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: 2-7 (We recommend 3-4)
Time to Escape: 60 Minutes
From the Breakout Greensboro website:
As the train winds through beautiful countryside, news spreads of an uproar in the locomotive car. Radicals have taken control of the conductor’s cabin, planted explosives, and set the train for a non-stop destination in the heart of the city. Gain entry to the conductor’s cabin, stop the train, and free the passengers before time runs out.
Runaway Train is Breakout’s newest experience, and after the fun, if slightly flawed, step forward that was Do Not Disturb, we were excited to see what Breakout had cooked up next! We definitely got the more high tech feel Breakout’s newer rooms seem to have from the opening cinematic and screens showing our ill-fated train’s breakneck speed, and couldn’t wait to begin our adventure!
Runaway Train’s tech and set design is definitely well done, presenting a convincing train car to puzzle within. The whole experience starts off pretty quickly, and gives us a great impetus to begin working on getting the train’s brakes back online! Some flashy tech and engaging hidden spaces are a lot of fun to interact with, and the set did surprise us from time to time, especially during the climax, which takes a note from Do Not Disturb’s playbook. This final interaction is well implemented, and instills a real sense of urgency in players, but unlike Do Not Disturb, the puzzle presented to close out the room is signposted in a much more intuitive manner, allowing for less frantic frustration. It also encourages more teamwork, keeping everyone engaged with the game’s ending. The latter half of the game also plays host to some of the best puzzles in the game, and though they are the most challenging, they generally aren’t frustrating to work with, unless there is a technical glitch, as noted below. One point of the game becomes non-linear, and the experience really shines during these moments as we were able to divide and conquer, playing to our strengths and working together to progress to the next level of the game.
A puzzle type that worked pretty well in Mystery Mansion, due to it’s ability to engage our whole team and present the problem in an interesting way, falls completely flat during Runaway Train due to the arduousness of the solve, coupled with some vague cluing that further exacerbates the issues we have with this sort of puzzle. The game is almost completely linear, and there were several moments in which only two or three players could work on a problem while the rest of us toodled about until the next item was opened and we could move forward. This is most noticeable during the late game when several puzzles take place in an area that can fit maybe one and a half people at max. The game flow is very choppy, and the connective tissue between each step of the process tends to be very thin, leading to a lot of time just wondering what in the world is going on. One particular puzzle is very hard to see, and is a dreaded process puzzle, but luckily, the solution is extremely easy to hack, if players look at the problem holistically, but I’m sure the game designers did not intend this side method of solving, due to our game master’s shock at our having solved this one so quickly. We also experienced a fair bit of frustration when one tech based puzzle failed to trigger on multiple occasions, leading to the need for our GM to override the problem.
Breakout’s newest games have been great for introducing new ideas and tech, but have been generally fairly uneven in execution. However, Runaway Train isn’t a bad experience, just an uneven one. I like the steps forward Breakout has taken with this and Do Not Disturb, but a little more iteration is needed to make these games truly shine. Still, this one isn’t a bad time, just not the best room currently on offer. If you like Breakout and have played the other rooms, you’ll like this one well enough, but if not, this game won’t convince you otherwise. Stop the Runaway Train at your local Breakout here!
Full disclosure: Breakout Greensboro provided media discounted tickets for our group.