Location: Raleigh, NC
Players: 2-6 (We recommend 2-4)
Price: $28 per person
Time to Escape: 60 minutes
We’re blowing this joint, see?
It’s the height of prohibition, and your daring group of rum runners have set up your headquarters in the heart of Raleigh’s judicial district, hiding a successful speakeasy right under the noses of the authorities. Unfortunately, your hubris might be your undoing, as the police have caught wind of your activities, and are set to raid your lair in an hour! The boss has tasked you with getting the cash out of the hideout before the cops arrive, and he’s made sure you cannot leave before the job is done, so work quick or be caught in the act!
The Tower Escapes was recommended to us by Room 5280, and we were excited to be one of the first groups to experience their rooms! It’s always fun to go to a new place and help with feedback; it’s one of my favorite parts of this job. It doesn’t hurt that The Tower Escapes has such a fantastic location, housed within an old water tower in the heart of downtown Raleigh. That alone was enough to peak my interest.
Hard to believe I’ve walked past this beautiful structure several times without noticing it! It takes an escape room for me to pay any attention, apparently.
The room being within a historical building absolutely helps with authentic immersion, and the initial parts of the game feel very much like the underbelly of a prohibition speakeasy. It’s interestingly decorated, but much like Room 5280, only that which is important is included, so the room is slightly sparser, which makes sense theme-wise. We began our game handcuffed by the boss, though we were advised that this was an optional part of the game, so anyone worried about restraints should be aware this isn’t required to enjoy the room. The game starts out slightly non-linear, but becomes strictly linear soon thereafter, but our group of four was well engaged with the adventure from start to finish, with a few hiccups being the only thing removing us from the story.
Game flow works fairly well, this being a fairly linear game, and the connections are mostly very logical. A specific story item was excellently integrated into the game, and bolstered the connective tissue of the game greatly. One particular puzzle was presented very simply, but the reveal of it’s solution was amazingly satisfying for something that seemed basic at first. The climax of the room is a lot of fun, and is a great way to cap off the room.
The room itself is pretty standard, definitely more exciting for beginners than enthusiasts, but we had a good time regardless. There is one particular escape room sin within, as there is a puzzle box that needs to be solved. These are pretty tricky since either people generally know how to open it, or they don’t, and they are fairly underwhelming when they show up in a room. There’s also a puzzle that delivers a fairly large red herring that seemed to us to be a puzzle in itself, but ended up being completely unnecessary to the solution. In two instances, we were able to bypass puzzles entirely, but didn’t realize it as these puzzles do not give much in the way of feedback when solved. In fact, one puzzle that was solved accidentally made us think we’d already solved another, leading to a massive amount of confusion on the whole. Luckily, our game master was able to correct us with a light hint, but I’d definitely recommend adding in a sound to denote when something technical has opened.
A Bootlegger’s Den is a good room for beginners, though a couple of gating issues and vagaries within a couple puzzles hold it back for enthusiasts. The owner, however, is very receptive to feedback, and with a few tweaks, I’m sure this one will definitely improve. I’d recommend trying it out if you have a fairly inexperienced group, but escape veterans might want to check out one of the other rooms on offer for a more challenging experience. You can book your time in the Bootlegger’s Den here!
Full Disclosure: The Tower Escapes comped our tickets for this room.