Wake Escape – Exit Protocol (Review)

Location: Wake Forest, NC

Players:  2-8 (We recommend 4)

Price: $26 per person

Time to Escape: 60 minutes

This room will self-destruct in 60 minutes.

Theme:

Your CIA safehouse has been compromised, and you have one hour to collect the sensitive information and shut down the secondary security protocols before they set off the self-destruct sequence!

First Impressions:

The room itself has some original set pieces and decorations that make the office room much more eye-catching. It was clear that there were many puzzles to solve based on the decorations around, and during our briefing, we were already looking around wondering what could be important. The story was fairly simple, and the room felt like more of a puzzle room than a storyline heavy experience, but that’s not always a bad thing.

High Points:

There are some really neat interactions that would seem out of place elsewhere, but make perfect sense when applying escape room logic to the problem. I enjoyed these, as they were fairly surprising and added a hint of mystery to the experience. The room itself was non-linear but each puzzles flowed directly into the next. Custom made props helped make puzzles fit more immersively, and added to the overall theme.  A nice blend of traditional locks and technological interactions was appreciated, as some otherwise banal props became extraordinary, fitting the spy theme well.

Low Points:

The initial room is just big enough for eight players, but I feel like it’d be a fairly cramped experience at maximum. Two puzzles required outside knowledge, though when commented on, the owner expressed that he was considering adding in clues to eliminate that issue. One interaction was fairly simple to determine, but the prop itself was finicky and required a staff member to enter the room and fix the problem, which was appreciated as it was fixed quickly, but it stalled the immersion. Some puzzles felt very out of place, as they did not fit the spy theme at all, and some clues in the room were unclear. One interaction was physical and we weren’t sure if we were supposed to open it in this way, but it turns out we weren’t cheating and that was truly the solution.

Verdict:

Exit Protocol is a good first room for the Wake Forest area, and while some experience with escape rooms will help, it feels very approachable for beginners as well. A few adjustments could take it from good to great, but it is a solid and competently built experience overall. Wake Escape itself is a fairly large business, so I’m looking forward to seeing more rooms from them. Book your exit here!

7/10 (Good)

The Exit Games – Casino Heist (Review)

Location: Wilmington, NC

Players:  2-6 (We recommend 4)

Price: $25 per person

Time to Escape: 60 minutes

Stealing from the mob, always a great idea!

Theme:

You’ve got it on good authority that the mob controlled Front Street Casino is the hiding place for millions of dollars worth of invaluable items ripe for the taking. Lured by the heist of a lifetime, your team needs to get in, breach the vault, and take as much as you can before the police show up!

First Impressions:

After Nightmare on Front Street, we were jazzed and ready for more! The rundown for Casino Heist was quick and similar, and after being asked for our Team Color, (Purple, obviously,) we were set loose on the Casino Manager’s office!

High Points:

A great puzzle that literally had us thinking outside the box was a fun surprise, and added a nice element of immersion into the room. I really enjoyed a couple of the simple, but original puzzles sprinkled throughout the room, as they allowed for some new interactions I’d not seen before, and were just overall enjoyable to complete. The opening of the vault and the hectic puzzle solving to clear it out was an excellent time and added a tangibility and level of interactivity with the loot that I don’t normally see in Heist themed escape rooms. Set design was perfect for the theme and the vault itself was wonderfully portrayed. I really enjoyed the mechanic for collecting the items we stole, as well as the extra puzzling for one big ticket piece of loot!

Low Points:

There was one particular puzzle that stymied us and broke the game flow, holding a couple of bigger leaps of logic than the rest of the room. The puzzle itself wasn’t bad, but would benefit from a bit more cluing. An initial puzzle felt like more of a time sink than a fun interaction, and luckily another teammate jumped on that grenade for us. The first part of the room fit our group comfortably, but the second half was more cramped, leading to a bit more difficulty involving everyone. Some lock types repeated, and therefore involved some guess and check. The idea of the leaderboard being based on how much you’re able to steal is a great idea, but it is unfortunate that there is a major element of randomness involved, as we were able to escape with all the main items with a good bit of time to spare, but didn’t quite make it due to bad luck. It doesn’t mar the experience itself, however.

Verdict:

Casino Heist is another fantastic game from The Exit Games in Wilmington, combining original puzzles and unique interactions with frenzied loot grabbing, making for a fantastic romp! Though there are a couple hiccups, the excellent surprises and heist mechanics make this a must play room for anyone visiting the Wilmington area. Book your time in the Casino here!

