Room Name: Lupin’s Great Escape Room
Location: Pop-Up Escape at Ushicon 14 in Round Rock, TX
Date of Visit: 2/16/2019
Number of Players: 10
Our Group Size: 10
Official Description: It would seem that Lupin and his gang have stolen the Heart of Texas Diamond from a local museum and Inspector Zenigata has tracked them down to this hotel. Can you outwit Lupin and gather the evidence needed to put him behind bars before time runs out?
Difficulty (official): Easy-Low Medium
Difficulty (experience): Low Medium
Time to Escape: No official time. We ran right up to the time limit but were given the chance to complete the last puzzle due to prop failure.
Review: Ushicon is a small 18+ anime convention in Round Rock that we look forward to every year, especially to meet up with friends that we rarely get to see. This year, we noticed that there was an escape room on the schedule, which prompted several questions from us – namely, what does it take to create an escape room for one day in a space which cannot be physically modified in any way?
The room was set up in the con suite (a standard hotel suite which was used for some of the convention functions.) Despite the limitations of using the room, the game designers had done a good job of integrating the puzzles into the space (and were even able to hide a puzzle that one of our friends had a blast solving!) A few lockboxes were immediately apparent, but just like any episode of Lupin, we were about to learn that not everything was what it seemed.
Our GM introduced himself as Inspector Zenigata, a character from the show intent on catching the titular thief. He kept his explanations brief – all but one or two of our group had done at least one escape room, so he placed us in ‘hardcore’ mode which resulted in no hints unless we directly asked for them.
The room was divided into sections with puzzles that referenced each of Lupin’s gang members. Most of my concentration was on the Fujiko puzzles, while Moose was focused more on the Goemon puzzles. Each puzzle section started off with a note from Lupin and helped delineate what belonged to which puzzle. We enjoyed the variety of puzzles offered. When we spoke to the game designer afterwards, he told us that he had decided to create puzzles that would allow everyone to highlight their skills, including one physical challenge. Everyone had a chance to solve something, and we were never short on things to do. The puzzles were also fashioned in a way that would give nods to the series, but did not require any knowledge of Lupin trivia to understand or enjoy the game.
We were extremely impressed by the game’s sense of timing. There were just enough puzzles to keep us busy throughout the game, there was no endgame puzzle-loading that we’ve found in other rooms. As promised, our GM only stepped in when we explicitly asked for a hint or when there were some technical issues that were preventing us from completing puzzles after we had found the solutions.
While most of the issues stemmed from prop wear (we were the last group to experience the room), we both agreed that one of the clues was misleading for anyone with some knowledge of the Japanese language, and another puzzle was difficult to decode; which could have more easily been solved by printing it in color. We also ran into an unusual situation where certain props in the room had more than one clue on them being used in more than one puzzle unlike most games which have you remove clues once you’ve followed them to an answer, but once all the pieces were located completing these puzzles was a breeze. Overall, we really enjoyed the room and applaud the designers for making a room with so many constraints!
Hints Used: We were given unprompted hints for an alignment issue we ran into because of a visibility issue given the hotel room lighting and another when we had all but solved the last puzzle that we had overlooked a part of the clue. All other clues requested were clarification on how certain mechs worked or if an item was still needed.
Clue Quality: Some clues were direct and led us to the solution to a lock or portion of the escape. Other clues were hidden in interesting places with a number of different methods for revealing them and were very thematic. Some classic and some unique; for a home-brew game this was quite good.
Puzzle Creativity: There were some unique puzzles for us to complete in this room including one with a working cell phone and additional hardware that we had not seen done before. We did have a logic puzzle which admittedly was fun and fit the theme, but almost felt like just a worksheet that need to be completed. There were some common types of puzzles, but they were implemented in interesting ways particularly in a pop-up room.
Rating: 3.75 / 5. For a pop-up room there was a good variety of clever puzzles and an entertaining experience.
Fear Factor: Outside of the horrors one would expect of an adults-only anime convention, none.
Things to note: This room was for a single event and may return in a future year, but may be different if implemented at all. The room this year was free with purchase of membership for the event.