I will be honest. I do not have much experience with either VR or escape rooms. I have a basic idea of what each element consists of, but I have generally tried to steer clear of both due to my own preconceptions of both mediums of entertainment. VR can be very overwhelming for me and I am generally put off by the idea of large groups solving puzzles together, which makes escape rooms a bit less fun for me to experiment with. However, despite all of this, I found the WAX HOUSE: THE LEGEND OF JACK THE RIPPER to be quiet fun and enjoyable with just a few glitches here and there.
You don’t start off immediately with the VR set up. You start off your adventure with some slight immersion by walking through a street facade themed after the streets of Victorian London. It also serves to inform VR participants the story set up prior to entering the WAX HOUSE: THE LEGEND OF JACK THE RIPPER. At first, I thought we were just going to walk through the facade. However, I was pleasantly surprised by the usage of media as exposition to help get us further into the mood and feel before entering the VR loading zone.
It did take us some time to get properly loaded into our VR due to some glitches one of our teammates was having with the VR component. However, this gave us more time to take in the rather impressive start up VR visuals and get used to learning how to properly move our “claws” so we could better utilize them during the actual game itself. We got a huge kick out of seeing each other wearing plague masks and moving our claws around, so this helped to distract us from the slightly longer loading period.
Once we were properly suited up, we got to dive into the WAX HOUSE: THE LEGEND OF JACK THE RIPPER and, honestly, it was so much fun. And part of that was in how open the story was. We were there to solve the mystery of who Jack the Ripper was. By exploring through this museum and finding clues along the way, we might be able to solve the mystery of who killed all of those women in White Chapel.
In order to solve the mystery, we had to team up using the unique individual props that we were given. I had a crystal ball that could help reveal messages from spirits past. The messages were revealed after gathering up enough spectral energy with each revealed clue or item we discovered. My teammates had the lantern, a map that showed where we were on each floor, and a watch that counted time between each floor we were on. When we had solved the mystery of each floor or if the time was up, we had to move to exit via an elevator. The elevator effect was really cool and also served as a good creepy transition point in between floors in order to build up tension. If you aren’t fond of the jack in the box, one of the elevator sequences might spook you.
Eventually, you will reach a point where you will need to use your brain power to try to figure out who Jack the Ripper was. My team managed to get the answer right thanks in part to the generosity of Hollow Zone. We had a minor moment where we pulled the lever too soon before making our decision, so we were given permission to shout out what we thought was the answer. The team behind Hollow Zone did say that they were going to roll out a fix so that people couldn’t automatically pull down the lever before making the decision, which will make a great solution to what I imagine is a common problem.
The issues I had with it primarily pertained to the technological components involved in the VR set up, but they are minor. Possibly due to my smaller stature, I did have difficulty keeping my crystal ball from floating away sporadically at times. This had more to do I think with the tracking hardware losing sight of me among my much taller colleagues. I think as tracking technology becomes more refined, this particular issue will be phased out. Also, the glitch that my teammate was experiencing while we were getting set up in our VR equipment was a rather unusual one that took some time fixing. Normally, I would be concerned about the potential normality of this occurrence. However, this was an unusual glitch that normally would not occur in a regular scenario. I think with more experience, the issue with technological glitches happening during the VR set up will dissipate.
Overall, I really enjoyed WAX HOUSE: THE LEGEND OF JACK THE RIPPER. It was really fun and unexpectedly spooky at times, which was an added bonus for my team. The graphics were on point and the inclusion of individual tools for each team member to use to assist one another was a great touch. Mixing escape room elements with a mystery to solve greatly enhanced my interest in game and, in its own way, kept me immersed. Something that I struggle with sometimes in escape rooms is letting myself get immersed into a story. I didn’t have this difficulty in WAX HOUSE: THE LEGEND OF JACK THE RIPPER. I am greatly intrigued to know what Hollow Zone’s next venture will be after the run is done.
WAX HOUSE: THE LEGEND OF JACK RIPPER is currently open on select days until October 31st. Tickets are available on their website here.