Traffic on a Saturday night in New York City is incredible. I arrive outside a specified location and drop off my brother, my girlfriend and our friend. I tell them we only have a few minutes to check in, I’ll park and make my way inside. I tell them to give the name of our contact and wait for me. Just as I park the car and head for the building in Koreatown, my brother texts me that our contact Mr. Chen is coming in 10 minutes and if I’m not there in time none of my party can go without me. I run the few blocks into the building and past the security guard in the lobby. I head to the elevator and other people start talking about how they can’t trust anyone that’s what the text messages said. I start to listen to their conversations because I got messages that said the same thing. When I walk into the bar I find my group waiting. I’d made it with a few minutes to spare. I found my interaction in the elevator created a strange pseudo paranoia. I thought, Is this really a bar or is it part of Paradiso? Are the people in here customers, bartenders and hosts or something else. Soon “Mr. Chen” arrived. We were given papers to sign, introduced to another group who would be experiencing Paradiso with us and told to select a leader. My group chose me, the other group agreed. We were told not to speak and to follow “Mr. Chen”. When we arrive we enter an office suite and are welcomed to our destination, The Virgil Corporation. Paradiso has begun…
Paradiso is an interactive theatrical escape room experience loosely based on The Divine Comedy. The creators of this game are Michael Counts (The Walking Dead Experience) and Jennifer Worthington (former SVP of Jerry Bruckheimer Films) of Immersive Escape Productions LLC. As a production between theatrical director Counts and film executive Worthington this becomes one of the most unique experiences in New York City. The game will send players text messages for days leading up to the event. These messages provide game information, world building and clues. They enhance the game and on the day of they are necessary to get to the check in location. There are unique instructions sent to players as part of the game and its even possible to engage with one of the characters in the game world before arriving. There are multiple spaces to escape from and a narrative designed to take up to 10 players through an alternate reality game experience. The story is original but there are elements of Mr. Robot, Assassin’s Creed and The Jejune Institute. Inside of each space there are different puzzles to solve in order to advance. There are also actors playing characters as part of the narrative inside the experience as well. The game involves utilizing many different skills and more than a little bravery to complete. While not a horror game Paradiso will at times surprise, unnerve and possibly scare players as they move through the game. It is totally unique in its production value, and the storyline is exceedingly deep and engaging.
Paradiso: Chapter One is the first step in what Immersive Escape hopes will become a game that moves from a building in Koreatown to taking place on the streets of Manhattan. All players must be over the age of 16 to play and Paradiso’s schedule and tickets can be found at www.paradisoescape.com.