Location: Waxhaw, NC
Players: 2-6 (We Recommend 3-5)
Price: $25 per person
Time to Escape: 60 Minutes
From the Waxhaw Escape website:
Go back to the exciting era of steam engines and mechanical automation. Famed Italian inventor, Giordano Neri, has shocked the world with his newest brainchild – a self-driving train! Rumors of his unorthodox methods and use of humans in his research has forced him to flee to America to continue his work, where he has just put the first autonomous train into action for its initial run. No one could have predicted what would happen on this first ride of the ominous “train to nowhere.”
I’ve been very interested in a good steampunk room, but so far have been unable to find one. Waxhaw Escape’s Train to Nowhere looked like it could fit the bill nicely, however, and the site’s description was appropriately mysterious, so we were ready to book our train ride as soon as possible!
Train to Nowhere is easily one of the coolest rooms I’ve done in terms of concept. The theme is quite original, and the execution creates something really amazing. The set itself really does instill the feel of being on a funky, old timey train and is a joy to explore. The story is great, and tidbits about what is really going on are worked into the puzzles themselves and sprinkled throughout the experience. A great twist during the game ratchets things into high gear by utilizing the set design to create some fun surprises to go along with the reveal. From there on, the experience is a high energy race to right the atrocities committed, and somehow escape! The room includes a bumpy, but very exciting climax that can conclude in one of multiple endings depending on your actions. The room is a smaller experience than some others, but the space is utilized to great effect, and comfortably holds all players within it’s snazzily designed walls. The design of each stage of the game is appropriate, and all the small details and props are brilliantly woven into the theme.
The game flow is also up to the task of including the maximum six players, as the game is mostly non-linear up to the end. One particular capstone puzzle keeps everyone involved with one of the best teamwork interactions I’ve seen. It isn’t a particularly difficult one, but it got our whole team involved and was an exciting way to move forward. All puzzles are highly intuitive, and as we worked through the challenges presented, everyone stayed engaged with the experience. A very high tech experience, the train really does feel like it’s a fully automated, responsive mechanical marvel. The feedback given by the conundrums housed within the train’s walls is fantastic, ensuring that we definitely knew when we were right or wrong about an answer. In fact, one general gripe I have about many escape rooms over using a particular prop is alleviated via the simple inclusion of one particularly elegant fix, ensuring we knew exactly what was going on. The adventure was overall an entertaining steampunk adventure, and delivered exactly what I wanted from such a clever theme.
Though having multiple endings is a great addition, you don’t really know that the final puzzle will trigger an unavoidable final timer until it has already been started, which threw the entire room into chaos for us. A warning note in theme might have been helpful, as once that timer started, we weren’t quite sure of what to do, and being placed on this timer when we still had plenty of time left deflated the end game for us. A couple of moments had us thankful we had a tall teammate in the room with us, I’m not sure we would’ve been able to progress as quickly without his help. There were a couple points at which we needed to hear an announcement being made during the room, but the volume was somewhat low unless everyone stopped and were as quiet as possible, so making these moments just a bit louder would be very helpful.
Train to Nowhere transports you into an amazing steampunk train, and keeps the puzzle solving adrenaline going with numerous surprises and a fantastic storyline. Highly approachable, yet teeming with clever challenges and great storyline surprises, players of all experience levels will find something to love about this room. I definitely recommend giving it a go! Book your time on the mysterious steampunk train here!
Full disclosure: Waxhaw Escape provided comped tickets for our group.