Location: Greensboro, NC (There are locations nationwide, however.)
Price: See website, varies per person depending on size of group. All games are now private!
Players: 2-8 (We recommend 3-4)
Time to Escape: 60 Minutes
The Haunting of Puzzle House.
From the Breakout Greensboro website:
This spine-chilling adventure starts in the ruins of an old mansion – abandoned decades ago by a reclusive and eccentric family. Since then, rumors swirl of a presence looming over the old house. Work as a team to race the clock and uncover the mansion’s secrets in this all-ages mystery adventure.
We’ve been on three previous trips to Breakout, and it’s almost always a good time, but we noticed on this most recent trip that Breakout has made the shift to all private rooms; always a plus in our book! With a sliding scale pricing model, any size group can ensure they get the room to themselves, ensuring a consistent experience across the board, which is always commendable. Of course, for any of this to matter, the rooms have to be good, so were they?
Mystery Mansion is one of the newer games at Breakout Greensboro, but has been around at other locations for quite some time, yet the game still holds up pretty well. Mixing technology with basic lock and key interactions, this room does a good job of keeping the escape room vibe going while still presenting some awesome supernatural interactions that ensure the experience feels fresh. A few climactic moments felt magical, and allowed for some pretty imaginative interactions we hadn’t seen done elsewhere. The logic for these moments are very well clued, and though players wouldn’t generally think to perform these actions, they make wonderfully intuitive sense within the context of the game flow. Barring one particular moment, detailed below, the game flow is fantastic, flowing smoothly between each layer of the game, and we always knew what to tackle next or were able to work these steps out naturally at all times.
The set design is well done, and while other sets at Breakout Greensboro can be hit or miss, this one is definitely put together well. It certainly isn’t Hollywood level, but for the market, it’s believable and immersive enough. Movement between different parts of the game makes logical sense, and the secrets we uncovered were excellently revealed. There was one particular puzzle of a genre that generally, we don’t much care for, but the way it was presented within this room ensured we were all engaged with the solve, and allowed for everyone to contribute. The climax was well implemented upon completion of our goal, the ending felt more satisfying as, unlike a few of the other rooms at Breakout, we didn’t just have to enter a code to escape, but find a hidden relic as well.
One particular puzzle that gave us some trouble was rather strangely clued, with not quite enough connective tissue to become truly intuitive, and once we’d determined what we needed to do, the answer hinged on a piece of outside knowledge. Though I think a lot of groups will be able to determine the answer, it cannot be determined in room if not, and having to waste a hint to figure it out would definitely be a bummer. One extremely original puzzle was a lot of fun to play around with, but never actually worked one hundred percent correctly for us, leading to the need to burn our only hint to figure out what in the world was going on. There was a reset failure in the early game for us, as a key was left in a lock accidentally. Fortunately, we didn’t notice until we were almost at that point anyway, but we would’ve bypassed a huge chunk of the game otherwise. The room is highly linear, so more than three or four players absolutely will result in some choke points wherein someone will be left sitting around with very little to do until the current puzzle is solved.
Though an older room, design wise, Mystery Mansion feels like a step above for Breakout Greensboro. While it still stumbles in places, and is firmly more of a earlier generation experience despite it’s best attempts, it’s still a really enjoyable and engaging experience. Providing enough of a challenge to ensure that enthusiasts don’t just blow through the game, yet ensuring it is approachable to new players, I think this one is definitely worth trying out! Experience the haunting at your local Breakout here!
Full disclosure: Breakout Greensboro provided media discounted tickets for our group.