Many, many, MANY paths of experiments later, we defused the bomb. Whew! | The Laboratory Escape Room
COMPANY: The Laboratory Escape Room
ADDRESS: 117 E 11th St, Los Angeles, CA 90015
GAME: The Laboratory
PREMISE: Dr. Crowl is a brilliant geneticist who was the best in his field. In the course of his studies he became convinced that our world was dying. Overpopulation, global warming and endless war were just a few of the problems he believed would destroy humanity. To ensure our future he developed a simple solution: rebuild the human race with only the best and the brightest. Ready to take action, he disappeared to a top secret lab over 20 years ago. Today his plan is complete. Dr Crowl had developed a special gas masterfully created to alter a subjects genetics. The infected appear to be normal on the surface, but in the background the virus is growing; spreading to anyone with similar genetics. When the time is right, Dr Crowl will activate the virus, painlessly eliminating the infected, leaving only the best to inherit the planet. To determine who will live and who will die he created The Laboratory. Pretending to be an escape room gave him the perfect cover, providing an endless supply of willing volunteers. Even when people are told exactly what is happening; they assume it is all a part of the game. By the time the true purpose of The Laboratory is discovered it will be too late.
Here is a carbon copy of my Yelp review, posted originally on 11/14/2018:
Wow. I *really* liked The Lab.
But let's back track a bit to show how I got here: The world is overpopulated with, why of course, stupid folks, and the most efficient way to resolve this overcrowding problem is, well, genocide. (Straight out from the book of Thanos.) Those who pass the lab tests under the time limit are deemed intelligent & thus worthy of survival. (The foolish would be subjected to the mercy of biological weaponry--a viral bomb, to be exact.) Together, the brightest will rebuild the human race!
As dark as the backstory may be, the game play was anything but. These "lab experiments" were random, playful, and clever. The overall game flow was commendably extremely-organized and well-structured as well, so much in fact, there's a road map available to guide players through the process: The complete game features 6 rows, or series, of tasks; when all 6 are completed, you'll get your 1 shot to diffuse the bomb. The designers even made the difficulty adjustable, with puzzles easily taken out or added back in, depending on team size...
...Originally, my team of 3 was supposed to play the 4-row version under 60 minutes, but since circumstances allowed, gm/owner Dan graciously offered us to tackle the complete experience with extended allotted time, should we desire--UHH, HELL YEAH. I couldn't be happier to be able to witness & participate the game in its entirety as intended. And that in turn made writing this favorable review/rec that much easier.
As mentioned, there're 6 rows, or tracks of action, that could occur simultaneously, sufficiently keeping everyone busy. Within each row, puzzles must be solved linearly, with one leading to the next. The variety and randomness of these mini games (as a whole) ensured a whimsical fun time, while the overarching theme (within each row) kept the series congruous. This high level of organization gave my OCD mind a brain orgasm.
Ahhh. Such a good room.
Another advantage of the overview diagram: team work made easy! Individually, you'd never lose track of progress, since you could always refer back to the road map. Team effort wise, if any member got stuck, swapping duty was a piece of cake, even without any explanation--all you gotta do was to check the objectives on the flow chart. It infused the game with a very school project vibe that's reminiscent of my chem lab days--loved it!
The puzzles themselves were gen 1, with 100% of the solutions leading to combos/keys to locks. But due to the nature of the plot, the game was able to incorporate numerous eccentric formats of puzzles, wide array of gadgets and tools, all under the umbrella of lab tests, because, you know, tests! This is one of the few instances where blatantly giving me puzzles for puzzles' sake actually worked, & so well, too. Certain games stood out for challenging our underused senses, while 1 puzzle in particular was just so cute because it made so much sense in a lab. (Spoiler: microscope!)
You can "phone a friend" to get hints every 5 minutes if you get stuck. My team used 2-3 hints total because, well, I was panicking, thinking we might run out of time. (We didn't.) Overall, had I been more patient, all puzzles were fairly solvable by enthusiast-level players; novices could always opt for more help--hence, qualifying The Lab fit for players of all experience. 4-6 players is probably the ideal group makeup, though it isn't so much about the quantity of people, but what each person can offer. To excel, you want some to be good at brainteasers, while others proficient at more physical tasks.
Production wise, yeahhh, it's a bit on the bare side, but hey, at least that stays true and honest to its source material, a laboratory! But during my session, not a minute passed by boringly due to the set design--it simply wasn't an issue. The excitement derived directly from the carefully crafted/constructed puzzles; no fancy theatrics was required to produce such pure enjoyment. Spanning across 2 rooms, game space was spacious enough for a large group. For my small group, I ran around frantically with no problem, no chance of tripping over props or bumping into furniture.
What complemented so perfectly with the experience was our host, Dan. We showed up early, but he got the game up & running in record speed. After we emerged victoriously, he was SOOO patient with us, (well, really, it's just me), who kept yapping away and asking him about each individual puzzle. It was getting late, and he probably wanted to reset the room and go home, but he made not one single complaint, and answered every question we had. 1st class gentleman & gm.
If I still failed to convince you to go play, pricing's *attractive*! Admission's extremely affordable (Groupon, or d/c code found right on their site)! Not every day you find a gem like this a steal ;)