Location: Charlotte, NC
Players: 2-8 (We recommend 4-5)
Price: $25 per person
Time to Escape: 60 minutes
A beautiful set mired in puzzling problems.
A mad scientist has locked himself away in a secret military base, building the most dangerous weapon ever to threaten the planet. It is up to your team of elite troops to infiltrate the base, unlock the doors and shut down the experiment before it is too late!
The set design is some of the best I’ve seen, stepping into the base felt really cool, and the attention to detail was phenomenal. I have been to Exit Strategy several times before, and they generally are very good at building a nice set, but this was definitely well done, even by their standards. I had high hopes starting off.
As previously stated, the set design in this room is one of the best in the area, but unfortunately, that itself does not a good escape room make. There was a good puzzle here and there, but overall, our group was hard pressed to find much we were highly impressed with outside of the theme and set design.
There is a running music track that is just too incredibly loud, which makes it hard to hear each other and the clues being given. Many of the puzzles and solutions in the room felt very arbitrary and there were quite a few leaps of logic in order to figure out where certain codes went. Many solutions we came up with on our own felt very much like there wasn’t a certain method to the madness, and it was very frustrating, especially in parts where we needed to try codes in multiple similar inputs. One particular puzzle, which I’m not sure if it was designed this way or if there was a short in the light, required teamwork, and was an otherwise solid puzzle, but there was no way to see the answer in the dark without straining your eyes. I have 20/20 vision and was unable to read the code we needed. The final puzzle set was overall unsatisfying as it felt a little cobbled together, and some solutions were used twice in different ways, even though we were previously under the impression that everything would only be used once. The final puzzles were interesting, but weren’t intuitively implemented, and after shutting down the experiment, we were just given the final code for escape.
I really want to like Exit Strategy, they build some very imaginative sets and have some good ideas, but their puzzles are sorely lacking and require a lot of leaps of logic and attempts to figure out what the designer was thinking. Our group was very disappointed when we left, and though I am very interested in their upcoming Mansion and Ruins theme, I’m not sure if I want to take the risk next time I’m in Charlotte. With the many other options around Charlotte, even though the set is beautiful, until a lot of adjustments are made, I don’t think I can recommend Subject Zero. If you’d like to check them out, however, you can do so here.