Inside the 'Resident Evil' Escape Room
Going boldly where many gaming journalists are going at the exact same time.
Hey, no one ever said promoting a video game was easy. In an already oversaturated landscape, even the heavy hitters need to pull out all the stops to get their game on the right people’s radars. That’s how fellow Inverse writer Matt Kim and myself found ourselves at a Resident Evil 7-themed escape room this past week.
Escape rooms, for those unfamiliar, are essentially giant, physical puzzles you try to solve in order to escape the room. That sometimes includes actual locks with keys you have to find. So wait — an escape room, based on a video game franchise that inspired a series of very (ed. note: this seems like a stretch, but sure) successful films? Join us.
Jamie Loftus: As everyone knows, puzzle rooms are the alternative for recovering sorority girls because their houses are overrun with paintings of sterile sunsets from the Paint Nites they go to with their sterile boyfriends.
Matt Kim: As far as I knew, puzzle rooms were the new go-to group activity in LA, right after karaoke. There was one based on a popular game that my friends went to a few months back. I don’t remember if they invited me, but to be perfectly fair I probably wouldnt have gone anyways.
Not this time. For Resident Evil’s 20th anniversary, iam8bit was hosting a special preview of their upcoming Resident Evil-themed puzzle room, and I was down. Getting a rare chance to do this with an Inverse coworker was a bonus.
Jamie: I’m glad that Matt was there because being in a room full of sweaty dude game writers really triggers my seasonal affective disorder. Also, I have never played Resident Evil.
A rep at the event coerced both of us into playing a sample level from the new Resident Evil game in VR, and even though Matt told me he heard it gave you motion sickness, he was still quick to throw me under the bus and insist that I do it first. It did not give me motion sickness, but it did make me cry because there was a zombie that stabbed me in the leg in three dimensions. This, I do not need. The only thing I need less are the quiet phlegm-clogged chuckles of the sweaty game writers in the room when I yelp.
Then, we’re let into the escape room.
Matt: The set dressing was an amalgam of the various games in the series, from the mansion setting of the first game, to the police departments of Resident Evil 2 and 3, and Umbrella corporation laboratories. There was even some set dressings from the upcoming Resident Evil 7.
Jamie: The concept of an escape room is really cool, and the fluidity of moving from room to room went smoothly. This is the best day that many of the phlegm-y writers will ever have, so Matt and I backed off and worked on the fringes. Essentially, we were looking for a series of codes to crack padlock codes, open trunks and doors, and reach the end of the training module.
From what I could tell, there weren’t many spoilers for the new Resident Evil embedded in the escape room, and it was instead a nice tribute for longtime fans of the franchise. That said, not being an RE person myself, having wisely sunk those years into Degrassi reruns and men who did not deserve me, there wasn’t any prior knowledge needed to get through the experience.
Matt: I think ultimately what surprised me the most was how natural teamwork came into play. I honestly feared going in that it would be like a group project from high school where the heavy lifting would be immediately taken on by the bossy types.
Jamie: Matt and I are major betas.
Matt: Instead, it was a nice affirmation that strangers can play nice with each other. I’ll probably try and wrestle a group of friends to try out some more puzzle rooms in the future, but six is kind of a high bar for friends, so maybe not.
Jamie: I, too, do not have enough friends to go to an escape room.