Doldrick’s Escape Room – Super Bomb Squad: Commandos Awesome (Review)

Location: Kissimmee, FL

Players:  2-8, Always Private (We recommend 3-5)

Price: $33.99 per person

Time to Escape: 60 minutes

Press start to play!


From the Doldrick’s Escape Room website:

As part of an elite group of commandos, The Super Bomb Squad: Commandos Awesome are on a mission to find and deactivate a newly developed weapon of mass destruction, capable of obliterating the entire planet! Only the Super Bomb Squad: Commandos Awesome have what it takes to break into the evil corporation and deactivate the explosive!

First Impressions:

Doldrick’s came highly recommended by… pretty much everybody. The word of mouth was overwhelmingly positive, and after taking a look at the themes on their website, Doldrick’s was easily the top, must-see escape room to visit during our stay in Orlando. It didn’t hurt that they have bought fully into the humorous trope of extremely ridiculous and long-winded titles that I love so much. I had, to quote the local radio’s apparent favorite song, high high hopes.


And they have a *pool table*! We didn’t play, but it was an *option*! Which is *awesome*! Kind of like *asterisks*! And running *jokes* into the *ground*!

High Points:

Super Bomb Squad: Commandos Awesome is a trek into the world of a Super Nintendo game. Full of nostalgic ’80s theming (without being a strictly ’80s experience,) slick set design, and a bombastic story and cast of characters, this room remained an absolute blast from start to finish. Let’s start with the story. You’re sent on an elite commando mission to take down a doomsday device, and you’ll be accompanied, via intermittent cut-scenes, by support from your pixelated pals back at the Super Bomb Squad base. It’s over the top and even more exciting than it seems. And this room absolutely nails the humor, making it one of those rare rooms in which the experience is actually funny rather than playing at being funny or making references. It really is a rollicking good time.

Starting off in the room, things are mostly linear, but with enough non-linearity and a lot of teamwork based interactions that I’m sure even larger groups will find plenty to keep engaged. Every puzzle was excellently themed towards the room’s storyline, wonderfully clever and inventive, and challenging without becoming frustrating. Most steps along the journey provided us with brilliant feedback and enormously satisfying moments of revelation, and nothing seemed out of place or run of the mill. It’s difficult to choose a favorite puzzle, as even the simplest of them provided the thrill of solving, but I have to say that some of the enormous and layered room spanning interactions we came across were fantastic. Many of them had bits and pieces sprinkled throughout the rooms, and by gradually uncovering new clues and props, we could naturally come up with the highly intuitive solutions as we came to them.

The climax of the room was slick, as was the rest of the set, and the doomsday device itself was absolutely beautiful; sticking with the theme and just being a cool set piece to mess around with. The room had very few physical locks, relying on really awesome and tactile tech to bring the experience to brilliantly colored life! The effects and soundtrack kept the adrenaline pumping throughout the escape, and when we finally shut the doomsday device down, we felt really accomplished and satisfied with the whole experience.

Low Points:

The Power Glove we used in the after room picture didn’t actually work anymore? I dunno, I got nothin’ for this.


If you are in the Orlando/Kissimmee area, you have to play Super Bomb Squad: Commandos Awesome. Full stop. Do not pass Go, do not collect 200 dollars, go straight to Doldrick’s. This place is a jewel in the crown of Florida area escape rooms and I cannot recommend it to you enough, and I can’t wait to go back for their newest room. Book your time as one of the illustrious Commandos Awesome here!

10/10 (Phenomenal)

Full Disclosure: Doldrick’s provided our team with discounted tickets.

Unlock! Exotic Adventures – The Night of the Boogeymen (Review)

Location: Your Home!

Players:  We recommend 1-3

Price: $14.99

1, 2, Boogey’s coming for you


Little William has been plagued with nightmares; visions of terrible boogeymen haunt his dreams every night, keeping him awake! It’s your job to help William get a good night’s sleep by exorcising these hideous monsters from his bedroom. But be quick, because the monsters are keen on devouring his dreams and replacing them with horrific nightmares! Beat the boogeymen and don’t wake William!

First Impressions:

The easiest of the newest set of Unlock! adventures tends to be the cutest, and is many times one of the stand out games every time a new set of three releases. Night of the Boogeymen was certainly a very interesting theme, and the box cover seemed appropriately equal parts cute and spooky, so I was definitely interested to see how the game play held up.

