I've never participated in an escape room (one of those new business ventures popping up around the country in which players must solve puzzles to physically escape a room before time expires), but it sounds like something I'd like to try. When the news broke that Nintendo had teamed with escape room company Scrap to create an encounter based on The Legend of Zelda, my interest shot way up, but after reading about Kotaku's Jason Schreier's experience at Defenders of the Triforce, I can't say that I'm that intrigued anymore. It's less of an escape room and more of a shared environment full of brain teasers.
The event opened with a quick video presentation, as we learned (via N64-era, Ocarina of Time-style graphics) that Ganon had successfully destroyed Hyrule and trapped both Link and Zelda in crystallized prisons. A charismatic, bearded actor took the stage and gave us the rules: each table (of six) would have 60 minutes to solve the game’s puzzles. Beating Ganon would require us to figure out a series of Zelda-themed brain-teasers, like forming a map out of puzzle pieces and converting Hylian symbols into numbers.
I was expecting something with higher production values and with only a single team running the event at a time, although that may be impractical for an event that breaks apart quickly to travel to a different city. This is a traveling attraction, after all. Frankly, when I hear about escape rooms, I imagine something like this segment from Conan in which Conan O'Brien tries to escape from a detective's office while solving a mystery.
Give me something like this themed around Zelda and we're all set! I want a small interactive Zelda dungeon, not worksheets at a table in an auditorium. To Scrap's credit, buried in their website's FAQ section is the explanation "this is NOT a traditional escape room (i.e. locked inside a room). It is a fully hosted, story-based escape event designed for puzzle fans and fans of the Zelda franchise. There will be multiple teams in the event space all participating at the same time, and each team will have their own table to work at when not exploring," but the event still reads as underwhelming. They didn't even have enough green hats for all of the paying customers. How disappointing.