Review: Double Crossed
Constant Evolution Escape Rooms, Cottonwood, Arizona
#105, Won, $25/person
Constant Evolution was the first stop on an escape room tour that Team Bluefish took through New Mexico, Colorado, and eventually Wyoming. When we found out that a new escape room had opened in Cottonwood (a mere hour-detour on our intended path), we couldn’t resist stopping to check it out.
We were a little worried that we were going to find a dud after visiting the Constant Evolution website. We don’t usually talk about this part of the experience, but in this case the website was annoying and somewhat abrasive. Since the website is often going to be the first touch-point with potential customers, we just wanted to take a second to call that out, and try to offer some friendly advice: simplify. There’s quite a lot going on, and I certainly don’t want to feel like I’m being advertised to (in the form of auto-playing audio) about the site that I’m already on!
Whew…sorry, I’ll end that rant there.
Once we actually got to Constant Evolution and started the game, we found it to be a very solid experience. The intro video is a little bit hard to hear, but it’s easy to pick up the gist of the story: a professor has found an artifact and hidden it in his office somewhere, and various parties are interested in acquiring said artifact for their own purposes.
The theme is interesting, but we would’ve liked to see a little bit more invested in the story. For me, at least, it was pretty easy to forget about the other characters in the story, because they didn’t seem to matter much. I think this is where many new facilities tend to get tripped up a little bit, and Constant Evolution is certainly not the first (or last) to lose some focus on the narrative. If the theme isn’t often-reinforced and is just a reason to push people into a locked room, then the experience will have to rely completely on puzzles for it’s fun-factor. Sometimes that works, but in many cases the puzzles can’t carry a room by themselves, because it takes expertise to be innovative in that area.
All that said, the “Double-Crossed” room had some very good puzzles. There was a good balance of search-and-find and critical thinking problems. For having a relatively small space (especially in the first room), “Double-Crossed” does a really good job of providing lots of clues without making the room feel cramped.
Through the first half of the game, the creators did a great job of associating a combination with the lock that it goes to. However, once we got to later parts of the game, it felt like we had a lot of locks to spin whenever we would come up with a combination. It was cool to have so many puzzles in-flight, but the lock-spinning got old quickly.
The thing that excites us most about this experience is that the owners have plans to create an entirely different experience out of the same room! The story doesn’t end when the room ends, there is a whole second chapter that can be played with minimal changes to the room! We won’t spoil the setup to it here, but we’re super-excited to go back to Cottonwood when the next experience is ready. Aside: Other escape room owners should take note of this practice. It can be hard to expand or find more space for your rooms, so why not set up a room to have multiple possible experiences…? I think a lot of businesses are going to go this direction in the near future…
Puzzles: Few puzzles that really stand out, with an abundance of lock-spinning in the later game. Theme: Theme is present and set is well-designed, but the story needs more of a hook to make it interesting. Game Master: Intro video was a little rough, but everything during the game went well. Upkeep: Room was obviously pretty new, but everything looked and felt good. Customer Service: Very friendly and interesting to talk to. Extras: +1 for the potential of the two-rooms-in-one experience.