Ubisoft Blue Byte – Assassin’s Creed: Escape the Lost Pyramid (Review)

Location: This game is available from many locations, we played at VR Zone DC in Washington, DC

Players: 2 or 4, either of which is a great time

Price: Varies, based on location.

Time to Escape: Approximately 60 Minutes

Into the Animus!


From the Ubisoft Escape Games website:

Welcome to the Animus. February 1928.An expedition led by Sir Beldon Frye disappears somewhere in the Sinai Peninsula. A team of four and a dozen local porters were looking for the Lost Pyramid of Nebka… Or more precisely, “something” that should have been there. They were never seen again. Using the simulation reconstructed from their DNA memory, your team will put themselves in the shoes of the explorers. Find out what happened to the expedition. And more importantly, locate what they were looking for.


First Impressions:

I love Assassin’s Creed. It was what I asked for Christmas every single year when it came out annually, and is still a must buy for me even through the ups and downs of the series. When I heard they were developing Virtual Reality escape games for the series, playing them became a high priority for me. VR seems like such a great substitute for the Animus, and barring the absolute travesty that was the Assassin’s Creed movie, I’ve loved every product that bears this franchise’s name. I had high expectations, and luckily, I was not disappointed.


High Points:

Escape the Lost Pyramid is an awesome adventure, and utilizes Virtual Reality to create one of the most immersive escape games I’ve ever played. The medium is truly used to great effect, allowing for some giant scale puzzles that you just cannot create in a traditional escape room, including some great traversal puzzles that aren’t for the faint of heart! (Side note, if you’re afraid of heights, do not, I repeat, do not look down.) At the outset, each player chooses an avatar, and is led into a dressing room/lobby which is full of hats and necklaces to use to further customize the avatars. While the avatars are really great, this customization allows for players to further differentiate themselves, which helps in the long run. I knew we were in for a great experience when the basic experience of selecting our avatars and putting on hats was already getting us engaged and psyched to play around in the VR space.

The game’s absolutely epic journey begins with the players separated from one another, and intuitively teaches everyone how to play the game at their own pace. Once these introductory puzzles have been completed by everyone, the game brings everyone together and the experience starts in earnest. The game flow is linear, but presents incredibly immersive and wholly intuitive puzzles to the group, which varied between solo, pair, and full group solves during our four player experience. The difficulty curve and size of puzzles smoothly upgrades from start to finish, and while a few of the conundrums included are sometimes quite challenging, other players are almost always available to help, either through the game itself, or by offering tips over the headsets. Every stage of the game moves further up the titular Pyramid, and the sense of progress is well marked, providing many points at which to feel victorious. Except for those parts in which your wife knocks you off a platform. Those are only fun for her. Just kidding, that was still hilarious. Speaking of something that should’ve turned my stomach, Escape the Lost Pyramid feels comfortable at all times, and at no point did I feel nauseous, which is a feat.


Low Points:

While playing with three other friends is great, and messing around in the VR space together is amazing fun, the game is set up in such a way that from time to time, and depending on how good your comrades are at the game, you may be spending some time sitting around. There was one point in the game where I was waiting for my friends for quite some time, and I couldn’t even see what they were doing because of how my part of the game had been positioned. Luckily for me, I had a bow and arrow to mess around with, but even shooting that around and flinging some ill fated pots around started to wear thin after a while. Players may be disappointed with some of the game’s linearity as well, as each player is funneled through a predetermined path, and very little deviation is allowed. These two points sometimes join together to create some real frustration, but more often than not, there’s at least some way to create your own fun or help direct your teammates. The final climax is, unfortunately somewhat of a let down, as there’s not really a great capstone puzzle of huge boss fight as you would expect. It just sort of… ends.



Though Escape the Lost Pyramid stumbles from time to time, it is an amazing first step for Ubisoft’s new series of escape games, and I am absolutely looking forward to more! The game is extremely well made, and even those who don’t have a background with Assassin’s Creed will enjoy the adventure. On the whole, the game is an amazing evolution for escape rooms, and it is a must play for those interested in trying out a room that allows you to puzzle around in an enormous pyramid! Find a room near you here!

8.5/10 (Great)

Full Disclosure: VR Zone DC provided media discounted tickets for our game.

Sleuth Kings – Case 025: The Haunting (Review)

Location: Your Home!

Players:  We recommend 1-4

Price: $29.95 per box

Not even a hard boiled private detective is safe from the things that go bump in the night!


