REVIEW: Endgames 2013 Knott’s Scary Farm

It’s loud! It’s bloody! It’s in-your-face action! Endgames: Warriors of the Apocalypse at Knott’s Scary Farm is definitely one of the most gritty, strange mazes that has been part of the Halloween Haunt lineup over the years. 2013 saw the return of the Brooke Walters/Gus Krueger spectacle that can only be described as the love child of Max Max Beyond Thunderdome and The Book of Eli. Fans love Endgames for its brash style and frenzied theme; the real question is, after this past season, is the fight-till-the-death maze down for the count, or can it last another round?

IMG_5139If I had to choose the fate of Endgames right now, I’d say that we’ve likely seen the last of the post-apocalyptic fight maze. Not because it’s bad, but because it’s had a good, solid run at Knott’s Scary Farm and personally, I’d like to see the maze finished off on a positive note rather than become old and tired, which it would be really susceptible to if it returned for Haunt 2014.

The story line of Endgames is relatively straight forward; “gladiators” fight to the death for money, fame and the pursuit of power in this depressing and brutal vision of the not-too-distant future after mankind has reduced itself and its civilization to a smoldering wasteland of twisted metal and shattered debris. Guests must find their way past nightmarish dwellers and mechanical terrors to the finale of the experience – a chain link arena where death or victory are the only way out.

IMG_5168When it first debuted in Necropolis (Camp Snoopy) in 2011, Endgames was unique in that it allowed fans at home or elsewhere to actually log on to a website and watch Scary Farm guests passing through the maze in real-time. That was definitely a first for Knott’s, and it brought a technical angle to Endgames that was really quite innovative and really cool. Unfortunately, the type of bandwidth that requires isn’t cheap, and that voyeuristic aspect of the maze disappeared when it changed locations in 2012 and was moved to the Gypsy Camp area of Halloween Haunt, next to GhostRider backstage. It’s really a shame that Knott’s couldn’t figure out a way to at least perpetuate the Endgames broadcast – even if it was just shown on large monitors throughout the park itself as a live feed. Having a larger-than-life theme and tech presence at Halloween Haunt could have easily made it an integral part of the overall Scary Farm as opposed to simply just another maze with a ticking expiration date. Sadly, the only live feeds of Endgames are self-contained at the maze itself; still cool, but nowhere near as interesting as it started out or could have become over the years.

The soundtrack used for Endgames in 2013 has not changed; featuring the powerhouse music of Winds of Plague (shout out to TPAer Johnny Plague). As we’ve always said regarding Endgames, this is one rare instance that metal or rock absolutely fits the theme. All too often, haunters completely destroy their ambiance and flow by plopping loud rock on top of it with no care as to how it affects the show itself, whether contributing or detracting. Endgames is hard core and rough; in this case, the louder and rougher the soundtrack music, the better! It always gives me a brief flashback to The Underground, which was a very similar type of maze way back in the day, featuring tear-your-face-off metal and colon-rattling bass. Coming out of Endgames with your ears bleeding from the volume level and intensity of the music is always a good thing, and we were glad to hear that the signature soundtrack remained intact during the 2013 season.

IMG_5163The talent in Endgames worked it nicely each time we ventured through, keeping the energy level high and guests engaged completely. One of the coolest design aspects of Endgames is its multidimensional layout, allowing guests to see into two or more rooms at any given time. Having these “portals” throughout the maze allows monsters to taunt and frighten people before they even get to their actual locations, keeping guests guessing when they are actually going to come face-to-face with these nasty beasts! As you can see in our video, the team is very aware of these openings in walls and split-level floors, using them to their full advantage when scaring guests. Great job!

While Endgames has had a successful run at the Scary Farm, we feel it’s time for this maze to lay down its weapons and pass the torch to a new experience for 2014. Kudos to everyone involved with Endgames, from Brooke and Gus to the hard-working talent and crew that has made it strong, intense and successful for the past few years!

What are your thoughts about Endgames? Should it return in 2014, or do you agree that it’s time for something new in its spot for next year’s Halloween Haunt? Add your own thoughts and comments below!

– Rick West

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