Location: Columbia, SC
Players: 2-6 (We recommend 3-5)
Price: $29.99 per person
Time to Escape: 60 minutes
Pressure, Pushing down on me, pressing down on you, no man asked for…
You and your team are sailors aboard the Steel Shark, a submarine tactically important to the United States Navy. You’re holed up in your bunks when suddenly, an alarm sounds and you notice that the oxygen levels are dropping at a dramatic rate! Luckily, there’s about an hour of air left for you and the crew. On the other hand, the whole area seems to be on lockdown! It’s up to you to discover the saboteur, find the oxygen tanks that have been removed, and return them to their proper place before you all sink to a watery grave!
Entering the (possibly) doomed submarine was fantastic, as the initial set design of the first room presented a convincing bunk area of a submarine. We were disappointed that there was no Queen/Bowie music, but the room itself and our briefing got us excited to begin our escape!
As mentioned, the bunk room is highly immersive and uses lighting, tech, and in theme props to transport you to 1944. The puzzling is also up to the task, presenting tactile challenges and historically appropriate interactions that work well within the game flow. Most of the game is linear, with a slow build of collecting various pieces for late game puzzles helping mark your progression organically. Teamwork is crucial within this room, as many puzzles require two or more players to pass information back and forth efficiently. Perception based interactions are fair, and don’t fall into the cliché trap of hiding things in out of the way places just to artificially increase the difficulty. The build to the final meta-puzzle is fantastic, and the ah ha moment we received upon solving it led to an appropriately climactic conclusion.
Though the initial set design is awesome, the further we delved into the submarine, the more basic the environs became. Unfortunately, by the end, the immersion was struck dead as I no longer had the feeling that I was in a submarine, but rather in the final room of a fairly basic escape room. The solution to one of the codes comes across very strangely, as the method to solve would suggest full words, but we ended up confused for a while before trying what seemed to us to be a random amalgamation of letters. This was a one off deviation from the norm, so it was extra strange to find. One puzzle interaction is one we experienced within another room at Escapology, and it was a fairly basic one we’ve seen several times, so it ended up being a fairly bland interaction overall.
Under Pressure is Escapology’s most difficult game, and it presents an enjoyable, if sometimes flawed, challenge! The historical nature of the room, as well as the initial set design are more than enough to entice anyone interested in the nautical World War II theme. I’d recommend experienced groups giving it a shot, though beginners should do a few rooms first in order to get a feel for how escape rooms work. Book your time in the Steel Shark here!
Full Disclosure: Escapology Columbia provided comped tickets for our team.