Location: Fredricksburg, VA
Players: 2-8 (We recommend 3-4)
Price: Prices vary, see website for more details
Time to Escape: 60 minutes
From the Rush Hour Live Escape Games website:
As a team of archaeologists, you are studying the ancient Mayan ruins of Palenque. Shortly after entering the dig, you find the entrance locked behind you. King Pakal commands you to complete the burial rituals to allow the soul of his beloved wife to join him in the heavens! Can you find your way out of the temple before he arrives to have his revenge!
Rush Hour Live boasts an enormous lobby and a huge area for all their escape games, and the business as a whole looks really top notch from the outside. The only thing we were worried about was that some of the rooms’ walls did not go all the way to the ceiling, so we were worried about sound pollution between rooms. Overall, though, it looked like this spot would be a great time!
As mentioned above this room’s walls did not quite reach to the ceiling, but at no point did this become a problem, as the sound proofing between rooms was excellent, using the fantastic soundtrack to help ensure we wouldn’t be pulled out of the room’s immersion by errant noises. Lighting was also used effectively to ensure the room gave off a great, tomb-like vibe, but was never too dim to see by, hitting a happy medium that is all too rare in most dim escape rooms. Though the intro video to the room was just a little bit hokey, it got the story across well, and new bits of narrative were sprinkled through the room as we solved. The set was nicely designed, and while not at the level of a Hollywood production, it served to express the feeling of being in a tomb well. Passing through each chamber was exciting, and each step towards the Red Queen’s final resting place marked our progress excellently.
Puzzles for the tomb remained in theme, for the most part, and while there were modern locks around the room, they didn’t feel wildly out of place due to the smoothness of the game flow. To start the room, our team was split up, and each puzzle involved with the initial stages of the game relied on teamwork, ensuring that we solved all the puzzles together, rather than splitting individual puzzles between the rooms. This circumvented the usual “curse of the less interesting room” problem excellently, and kept us all engaged. From that point, we traversed the inner areas of the Red Queen’s tomb, and were glad to see that the game was fully non-linear during the mid to late stages of the game. Our group of five stayed completely involved with tackling the rooms challenges, and were able to divide and conquer to great effect. A few of the larger scale set pieces were integrated well into the room and the puzzles, and interacting with these was a lot of fun.
One of the early puzzles involved riddle solving, but was mitigated a little by providing answers in an interesting way. Riddles are still somewhat underwhelming within escape rooms however, but at least the outside knowledge factor was completely removed. The set design ramped up well after the initial stage of the game, but to start, we were somewhat wary of the rooms design. One particular puzzle is out of theme for the room, and while it is an overall alright interaction, it doesn’t quite feel as though it belongs and reminds players they are in an escape room. Another puzzle breaks immersion as well, including stickers and some light outside knowledge that inserted some random confusion as to why this would be included within an ancient tomb.
The climax of the game fizzled for us, as the final congratulations and story ending did not trigger properly, even though we had completed the ritual, but even if it had, the experience felt underwhelming due to how this final meta puzzle is presented. Even though one part of the ritual was interesting, the others didn’t quite have the gravitas due to a particular barrier, and because one integral part of the final stages of the game was not clued, leading the GM to have to notify us to do something we wouldn’t have naturally done ourselves based on the connections available to make within the room.
The theme itself is ok, but involves a Mayan tomb and performing burial rites, which can feel somewhat uncomfortable at times. If the tomb was non-descript and didn’t focus on a specific culture, this would be overall alleviated, but the Mayan parts feel underdeveloped and somewhat cliché, presenting somewhat of a stereotypical view of the culture.
The Red Queen’s Tomb is an interesting game that could use a few tweaks here and there to make it shine, however, it is still a serviceable game, and is a good challenge for escape room enthusiasts and rookie players alike. With a little fine tuning and a slight bit of reworking of uncomfortable theming, this could easily be an even more memorable game. For now, it’s still a solid choice for players, and we recommend giving it a shot. Help complete the Red Queen’s burial rites here!
Full Disclosure: Rush Hour Live Escape Games provided media discounted tickets for this room.