Escape in 60 – Ransom (Review)

Location: Charleston, SC

Players:  2-6 (We recommend 4-6)

Price: $28 per person

Time to Escape: 60 minutes

Hello, Escapers, I want to play a game.

Theme:

Your son has been kidnapped, and the kidnapper has trapped you in his bedroom in order to teach you a lesson for being absentee parents! (Which fits, I didn’t even know he existed until being locked in…) You have an hour to solve the puzzles he’s laid out for you and find your son before it’s too late! For obvious reasons, this room is rated as 18+ on Escape in 60’s website.

First Impressions:

Walking into the dark, creepy room set the tone well, and a SAW-like video from the kidnapper immersed us even further. The tone of this room is set perfectly from the moment you begin. The room is laid out as a child’s bedroom, and it is done perfectly, nothing feels out of place, and the haunting soundtrack will spook you at perfect intervals.

High Points:

Ransom is an amazing room, from the previously set tone, to the wealth of interesting puzzles, there is something to do for everyone, even at maximum capacity. It is a rare feat, and Escape in 60 should absolutely be praised for it. Each puzzle follows the child’s room theme, and they build well in difficulty and complexity throughout. Several creepy surprises add to the overall immersion and will keep your party on their toes throughout the experience. This room demands teamwork, but is not so overwhelming that it becomes impossible to complete. Two puzzles add in some great thrills when solved, and provide perfect feedback when completed. While not being scary, per se, Ransom excels at keeping the experience intense and exciting.

Low Points:

It eventually ends. The only trouble we had was one puzzle interaction that felt as though there wasn’t quite enough cluing to understand the solution organically.

Verdict:

Ransom is an amazing escape room that should absolutely be tried out by anyone interested in room escapes in the Charleston area. This room blends story, puzzles, and setting to create an experience that thrills throughout. Even though the room has one of the darker themes I’ve played through, it is handled well, and manages to create a room that really sticks with the player long after the puzzles have been solved. Book your time being held ransom here!

 

10/10 (Sublime)

Urban Enigmas – Innocence (Review)

Location: Athens, GA

Players: 1-8 (We recommend 4-5)

Price: $25 per person

Time to Escape: 60 minutes

“Prison sucks. I have to escape.”

Theme:

Framed for a jewel heist, you’ve been thrown in prison awaiting a sham trial that will put you away for life. The warden has stepped out for an hour, making this your last chance to escape and possibly clear your name before he returns.

First Impressions:

Innocence has an incredibly interesting mechanic that I’ve not seen before, and makes for a really fantastic experience. As part of our briefing, we were informed that we had two objectives. Our primary objective was to escape our cell and break into the warden’s office, from which we could escape the prison. Our secondary objective, however, would determine the life we’d lead after our breakout. We needed to find a way to clear our names within the warden’s office in order to walk out as free men and women, otherwise, we could still escape, but it would be as fugitives on the run, forever looking over our shoulders.

High Points:

The sets were both convincing, even if they weren’t ostentatious. We began handcuffed and stayed that way for a while, which added to the teamwork element of the game, which I was glad to see, as most games that include handcuffs allow you some way to get out of them almost immediately. The dichotomy between the two rooms was great, as the prison cell was very much like your usual escape room, while the warden’s office changed the game into an investigative experience. I very much enjoyed this two-rooms-in-one approach. The investigation was assisted through a large evidence board that was a lot of fun to interact with.

Low Points:

Puzzles were solid, but were mostly standard code to lock interactions, which in some cases felt a little out of place for what we were solving. The warden’s office looked like an office, but after the higher set production in the prison, it was a little jarring to suddenly be in a white walled office. One particular puzzle was easier to solve using outside local information, we were told, but was solvable through a different path, so it’s a minor complaint. (6/10/17: Update: After speaking with the designer of the room, it turns out we were misinformed regarding the local information part. We solved the puzzle correctly, but that item was designed to be inconclusive, not solvable using outside knowledge.)

Verdict:

Innocence tries an original approach to escape rooms, and combines escape and investigation into one enjoyable package. The room is approachable for beginners, since you can escape the prison and investigate, but still get out within the time if you don’t fully solve the mystery, but has enough puzzling to work through for enthusiasts as well. I highly recommend trying out this room, and look forward to visiting their others! You can book your break out here! And best of luck beating our record!

