søndag den 30. april 2017

Mr Grey's Room (Exit Games, Copenhagen)

It’s pretty clear that “Mr Grey’s Room” is tapping into the Fifty Shades of Grey craze. This escape room tries to appeal to maybe couples on a date, or maybe just escape roomies who are curious and don’t mind a bit of sexual innuendo in their games.

The set up to the game is quickly over and done with: You’re kept inside Mr Grey’s playroom like a prisoner, and you have to escape. And if you know all of your Fifty Shades of Grey, you also know that this background story isn’t really sufficient, but prompts numerous questions: Why has Mr Grey started abducting people? Why (in our case) has he abducted a man and a woman? Why is the room so tiny and shabby? Isn’t he supposed to be a billionaire and a recluse and a control freak to the n’th degree? But anyway, here we are inside “Mr Grey’s Room”.

Set decoration: 2,3 points
Trying to recreate Mr Grey’s room from the film version or the description in the original novel – that’s a tough task. A brave one, perhaps, but also a reckless one; this escape room version doesn’t even start to cover the basics: The room itself is around 9-10 m2 in total. That’s it. The walls are painted red, there are empty liquor bottles, used tea lights, IKEA furniture, IKEA boxes and a queen-size IKEA bed as well. On one shelf is a radio playing the background music of the room. The whole thing doesn’t give the connotations of a young, sexy billionaire. Unless, that young, sexy billionaire also has a secret passion for shooting dirty, cheap snuff films. It’s actually that bad.

Once you venture into the room and the game and start opening up the boxes, it gets slightly sleazier: The sex toys you stumble upon are of the cheap and cheesy variety. The old throw-away underwear which also plays a crucial part in the puzzles is tagged with H&M labels. And there’s even a box full of condoms – both unused AND seemingly used!?

In some ways, you could actually say that the problem doesn’t lie with the constrictions of the room, or the cheapness of the décor, nor the overall sleazy atmosphere. The lights are turned suitably low so part of the fun is to navigate around the puzzles using only one tiny flashlight, and the size of the bed is also a fun obstacle to put inside a tiny room. No, the real (and maybe the only) problem is actually the title of the room and the connotations that “Mr Grey’s Room” and the accompanying film poster give. The solution is simple: Remove the Fifty Shades reference and redress the room as an escape-from-the-mad-sex-addict story.

Puzzles: 4,5 points
The puzzles and the flow in the puzzles are the fun part of “Mr Grey’s Room”. It’s not a very complicated room, mainly due to the fact that the puzzles are all padlock based, and all 10 padlocks (bar one) are visible all the time during the game. You could argue that this game design is neither the most inventive nor the most adventurous, but on the other hand it’s well suited for the inexperienced players. Still, having all the padlocks in plain view from the get go doesn’t make the game complex in any way.

Considering the size of the room and the apparent simplicity of the gameplay, the puzzles in “Mr Grey’s Room” are actually quite fun. They involve a lot of moving around the obnoxious bed, searching high and low for clues, letters and numbers. Obviously, this creates a simple but also quite effective frustration between the players due to the lack of floor space. There is a nice little puzzle involving the sense of smelling, you also have to play with some sex dice, and spell a naughty word. A small dildo also comes into play at a certain point, and you have to put it to good measure. Whether you think this is too much, or just plain fun, obviously depends upon who you are, but there is a certain tackiness to the whole execution – again due to the cheapness of the room. We didn’t find the room erotic or arousing, but rather seedy and stressful.

Furthermore, what these puzzles primarily do is make you find the next code for the next padlock. It’s that simple. Likewise, the puzzles or the clues to the puzzles are oftentimes painted directly on the wall. There’s a nice drawing of the 69 sex position which is part of one puzzle, there are also strange numbers and equations, too, which have to be used in two math puzzles – and somehow it underlines the simplicity of the gameplay, but it also takes you out of the gameworld. Of course, Mr Grey wouldn’t write or paint things like that in his secret playroom. Neither world he put up a collage of pictures of himself and Anastasia Steele, but it’s right there on the wall among other pictures from other erotic film classics.

Game Master: 5,0 points
Our Game Master was the best thing about “Mr Grey’s Room”. Although the background story was lacking and the whole set up was almost non-existing, he was still kind and accommodating and ready for a quick chat about the room and the company afterwards. For us Danes, though, it is quite strange to participate in an escape game, where the only spoken and written language is English. Still, for international visitors, this should pose no problem.

The hint system of the room worked okay. No more, no less. We were dealt the hints we needed, but also more so. At a certain point during the game, we were well on our way to sort out a particular puzzle, but we were given hint after hint, which was quite unnecessary. At another point during the math puzzles our Game Master just flat out gave us the code we needed. In that regard, there could have been more hints and fewer solutions – especially since we had 11 minutes left, and therefore plenty of time to work on the puzzles, before the game actually finished.

On a different note, the hints were not marked with a sound inside the room. They just appeared silently on the screen, which meant that we didn’t always catch the hint we were served. Also, at one point during the first part of the game, the countdown timer simply disappeared for 10-15 minutes, which proved to be quite stressful. Whether these mistakes just accidentally happened to us, or whether they are part of the normal gaming experience, we don’t really know, but they could easily be improved.

Conclusion: 3,9 points
Due to the direct references to Fifty Shades of Grey, “Mr Grey’s Room” ends up feeling like a failure. The set decorations never match the said room presented in the novel or the film, but feel cheap and constricted. So do the many padlock based puzzles. Still, there is a nice flow in the game which makes it suitable for escape-room beginners and maybe couples on a date.

Room: Mr Grey’s Room
Company: Exit Games
Address: Fredericiagade 30, 1310 Copenhagen
Languages available: English
Game time: 60 minutes
Price: DKK 598 for 2 players – which is cheap compared to other escape rooms in Copenhagen, but quite pricy compared to what you get.

This review:
Game date: 10 April 2017
Number of players: 2
Hints: 5

We survived, 49 minutes played

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