Last week I was fortunate enough to attend the test night of iam8bit‘s new “Resident Evil Escape Experience” (tickets) here in Los Angeles at their gallery in Echo Park. I’ve been trying to get over there since I moved to LA, but I haven’t been down that way too often, so I was very excited to not only experience the escape room, but to see the gallery as well. I’m pleased to say that neither disappointed.
The gallery itself is cozy, but spacious enough for people to walk around with comfortable chairs down the center and a small register in the back. I quickly learned that the escape experience takes up a much larger space in the back of the building. I walked in close to my call time, so after having a snack and checking out some of the awesome art hanging in the gallery, I was asked to sign a waiver and I was introduced to my team.
The best thing about escape rooms is that even if you do them with people you don’t know, they’re still fun because for the most part at least, nobody there doesn’t want to be there. This definitely proved to be true as we started the experience by being told we were new Umbrella Corporation recruits being tested. We were informed that we had 45 minutes to complete the experience, and that it was possible to fail. Despite the high stakes, my team worked together well and we were able to complete the room with two minutes to spare.
The experience itself is broken up into multiple rooms, each of them pulling from a different “Resident Evil” game. I won’t say which ones because that would ruin it for you, but I will say that they pulled from the best games in the series, as well as the “Resident Evil VII: Beginning Hour” demo which I think proved that “Resident Evil VII” could be the best in the series. My favorite bits were the ones where you had to line up objects and plug things into the wall rather than just unlocking boxes with keys, something that a lot of other escape rooms resort to.
After the experience, I got to walk through with the designer, Laura E. Hall, and she explained that the reasons she was watching us as we confidently stumbled our way through. First, she wanted to make sure everyone was having fun. It’s impossible to make a puzzle that’s perfectly tuned to everyone’s brain who tries it out, so if at any point we got stuck or started to look like we weren’t having fun, Laura was there to give us a subtle hint that didn’t give anything away and left us feeling intelligent if and when we finished the puzzle. Also, while she’s still in town getting things running smoothly at least, she’s actively altering the puzzles to make sure that they’re as balanced as possible. I was able to go back the next day, and I already saw the effects of some of the tiniest tweaks as other groups went through, and I thought that was awesome.
Now for the logistics. I was nervous that I’d be writing another review of a sold out event, but luckily more tickets were just added so if at this point it sounds interesting, you should go buy a ticket and come back. If you need some convincing, there’s fun things to do in the area that make a fun trip down to Echo Park worth it. First, the gallery itself is adorned with awesome “Resident Evil” art pieces that are available for sale. They didn’t take down any of the other art, though so you can also see some cool pictures and trinkets from some of the best games of the past few years while you’re there. Additionally, there’s a TV with a PS1 and the original “Resident Evil” set up for anyone to play, and I recommend it because it really gets you in the mood. Finally, Button Mash, an awesome barcade is just a ten-minute Uber/Lyft ride away, and it’s something I highly recommend checking out. If you go, get the cheeseburger. It’s incredible.
The “Resident Evil” Escape Experience runs through November 6th, and like I said, the new ticket additions are limited so you should act fast if you’re thinking of going. It makes for both a great way to get in the spirit of Halloween, but since it pulls from a scary series that takes place in every season throughout its long history, it’ll make a fun post-Halloween night out as well. Either way, this is one of the best events I’ve been to in Los Angeles, and I think it’s the perfect way to get yourself excited for “Resident Evil VII: Biohazard” which launches on PS4, Xbox One and PC this January.