NextRelic

NextRelic is located near to Scarborough Town Center and right across the street from Breakout Team Adventures.  We have wanted to visit them for quite a while, but they shut down a few months ago for renovations.  We’ve driven by a few times and didn’t realize that we actually needed to book ahead (hint hint).

The lobby isn’t anything impressive it has a small sitting area and reception desk in the corner .  As soon as we got in Gamemaster Leo got us to sign the waivers and was ready to get us in the room (with coats on and all).  Before the renovations (and changes to the website) it didn’t seem that there was any story or theme to NextRelic’s room, but since then they’ve added a “Crime Scene” story.  We didn’t know what to expect and really hoped for the best after waiting this long.  So here’s how it went.

Rooms: 1
Reviewed rooms: The Crime Scene

Creativity and Design (aka its Fancy level): – Was it inventive ? Did it fit the theme?
Score : 2.5 of 5.0

The Crime Scene is a bit of a mish-mash of different rooms put together (we don’t think it’s really a spoiler to mention its multi-room since it shows on the website).  Long story short you start in the first room of a crime scene (of what we imagine is someone’s house) and progress throughout the house to find clues about the murder that took place.  In the first room we feel that they should have spent less time making it look like a kindergarden classroom (you’ll know what we mean when you visit) and more time on polish.  Hanging wires and flickering lightbulbs made our newbie player think they needed to change lightbulbs and reconnect some wires to unlock clues (however to be fair the tech that did matter was well put together).  As we were checking through drawers some panels would come off and we thought these were also part of the puzzle.

One random tidbit is as we were progressing through the room, the Gamemaster was trying to give us hints.  Whether it was intentional or not, the Gamemaster’s melancholy voice seemed to add to the ‘creepy’ factor, especially when we weren’t expecting contact/help.

Some rooms were done better than others, but overall we felt if there was more polish and more attention to detail, The Crime Scene could have been a really well done horror/suspense theme.

Score breakdown

Set Design/Theming – 1.5 (out of 2.5) – Good individual elements, but overall it seems very disjointed in a theme point of view.  The second room seems very randomly placed to fit the tech.  In one case they went overboard on the details to the point of ridiculousness (the first room).

Effort / Polish  – 1.0 (out of 2.5) – Hanging wires, and random tech that has no explanation to the theme.  However the quality of some of the elements were better that some other room escapes.


Bells and Whistles:
Was it just lockboxes throughout the Room?
Score: 4.0 of 5.0

The Crime Scene has many interesting pieces of tech.  On average there are 2 ‘cool’ elements per room and almost no lockboxes. We only recognized one piece of tech that was used in a number of different Room Escapes (no doubt from Taobao.com).  The most interesting thing about the tech used in The Crime Scene is that the Gamemaster has a remote release from his station at the front, incase of any technical mishaps.  As we’ve discussed having tech is great, but also can ruin the experience if it’s not properly handled, reset or if it malfunctions.  Having a Gamemaster montior and making sure the flow of the game isn’t riddled with tech problems helps to keep the game going.

Score breakdown
Inventive Tech  – 2.0 (out of 2.5) – It contained interesting pieces of tech throughout the room,  however we did spot at least one Taobao.com item.

Technical/Safety Issues – 2.0 (out of 2.5) – We only experienced a minor hiccup, which was either addressed by the Gamemaster as we were playing or somehow hitting the ‘right targets’.  We also had problems with some of the handheld tools.

Intuitive (aka Frustration Level):  Was it solvable? or Did you have to be inside the creators mind to solve it?
Score: 4.0 of 5.0

The Crime Scene doesn’t have any overly difficult puzzles, and instead focuses on observational skills.  Without giving away any spoilers, it feels at times like you are looking at IKEA instructions (and if you’ve built anything from there you know you just have to follow the directions).  The tricky part is there was one particular detail we missed and we couldn’t complete a certain puzzle.

Score breakdown

Logical Leaps – 1.5 (out of 2.0) – Nothing incredibly hard to solve in this room.  There was one device that we didn’t think to use on a particular area, until it was hinted to us.  (But that could have just been us too).

Puzzle-Flow – 1.5 (out of 2.0) – There were 1-2 small instances where we felt the experience was a bit disjointed.  For example we saw that we needed to do Task “A” , but we didn’t know we needed to do Task “B”, Task “C” and Task “D” first.  Otherwise the room was straight forward.  Also that one case where we missed the detail (but that might be on us).

Hint System – 1.0 (out of 1.0) – We were gradually guided through the experience and it seemed that the gamemaster was on top of our progress, much like our experience at LockQuest.  My only concern for other players is that the point of contact is through walkie talkies (no batteries mean no hints).


Staff Support/Price :
Were they friendly? Were they helpful? What was the Damage?
Score: 3.5 of 5.0

Staff – 2.5 (out of 2.5) –  Gamemaster Leo was very friendly and accomodating.  I think the only hiccup is that he was ready to send us in the game with our coats on, without offering a place to hang them (but not a big deal).  We chatted about our experiences in playing and he also seems to have done his research (and seems to be on good terms with the guys at Breakout).  He’s mentioned that they are in negotiations to expand NextRelic to other units in the complex and hopefully open up a new room (or pair of rooms) using up to 3000 sq ft.

Price – 1.0 (out of 2.5) –  (but 2.0 with the voucher) The current price structure is $28 per person, which right now they are offering a voucher for.  This price is definitely on the high end for this experience.  We think that if the set design is polished, it could be well worth the experience, but it feels a bit lacking minus the voucher.

Overall:  If we had been to NextRelic months ago, it may have been one of our favourites.  Simple puzzles and (sometimes) effective set design set the mood and provided a fun experience.  However with the current price (minus the voucher) its difficult to justify the cost.

For more information check out:
http://www.nextrelic.com/
700 Progress Avenue, Unit 4
Toronto, ON M1H 2Z7
416-792-0301

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