Location: Richmond, VA
Players: 2-8 (We recommend 4-5)
Price: $25 per person, Private Sun-Thurs or any day with a 4 player/$100 minimum
Time to Escape: 60 minutes
From the Room Escape USA website:
Dean Waylon is the front man of the band, Us, Them, Or Dean. Tonight, they will be performing the last show of their concert run but Dean is nowhere to be found. As private investigators, your backstage passes give you access to his private studio. They are set to take the stage in 60 minutes. Find the clues and solve the puzzles that lead to his whereabouts before that time.
I’ve only done one musically themed room before, and it was pretty excellent, so I was excited to see another during our trip to Richmond. With a more mysterious and objective based theme, it seemed that Rock Star would be an excellent adventure! On top of that, this room is advertised as Room Escape USA’s most difficult room, and we always like a good challenge! We were given our backstage passes and immediately went to work.
The set for Rock Star is compact, but believable, with excellent props and a great sound track to get you in the mood for musical meditation on myriad mindgames. It was really immersive to be able to interact with the wide range of instruments and sound equipment, some of which looked nice enough to prompt one of our teammates to ask if we were truly allowed to touch all this stuff! Though there are a lot of fantastic props decorating the entire experience, at no point does the game feel cluttered or messy, and everything felt as though it was important to the mystery or the slowly but surely evolving storyline.
The game flow of this adventure is solid, if highly challenging. The difficulty, however, never feels unfair or obtuse, rather, everything is embedded within the game cleverly, requiring excellent perception, teamwork, and attention to detail. Puzzles flow from point to point well, with each signposting towards the lock they’re meant to open in excellent ways. Interactions within the room were varied, ensuring everyone on our team of five remained engaged, while allowing us to shine individually when a puzzle within our wheelhouse was discovered. Clues emerged naturally as well, popping into our heads during solves as a clue triggered remembrance of something we may have thought was a throwaway decoration or random tidbit included for immersion’s sake. These surprises kept up during most of the room, and it was always fun to find a new ah ha moment during each step of the game.
A lot of clues were presented via paper, which isn’t necessarily a poor choice overall, but can sometimes feel as though puzzles are more from a coffee table book than from the green room of a rock band. One particular puzzle can feel somewhat arduous without at least a small bit of musical background, as even though the knowledge is somewhat basic, it isn’t outside the realm of possibility that some groups may be unfamiliar with this enigma’s specific tells. I also feel the room/game flow would be fairly cramped with more than 6 people, especially since the difficulty caters to a more experienced crowd.
Rock Star was my favorite room at Room Escape USA, and absolutely a great challenge to take on with an experienced group of escape enthusiasts. Beginners should get a few rooms under their belts before taking this one on, or be willing to take a clue here and there to keep things rockin’. You can book your time facing the music here!
Full Disclosure: Room Escape USA provided media discounted tickets for this room.