Amanda: Welcome to the Game Grrlz blog! Today we’re discussing the room escape company Komnata Quest and their New York City locations in Manhattan and Brooklyn. Komnata is a really interesting escape experience, because they run the gamut from blah escapes to decent escapes to stellar escapes, and since we’ve done many of their rooms, we thought we’d break down what they’re doing right and what they’re doing wrong. I’ll start by discussing their sets and art direction, which are always superb. Even in rooms we didn’t care for, the ambience was always amazing, the special effects were dazzling, and there was lots of attention to detail in making the room feel authentic. I’ll call out Maze of Hakaina in NYC, which was a terrific room in all ways, but the sets were just phenomenal. It genuinely felt like a maze, and there’s an actual wall of spikes that scared us. In Brooklyn, I’ll call out City of Ashes, which was a room that fell way short of expectations, but even so, the set design was just breathtaking, with so much attention to a post-apocalyptic feel that it was quite disappointing that the whole experience didn’t live up to the art.
Eva: I have a background in art direction and you’d think that a beautifully art directed room would weigh heavy on my experience. While it certainly makes me appreciate what goes into building a room, that is not nearly as important as the puzzles. Puzzles need to have two factors Komnata both excels and fails at: cleverness and mechanics. Boxed Up was an utter disaster as far as mechanics. At one point the game master had to stop the play to come in and fix something. The puzzles were hardly intriguing and the old technology (and lifeline) they had us use was unnecessarily difficult. It’s not puzzle solving if your 90’s cell phone button sticks; it’s a time waster and not fun. The combination of mediocre puzzles and wonky materials just made me not care if I escaped. The magic disappeared. On the other hand, Suicide Hotel at Komnata is one of my favorite examples of high functioning, great puzzles. The play was fluid, linear, smart and everything worked. Couple that with a creepy atmosphere and you have a solid game I can recommend to all - unless you get nightmares.
Amanda: Additionally, Komnata is wildly inconsistent with their game guides. I think we’ve never had a game guide as good as the one at Komnata in Manhattan who guided us in Cursed and Maze of Hakaina. He told us creepy stories while totally in character, monitored us well and gave us useful hints, and generally made the experiences much better. Maze was a first rate room and Cursed was a bit of a blah room (although the special effects were amazing- blood coming up out of the drain!), but the game guide was excellent for both and we really appreciated his dramatic approach to introducing us to the games and ushering us through. Contrast that experience with Komnata in Brooklyn, where we had a game guide who acted irritated with us when their technology wasn’t working, and whose heart clearly wasn’t in the fun and drama of the rooms. It makes a difference in the player’s experience of the room.
Eva: The word escape in Escape Rooms has a double meaning for those of us who love the thrill of literally escaping- it’s also, like a good movie or book, an escape. We want to forget the world around us for an hour and a guide is the beginning, middle, and end of that experience. I think it’s imperative for any Escape Room company to recognize that the guide makes a huge difference, and you’d think with an enterprise as big as Komnata, that the guide experience would be consistent. Hire the right people - those who love fellow puzzlers and relate to the players’ excitement and want to be a part of it. Satisfaction in a game, and lingering wow, are the result of the immersion and uninterrupted suspended belief. Komnata nails that in a good many of their rooms and misses it with others. The inconsistency renders all rooms a gamble… but we’ll still give all their rooms a whirl!
Book your Komnata Room now!
And see our reviews of many of Komnata's rooms here!
Eva and Amanda are best friends who puzzle obsessively. Our focus is on iOS puzzle games, interactive fiction, and live room escapes.