“I feel like Matt Damon in The Martian”
- Website: Red Planet Expeditions
Address: Just off of Whyte Avenue
- Private Booking: No
- Price: $25 per person
- Duration: 45 minutes
- Linearity: Nonlinear
- Group size: #large
- Player Level: #competent
- Premise: “Mars’ moon Deimos doomed to be destroyed! In approximately 30 to 50 million years, the moon will either crash into the surface of the planet or be ripped apart by the planet’s tidal forces.”
Red Planet Expeditions is in Tom’s garage, tucked away in Old Strathcona, just a couple blocks off Whyte Avenue. There’s really no point writing about service, because, well, the whole thing was free. You can’t go beyond letting strangers into your house for free so they could share an experience that you’re passionate about. This room was built as a passion project by escape room lovers, for escape room lovers. The people involved in this project rock.
Tom is a cool guy. I hope he makes more rooms in the future.
Before going in, we were warned by our mission captain that the room would require a lot of reading. They weren’t kidding about that. It wasn’t light reading either–it was like reading those white instruction manuals that you usually get from unboxing your new furniture that no one likes reading. I’m not going to lie, I was pretty bummed at first, and laziness swept through my entire being. I did not want to read and sift through mountains of information. As soon as we got settled though, it wasn’t bad at all. It actually got relaxing? I realize that’s an odd word to describe solving puzzles, but I enjoyed my experience of grabbing one of the binders, sitting down in a corner, and just working away at a puzzle.
What I also enjoyed was how masterfully this room allowed teamwork. The progression of the puzzles was anything but linear, so our team divided and conquered. At the same time, there were still elements that required constant communication between players. We did this room with 5 players and every single person was busy for the entire 45 minutes. If a room can accomplish that and prevent bottlenecking, that just speaks volumes about the quality of the puzzle blueprint.
I’m not gonna lie, I wasn’t expecting a ton since this is a garage escape room. But I was pleasantly surprised, to put it lightly. Blown away is probably more accurate.
Red Planet Expeditions is probably one of the most diverse rooms in terms of puzzles that I’ve ever seen. The use of tech here was both clever and appropriate – a somewhat rare combination! There was a lot of tech that I actually had never seen used in an escape room before!
There’s also only one lock in the entire room. I really love the variation in puzzles that we see in rooms with few locks.
This room is also one of the few non-linear rooms in Edmonton, which means that it’s one of the ones that is set up to accommodate larger groups. In fact, this room is actually the most non-linear room that I’ve ever played, just because of the way the objective of the room is set up.
There was just so much thought and creativity put into this room. I would really really really love to see puzzles like this in more rooms in the future.
I tend to be harsher on this component compared to Ben because I’m the more visual person between the two of us. I realize that this room is not going to have the most beautiful, expensive, delicate props, but for a room that was commissioned out of pocket, this was a job well done.
You know what? This room actually looked really good! I would’ve thought that a spaceship would’ve been hard to pull off, since we immediately think of something sleek and shiny. This room managed to pull off something kind of like a homey spaceship – a spaceship with a lot of character!
One of our friends, Elle, commented afterward that she felt like she was Matt Damon in The Martian. I think everyone in my group would echo the same sentiment. There were several elements in this room that made the feeling of immersion intact for the entire time we were there. Without spoiling anything, the main thing was the constant reminders from different modalities that we were in fact in space. It wasn’t like, “Here’s your obligatory backstory, now escape”; instead, we were told constantly throughout our stay in the room that we were in space. The fact that our captain communicated with us as if he were George Clooney trying to save 5 Sandra Bullocks (or the other way around?) also helped.
There was not a single moment in the 45 minutes we were here that someone in our group had nothing to do. This room is packed with puzzles.
What’s more is how dynamic this room was. We would get messages from our captain from time to time, which was a really great touch.
Space explorations have been done before, and it’s usually your run-of-the-mill rooms that are built around technology. Here, however, they go for the more subtle approach that’s equally (if not more) effective. Escape rooms usually tell you to just solve a bunch of puzzles in a room and get out. Here, I actually left the room feeling like I accomplished my mission instead of just escaping another escape room.
We’ve done space before, but we haven’t seen space done like this! The story was strong, the puzzles were thematically coherent, and the room was really playful! It didn’t take itself too seriously at all.
I loved the premise of this room – it wasn’t (like Mr. P said) the typical “solve puzzles and get out” room, nor was it a “go find something” room.
This room is different from all the other escape rooms that I’ve tried. That reason alone is enough for me to give it a #diamond rating. I feel silly rating this in the first place because it’s free, but it deserves to be mentioned up there with other elite escape rooms. It’s a must-try, especially because it’s being demolished soon. I will be keeping an eye out for what captain Tom has in store for the future.
Note: We escape with 7 seconds left which amplified our experience even more.
This room immediately gets a #diamond. You might be sketched out by the idea of a garage escape room, but this is definitely something that needs to be experienced. I really hope Tom and his crew continue in the escape room industry!
- Completed: September 8, 2016
- Escaped: Yes (5 people)
- Our Time: 0:44 (/0:45)
- # of hints used: 2