scary as a campy horror flick, much like Scream 3, which is frequently labeled as the Scooby Doo installment of the series...
...And I don't mean that in a bad way. There exists a niche where escape room players want a bit of terror without having to outright pee in their pants. Awakened is that level of "little scary" that can entertain many, even including younger teens and your team's token scaredy-cats.
Puzzle wise, if you're an enthusiast, you'll surely get out under the time limit. Had we been more attentive to certain set pieces, we wouldn't have wasted 1 hint. Would be great to escape without any! (But! We had almost 20 minutes remaining!) Majority of the challenges revolved around finding letter/number codes to input to locks and pads, which is considered "low tech", but still *high fun* for me! There were some "high tech" magical moments sprinkled here and there to round out the experience.
Be warned: some riddles did require minor leaps in logic, and like others mentioned, some involved math. But it's such BASIC MATH that... come on, guys. Don't dock points off for that. It's a school themed room! You need to pass that math quiz! (Though there was one BIG red herring--our consensus was that it neither added to our experience nor plot progress. So please remove?)
For a lot of rooms, you're confined to a very small office space; with Awakened, you're actually transversing wall to wall, making you more aware of your successful progress, and the element of escape more immersive. Much of my adrenaline high derived from really actively running from room to room, back and forth--there's just something about getting your body in action mode that I am really attracted to. Additionally, the ending, once you fully understand it, brings a satisfying conclusion to the plot.
With all that added together, this game earned its outstanding report card. ;)
Of a *very high* note, I need to address the booking nature of this game. Today, having this game set to "private event" was such a delightful treat, and also *THE crucial* assistance in achieving a commendable escape time, because there was just no way we could've flown through many of the puzzles had we not been friends:
When in turbo mode, players might speak in more demanding tone, louder volume, and not-so-calm manner. With other unfamiliar patrons, this very much comes off as rude. Among friendly faces, however, more is forgiven. Having completed this room in only ~40 minutes is solid proof that this formula works. And we had so much fun while doing so!!!
Awakened may be not the most frightening room out there, but undoubtedly a very fun one. Our game master today, Dion, much like our last gm, brought a very positive energy, and made Chronos as a business more personable. Thanks for being awesome, guys!