8/10 (Great)

Break Out Charleston – Escaping Death Row (Review)

Location: Charleston, SC

Players: 2-10 (We recommend 4-5)

Price: $28 per person

Time to Escape: 60 minutes

Walk the Mile

Theme:

Pretty simple, your team is behind bars awaiting execution and have only an hour to escape, otherwise all is lost!

First Impressions:

We were invited to come back the next day after escaping Bank Heist, and were excited to do so, as we’ll never turn down another escape, especially at a location we know to be a lot of fun. Entering our prison cell, we were much more impressed with the set than in Bank Heist, as the décor was definitely more on par with their Serial Killer room, and felt highly polished and immersive.

High Points:

As previously stated, the décor is well implemented and immersive, feeling polished in most areas. A few nice set pieces were fun to find and interact with, as are the props and puzzles included, which are mostly tactile. A great range of escape room standbys and original puzzles make this a excellent introductory game for beginners and newbies, and boasts a terrific game flow along with several surprises along the way. Connections to be made within the room are clear and add to the riddle solving as well, keeping the puzzle train going from spot to spot. One optional late game interaction is fairly humorous as well, and gave us a good-natured laugh at my sister’s expense.

Low Points:

Some areas of the room felt worn, breaking the overall immersion, though I imagine the fixes wouldn’t be overly burdensome. One puzzle in particular was pretty underwhelming in its presentation and could’ve been made much more interesting with the inclusion of a tactile prop. Some lock types repeat, requiring a couple points of trial and error entry. With a fairly simple theme and puzzles presented without a deep story, Escaping Death Row is a puzzle room more than anything, but a engaging one, so that isn’t a huge problem.

Verdict:

Break Out Charleston bills Escaping Death Row as their beginner’s room, and it would definitely be a fantastic experience for newcomers to the hobby. Enthusiasts might find themselves breaking out fairly quickly, (we still had 31 minutes left when we busted out,) and though it is still a enjoyable experience, Serial Killer will be a much better challenge for seasoned veterans of escaping. Either way, I certainly recommend trying it out! Book your time in the cell here!

8.5/10 (Great)

Full Disclosure: Breakout Charleston comped our tickets for this game

Break Out Charleston – Bank Heist (Review)

Location: Charleston, SC

Players: 2-10 (We recommend 4-5)

Price: $28 per person

Time to Escape: 60 minutes

The original get rich quick scheme

Theme:

Working 9 to 5 just isn’t cutting it anymore and you want to make sure you’ll never have to work again, so you and your friends have decided to do what any well adjusted person tired of the daily grind would do and knock over a bank! You’ve broken in, and luckily there are clues littered everywhere on how to open the vault and steal the cash, but be quick, the cops will be at the door in only an hour to end your 9 to 5 days in a much less comfortable way!

First Impressions:

We were excited to see that our Game Master who led us through Serial Killer exactly one year before would be running us through our next adventure with BreakOut Charleston, as he was excellent the previous visit. As our previous game was a fantastic time, we were looking forward to the next room Breakout had to offer.

High Points:

There were a couple of fun interactions we hadn’t yet seen in this room, dealing with perspective as well as understanding of space that were enjoyable to solve. The connections between puzzle clues, solutions, and items were interesting and exciting to solve, and a good mix of searching and riddle solving kept our group of four involved throughout this mostly non-linear room. The final run of puzzles tied the room together well, and provided a fun physical interaction leading towards the end of our successful heist.

Low Points:

One puzzle is based on geography and requires a bit of outside knowledge in order to solve. The room as a whole feels a bit older and more worn than the other offerings at BreakOut Charleston, and the gameplay itself, while still a fun time, is a bit less cohesive than usual. The rooms and props themselves are sparser and less polished on the whole, delivering more of a facsimile of a bank than immersing you in the theme with it’s set. One of the final interactions is capped at two participants, so bigger groups may feel left out of that section. A few puzzles utilized the same colors as each other, muddling up the solving process in a confusing and ultimately frustrating way.

Verdict:

Bank Heist is an exciting, if sometimes flawed game that provides a challenging puzzle room to solve. Enthusiasts may feel a bit underwhelmed by the more old school feel, but this would definitely be a great room for beginners to try out. Book your break-in at Break Out here!

7/10 (Good)