From the Sleuth Kings website:

Renea Evans’ dream home suddenly became a nightmare when she began seeing apparitions and receiving terrifying messages. Convinced that her new home is haunted, she’s asked Sullivan to investigate. If he can figure out the ghost’s identity, Renea hopes that she can make it move on before she loses everything she’s worked for. Can you help Sullivan get to the bottom of the ghost’s otherworldly messages before Renea is forced to abandon her home?

First Impressions:

It’s time again for another spooky Sleuth Kings case! Last year’s case, The Beast Within, was excellent, and this year’s case promised to be even creepier than the last! Joining Sullivan in investigating a haunted house sounded like the perfect case for October, and we were excited to get started!

High Points:

I really love the presentation for this mystery, as all the clues and items included are appropriately spooky, and tie into the Halloween theme extremely well. Even the codes give off an aura of supernatural mystery! The beginning of the game starts out very strong, with a deceptively challenging opening puzzle, which gives way to a few less devious enigmas before ramping back up again and into a fantastic and truly satisfying meta puzzle that was loads of fun to tackle. All layers of the game flow tie well into each other, joining together clues in an intuitive way, and ensuring that sign posts throughout the game are well positioned, but are subtle enough that they don’t make it too simple. The codes are varied, and are presented in such a way that multiple people can work on them together, preventing any choke points during the game that would prevent others from having something to do as well.

The best thing about The Haunting, however, is absolutely the story. Filled with spooky details, Sleuth Kings expertly turns up the tension as the haunt becomes more and more active within the house. Without giving anything away, I’m impressed with the direction the story takes, as it twists and turns towards it’s awesome conclusion. This is one of those cases that absolutely kept me guessing from start to finish, and it was great to see the box end on such a satisfying note. The epilogue helps fill in the gaps as well, and does a great job of wrapping the whole case up with a very neat bow. I’d love to see this side of the Sleuth Kings universe explored more in the future, as I think there are several interesting and mysterious paths that could be taken from here.


Spooky Sleuthing for Sullivan and his Sidekicks!

Low Points:

The difficulty curve was definitely a little uneven, bookended by some serious challenges. Though they’re all really fun to solve, newer players might be somewhat discouraged by the initial roadblock. Once we were able to overcome that speedbump, (and it was eminently solvable, it just required a good bit of thinking,) the next few solves fell quickly into place, so it isn’t a huge problem, this case just tended to be a bit more difficult to start out, giving the easy wins later in the game rather than earlier.


The Haunting is definitely another of my most favorite Sleuth Kings mysteries so far. The bold direction of the story, the twists in the mystery, and of course, the astoundingly enjoyable and challenging puzzles included make this one an incredible adventure! I definitely recommend checking it out, especially if you’re in the mood for some spooky puzzling. You can purchase this and other previous cases 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.

Insomnia Escape – The Alchemist (Review)

Location: Washington, DC

Players: 2-8 (We recommend 2-4)

Price: Varies, see here for details.

Time to Escape: 60 Minutes

Keyed Up and the Philosopher’s Stone


From the Insomnia Escape website:

Philosopher’s stone, Alchemist’s library and secret manuscripts at the mystical swirl of “The Order of the Alchemists” Room.You are standing in front of an unmarked wooden door and two large windows carved into the aging brickwork of DC’s most eerie library. You and your hopefully reliable companions step into a dimly lit interior where the numerous bookshelves are coupled with gold details and vintage chandeliers covered in a cobweb.

First Impressions:

We had visited Insomnia Escape way back in 2017 to try out their Oblivion room, which we had a good time with, so I’d be hoping to get back one day to try out some of their other much hyped experiences! We started things off with the granddaddy of them all, The Alchemist, one we just didn’t quite have time for during our last trip out.

High Points:

For an almost four year old game, The Alchemist presents a well told story that develops naturally throughout the course of the full game. Each puzzle solved reveals a new tidbit, and allows the players more insight into the evil sorcerer who would bring about the end of the world as we know it. Puzzles are frequently clever, and there are a couple great solves that kept our group engaged with the game, especially during the late stages of the adventure, which delivers most of the well incorporated props. While the experience is mostly a first generation escape room, there are a few nice spots of hidden technology and exciting surprises to be found. Though one particular part of the room could become amazingly cluttered, the gate keeping of the game flow works perfectly to ensure that what at first looks like it will become a slog, works itself toward a satisfying reveal. The final reveal is climactic and delivers a great ending to the game.