High Points:

The art style throughout the game is really fantastic, the designs for the boogeymen are mildly threatening while keeping up a spooky vibe without veering off into family unfriendliness. Which is good, as this set is definitely the most family focused entry since the return of Dr. NoSide. The puzzles and game set up do a great job of instilling a sense of derealization to the game, causing the familiar feeling of the bedroom to become surreal and somewhat eerie. The puzzles line up well with this theme, using a dreamlike logic to tie everything together. The boogeyman mechanic is interesting, presenting a series of mini-boss like stages to the game, and while an attached mechanic is somewhat ill advised, (more on that below,) the splitting up of the game into stages of boogeyman battles is a fun one. Rather than presenting multiple rooms, the game takes you through parts of the room that each boogeyman inhabits, and it’s fun to see how they affect each area. The game is mostly non-linear to a point, however, so it still can keep a larger group puzzling, though I wouldn’t approach with any more than four players, per usual for this type of game.


The boogiest of men!

Low Points:

Puzzles sometimes become entirely too dreamlike in places, requiring logical leaps that don’t quite make full sense, but work anyway. Several moments of old school adventure game logic carried a couple of the interactions, leading us to need to smush whatever we could together until we finally arrived at a correct conclusion. Though the puzzles were mostly good and present a serviceable game, they aren’t amazingly memorable. None really stood out to me as excellently creative or beyond the usual for Unlock! games. Overall, they were just fine. There are a couple of gotcha moments as well, which present reasonable answers just to pop you with a negative penalty just because. Generally, negative feedback shouldn’t come from doing something reasonable, or something that the game urges you to do, but Night of the Boogeymen absolutely does. Worse, one of the results is a card that outright tells you they’re wasting your time. None of this really drove the experience forward, and once we’d dealt with the issue, nothing was added to the adventure or storyline, it was just a speedbump for speedbump’s sake.

On that note, a new mechanic for this box is called “Constraints.” Negative effects that come into play when a boogeyman is revealed. These are mostly arbitrary conditions that I recommend completely ignoring, as they don’t really add anything to the game. There is a small story related reason for their inclusion, (thus their categorization as mostly arbitrary,) but they certainly didn’t add any fun to the game, so we quickly cast them aside in favor of just playing normally. Obviously, if you get to them and find them interesting, go ahead and use them, but this is one of those times when throwing out a rule made the game much more fun for us, which I generally encourage, having a background in Tabletop RPGs.


Highly recommend completely ignoring these cards unless you think they’ll be fun. 


Night of the Boogeymen is a serviceable Unlock! adventure, and certainly one of the most family friendly, but looking back on it, the game is just OK. Good enough for an hour’s fun, but ultimately not very memorable, with some mechanics that serve to frustrate rather than entertain. I’d give it a shot if you’ve already played the other Unlock! boxes, but until then, there are much better adventures to be had. We bought ours at the ever excellent Atomic Empire in Durham, NC, check out their online store here!

6/10 (Alright)

Exit Strategy South – Side Effects (Review)

Location: Charlotte, NC

Players: 2 (no more, no less. Players must also be 18+.)

Price: $26 per person

Time to Escape: 60 Minutes

They’re not coffins, they’re pods!


From the Exit Strategy website:

CTRL Pharmaceuticals is looking for pairs of people to participate in a clinical trial. The drug being tested has shown great promise and might increase brain function by 1000%!

First Impressions:

Exit Strategy had teased their new room as being a one of a kind experience in Charlotte and Side Effects, the area’s only two person only room, is absolutely a novel idea! Beginning your experience in two separate “isolation pods” is a great, and somewhat unnerving (in a good way!) idea. In fact, after completing so many rooms, this is the first one in a long time in which I had no idea what to expect. Either way, we were excited to see what awaited us at CTRL Pharmaceuticals as we were led to the testing facility.

No better feeling than dropping a chip in the win column!

High Points:

Side Effects was certainly a novel, and experimental concept! To begin the game, we were led to a small, spa like room in which we were given a short briefing in character from a research assistant, and were then blindfolded. After this, we were led separately behind the curtain and laid down in our personal sensory deprivation pods. After a short briefing about the “drug” that would be administered, were directed to take off our blindfolds and begin the experience. The effects inside the pod were immersive, and the seemingly hallucinatory effects were a cool touch. The pods themselves were minimalist, with a spartan, yet effective design. You won’t be experiencing a set along the lines of Exit Strategy North’s Hollywood style rooms, but this does not mean the room isn’t fun. In fact, this adventure reminded me a lot of the design style utilized by Twisted, which employed a very similar design aesthetic, but remains one of my favorite experiences at this location. Be forewarned, however, that if your top priority is a flashy set, you won’t get that here.

