Understanding Omega Mart at Area 15 Las Vegas
Growing up in Seattle, I had one of my birthdays at Entros, a precursor to Escape Rooms that allowed you to play through tech games in order to solve puzzles. Omega Mart, from the Meow Wolf art collective out of Santa Fe, reminds me of Entros. Part art museum, part escape room, part fun house, part scavenger hunt, part speakeasy, part social commentary. Writing about Omega Mart doesn’t do it justice but I’ll try anyway.
Located at Area 15 just west of the Las Vegas Strip, Omega Mart (or “Mega Art” if you drop the first letters) is designed to look like a grocery store. If you didn’t first have to pay $45 to enter, you might actually think it was a real grocery store. But quickly you realize that there is something else going on.
I am going to start with an overview of Omega Mart and then get into the details of what exactly is going on (as best as I can understand). The fun of visiting is that you go in and find out everything for yourself. So I would suggest that if you haven’t been yet, stop reading and go visit. You will have a much better experience.
If you have already been and didn’t quite get the point and would like to hear my perspective, then by all means continue reading.
The world of Omega Mart is comprised of three main sections over roughly two floors. These are the grocery store, the factory/headquarters, and the desert. You will want to spend a good amount of time just exploring and looking at each of the areas as they offer amazing design and interactive art. Even without the storyline (later), it is just fun to explore the world that has been created. Pretty much everything is meant to be touched and played with and you might be surprised when you find secret passages or you cause the room to change by your interaction.
The grocery store has two floors. The ground floor is laid out like a standard grocery store with check-out at the front, aisles of shelves in the middle, produce section on one side, dairy and butcher along the back wall, and a pharmacy along the other side. Behind the pharmacy is actually a bar (that doesn’t really play into the story line as far as I can tell) where you can purchase alcoholic beverages.
The other thing to note, which I heard a lot of people talk about, is that most everything in the grocery store is actually for sale. Some items are meant to be purchased (think souvenirs like t-shirts, stickers, umbrellas) but many are products you probably wouldn’t actually want to buy like relabeled deodorant, soda, or empty paint cans labeled to look like some mysterious meat product.
Upstairs is the employee break room.
The second area is the factory/headquarters of Dramcorp, the corporation behind Omega Mart. Here you will find the corporate offices as well as the factory where the products are made. The headquarters portion has some “research” areas to explore that are large interactive art installations that make use of light, sound, and images.
The factory is a two story open area with various scaffolding, catwalks and equipment. There are three slides that you people of all ages can play on (kids are welcome before 10pm). It feels a bit like the set of a Cirque du Solei show.
The third area is the desert. This area is a small town (Monolith) in the west with mountains, a service shop, and two homes.
There are a few ways to get from the grocery store into the other areas. I found at least ten access points in the grocery store, including through the freezer section and camping section (below), as well as a secret staircase in a t-shirt display and lockers in the break room.
Some of the passages require that you crawl through them but if you would rather not do that you can always get to a place another way. Tip: Keep an eye out for people randomly appearing through hidden doors. Then see if you can figure out how they got there. Many passages are one way only.
While Omega Mart is enjoyable for those just wanting to walk through the exhibit, if you want to invest in experiencing the story, I think you will have a fuller experience. You will want to have a cell phone with you as well to access some of the story.
As you enter you are given an employee card – congrats, you are now an Omega Mart employee. Any time you see an access point, you will want to “boop” your card to get deeper into the story. Note that you will have to go back to some of the access points as you go deeper into the story to trigger other events and different outcomes will occur.
Your first mission is to earn three badges in Omega Mart:
- Check Product Samples – located on one of the aisle end caps
- Take the Spill Quiz – located in the break room on the second floor of Omega Mart. A poster is located on the wall if you didn’t learn the cone colors previously.
- Watch Employee Benefits Video – located by the slushy machine, make sure you tap it to start the video and again at the end of the video
Enjoy your glory as Employee of the Moment as you are indoctrinated into a corporate drone.
Next you will want to earn three badges in the factory:
- Motivate the Workforce – located under the security video feeds on the second floor. After you tap your card you will be shown a motivational message on the screen above.
- Source Door – located behind the “beehive” on the main floor of the factory. Turn the dials to change the sources.
- Source Flow Optimizer – located overlooking the factory on the second floor, near the Motivate the Workforce. You can tap your card and then make various portions of the factory light up by touching the map/pad.
These first six badges will give you a good overview of what Dramcorp is all about: a large corporation that sees the employees as cogs in the wheel of making money.
Next you will start to learn about what has happened behind the scenes with CEO Cecilia and her daughter Marin — who you will learn has gone missing. The background goes something like this: Marin disappeared from the desert town where she and some of her friends were protesting the greed of Dramcorp. It seems that Marin and her friends had learned some information that could potentially damage Dramcorp. Cecilia and the corporate drones may be involved with Marin’s disappearance.
You then get to decide if you want to help Dramcorp or go rogue and help the resistance by completing the sabotage that Marin and her friends had started. In reality, I was able to do both during my visit.
To help Dramcorp:
- Help Cecilia Find News of Marin – located on Cecilia’s computer in the corporate offices. When you visit there, also download a program to your DramDrive on your card that you will use for the next step. Then you will need to go down to one of the computers in the desert and forward an encrypted email to Cecilia.
- Spy on the Resistance – located on the desert computers. Once you have scanned your card, open up the spyware that you downloaded and run it on the computer.
- Use the LAT Aurascope – once you have forwarded the email and installed the spyware, return to one of the corporate office computers and run the Aurascope application. You have now shown your allegiance to Dramcorp and helped stop the resistance.
To help Marin and the resistance of Monolith:
These steps are not outlined in the official Dramcorp manual (which you can access on your phone), so I don’t know the exact steps or names, but here is how I did it.
- Visit one of the computers in the desert and agree to be an agent to the resistance. You will take on a code name.
- Go back and tap your card at three of the access points located on the aisle caps in the grocery store. After you tap in to your third access point, you will trigger the rebel takeover of the grocery store. The lights in the store will actually go out, the audio and video will change and the rebel message will be broadcast for everyone in the store.
- Next you have to return to the access point located under the surveillance video feeds and tap in. This will trigger the rebel takeover of the factory and a message will be broadcast to all the workers.
- Finally you will need to go back to a corporate office computer and send a copy of the corporate phone directory back to the rebels.
There are a ton of other things to explore. You can talk with the HR robots, try out the Dramcorp telephone system, read up on all sorts of documents about Dramcorp and other characters including Walter (Marin’s grandfather), Charlie (friend of Marin who runs the service shop), and other rebels. However, I believe the basics I outlined above are the full tasks of the story game play.
I spent over two hours exploring Omega Mart. I may have missed some other pieces of the puzzle; if I did so, feel free to add them to the comments below. The story can be as involved as you want it to be; I stuck with the tasks of my part of the story while skipping over much of the back story. Or you can choose to skip the story and just enjoy the visuals. It is completely up to you and you can make your visit what you want it to be.
Have you visited Omega Mart? What was your impression?