Low Points:

The Alchemist starts off within a fairly small and stuffy room, and though we only have five players, three less than the stated max, I could tell we were all starting to feel a bit claustrophobic. I cannot imagine being in the room with a full complement of players, as there simply is not enough room. There would also be a dearth of puzzles for a full house, as The Alchemist is very linear on the whole. Most solves only served to engage three of us, while the others waited, and some only required one or two. While some teamwork puzzles could be found for larger groups, they were few and far between. The later stages of the game open up the room and the game flow a bit, but is overall a much sparser affair, turning the surprise of more puzzles into something of a disappointment. While the ideas are really fantastic for the time, escape rooms have definitely evolved as a medium, and The Alchemist simply hasn’t evolved with the times. In fact, it has started to show a good bit of wear and tear, not just metaphorically, but literally, as the room shows a fair amount of dents and dings throughout.


The Alchemist is an alright game that was really great for when it was built in 2016. Not many updates have been made, it seems, and while it remains a serviceable game for new players, it’ll be somewhat underwhelming for veteran escapists. Still, it’s not a bad time, and folks who are looking to see what a previous award winning room is like will find something to like here. If you do give it a look, just keep in mind that it is definitely a product of its time. Book your time saving the world from the sinister Alchemist here!

6.5/10 (Alright)

Full Disclosure: Insomnia Escape provided media discounted tickets for our game.

Escape Room Herndon – Magician’s Workshop (Review)

Editor’s Note: Today’s review comes from my lovely wife, Kara, who was interested in taking on reviewing one of the many rooms we experienced during our 23 room marathon in Northern Virginia. Special thanks to her for taking a little bit of the work off my plate, and for writing such an excellent review of our favorite room of the trip!

Location: Herndon, VA

Players: 2-8 (We recommend 4-6)

Price: $28 per person

Time to Escape: 60 minutes

…and for my final trick…


From the Escape Room Herndon Website:

You’re an apprentice for Carter the Great, the best magician this town has ever seen. Unfortunately for him, he’s been sharing the theater with his biggest rival, The Great Danton. Danton said he will be unveiling his newest trick at tomorrow’s performance. If his trick truly is amazing, it’ll surely put your show out of business. You must sneak into the theater at night and figure out the source of Danton’s new power otherwise Carter will surely be finished!

First Impressions:

After three already amazing rooms, we were raring to start the Magician’s Workshop! To be honest, I definitely had some reservations. We have already escaped a really great magician-themed room (see my husband’s thoughts on the Illusion room) so was curious as to how another room could stack up. But, as already mentioned, we were in high spirits after escaping the 8-Bit Escape room, so my optimism was on full blast.

Magic Hat Plain

High Points:

If I was expecting to play with one or two kittens (or puppies! Or bunnies! – Whatever your fancy!), the Magician’s Workshop was like the door opening to a mountain of kittens!!! The room started out deceivingly simple, and it wasn’t long before the room astoundingly expanded to a plethora of amazing puzzles. The transitions between the rooms were exciting from the beginning, and the game flow and connections were so smooth and intuitive. The theme was consistently and expertly woven into all of the puzzles, which were a great mix of non-linear and linear activities that easily kept our whole room busy and entertained.

The child (and adult) in me was excited to see a lot of familiar magician elements and props. I really enjoyed the creativity in how they were implemented, and we were able to interact with them in really satisfying ways. (You may even find yourself performing a trick or two!) There were so many a-ha (or as I like to say – ohhhhh) moments that were had, and – true to the theme – I was constantly amazed at how well multiple clues were made to be both obvious and hidden in plain sight. There were a couple of multi-part puzzles that, though you reached a point where you might realize what would happen, were really exciting to see play out. What I would consider the climactic puzzle revealed a really neat, magical effect and turned our ohhhhh’s to ooooh’s (read: very impressed).

We learned that many of the props were handmade, and it was clear how thoughtful and careful Escape Room Herndon was in building this room. (I can only imagine how one of them in particular was painstaking to create.) The set design and soundtrack were very appropriate, and really immersed you into the Great Danton’s workspace. And, if for some reason you got lost in the magic and wonder of it all and forgot why you were there, the puzzles and clues did a great job of reminding you of the storyline. There was a lot of creativity that went into this room and so many moving parts to manage, but their team’s efforts seemed well worth it because it culminated into a phenomenal room!

Magician's Workshop

Low Points:

I struggled to think of a low point for this room. There was one small red herring that may be distracting/misleading, but I think the game flow was pretty good at keeping you moving with other things. I did expect a little more to happen after one puzzle was triggered (and it did have a really cool effect), but was not disappointed overall.


