Location: Richmond, VA
Players: 2-8 (We recommend 3-5)
Price: $25 per person, (All experiences Private Monday-Saturday, four person minimum to book)
Time to Escape: 60 minutes
No, I do believe I’ve changed my mind, I’d like the Cake, please.
From Escape Room RVA’s website, since their theme description is fantastic:
When the circus closed, tensions grew and the drinking got out of hand. Krinkle the Clown did not take it well, and spiraled to a dark place. To support his habits, he started booking gigs at children’s birthday parties which proved to be his undoing. One dark night, he came back to the shuttered fun house, where he and the other Carnies lived. He was stark raving mad and screaming about cake. Apparently, no one remembered his birthday….it’s up to you to solve the madness. Do you have what it takes?
Escape Room RVA was the crown jewel of our previous trip to Richmond, housing the enormously creative, yet unfortunately retired, Unicorns vs. Vampires rooms. With a couple more extremely original themes having gone live since our previous visit, we were excited to return to make our choice between Cake or Death. Unfortunately, we were not greeted by Eddie Izzard to start, but no game is perfect, I suppose!
Horror themes, especially those regarding crazed killers who’ve kidnapped your group, are fairly ubiquitous in the escape room industry. I have a soft spot for them, but it is always nice to see a unique take on the genre from time to time, and Cake or Death is absolutely that! Housed within a run down funhouse, the clashing pops of lighthearted color and evident dismemberment mix together to create a creepy atmosphere and immersive set. The way that the experience physically twists and turns kept everyone on their toes throughout, and though we had played a room in this same area and recognized some of the spaces, overall, it felt like an entirely unique set. The icing on the cake is the interactions with our GM, Krinkle himself. While not physically inside the room, his presence is always felt, a humorous, yet subtly (and sometimes not so subtly,) threatening figure that brought a whole new level of immersion to the game.
Puzzles themselves are wildly creative for the most part, with the vast majority of them involving some sort of tactile interaction to solve. The props themselves are tied well into the theme, and belong in the run down fun house home of a band of down on their luck carnies. Two big items in particular worked in clever ways to provide solutions that were hidden in plain sight and provided enormously satisfying ah ha moments when solved. The game’s progression is non-linear and can keep a larger group fully engaged with the adventure throughout. The progression is also blissfully free of any overlong or tedious choke points, allowing for each culmination of a puzzle thread to come to a conclusion elegantly and without frustration.
Escape RVA’s website noted that there would be a bit more climbing and crawling than usual in this room, but even that felt like an understatement after the amount of bending, ducking, and climbing we did. The spots that required climbing could’ve benefitted from a stepstool, as at average height, I was still having trouble safely getting over what I needed to. I don’t mind physicality in rooms, but a misstep would’ve been slightly more dangerous than usual here. Some cluing could be cleaned up a bit, as there are moments of vagary that tend to cause the logical progression to stall in places. The final climax of the room is a good finish, but to trigger our escape, we had to contend with some fairly finicky tech.
Cake or Death is a unique take on the Serial Killer/Killer Clown genre of escape rooms. While the game flow does hiccup here and there, it’s still a solid horror themed room that we had a lot of fun messing around in while we solved Krinkle’s challenges! If you’re a fan of horror and aren’t too skittsh about the crazy clown theme, I’d definitely recommend checking out this funhouse of horrors! You can book your time at Krinkle’s birthday party here!