Do you have what it takes to escape The Tokyo Matrix’s impenetrable dungeon? You’ll need a firm plan, stamina, and of course, the power of friendship to overcome this tough challenge! Luckily for you, Tokyo Otaku Mode can give you some first-hand advice and useful information on this incredibly fun experience!
The Tokyo Matrix is located on Kabukicho Tower’s 4th floor in Shinjuku, Tokyo. It’s a unique escape room-like experience that you can play in English or Japanese, and it combines projection mapping, physical obstacles, and even alternative reality (AR) tracking to immerse you in each of its challenge rooms.
You’ll take on these difficult rooms in a party of 2 to 3 members, which means you’re free to strategize and compensate for each other’s weaknesses! It takes most groups an average of 20 to 60 minutes to play. Keep in mind, that does not mean you’ll escape the dungeon.
We sat down with members of Sony Music Solutions Inc., the event organizer, to find out some neat behind-the-scenes intel! They wanted this dungeon to really hook players, similar to a theme park attraction. And what better way than to collaborate with one of the industry’s most legendary anime, Sword Art Online (SAO)! They said SAO was the perfect anime setting to help incorporate using new technology into the dungeon. Plus, who wouldn’t want to meet Kirito and Asuna!?
Set after War of Underworld, Sword Art Online: Anomaly Quest is an original storyline just for this collaboration. But there’s a twist! You’re entering the Dungeon of Mortal Struggle in order to collect a bounty on Kirito and Asuna! This is one of the rare occasions in SAO history where players get to fight against the protagonists! You’ll eventually duel against them to understand why they have a bounty on them.
There’s also a number of fan favorite characters like Yui, Sinon, Leafa, Agil, Alice, and others from the series that you’ll interact with during the quests!
However, as we mentioned before, escaping the dungeon’s five quests isn’t easy! Some of their dedicated groups have run the dungeon over 160+ times and still haven’t cleared it. In fact, we were shocked to hear that only one group has completely escaped since the collaboration began in April 2023.
Progression through the dungeon feels like a videogame, and the event planners said that’s by design! Sword Art Online: Anomaly Quest is an attraction meant to be enjoyed multiple times, and your group will discover something new each playthrough. For example, each time you start the game you’re given a set of virtual “strategy items” to help ease the burden of some rooms. They are randomized on each run and you’ll need to decide when to use them. Only good preparation, teamwork, and strategy will help your group escape!
Now that you know a bit about the event, let’s dive into our play session!
Before we entered the dungeon, we logged in, chose our virtual avatars, and received our physical swords. The swords are used to fight in Quest 1, but they also serve to open doors and interact with prompts.
Quest 1 eased us into the dungeon with a bit of physical exercise and tested our sword skills. Since the cameras in the room were tracking the position of our swords, we only had to swing them to defeat the enemies. Even so, we felt a bit out of breath after clearing the quest.
The pace that the monsters appeared picked up and slowed down over the course of the room, and we enjoyed how some of the monsters required our team to swing in specific directions. For example, holding the sword to our back left, right, or above our heads would cause different charge attacks.
We realized after clearing the first quest that these rooms would require a bit of physical stamina. Sure enough, Quest 2 required us to weave around physical obstacles to collect map fragments. Finding the map fragments meant we had to seek out the correct number or number combination projected on one of the three walls. Sounds easy, right?
Well, for starters, the numbers were depicted as sword formations. Some even required us to do a bit of simple math to select the correct combination. It was a bit more demanding than Quest 1 because we were physically losing stamina and using our minds to recognize patterns, all while racing against the clock!
With a little luck, our team managed to fly through this room! But then came Quest 3...
Quest 3 is a choke point of eight rooms requiring you to clear two missions in each. We received three random rooms to complete, and we could choose to attempt them in any order. Part of the strategy is that the room's difficulty scales depending on its order. Breaking through each would help us find the items needed to defeat Kirito and Asuna!
Here are the rooms in the order we attempted them.
Room 1: Rescue the Captured Silica!
Room 2: Open the Gate!
Room 3: Break Through Security with a Smile!
Rescuing Silica had us throwing foam darts at hornets that were projected onto the wall, similar to a light gun shooter! Our strategy before throwing the darts was to wait for the hornets to fly closer on screen so they would be larger targets. Overall, it worked out really smoothly! The second part of the quest is where it all went wrong.
Using projection mapping, each of our team members used their finger to guide an icon to a goal within the maze in under 30 seconds. Any member of the team that ran into the wall or got hit by a projectile would restart the game and change the goal’s location. To make it harder, you can only see within a small circumference around your icon.
We came so close to having all of our members reach the goal numerous times, and we even tried using a “strategy item” to add additional time to the timer. In the end, we didn’t manage to complete the maze. Normally, this is where the game would end or your group would pay to continue. For the sake of this article, we were able to continue to the next two rooms in Phase 3.
The next room was opening the gate with Agil! This was pretty fun, and it was a game of tug-of-war with an actual rope! The goal was simple: hold the rope at a certain resistance for a period of time. A few of our group members go to the gym, and they said it felt comparable to a simple core workout!
After completing that, our team had to safely plot a route through a virtual minefield. We used a “strategy item” to detect a few of the mines from the start and flew through the challenge and were rewarded with an item!
The third room had us helping Yui break through security. It was the easiest of the rooms because we only needed to walk across the white projected tiles to reach the goal at the end of the room. The final objective in this room required each of our members to hold a smile for around 30 seconds. Make sure you have your best smile ready if you get this room!
Overall, we really enjoyed the experience! It left us wanting to try the dungeon again. We felt so close to making it through Quest 3, and with enough practice and strategy, we bet we could clear it! We would have loved to see what challenge awaited us in Quest 4 and what it would have been like to face off against Kirito and Asuna. Our biggest advice, set aside the time to play the game at least twice so you can come up with a strategy for your second run!
After logging out from the dungeon, we browsed the merch shop for some sweet swag! From t-shirts, acrylic goods, tapestries, and more, there’s a variety of original Sword Art Online: Anomaly Quest and The Tokyo Matrix merch to purchase! We are in love with Kirito and Asuna’s new, dark character designs!
Sword Art Online: Anomaly Quest at The Tokyo Matrix is the perfect attraction for SAO fans and those looking for a fun group activity in Japan! Head on by the next time you’re in Tokyo! Your group could be the next legendary party to escape the dungeon! Good luck!
We’ve also got a special deal for you! Head to the Anomaly Quest Portal menu, select "Charge," and enter the coupon code below to get 10% off your admission fee! The coupon is valid until December 31, 2023, and it can only be used once per person.
Coupon Code: rjWecujf
Tickets can be purchased online or at the venue, and you can find out more information regarding The Tokyo Matrix on their website!
This is a Tokyo Otaku Mode original article written by A. Morris.