• Escape Mattster

Game On! UNLOCKED Arcade • UNLOCKED: Escape Room • Escape Room Review


Game Website | Company Website | Based In: Costa Mesa, CA, USA



OFFICIAL SPEC

💪 Difficulty: Intermediate.

⏲️ Time duration: 60 minutes limit.

🔢 Capacity: 4 to 8 players. Private booking.

💬 Hints: Via walkie-talkie and unlimited hints available.

🛒 If you BOOK due to this blog, please give EscapeMattster.com a shout-out! ;)


MATTSTER'S rec

💪 Difficulty (as perceived by Mattster): 5 or 6/10 (team of 4). Puzzles aren't super hard, though there's A LOT to do.

🔢 Ideal team size: Minimum of 4 players is justified; you want a substantial group to finish on time. With that said, I recommend maximum of 6, which will 100% guarantee that everyone gets to play a classic arcade game of their choice.



MUST DO!




OFFICIAL PREMISE

Video games, claw machines, skeeball, and more! Join us at the UNLOCKED Arcade where you’ll have 60 minutes to win tickets and prizes for your best friend, the birthday boy!


IN A NUTSHELL

A group of good friends (that's you guys) compete harmoniously in a classic arcade at the most nostalgic birthday party yet! Skee-ball, basketball, claw machine! And fix those couple of conveniently out-of-order video game machine cabinets in the back while you're at it. Work together, collect tickets, and win that elusive grand prize for the birthday boy!




OVERALL IMPRESSIONS


Years ago, I experienced an enchanting escape room, "The Return of the Magician" from UNLOCKED: Escape Room. That day, I witnessed magic, but not a magic that involves pulling a bunny out of a hat, or stabbing sharp blades into a wooden coffin (though that technically did happen). It was a magic born out of passion, one that originated from 5 enthusiasts-turned-owners, who transformed their originality, creativity, and expert craftsmanship into one hell of a show.


Now, the guys from UNLOCKED bring you a more grounded, but no less appealing, experience without the smoke and mirrors. There is no sleight of hand here. This is an escape room that evokes heartwarming comfort, childhood nostalgia, and the joy of a simpler time. It's time get your "Game On!" at the UNLOCKED Arcade!


Skee-ball, basketball, and my personal favorite, the claw machine! (And video games! Though they are currently out of commission, but should you feel the need to fix 'em up mid-game, maybe?) These are the main "puzzles" you'll be conquering in this lighthearted and family-friendly escape room, which is somewhat of a misnomer. There's really no escaping here, nor would you want to. This is candid, wholesome fun for age 8 to 80. I gonna win me some plushies!


Your main goal is to collect tickets, and lots of 'em. The more tickets, the better the redeemable prize, and the higher your final game score. The prospect of earning every potential ticket set in place offers an extra layer of challenge to achieve--though with a little bit of concerted group effort, I imagine most everyone will go home happy champions.


Something that struck me as unusual and humbling is that, despite having done well over 100 escape games, I found myself surprisingly inadequate in overcoming the initial challenges. Just as astonishingly, ALL of my less experienced teammates shone through and through. While I did eventually find my niche in a more "traditional" decoding puzzle and ameliorated my bruised ego, I am so happy that there's definitely something for everyone despite experience level.



As we absolutely obliterated the arcade games in record time and are well on our way to final victory, it happened.


The UNLOCKED Arcade pulled a fast one on us. I guess there IS a sleight of hand, after all.


Unlike its predecessor, "Game On! UNLOCKED Arcade" may not explicitly have the word magic in its title, but the designers at UNLOCKED have plenty of tricks left up their sleeves. That very same magic, of imaginative cleverness backed by ardent aspiration, is on display once more. And not to mention, a grand illusion in plain sight was staring at me right in my face the entire time. Seriously, what in the Super Marie, err, Mario World?! (The reference shall be crystal clear in due time.)


For those who have played "Magician" prior, you can expect the same laughter-filled moments, shocking surprises, and adrenaline-powered high to hit you when you least expect it. And for those who are brand new to the club, hold on tight to your chins... because those jaws be droppin'! And they'll be droppin' hard.


