Total Escape – Prison Break (Review)

Location: Winston-Salem, NC

Price: $30 per person

Players: 2-8 (We recommend 2-4)

Time to Escape: 60 Minutes

Let’s blow this popsicle stand!

Theme:

You and your partners in crime, for one reason or another, have found yourselves convicted and thrown into jail. But worry not! Your pal Donny knows a guy, (who knows a guy,) who busted out of this place before. Apparently, he left clues around about how to escape, and Donny previously followed them to obtain his freedom before you. Just stick to the clues, and you’ll be outta here in no time! But do it within an hour, because the diversion Donny set up for the guards is only going to hold for so long!

First Impressions:

Our game master, whose name I unfortunately did not get, was phenomenal! Delivering a light hearted introduction to our cells, and playing along with our pre-escape shenanigans, she really helped set a fun tone for our experience. I could tell from her interactions with us that not only would the room be a great experience, but the staff at Total Escape were having a good time as well. All of which boded well for our adventure!

High Points:

Prison Break initially split our team between two different cells, and most times, the execution of this sort of game mechanic leaves much to be desired. Total Escape, however, ensured there was no “Curse of the Less Interesting Cell” by making sure that both teams had plenty to do, and peppered this whole stage of the game with great teamwork puzzles that ensured that all of us were able to remain engaged with the game every step of the way. Even when there was one interaction that was reserved for one team, the rest of us felt involved with what was going on, and were never left to twiddle our thumbs waiting to be rescued from our cell. The game flow for the entire experience was incredibly smooth, climbing a steady difficulty curve and weaving clues, solutions, and inputs together well, leaving no room for uncertainty once we had solved any of the game’s myriad challenges. The puzzles were also very original for the most part, and were presented in a mostly non-linear fashion, keeping us immersed in the experience from lock-up to jail break!

Technology implemented within the room was fantastic, and really elevated the experience beyond many other prison themed rooms we’ve done before. Interacting with the set was a thrill, and in many cases, provided a clever clue to keep us on the right track. There are several excellently tactile puzzles scattered throughout the game, and one in particular was a great addition. I won’t spoil the surprise, but it was a small thing I think all of us have wanted to do in an escape room from time to time. This tiny addition to the game really adds to the experience, and it’s a willingness to do things like this that can make a good game really great and engaging. Progress is well measured, and it was always clear where we stood during the game, even without a timer present. In fact, the removal of a game timer added to the immersion greatly, and had us worrying less about how much time remained, allowing us to truly lose ourselves in the experience. Though we could ask for a time check at any time, we never thought to ask for one, the game was so immediately gripping.

Low Points:

The set and story are fairly simple, and the experience remains a standard prison break from start to finish, so escape veterans who’ve tired of the theme may not be as impressed. There’s some searching to be done, and while we didn’t have too much of a problem with it, another puzzle or two to find these rather small items would be generally more engaging overall. Enthusiasts might run through this game fairly quickly, (ours clocked in at around 26 minutes in room total,) and though it felt like a full experience to us, players looking for a longer challenge might want to try Temple of Tikal instead.

Verdict:

Prison Break was a great game, boasting an excellent game flow and some truly original puzzles. Though we were in and out fairly quickly, it certainly felt like a much longer experience in the best way possible, and for Total Escape’s first room, Prison Break is a lot of fun! Beginners will really love the intuitive adventure, and enthusiasts looking for an entertaining and engaging run of puzzles will not be disappointed. Book your time in the slammer here!

8/10 (Great)

Full disclosure: Total Escape provided media discounted tickets for our group.

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