The Psych Ward • Cross Roads Escape Games • Strategy Game Escape Room Review
Game Website | Company Website | Based In: Anaheim, CA, USA
💪 Difficulty: Every game will have one winning and one losing team.
⏲️ Time duration: 60 minutes limit.
🔢 Capacity: Must have 5 to 8 players. Private booking.
💬 Hints: An in-character actor/game master would stay inside the room with you; they offer hints at their discretion.
🛒 If you BOOK due to this blog, please give EscapeMattster.com a shout-out! ;)
💪 Difficulty (as perceived by Mattster): Not applicable to the game itself, but the puzzles hover around 6 to 8/10.
🔢 Ideal team size: I would push for maximum of 8. It's much more fun to deduce who's insane with more suspects!
Sane or Insane? Trustworthy or not? These are the questions Dr. Griffin wants you to answer. He has created a social experiment for a select group of patients. Some of these patients he believes are sane, others, completely insane. Like lab rats, he has put you inside his twisted experiment of paranoia and challenges you to figure out who to trust and who to betray.
MATTSTER'S DETAILED ANALYSIS
First, a special note:
This game play took place before pandemic announcement in the United States (before March 2020). This review reflects previous business standards & practice at the time. Your experience may follow new health & safety guidelines where and when applicable. Please contact business venue for operating hours, booking info, and other further inquiries.
The following is adapted from a Yelp review I've previously published.
And now, read away, my lovely readers:
Cross Roads is arguably one of the most well known escape games company there is in So Cal; their previous offerings: Hex Room, Fun House, and Asylum are some of the most fun experience I've had in my escape room history thus far (see "previous reviews"). Their effort and strive for innovative games continues with their latest option Psych Ward, though their most recent product had been met with their most divided reception to date. And here's my genuine attempt to decipher whether I am sane or insane, and whether the game is a hit or a dud.
I'll leave it for you to explore the company's official website for the premise of the game, the overview of its objectives and rules, and just a general sense of what you're getting into before reading further. A little research's beneficial. Once you're done, come back!
Due to the chaotic nature of both the game's story line (a la psych-ward) and my own's hour-long experience (a la so-many-things-going-on-at-the-same-time), I'll review this game in sections that may not transition smoothly. Bear with me. And minor spoilers alert, for it's hard to analyze and discuss this game without some much needed expositions.
Story/Set: there's never once a doubt in my mind that this would excel. As hinted by their Asylum mini game, the theme of mental illness and institute was well baked into the actual game. Madison's flawless art direction again shone through, blowing away all 8 members of my group, including my hard-to-please brother-in-law. Patient related costume pieces, returning padded cell, & iconic medical devices related to psychiatry, everything's top notched. But 1 thing that left me wondering was the whole Dr Griffin's narrative, which seemed to have gone nowhere ultimately.
Immersion/Theater: CR's long prided itself with its immersive factor, and this was by far, their greatest success. We weren't goofing off in a carnival. We weren't playing characters in a horror flick. We WERE the patients. We were treated like so since the start of the game, having our real-life identities stripped off, and completely at the disposal of nurses and orderlies. Thanks, Michaela, our in-game GM/actress, for moderating the game well. Parts of the games relied on her discretion, and she handled with ease and expertise. She took some creative risks, and they may not be everyone's tea. For me, it's well within the realm of the game universe, so a-ok. One particular scene was a theatrical gem that showcased magic of tech, though it felt tagged on.
Structure: A bit muddy. The main objective of the game was to discern the insane patients from the sane, and each side would fight to emerge victorious via a points-based system. While attempt was made to explain how this worked prior to game, it was done rather hastily pre-game, & with a certain level of mystery, which I guess was on purpose. I would've preferred a clear written format of how points were tabulated, or specifically, how insane could "earn" points for their side, on an individual AND group basis, for devising a fair strategy. For my group of 8, I felt the game heavily favored the insane by default. And though the large number made the game all the more confusing, I thought it added a layer of interesting challenge, which strangely made it even more fun. (It's a double-edged sword and conflicting sentiment, I know.)
Puzzles: The fans asked for less padlocks, and they listened! Everything was high-tech and automated in this game, and puzzles ranged from "duh!" obvious to "what the eff?!" hard. There were so many puzzles embedded that it's rare for any 1 group to solve 'em all in 1 game. Replay value realized! Kudos for the designers to find a way to compartmentalize each puzzle in a more or less nonverbal fashion. While I found the learning curve to be appropriate, beginners may find this room's format turbulent & difficult.
Overall Feel: This was the only room I walked away confused, both in terms of puzzle solving, and in terms of if I felt like I accomplished a noteworthy feat--which was a highly unusual feel from CR. Although, I have to say, everyone of us had a unique experience as each of us were sent off to different parts of the room at various times, whether it be jail cell or hidden location, and no one participant had the exact same adventure. Also, the game toyed with my trust, and the feeling of betrayal was REAL. I appreciated CR for doing something different.
Indeed, not your average escape room. Certainly not perfect, riskier than the beloved Hex Room, though for entertainment, Psych Ward was certainly adequate. In the end, your own expectation drives your satisfaction level. I expected to share this rare opportunity with those I enjoy most, & it's a blast! As polarizing as this game could be, with some tweaking, it could be further polished--though most likely still not a 1-size-fits-all.
READY FOR FUN?
"The Psych Ward" is available for booking HERE.
If you BOOK due to this blog, please give EscapeMattster.com a shout-out! ;)
ESCAPE MATTSTER 😶
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