Location: Columbia, SC
Players: 2-5 (We recommend 3)
Price: $28 per person
Time to Escape: 60 minutes
Beautiful, but flawed
Floor 23 of the Jefferson Hotel is rumored to be a hotbed of supernatural activity, and you are determined to get to the bottom of the mystery. Unfortunately, you have no idea what to expect during your investigation, as all previous expeditions have disappeared after taking the elevator up! You’ll need to unravel the enigma before whatever happened to them, happens to you!
Having been told that Floor 23 is Escape Plan Columbia’s newest game, we were excited, as The Wizard was definitely head and shoulders above Missing and Espionage, the older games. Also, I’m always excited to try out a new room themed after supernatural horror, as it isn’t done nearly as often as the less spooky serial killers and traps themes.
Once you make your way to the main part of the experience, the décor, lighting, and theatrical sound sell the environment and bring a great sense of immersion into the experience. The story itself is also very captivating, and should be the main draw of this room, as well paced and detailed stories are an unfortunately rare feature of many escape rooms.
The main problem with Floor 23 lies with the core experience. The bells and whistles of the game are all there, but the main draw, the game and puzzles themselves, do not flow well at all. The room is a linear affair, but there really isn’t much to guide you through the puzzles, making most of them feel like guessing games of varying degrees, a major disappointment when compared to the beautiful set and creepy story. The early game, for us, started off frustrating, as the simple interaction to begin was made overly difficult to overcome due to the need to apply way more force than we were instructed would be necessary. One particular technical failure saw us attempting a solution that did not work before wandering aimlessly and taking a hint, which told us to do the thing that failed to trigger, leading to further frustration. Another late-game puzzle was not only completely nonsensical in it’s solving, but was an unsatisfying end to an otherwise well thought out storyline. Too much obscurity takes what could be a tense and satisfying story based adventure, and bogs it down into a wholly frustrating slog.
The thing that disappointed me most about Floor 23 was that it shows a lot of promise through it’s secondary elements, but fails to deliver through it’s core experience. This could definitely be one of the top rooms in the area with a good bit of tweaking to the game itself, adding connective tissue between puzzles, ensuring technical interactions are clear and working well, and making sure that each part of the game feels purposeful, rather than random. At the moment, however, the excellent set design and story are brought down by a below average game. Escape Plan Columbia are definitely on to something with this one, though, and I hope that they are able to turn this one around. You can investigate the mystery of Floor 23 here.
Full Disclosure: Escape Plan Columbia comped our tickets for this room.