Chronos Escape Room presents...
Company: Chronos Escape Room
Company Website: Click Here
Address: 676 Fairplex Dr, Pomona, CA 91768
Game Name: Private Eye
Game Website: Click Here
Time Limit: 60 Minutes
Difficulty: Hard (8/10)
Capacity: 2-6 Players
Room Type: Private
"The year is 1943, the place New York City. Everywhere you go the city is bursting with life and excitement but beneath the glitz and glamour there are dark powers at play. You have been hired by Police Chief Donovan of the NYPD to investigate the whereabouts of a missing person, detective Frank Costigan. What you’ll find is anyone’s guess." (via official website)
Here is a carbon copy of my Yelp review, posted originally on 07/06/2019:
Chronos wanted to expand since late 2018, but now I'm finally witnessing the early stages of that coming to reality :)
After conquering the 3 previously available games (Inception, Awakened, and Chronstopia, all found in "Previous Review" sections), I'd found myself tangled in the chaos of brutal criminal underbelly of 1940s New York City. Taking place in the metropolis, "Private Eye" is this company's latest released escape room, the first of *several* to be introduced in the coming months.
Having published 3 fantasy-driven escape games in the past, Chronos focuses their latest effort on a more grounded detective narrative. Players are entrusted to investigate what exactly happened to one of NYPD's finest but missing detective--a classic, traditional approach of mystery game solving. Due to its film noir style story line, Private Eye is, by far, the most plot driven game Chronos has yet to offer. It actually offers a self-contained crime novel chapter for its audience to follow.
Nonetheless, for a 60-minute sesh, the story crammed more-than-preferred plot lines for already my anxious & busy-puzzle-solving mind to digest.
Because, this time, the puzzles were HARD. But I'll circle back to that.
What Private Eye undoubtedly excels over its older siblings is its collection of interesting puzzles. Chronos had a weird habit of awkwardly placing random brain teasers that arguably have little tied in with the theme. This is most definitely *not* the case here! I can't recount any single puzzle that felt even a tad out of place! (*Applause*) Every single riddle and challenge found its home comfortably and naturally in the NYC story world. In addition, there're puzzles I hadn't seen prior, despite my having over 80 escapes to date. It's always nice to increase my solution repertoire!
Alas, a bit disappointingly, Chronos came close with perfecting the puzzle aspect, so close! Let me explain.
These puzzles were meant to be expert level, and it certainly felt so. However, as I fumbled & stumbled upon road blocks after road blocks, I found myself being able to solve the riddles with ease, *once* the gm provided some hints. Then it hit me--it felt almost as if the default clues included in the game weren't specific enough, and light clarification was often required to advance.
Another minor imperfection was the game's time period & its puzzle solution input choice. Although 1940s saw the availability of various types of lock, I found it dubious for a typical residence to be littered with digital number keypad locks. I am not saying it's impossible, but I am saying it felt less convincing. Allow me to be an advocate for employing "low tech" locks when appropriate: Metal locks don't automatically make an escape game inferior; in fact, they add on to immersion when done correctly.
Another viable alternative would be to "age" all input devices, or use time-appropriate buttons, dials, or the likes. There's certainly room to get creative here.
Hence, since Private Eye has managed to improved upon their puzzle dept by quite a good margin (that's a great thing!), Chronos should embrace its theme to its fullest, & perhaps make some welcoming tweaking.
Even so, I really enjoyed the puzzles (variety, novelty, and "sensory challenge"), and I'm really proud of how far they've come.
Production value was worthy of praise for certain sections of the room(s). While I honestly won't say Private Eye exceeded the set quality established by Chronos's own flagship room Awakened, there were obvious efforts made to this new game that merited compliments.
The [censored] (no spoiler) entrance and its conjoining lobby was, imo, quite nicely executed, and the deliberate choice of lighting level and appropriate period soundtrack worked in sync to impress players right from the start. Just a couple of light touches and embellishments away, I'd say the first half of the game was nearly perfected visual wise.
The latter half, in comparison, saw a bit more room for adjustments, and it's highly probable that this game would receive continual improvements as time goes on.
Nonetheless, even as it was, meticulous care was taken with intent to give the customers as great of a game as possible. For instance, certain props not essential to solutions were stapled tight, stitched closed, or glued down, eliminating unnecessary time wastage. Furniture and appliances, for the most part, were conspicuously selected as reflection of the 40s. (Again, if it weren't for the digital key pads!) The basis of a great game was surely present, and now, it's up to the owners to steer its baby to become the best version of itself.
In the end, no mystery was left unsolved, and all 4 of us had fun! And importantly, for a market that seems to be increasing the average admission, Chronos has managed to offer quality experience at very affordable price tags--it's a no-brainer to keep Chronos on your to-do list.
POST GAME PHOTO
Not being murdered by crime bosses is all the rage in 1940s NYC | Chronos Escape Room