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The Psych Ward (Encore) • Cross Roads Escape Games • Strategy Game Escape Room Review


Game Website | Company Website | Based In: Anaheim, CA, USA



OFFICIAL SPEC

💪 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! ;)


MATTSTER'S rec

💪 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!




OFFICIAL PREMISE

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 QUICKIE SUMMARY

An unconventional, outside-the-box entry from the makers of "Hex Room". Having visited the "Psych Ward" twice, I've concluded that: Due to reliance on an imperfect point-based scoring system, this game's best played with at least 7 players to ensure more enjoyable and less unpredictable variability. Not exactly an escape room, but a fun time nonetheless.




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:


My East Coast escape room enthusiast friends are in town, and they're hunting in the West Coast for some quality escape rooms.


Expected so, we ended up at Cross Roads Escape Games at some point, since they are quite well regarded in the SoCal escape room community.


One of my very first rooms was their now extremely well-known "Hex Room", and even to date, Hex remains in a special place of my heart.


Though "Psych Ward" is billed as a replayable game, I dunno many that have done so, let alone read any review that provides a view point as such.


Well, look no further. Here's the perspective of someone who's gone through treatment twice:



First off, let's not rehash anything I've already covered: production is awesome; props and sets are immersive; staff is well trained. Quality!


"Psych Ward", unlike traditional escape rooms, is an overall encompassing logic puzzle--your utmost goal is to weed out those who are insane in the group, and come out victorious for your team via a point based system.


While great in theory, the game initially received mixed feedback, most notably for loopholes that could discern the sane from insane via systematic elimination methods.


Cross Roads, who gracefully listened to its customers' concerns and suggestions, made some much needed adjustments to the game mechanics, and I applaud the company for doing so! Innovative ideas aren't always executed with perfection first time around, and the willingness to tweak and improve is much appreciated.


However, after my second playthrough, I've discovered that a modified scoring system is not a complete remedy; what really helps is to *INCREASE NUMBER OF PLAYERS*.


This game requires minimum of 5, and fits maximum of 8, but I sincerely and adamantly recommend everyone to play with at least 7, and arguably best with 8. It is only then the group as a whole has enough variability to support the atmosphere of paranoia and distrust that the game is originally designed to create.


While playing with 5 people tonight, my group was able to identify the 2 insane participants (partially by luck) super duper early on. Once the 2 targets are under the cross hair, it was surprisingly easy to confirm such suspicion. This inadvertently took out the element of suspense for the rest of the hour, which is much less likely to occur in a larger team.


So, it isn't so much that Ward isn't an enjoyable and entertaining experience (it is); it's more that the game framing and its underlying mathematics inherently require a large pool of experiment subjects for best results.



Another added bonus with a larger team is that (previously) undiscovered, or "hidden", sections of the room would be much more probable to be unlocked by your supervising hospital staff (aka the gamemaster).


To completely see, touch, and experience 100% of the ward, it'd most likely take several attempts.


Do make note, however, that certain beginning puzzles would stay the exact same, so I'd highly recommend you communicate with the venue that you're a repeat visitor prior, and I am sure they'd do what they can to accommodate accordingly.


To sum up, though I was outed as insane early on in the game (boo!), I still came out with a different vantage point than my previous ward stay. I was assigned to tasks delegated to others before--thereby getting to actively perform them, rather than to simply watch.


And while I'd much prefer to win the game, or at least fly under the radar with my crazy, let's not discount that fact that you're still given plenty of puzzles to solve--including some difficult brainteasers that I am still stuck on after both plays.


Ward may not be everyone's cup of tea, but I still do recommend everyone to give it a go! You may not find it to be a familiar creature in your escape room comfort zone, but that's what makes it unique and different. Sometimes, you just can't please everyone.


P.S. A special shout out to EscapeTheRoomers for the invite. Always a pleasant memory.




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! ;)



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: CREGPsych2

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