NAUTILUS - 60Out Escape Rooms
This is Escape Mattster's game No. 24.
Address: 135 S Western Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90004
Here is a carbon copy of my Yelp review, posted originally on 06/30/2018:
NAUTILUS // Grade: A-
"...Enthusiast's treasure, book it soon!"
Finally tried out one of 60Out's newest location in K-town, and I gotta say, much of my high expectations were met and some more! Game master Laura was polite and pleasant, quick to guide us through the waiver, basic rules, and backstory briefing. (Thanks for being a great host, Laura!) They have 2 great games at this location--Nautilus (family friendly) and Orphanage (for horror fans). Today, we chose the delightful, under-the-sea adventure of Nautilus, which has quite an eccentric plot:
You're the crew of a sunken ship, with fate unknown, stranded in the ocean. In the nick of time, you're rescued by the mysterious titular submarine. No crew or captain was on board, and little was known about the vehicle. As the plot unfolded, you'd attempt to navigate Nautilus back to safety, but also brace yourselves in the perilous adventures to come!
With a clear "20,000 Leagues Under The Sea" vibe, this game was essentially 60Out's answer to the "under-the-sea" check box on the "rooms to design" check list.
A very gorgeous scenic achieved superb immersion, which came as no surprise for this popular LA chain. Rather than feeling submerged in a typical submarine, I felt like I stepped into a Disney movie taking place in that signature, intentionally ambiguously futuristic fantasy world. The submarine was built with equal parts post-modern technology and steampunk aesthetics, teetering between that magical middle ground of SciFi fictions.
The occasional moments of special effects and ample amount of atmospheric soundtrack undoubtedly helped elevate the experience to the next level.
Puzzles were, for the most part, fantastically implemented. There were 2 distinct classes of activities: First, there were task based goals that should come instinctive to players, as these were things would one would do, I'd imagine, to gain access, control, and eventually navigation of a make-believe submarine. These mundane activities were presented in wonderfully cryptic ways, hence giving a very interesting, challenging, and satisfying game play. Second, there were puzzles that were more puzzle based, those that escape room enthusiasts should all be familiar with. Gratefully, none came across as puzzles purely for puzzles' sake, and all were knitted well together to form one coherent storytelling.
I also enjoyed being toyed by the game makers, when certain clues and props were presented out of order on purpose. Certain information given to you early in the game, or in a different room, might come in handy much later on. This certainly ran the risk of being distracting and frustrating, but for Nautilus, it kinda worked. And this strategy fruitfully added to my experience.
As things escalated towards the tale's finale, so did the difficulty!
Billed as a medium difficulty room, Nautilus proved to be harder than we expected with the clock's ticking down mercilessly towards the end. I personally thought it was due to a mixture of my group's own ego and the game's abstract conceptual design, particularly for the last room. Had we been less proud of ourselves, we would've utilized the unlimited clue system for a much needed clue earlier on; but we didn't, so we really did a number to our escape time (more on that later). Consequentially, things got chaotically physical as a *series* of climatically events occurred, rendering my group's running back and forth in an unplanned aerobic workout. For the first time in my escape room history, I experienced the horror of finding out more puzzles after completing what I thought was the final puzzle for the game, putting my group in a serious time crunch and jeopardy of losing the game!
The adrenaline-filled ending to our journey made today's game all the more intense, memorable, and plain o' awesome. We barely escaped to safety with 37 seconds remaining. Surpassing my expectations, Nautilus was actually jam-packed with a high number of high quality puzzles, giving me an always welcoming feeling of "more bang for your bucks".
(We did run into a couple of questionable tech hiccups. I wasn't 100% sure if those were malfunctions, but surely they prevented us from moving forward, and the game master had to intervene. Certain props were also certainly broken, and should be attended to soon.)
As mentioned above, the game gave us unlimited hints, which were delivered through an overhead audio system. The game master could hear you at all times. So just give them a holler, and they would respond quickly and clearly. Though this was not an immersive clue system, it was still extremely convenient.
Overall, though not a game changer for me, Nautilus is another solid entry under the brand's ever-growing list of great games. It still stands out as one of the most well done, family friendly escape adventures available on today's market. (And hey, we all have friends that can't do horror rooms/haunts, right?)