However, there are loads of intuitive and engaging teamwork puzzles throughout the experience. One of the most difficult things to do when splitting up teams, or just a couple escapists, is ensuring that the puzzles engage both sides of the room, and that each room is properly interesting. All too often, I feel as though I’ve been struck with the “Curse of the Less Interesting Room” when escaping a room that splits teammates, and I’m happy to report that both pods for this game are equally entertaining, keeping both members of the party engaged throughout. The puzzles themselves all felt of a similar style, as they initially seem esoteric, but by communicating what we both had in our separate areas, we were able to piece things together naturally and come to an intuitive, and satisfying conclusion. Even the puzzle we needed a separate hint on, we thought was incredibly clever and would have been able to solve if we had just thought to check a certain item again. The game flow was smooth, and most puzzles could be solved in any order from the start, you just needed a perceptive eye and the ability to think outside the box while inside the boxes. Communication was one hundred percent the key to this room, as every puzzle required some form of teamwork every step of the way.


Yay monthly record!

Low Points:

The experience ended on a rather anticlimactic note, due to a couple issues. Firstly, the final puzzle was somewhat banal. It was carried out interestingly enough, but didn’t quite have the cool factor we have become accustomed to from the ultimate puzzle in an Exit Strategy room. Secondly, we were definitely not expecting the experience to end at this point. At this stage of the story, we very much thought that there would be more to discover, and perhaps we’d end up learning what had happened to cause our need to escape, but unfortunately, the game just ended. The experience also felt somewhat lighter on puzzles, but that may have just been because a lot of the game flow just clicked for us overall.


Side Effects was an incredibly fresh new idea from Exit Strategy, and while it isn’t without some small faults, we very much enjoyed the experience. I absolutely recommend giving it a go, but make sure that you’re not claustrophobic or afraid of the dark. The pods were roomy enough for us, but there is definitely not enough room to stand or move very far within. Absolutely be sure that your chosen teammate is someone you communicate well with also. Your success lives and dies with your ability to puzzle things out together!  Sign up for CTRL Pharmaceutical’s new drug trials here!

8/10 (Great)

Sleuth Kings: Case 021 – A Book A Day (Review)

Location: Your Home!

Players:  We recommend 1-4

Price: $29.95 per box

Poor Bear.


From the Sleuth King’s website:

Jen Hunker and Sullivan’s mom spent their lives creating a non-profit organization called A Book A Day. Now, the FBI has accused Jen of using the program to smuggle drugs and is threatening to arrest her and shut it down. Sullivan and his grandfather, Samuel, have agreed to work together in order to clear Jen’s name, but even that might not be enough. Unless they’re able to find the real smuggler – and fast – A Book A Day will be destroyed. Can you help Sullivan clear Jen’s name and save the organization that his mom devoted herself to?

First Impressions:

I didn’t quite know what to expect with this box, theme wise, but when we started retrieving the evidence from our Case envelope, I could tell we were in for another awesomely quirky Sleuth Kings case! We received what looked to be some pages from a cute pet themed children’s book (that involved the world’s most put-upon teddy bear,) an adorable bookmark, and some notes and flyers from A Book A Day, all of which peaked our interest. It certainly looked like a great time on the surface, but how did it play? Spoiler alert: It played fantastically.

High Points:

This might just be the cutest Sleuth Kings mystery ever, but it certainly does not skimp on the mystery and puzzles! The difficulty curve is one of the smoothest I’ve seen for the series, starting off with an easy win to start things off, and culminating in some of the most original and exciting puzzles we’ve solved with this subscription yet! The props are used in intuitive and creative ways, and parts of the game we figured were finished came back with even more layered puzzling to do. It was very satisfying to dig so many clues out of these items, and most of them were extremely well hidden until we had uncovered a piece of information that tied everything together. Though we ran through this one a little quicker than usual, it definitely wasn’t because this game was overly simplistic, rather, it just clicked for us through the game flow.

Speaking of the game flow, it kept a great pace throughout, leaving no real lulls or moments where we were at a loss for what to do next. One particular puzzle required a bit more pondering than the others, but the investigation didn’t feel stalled, rather, there was just a bit more sleuthing to do! The storyline for this case is a lot of fun, and Samuel, Sullivan’s grandfather, returns for more crotchety old man antics. Sullivan and Samuel’s interactions are great, and a light hearted way to progress the mystery. There are excellent easter eggs hearkening back to previous cases, as well as some literary ones as well during the Kings’ trip to the library. The climax of the adventure is fantastic, and reveals some information that might expand the Sleuth Kings Universe in the future, so I’m looking forward to seeing what comes next!


This case is the inspiration for the new book, Luna and Friends Take Down the Drug Smuggling Ring.

Low Points:

One clue requires a passing familiarity with a certain type of cipher in order to complete without the Clue Analysis, I feel. Luckily, we busted that one without the clues since we enjoy the slightly more difficult version, but some players may need to pop over to the Analysis just for this one if they don’t have this familiarity. It’s mostly obvious, but for newer players, it might present a bigger logical leap.


