“For the past decade, researcher at Umbrella Corporation have been working with viruses to find a cure for death. Funding for the project was scarce until a company merger gave the research team unlimited access to the funds and equipment necessary for further testing. However, the research was destined to go horribly wrong. Lazy decontamination protocols resulted in an outbreak and the project lead, Dr. Ashford, has gone missing.
You and your team of fellow researchers split up to search for Dr. Ashford at his apartment and his lab with the hope of finding him and the cure. Suddenly, the security system locks you in, and you discover that the area is contaminated. The virus, left untreated, can kill a healthy individual within an hour. Will you find the cure in time?”
This was a pretty fun room, with a couple of unique elements to it. The game starts with you being split up into two teams. My team got to work in a lab, the other team got put into another room, which looked like an apartment. Unbeknownst to my team, the other team was trying to work their way into our lab. This twist did lead to our favorite moment of the room, which I feel comfortable sharing as the room has since closed, seemingly permanently. There was a large airlock style door in the lab with a porthole window that we couldn’t open. When the other team found the secret entrance into the lab from the apartment, they were on the other side of the door and we had to work together to get it open. However, they didn’t realize they were coming to meet us, so my face appearing in the porthole window came as quite the shock to them. Leading one of them to scream and a lots of laughter.
The downside to being split up was that my team was basically working on the endgame from the start of the room and there was nothing that required us to go back into the apartment room. So it felt like we lost out on half of the escape room experience. We were able to breeze through the game comfortably for an easy win; we even set the record for completion speed for a four person team in the process!
The story, as noted in the description above, was that you were in a biological weapon development lab and needed to stop the virus from leaking out into the world and causing a global pandemic. … So yeah, this room has been shutdown permanently since oh, about, March 2020.
Everything in our side of the game was laboratory and virus hunting themed. Aside from the opening gamemaster spiel, there wasn’t much in the way of narrative updates as the game progressed. The game time itself was an analog clock on the wall. The team split at the beginning seemed a little contrived. One team was searching the villain’s apartment and we were searching the lab that was connected to the apartment via a secret door. From the design of the world, it seemed like we should have all started in the same room, so it wasn’t my favorite narrative choice.
The puzzles, at least from my side, were pretty well-developed. They clearly put a lot of thought and time into how to integrate them well within the story. There were things like chemical equations and machine readouts to interpret and enter into thematic objects, like lab machines or computers. Since it’s closed, I feel it’s safe to share my favorite puzzle trick. We found a laminated piece of paper with ink spilled all over the relevant bits inside the lamination. The ink was heat sensitive and waving a nearby heat gun over it caused the ink to disappear, leaving the solution behind. I’ve only seen one game use a similar trick since then, and it felt really magical at the time.
It’s a shame the narrative wasn’t stronger on this game, because with the quality of the puzzles, it could have been an all-time great escape room. It’s a bit of the a moot point now, though, as the room is closed (and given the past year and the theme of the room, likely never coming back). The puzzles showed a lot of promise, so I’ll definitely be trying more of Flee’s rooms in the future.