Published on January 23rd, 2019 | by Dean Love0
Make Your Escape, Derby – Utopia / Dystopia
Utopia and Dystopia are two different games, but we’re covering them in the same article. I’m not sure that’s wise, because, they’re very, very different. But they are connected: both figuratively and literally. Figuratively, they share the same universe and form two parts of the same story. Literally, you can play both games together and certain things in one can game can influence the other, turning it in to a competitive event. I also believe it’s possible to play both games back-to-back, coming right out of one and into another, but that’s somewhat dependent on there not being anyone in the other game!
The themes are fairly obvious from the title: it’s the future, some people are living in bliss in the wonderfully clean and beautiful Utopia, others are struggling to make ends meet in Dystopia. But perhaps all is not as it seems.
Dystopia is a pretty traditional escape game. It’s got some pretty cool bits and pieces, some clever and original puzzles and it’s solid. It doesn’t make any mistakes. It’s very much: solve the puzzle, unlock the next things, work out how to use that and so on. It’s the perfect example of that sort of game and I can’t thing of anything wrong with it.
Utopia, on the other hand… Utopia has ambition. Utopia has those futuristic white walls that are so hard to make look good, and it works. Utopia has technology up the wazoo and it works. Mostly. We had a couple of issues early on but things soon settled down. It’s a much more delicate game than Dystopia: those clean, white walls and the utilitarian design mean there’s not a huge amount of stuff to be picking up and handling. So you have a far better idea of the sort of thing you need to do, it’s just working out exactly how to do it. There’s also a lot of manipulating computer interfaces. In fact, the entire last third or so of the game involves puzzles on screen and entering answers into a computer. That sounds awful. It’s awesome and some of the most fun we’ve had in a game. But to explain how would be a spoiler. Suffice to say, something as video-game-ish as that can still be made to feel great in an escape room.
Utopia also has more problems though. One puzzle was just a take on a puzzle book classic and just wasn’t as different a take as it seemed to think, and the aforementioned technical issues early on led us down the wrong path for a good ten minutes, and there didn’t seem to be an easy way for the hosts to correct it and explain what was meant to be happening. The inevitable dangers of working with technology!
Together, they make for a fascinating pair. Two connected games that have clearly been approached with very different aims and design philosophies, but in that way complement each other. Played back to back, you’ll have two very different experiences, which is exactly how you’re meant to feel in terms of the story and setting.
Result – according the photos we got, we escaped both rooms in exactly 41:44 each. That’s probably a misprint, but if it’s not then consider that a challenge to others to get the same time in both rooms!
Date played: 22 July 2018
Team: Dean, Katherine, Joe