8/10 (Great)

The Box Room Escape – Cold Case Killer (Review)

Location: Charlotte, NC

Players: 2-6 (We recommend 3-4)

Price: $27 per person

Time to Escape: 60 minutes

Just a friendly visit from the neighbors!

Theme:

Usually I type my own interpretation of the theme, but The Box has a perfect write-up for their room. Per The Box’s website: Enter the House of Vincent and Margaret Harden, the newest residents of the neighborhood. Explore through their house and follow along the story. But beware, if you uncover the truth you may just find the not so happy ending.

First Impressions:

Stepping into The Box is an always immersive experience, and our second visit for Cold Case Killer was no different. (You can read about our first visit with the Ventriloquist here!) After a quick sign in, Andy gathered us around and gave us our excellent introduction to the story, then led us to our room. The Box continues to do a fantastic job of ensuring that story and puzzles come first from the very start, and the care they put into doing so shows.

High Points:

First and foremost, Cold Case Killer tells an riveting story that our group could not stop talking about hours later. Small things we did during our experience added to our revelations, and it really blew our minds. I won’t spoil anything here, but as usual, it adds a lot to the experience to read the case files provided on The Box’s website. We began the room in a non-traditional way, which was a very enjoyable touch. All puzzles were well clued and the connections set up in the room directed us towards where we needed to be in intuitive ways. There were a couple points of confusion, but they were not frustrating and added to the story, which may not make sense now, but will once you’ve played the room. The overall atmosphere and theming of the room feels very 1950’s, and everything belongs. The staff is really great and personable, but also stay in character in order to keep an immersive feel going.

Low Points:

The ending felt slightly abrupt, and I feel like there was room for more puzzling, but everything already in the room works very well as is, so it’s a minor nitpick. I feel like any more than 4 players may be too many cooks, especially towards the latter half, but our group of 4 felt just right.

Verdict:

With one of the most excellently crafted stories I’ve ever experienced in an escape room, The Box delivers a finely tuned Escape Experience that I highly recommend to anyone visiting the Charlotte area. Beginners and Enthusiasts alike will find something to enjoy about Cold Case Killer, just make sure to read your case files beforehand to get the full experience! We are looking forward to our next escape at The Box, whatever mind bending adventure that may be!  Book your time with the Hardens here!

Full Disclosure: The Box provided our group with Media Discounted tickets.

9/10 (Excellent)

Raleigh Room Escapes – Stronghold (Review)

Location: Raleigh, NC

Players:  2-4

Price: $20 per person

Time to Escape: 45 minutes

I’m sorry Dave, I’m afraid I can’t do that.

Theme:

A unique new piece of real estate has appeared on the market, and it might just be a great buy! It’s an old Cold War era fallout bunker, moderately priced, and just eccentric enough for your tastes. It even comes with it’s own AI, making it a sort of Smart-home. You’ve ventured out with your real estate agent to have a look, but when he leaves you to have a look at the property yourself, the door locks behind him, and the AI lets you know that the air filtration systems have been shut down! There’s 45 minutes worth of oxygen left, and you’ll need to make your escape before then, or suffocate!

First Impressions:

Raleigh Room Escapes builds a great set, and Stronghold feels very much like its namesake. The whole experience has that Fallout meets Bioshock vibe to it, and everything looks like it came out of the 50’s. The acting from our Real Estate Agent was convincing and perfectly over the top, and the introduction from our new AI frenemy set the tone well.

High Points:

Though this was a 45 minute room, it did not lack puzzles or feel overly short. The room was non-linear, and comfortably fit all four of our players. The room had many enjoyable technological interactions that made the smaller space feel much bigger as we explored. All puzzles flowed well one into the next, and connected to each other well. The hint system was creative, and we didn’t fully realize what it was at the time since it was so immersive. The finale felt appropriately climactic and exciting.

Low Points:

Our objective felt unclear at first, and we eventually worked out the mission on our own, but a slight bit more cluing as to what was going on wouldn’t be out of place. There was one instance where a hidden blacklight felt anachronistic.

Verdict:

For a 45 minute room, Stronghold felt like a full experience, which I’ve found is rare for rooms shorter than an hour. The excitement of the room keeps up for the full game, and getting out felt like an intense victory. It will be a very fun starter room for beginners, but the puzzles are tricky enough that enthusiasts will feel challenged. Book your showing of the Stronghold here!

8/10 (Great)