Location: Arlington, VA
Players: 2-10 (We recommend 3-4)
Price: $28 per person
Time to Escape: 60 minutes
A Tubular 80’s Sleepover!
From the Bond’s Escape Room website:
You and your teammates have been triple-dog-dared to spend the night in a TOTALLY spooky mansion that nobody has gone to in a wicked long time. You’re planning a night filled with spin the bottle, ouija boards, and more. Bodacious!When you show up, all seems chill, but the longer you loiter, the less righteous it gets. Abandoned houses tend to be abandoned for a reason. Hopefully it’s not demons or anything like that.You will have just one hour to find a way to reverse the curse you’ve stumbled upon before your party’s slumber becomes permanent.
For my birthday this year, we scheduled a huge escape room marathon to the Northern Virginia/DC area consisting of 23 rooms and what better way to kick off such a marathon than with a brand new horror room? Our first escape after landing in Virginia was The Sleepover Slaughterhouse, a new room from Bond’s Escape Room that promised to be a spooky good time! 80’s slasher movies are a personal favorite, so I definitely had high hopes!
The set of The Sleepover Slaughterhouse is fantastic, with some really cool hand built props that contain some really great surprises! The spooky vibe of the experience was joined together with some great 80’s iconography to deliver that VHS slasher movie experience that we were thrilled to see. The lighting plays an excellent part, evolving with the game flow, and sound design is well implemented also. Many of the puzzles within the room are incredibly clever, and react in ways that are wholly unexpected, leading to some really cool reveals and satisfying moments of revelation. One in particular uses some innocuous and well hidden in plain sight items to pull together a solution that feels like a real win once it has been solved. The subtlety of some of these enigmas are coupled with some great clues that wrap things together nicely without forgoing the challenge, which is a difficult balance. The room seems to take inspiration from several horror franchises, and it’s cool to pick up on these nods. Even better, the room stands as it’s own experience without ripping off any established intellectual property, which is sadly a rarity.
The vast majority of the puzzles within this room are very linear, leading our group of five to hit several points at which there just wasn’t enough to do to keep our group fully immersive and engaged with the room. This, coupled with some hiccups in the connectivity of the game itself caused multiple choke points where we were casting about for what to do next. This became more apparent when there were leaps of logic present in a couple of the puzzles, presenting more frustration than challenge. The beginning of the room, for example, was very rough, as though we had everything we needed to solve a particular puzzle, there wasn’t quite enough of a connection between the clues and the solution to be fully intuitive, especially since there was somewhat of a red herring included with these items, leading us to believe they were for a later puzzle. There is one particular bit of aimless searching that would have been better served as a puzzle, and the method of hiding this particular item led to groans of frustration. A bit of iteration on the sign posting and cluing, however, would alleviate a lot of these issues, as well as help these otherwise very creative puzzles shine.
There were a few great ideas that unfortunately fell somewhat flat, as the promise behind these moments were not quite delivered on. A particular urban legend is referenced a few times within the room, and we expected so much more from this teaser than was delivered. This led to an overall anti-climax when dealing with these puzzles, as anticipation ran high when the room seemed to telegraph an interaction that never materialized. The story itself is set up excellently in the early part of the game, but unfortunately never seems to go anywhere. The latter part of the game is flashy and fun, but we would have loved to see more story included within the game to give our actions more purpose overall. Overall, the later parts of the room just felt sparse, story and puzzle wise, and filling in those gaps would do wonders for this experience.
The Sleepover Slaughterhouse is an okay experience that can definitely become something really great with a bit of iteration and tightening of the game flow. We found the staff to be responsive and fairly open to our criticisms, one of which was fixed soon after we left! The designers at Bond’s definitely care about the quality of their rooms, so I’m sure this one will evolve and improve. Though it didn’t quite blow our minds, puzzle wise, it certainly wasn’t a bad room, and we had a good time for the most part. I recommend giving it a shot if you’re looking to scratch the escape room itch. Book your time in the Sleepover Slaughterhouse here!
Full Disclosure: Bond’s Escape Room provided media discounted tickets for this room.