To discuss any further would rob you of a full signature UNLOCKED entertainment experience, so I won't. But I promise you: There will be more puzzles to solve than you expect, so act swiftly. Also, there will be wayyy more than meets the eye, so be ready. And most importantly, there will be fantastic music by Joe Monday.


Below are some more key points you may wanna know...




STORY

"Game On!" is a very physically-oriented and objective-driven escape game. Although there is a backstory to help string all the wonderful arcade elements along into one cohesive narrative, it almost doesn't matter, and it shouldn't! You're here to beat the arcade games. And to win! And to feel like a child again! Never mind that none of you is the birthday boy at this party, you'll be the one having all the fun, and all the adventure (*wink wink*), than the man of the hour.

As the story advances, the once straightforward and simple plot takes a sharp turn like a hidden Mario Kart shortcut. True to the game's recurring video game motif, perhaps you'll be UNLOCK-ing a bonus level of your own...


PRODUCTION

At first glance, I don't think it's uncommon to dismiss UNLOCKED games for having a seemingly moderate budget, since it does not exactly feature a grandiose set and movie-grade props. However, majority of their set pieces and props are designed, constructed, and modified in-house, and therefore one-of-a-kind and 100% exclusive to their games.

On some level, I am actually blown away from the production value, especially when considering the amount of hidden mechanism and modern technology clandestinely embedded within their equipment. From my research and understanding, there's a considerable amount of computer programming involved, too. Again, more than meets the eyes.

Finally, as the game advances (notice a trend here?), you'll see a dramatic shift in production value. What's already great will become blazingly bonkers. It'll be a multisensory showstopper--just don't forget you still have puzzles to solve.



IMMERSION

For the beginning parts of the game, you'll feel as immersed as you reasonably can in an arcade-inspired escape room. There is faithful representation of all the stereotypical components one finds on the game floor; so it lives up to its name.

For the latter half of your experience, you'll be literally immersed by the definition of the word. So... there's that.


PUZZLES

The UNLOCKED Arcade offers physical challenges that are exactly identical to their functional counterparts in real life. So you'll be playing all of this for real--shooting hoops, rolling Skee-balls, and grabbing toys in a claw machine.

The game also features other "puzzle" puzzles; some are more abstract, while others more traditional. You'll exercise reading comprehension, simple logic, and careful observation to start, and will eventually progress to more advanced brainteasers that you'd normally expect in an escape room. Hence, find a balanced team that has both brains and brawn.

Of note, the staff will proudly tell you that their latest creation features all but a few traditional padlocks, and I can attest to that. Such instances require either keys and combos to open, but they are not representative of game play. Overwhelming amount of puzzles utilize non-traditional inputs; solutions will trigger automated and exciting reveals.


SERVICE

Always down-to-earth staff presents a concise intro pre-game, and volunteers a thorough debriefing post-game, should questions arise. Guests can welcome to learn all puzzle solutions without being coerced into purchasing a replay.

Safety is extremely prioritized and valued at UNLOCKED. Many preventive measures are put in action to reduce risk of disease transmission amidst a pandemic: private booking, touchless QR code check-in, complimentary hand sanitizer and disposable masks. Rooms are diligently cleaned and ventilated between mindfully spaced-out appointments.




BEST FIT FOR...

For anyone remotely interested in escape room! You can throw a ball, can't you?

This is Dave & Buster's with some puzzles thrown in; so arcade lovers, this is A MUST for you.

Bring the fam! This is certainly a rare occasion in which younger audience will feel inherently at home--it's their turf.

Actually quite the genius birthday celebration event option considering the plot line. I would've loved it!


EXTRA TIPS

You're given 60 minutes for a reason. Work quickly. There'll be plenty to do... And more to do after that.

DANCE! Not exactly a tip, but you'll be doing it. And you'll know exactly when.


READY FOR FUN?

"Game On! UNLOCKED Arcade" is available for booking HERE.

If you BOOK due to this blog, please give EscapeMattster.com a shout-out! ;)



Signing off,

ESCAPE MATTSTER 😍

Instagram @EscapeMattster • Facebook.com/EscapeMattster



FOOTNOTES

⤻ Full disclosure: Complimentary game access was generously provided for review purposes.

⤻ All media credited to and provided by contents owners. No copyright infringement intended. ⤻ Speed code for on-site search: ULGame

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