Los Angeles, Nov 2018
Before playing Red Giant both I and my teammates kept assuming that it would be a space game; however, the name refers not to a type of star but to the fabled gem for which you’re searching, somewhere deep inside an Egyptian pyramid, making this one for Indiana Jones not Han Solo.
There’s a stylistic divide in the Egyptian tombs I’ve explored, where half go with practicality over atmosphere with bright lighting, and the others default to authentic darkness. Quest Room have chosen the latter. All players are issued with miner-style helmets with built-in torches, and things got off to a wobbly start when I found that mine barely worked and the host said he didn’t have any spares. Fortunately it turned out that these are critical for only a small part of the game, with the rest being sufficiently well-lit that I discarded my useless torch and didn’t miss it.
Puzzles are not this game’s selling point. Most of its content is perfectly decent, though there are a couple of tired puzzle types, and another that was clever enough but which relied on an incongruous TV screen and which overstrained the patience of our easily distracted team. But this is the escape room equivalent of a summer blockbuster not an intellectual art flick, powered by glitz and special effects.
And the effects are spectacular. Red Giant is a succession of high-budget surprises and cool moments, several of which would be saved for the big climax of many other rooms. It looks a bit like someone went to an escape room industry conference and bought up all the neatest gadgets they found with little regard to budget.
One moment breaks normal escape room rules to a degree that will leave enthusiasts stunned, with either delight or horror according to whether you enjoy the novelty or worry about training players in bad habits. I guess it’s cool and certainly unique, though I found it a bit gratuitous; your mileage may vary.
Red Giant is a perfect game for those who are put off escape rooms by all that puzzle and padlock stuff, a thematic adventure from start to finish. The challenge here consists primarily in finding things and finding the places to put them, plus a little jigsaw assembly, which may make it less appealing to some enthusiasts, but as a real life version of a Lara Croft computer game it has everything except (thankfully) the repeated accidental deaths.