Exeter, Jun 2017
The newest game at Mission Escape’s Exeter branch, Maioc Crisis is also advertised as their most high tech. Where the backstory in their other rooms is just a figleaf, this game makes more of an effort to build it into the game.
The plot involves a cure for old age that went wrong, a global pandemic of reduced lifespans, and a serum that the team must travel back in time to retrieve. It doesn’t exactly stand up to inspection, but it’s more imaginative than the standard ‘you’re trapped and must escape’, and more than one point in the game links back to the briefing. What this translates to in practical terms is a mixture of industrial/futuristic technology on one hand, and jungle decor on the other. The padlocks that their other two rooms use so heavily are mostly absent here, with extensive use of maglocks instead.
I couldn’t avoid the feeling that they’d missed the point with their technology use in this game. Maglocks and electronics expand the range of what you can do with a room, and allow mechanisms that would be impossible with purely mechanical components. In Maioc Crisis, many of the puzzles involve finding a solution and typing it into a computer prompt, which if correct triggers the release of a maglock. While that’s all very nice, if you strip away the veneer of technology it’s essentially the same as entering a code into a padlock. There are much more imaginative and creative ways to use this sort of tech and the approach they’ve taken seems to me a wasted opportunity.
Still, it looks quite pretty, it has a good variety of puzzles despite the repeated computer-based question-answer format used for many of them, and some solid custom made bits and pieces. Of the three games at this venue it’s the hardest, though that’s not saying a whole lot. And while I prefer games difficult enough to take close to the full hour to solve, part of the reason the Mission Escape games are easy is that their puzzles are fair. Nothing in Maioc Crisis or their other two games stuck out as unfair or tenuous, and that alone is a sufficient reason to give the venue a try.