Whole Brain Escape – Bustin’ Out of the 80’s (Review)

Location: Apex, NC

Players: 2-8 (We recommend 3-5 )

Price: $29 per person, Private Experience available, see website for details

Time to Escape: 60 minutes

Bustin’ Makes Me Feel Good!


As a rouge gang of time travelling bandits, you’ve marked your next target, a priceless Betamax cassette! You’ll need to travel back in time to the 1980’s to steal it away from The Collector, a mysterious keeper of esoteric artifacts. He’ll be away for about an hour, it seems, so you’ll need to be quick if you’re to find the cassette that time forgot and return to the future with your spoils!

First Impressions:

We have done one other Eighties room during our career as escapists, and suffice to say, we were unimpressed. We were cautiously optimistic, however, as Whole Brain Escape seemed to have a much better grasp on theming and design due to their credentials in video game design. Stepping into the room itself was an interesting experience, as we were transported to a room that boasted a retro soundtrack, colorful walls, and the feeling deep in our souls that somewhere out there, hair metal still lives. I could instantly tell that this room would absolutely be the nostalgic eighties room we were looking for!

High Points:

Bustin’ Out of the Eighties was truly a delight to play through. The non-linear game flow worked excellently, and allowed us to form two ever shifting teams, (some of us, myself included, like to wander over whenever a new shiny object is presented,) and stay engaged with the puzzling from start to finish. The props included are hugely authentic, and one of our team members gasped audibly upon being greeted with the many nerdy relics of yore several times during the experience. Nostalgia is utilized heavily in this room, and though you don’t need to be a child of the eighties to enjoy it, it definitely enhances the experience! Though nostalgic props and aesthetics are included within the room, nothing feels old or junky. In fact, the whole room feels like it could’ve been lifted straight from 1989, as the props we found were all in excellent condition.

Speaking of props, they were implemented in so many interesting ways. Several tactile puzzles were sprinkled throughout the experience, and the way we interacted with them was both elegant in their simplicity, but mind blowing all the same. The room is completely mechanical, which makes sense within the theme, and a variety of locks are used in order to keep the experience fresh. Though some lock types repeat, everything is clued excellently, ensuring that there were no instances of guess and check frustration. In fact, there was never a moment of obtuse ambiguity within the room. The enigmas presented were enjoyable and challenging solves, full of ah ha moments and intuitive links that made the game itself flow amazingly well. This room was so well designed that though some groups may want to use a hint or two, it can absolutely be solved without them, which is a triumph of game design if the average room is any indication.

Low Points:

While we did enjoy the set design of this room, it is fairly basic, but it was very minor for us, especially when the whole thing is filled to the brim with awesome props. Bustin’ Out of the Eighties is also an easier game, which isn’t to say it’s not a lot of fun, but if you’re the sort of enthusiast that wants to break out with seconds to spare, you’ll want to bring a smaller group. The story works for this room, but it doesn’t evolve much over the course of the experience, and I would’ve loved to find out more about The Collector during our game. For example, why is his lair in the 80’s? Does he have multiple themed lairs in other decades? Does he truly look like Benicio del Toro, or was that artistic license on Marvel’s part? Inquiring minds want to know!


Bustin’ Out of the Eighties is a great room full of wonderfully clever puzzles that we really enjoyed. If you’re looking for a pure puzzle focused experience peppered with a generous helping of nostalgia, I absolutely recommend checking it out. This room would be a perfect introductory room for beginners, but I think enthusiasts, especially those who were eighties kids, will love this one as well. Book your time Bustin’ Out here!

8.5/10 (Great)

Full Disclosure: Whole Brain Escapes provided comped tickets for this room.

2 thoughts on “Whole Brain Escape – Bustin’ Out of the 80’s (Review)

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