Are you pondering what I’m pondering?
“Why escape from a room when you can escape into one?” – Hatch Escapes. When I came across this line on the main page of Hatch’s website, I’ll admit I was equal parts skeptical and intrigued. However, the moment the intro video rolled, it was readily apparent that Hatch cares deeply about immersion.
We were milling around patiently in our cage when Ratkenstein came in. A doctoral student studying human intelligence, our anthropomorphized antagonist may have had a deceptively-friendly Who-like appearance, but one thing was for sure, he didn’t think highly of our test group (or our human species for that matter). I can’t say I blame him. Some days I think we’re headed towards the future depicted in Idiocracy (this thought brought to you by Carl’s Jr.). On that fateful day, Ratkenstein appeared more stressed than usual. As he explained his need for us to pass his tests so he could finish his dissertation, his frustrations boiled over and his demonstration of the consequences should we fail sent our group scurrying. We had one goal then: Prove our collective intelligence (and use it to get the heck out of dodge).
A unique story, production value for days, and well-executed and themed puzzles contributing to the illusion that you were one of Ratkenstein’s test subjects. These are the aspects that immediately come to mind when I think of our time in Lab Rat.
Oh, and the puns…so many delightful puns. There is a healthy dose of comedy and satire throughout Lab Rat, which really added to the level of enjoyment for our group. One of my favorite aspects of this escape is a memorable test of teamwork and communication skills that lead to some entertaining moments, awkward interpretations, and plenty of discussion afterwards.
If you want a small taste of Hatch’s humor before booking Lab Rat, which you totally should, check out the FAQ section from Hatch’s website. It’s a pretty entertaining endeavor in and of itself. If you do book, make sure to check out some of the signs and props visible around the lobby.
Thinking about this room and how much it felt like we experienced and accomplished, I had a hard time believing it was only a 60 minute long experience. Don’t believe me? Ask Escape Junkie Montez, I actually texted him while I was typing up this review to make sure.
The Not So Good
After the highs of the immersive introduction, we found ourselves battling the lows associated with a slow start. While I’m sure many-a-group has powered through the initial area with the utmost of ease, we would have ended up experiencing the same harrowing fate as the under-performing counterparts from other test groups if we were too proud to use a hint at this stage in our escape-careers!
While perfectly on-theme, the maze-like characteristics of portions of this room were somewhat constricting for the 7 of us. I can’t imagine having 12 escapees (the max allowed) and having everyone leave alive… Especially since this room almost single-handedly caused the permanent retirement of Escape Junkie Craiggers.
Lastly, I have never been as excited to see something in a room as I was during Lab Rat…nor have I ever felt so subsequently let down upon learning how it factored into our escape. While this may be a little dramatic (par for the course with me), I am confident I am not alone in this feeling.
If you were ever briefly a psychology major like I was in college (what do you mean you can’t use it to help yourself?), then you are likely familiar with the concept of a Skinner Box. For the uninitiated, these experiments explored the effects of stimuli. Long story-slightly less long-rats learn to press a lever providing positive stimuli (i.e. food, or in some instances, direct pleasure to the brain via electrodes) and learn to avoid levers (or obstacles) that deliver negative stimuli (i.e. an electrical shock). While this has lager scientific and philosophical value, what I remember most (thanks college brain) is that in the most extreme cases, the rats became so obsessed with the stimulation of their brain, that they repeatedly pushed that lever. Over, and over, and over…ignoring food, sex, and yes, even their tiny rat children.
Well, for the Escape Junkies, we’ve learned that the stimulus we seek from our repeated lever pushing is the satisfying feeling that comes with each new escape. Whether it’s our 6th escape room of the day or the 17th one of the week, we’ll always want to push the lever. Sure, you could argue that the time and money could be better spent elsewhere and I’d even concede that you make a logical point. But I’d also tell you that if all escape rooms were like Lab Rat…each of us Junkies would probably starve to death or die from exhaustion. And you’d better believe we’d die satisfied. 5/5
- Location: Hatch Escapes
- Time Limit: 60 Minutes
- Number of Players: 2-12
- Recommended Skill Level: Intermediate