We loved working through Case 021 – A Book A Day, and always enjoy the quirky and splendidly put together themes that Sleuth Kings delivers! I think this one would especially be a great start for new players, as well as a solid entry for veteran Sleuths. I can certainly say you can’t go wrong with this case. You can purchase it from the Sleuth King’s archives here, and if you’d like to subscribe to upcoming adventures, you can use the promo code ESCAPEADVENTURE to get $5 off your subscription here! You can also read the rest of our Sleuth Kings reviews here!

9.5/10 (Excellent)

Full Disclosure: Sleuth Kings provided a complementary box.

Dare 2 Escape – The Asylum (Review)

Location: Kissimmee, FL

Players:  2-8 (We recommend 2-5)

Price: $30 per person

Time to Escape: 60 minutes

Say hi to Lizzie for me!


From the Dare 2 Escape website:

Dare to face the spirits of the abandoned Asylum? The lights have been long turned off, and tonight you and your paranormal team are about to enter The Asylum for the first time since it closed its doors over forty years ago. Rumored to be the home to many restless spirits, you are here trying to contact the spirit of Victoria Sneed, a patient who was unjustly admitted by her father. You have to move quickly as you navigate the darkened halls, for you only have one hour to find evidence of patient Victoria’s unjust admittance and Dr. Tillman’s unsavory activity, and escape before the spirits obtain enough energy to materialize and trap you within the walls of The Asylum forever.

First Impressions:

Dare 2 Escape has some pretty cool promotional posters for each of their rooms, which to me look like the box art for the awesome late 90’s, early 2000’s adventure games that are the reason I got into this hobby. Whether that’s intentional or not, it’s really nostalgic! The lobby is also fantastic, with loads of brainteasers, a Street Fighter arcade cabinet, and a soundtrack full of excellent music. It’s also filled to the brim with horror references, which I loved.


Just a picture of a benevolent, lovely doll from the poster. Adorable, right?

High Points:

The Asylum is superbly decorated; it is equal parts dingy, old, and abandoned looking, while still obviously a clean and safe environment for the game. A soundtrack plays during the room and sets the tone well, with some thrills included for additional ambiance as players work their way through the dark halls of the Asylum. The theme is excellent, and the storyline kicks off the epic Tillman family saga that runs throughout all four rooms at Dare 2 Escape. Very rarely have we seen an escape room tie all of their rooms together this way, but when it’s done well, it really elevates the whole experience. And from the start, the incorporation of this ongoing storyline is obviously well integrated. The room is filled to the brim with spooky props, none quite as excellent as Lizzie the doll, who was directly pointed out to us at the beginning of the game, and can be seen below. Lizzie is a kind doll and you should absolutely give her a hug when you can.

The game flow itself is very smooth, with distinct non-linear points that culminate in puzzles that lead to satisfying progression into new puzzle threads, and eventually towards escape. All the enigmas inside the Asylum tie into the theme and keep the story going. Said story is mysterious and isn’t just a thin excuse for a puzzle room, it can be felt throughout the experience as an integral part of the adventure. In fact, many of the puzzles and interactions we came across were highly original, boasting layers of great moments of revelation, as well as some highly satisfying props and tools to fiddle with during the hour. One particular puzzle was very subtle, but eminently clever, taking a fairly common escape room trope and turning it into something a bit more fun to solve.

There’s also something I found to be an amazing addition to the room that can ratchet up the fun and spookiness, but will require players to interact with the Asylum in a particular way. I’m being vague about it because I wouldn’t want to spoil the surprise, but it’s definitely an interesting way to develop the room that is somewhat optional. It is, however, extremely creative, and Dare 2 Escape should definitely be applauded for it’s addition.


Also, the Asylum is obviously haunted, check out the spectral orb activity there at the bottom of our team photo!

Low Points:

The midpoint of the room feels somewhat tedious, with a particular type of puzzle that drags a bit too long for our liking. It’s also located in somewhat of a narrow area, which will be a choke point for larger groups since the puzzle doesn’t really require too many people around to solve it. An early puzzle relies on some outside knowledge of riddles, but isn’t overly egregious, however, this was an easy puzzle for me, so your mileage may vary. Clues were given via a television screen, so if you need a clue in the late game, you have to do a fair bit of backtracking. It isn’t arduous, but it’s nice to receive clues where you are.


The Asylum is a supremely entertaining room, and is just the beginning of the Tillman Family Saga which spans all four of their rooms. I cannot recommend this one enough, and urge you to check it out if you’re in town. You should start here, for sure, as the saga runs linearly through the rooms, starting with The Asylum, continuing in The Ringmaster, jumping over to The Dig, and culminating in The Archive! They are all stand alone experiences, but for best results story-wise, they should be played in order.  Book your time in the haunted Asylum here!

8.5/10 (Great)

Full Disclosure: Dare 2 Escape provided our team with discounted tickets.