The Magician’s Workshop was my favorite room of the trip, and my favorite magician-themed room of all time! After playing, we learned that it was their newest room and had only been open for about a week. Considering how many rooms (understandably) tend to improve over time, I was even more impressed with how amazing The Magician’s Workshop already is. Book your time in the Magician’s Workshop here!

10/10 (Phenomenal)

Full Disclosure: Escape Room Herndon provided comped tickets for this room.


The Deadbolt Mystery Society – The Last Laugh (Review)

Location: Your Home!

Players:  We recommend 1-4

Price: $24.99 per box, plus $4.99 shipping

We all float down here.


From The Deadbolt Mystery Society website:

Fall is here, and The Wandering Monster Parade has come to town, bringing its variety show of teeth and claws to the town of Valley Falls. At about the same time, a strange clown has been showing up around town in various unusual places. Most people assume that the clown is a promotional tool used to help spread the word about the Monster Parade, and buzz for the event is high. That all changes when Savannah Pierce, reigning homecoming queen for the Valley Falls Druids, is found dead with smudges of greasepaint on her neck and cheeks. After repeated questioning, officials from the Monster Parade deny any knowledge of the clown and claim he isn’t part of their organization. The Pierces, one of Valley Falls’ wealthies families, has hired you and the other members of The Will Street Detective Agency to locate the mysterious clown, uncover his identity, and find out what really happened to their daughter. Will you be able to solve the mystery of Savannah Pierce’s murder before The Wandering Monster Parade leaves town…or will the fiend responsible get The Last Laugh?

First Impressions:

Halloween is my favorite holiday, and my favorite season for subscription boxes, because almost all take on a spooky vibe, embracing the supernatural and macabre! Last year’s Halloween box from Deadbolt, The Cabin, remains one of my favorite experiences overall, so I couldn’t wait to see what was in store this year!

High Points:

The best part about The Last Laugh is how the game flow works. For this box, we worked through the evidence methodically, and as we moved through all the information, everything started to fall into place by the end. Most of the connections were intuitive enough, that once we completed our review of the facts, puzzles rolled into solutions, which rolled into other puzzles, which rolled into further solutions until the suspect revealed themselves. This triggered a cascade of satisfaction as the solves intuitively built one upon the other, progressing the story nicely, and culminating in a fascinating, and bold climax! The storyline builds the creepy vibe, and reintroduces S.T.A.L.K. to add some excellent supernatural flavor to the experience. The story also leaves the door open for more spookiness in the future due to the implications of the ending, which I’m absolutely looking forward to. The characters, especially the deranged members of the Wandering Monster Parade, are excellently fleshed out, and their quirks and proclivities really add dimension to the story that kept us immersed in the mystery.

The Last Laugh is the first Deadbolt Mystery Society box to come in the new, smaller sized boxes. Over half the size of the old box but just as sturdy, there is just as many, if not more puzzles packed into the mystery! In fact, there are loads of fun pieces of in theme swag as well, which is a fun inclusion. The new size allows for better protection from the elements, as it will fit into most mailboxes, and reduces the space requirement for those of us who like to save each box. The puzzles themselves are great mixes of code breaking, connection making, and investigatory conundrums. Some are classic codes, but none feel repetitive, as all have been given a new twist in order to keep things fresh.


Smaller box, but just as many, if not more, puzzles!

Low Points:

Two points stuck out as confusing for us, one was worded in such a way that it seemed to imply there would be a specific exclusion that never really materialized, and the other was a clue that seemed to exonerate a particular suspect that, on reflection, was meant to point elsewhere, but the connection between those two points was somewhat loose as they could’ve been easily interpreted in other ways. One of the QR codes was somewhat more vitally important to check out earlier in the case, but since they usually are password protected, we did not check them all until we had a solution that seemed to match. That’s partially on us, but it might help to have some way to differentiate password protected QR codes from those that link to evidence.


The Last Laugh delivers a freakily twisted mystery that delivers a great Halloween experience, some great puzzling, and a story that’s truly to die for. Delivering a great challenge that remains approachable for new detectives, I absolutely recommend checking this one out! Join the Deadbolt Mystery Society here! Right now, you can get 30% off your first box with the Promo Code ESCAPE30! You can also see the rest of our Deadbolt Mystery Society reviews here!

8.5/10 (Great)

Full Disclosure: The Deadbolt Mystery Society provided a complementary box.