As escape rooms boom across Toronto, the popularity of pop-up escape rooms also rises. They are especially popular since pop-ups will sometimes have enticing themes for marketing that you may know and love (like Legend of Zelda). However, there are several very good reasons why pop-up escape rooms aren’t worth your money, or your time. While there are different stances on the subject of pop-ups, here are our reasons to avoid them.
Unfortunately, a lot of pop-up games charge regular prices to play. But if the production cost of the pop-ups is lower than an average game, then you should only be spending a few dollars for entry. Pop-up escape rooms shouldn’t be charging an entrance fee anywhere near what escape facilities charge because they don’t build the same way. A temporary pop-up doesn’t have the budget to create a truly immersive experience. They are often small spaces, sparsely decorated, and low tech. Why spend the same price on a pop-up as a game that is designed to sweep you away from reality? One that has a full set installed, with integrated technology, and every detail is to theme? When it comes down to it, pop-up escape rooms just can’t compare because the investment isn’t the same.
Because pop-up escape rooms aren’t permanent installations, the puzzle designers are limited in their ability to create interesting puzzles. It is not uncommon for pop-ups to put puzzles to use paper and pen puzzles. Sudokus, anagrams, crosswords–these are the kind of puzzles you can usually expect to encounter in a pop-up escape room. To be fair, it’s not the designers’ fault, it’s just that pop-up rooms don’t have space or resources to feature the same puzzles as ones in an escape facility. A game designer who is building a pop-up is often under a time crunch as well; since they are often marketing tools, they often need to be designed and installed very quickly. This prohibits designers from doing their best work and technical puzzles, or puzzles that are complex to build just don’t make the cut.
Pop-up escape rooms are not built to last–it’s in the name. So, where’s the drive to do well? To get the best time? There is none. If the room is going to be gone in a couple of months, why bother aiming for the highest score? Part of the fun of an escape room is the sense of competition but pop-up rooms don’t bring that out because the stakes aren’t the same. There’s no challenge to meet that desire to be The Best™.
As you can see, there are a number of reasons why pop-up escape rooms aren’t worth your money. Even if the theme might be tempting, it’s almost a guarantee the actual game will be disappointing. Pop-ups will never be as good as a game built at a facility, so really, why even bother?
Image from rawpixel.com