Ken W. Hanley is the Managing Web Editor for FANGORIA and STARLOG, as well as the former Web Editor for Diabolique Magazine and a contributing writer to YouWonCannes.com. He’s a graduate from Montclair State University, where he received an award for Excellence in Screenwriting. He’s currently working on screenplays, his debut novel “THE I IN EVIL”, and various other projects, and can be followed on Twitter: @movieguyiguess.
Event Report: “PARADISO: CHAPTER 1” Escape Room Experience!Books/Art/Culture,Game and Toy Reviews,News Ken W. Hanley
“Are you a friend of Mr. Chen?,” asks the representative of The Virgil Corp, who welcomes you to the PARADISO: CHAPTER 1 experience. Of course, you nod, and sign your releases, but it’s a telling first impression: once the game has started, there’s no turning back. With a group of up to 10 participants- some friends, some complete strangers, you soon receive a text message with a clue imperative to solving the puzzle before being escorted to the escape room itself. That’s where things really get freaky and fun, and soon, you’re neck-deep in the mind-bending puzzle rooms, claustrophobic atmospheres, and intense immersive scenarios that are just as likely to turn you against your cohorts.
Created by Michael Counts, the interactive theater madman behind THE WALKING DEAD EXPERIENCE, PARADISO: CHAPTER 1 throws you head-deep into a sci-fi-inspired conspiracy thriller. But aside from the compelling storyline and interactive theatrical performances, PARADISO goes above and beyond the normal escape room experience by creating a real interpersonal agency within the narrative. PARADISO doesn’t just feel like a giant puzzle, but actually feels like a race against time, especially by the time you’re face-to-face with a ticking time bomb. And with every team member playing a specific role to get past the various challenges, there’s nary a boring moment for any member of the group.
PARADISO also does a great job of keeping the entire experience fun, as the challenges are far from impossible even though one participant’s misstep can spell doom for the group. With the overall creepiness of the game peaking through at every corner, there’s barely a second where your mind is rushing to find out how to escape the labyrinth of brain-busters. Furthermore, PARADISO tries throwing the occasional curveball- often tied to the layered overall universe of the game- and can trick you into working against your own interests if you’re not careful. It’s this attention to detail and dedication to interactivity that makes the experience worthwhile, whether you beat the game or not.
From wicked twists to desperate decision-making, you could tell by the look on our faces that PARADISO was an intense and reinvigorating escape room experience. Michael Counts has once again created a paranoid, well-crafted immersive theater experience, and one that offers something a bit more demented than your run-of-the-mill puzzle room. PARADISO: CHAPTER 1 comes highly recommended, and if you happen to find yourself in the heart of NYC, being a friend of Mr. Chen can pay off big time if you can keep your head.
PARADISO: CHAPTER 1 is located on 38 W. 32nd Street in New York, New York. To reserve your PARADISO experience, be sure to check out their official website HERE.