NC Escape – Alien Escape (Review)

Location: Durham, NC (Also available at Green Light Escape Room in Wilmington, NC)

Players: 3-8 (We Recommend 3-5)

Price: $26 per person

Time to Escape: 60 Minutes

Revenge of the Aliens!

Theme:

From the NC Escape website:

You and your team awaken in what appears to be a cryogenic chamber… cold and confused in this dark space you must find your way to the control room before your captors realize you’re missing. This room is designed with experienced escape room players in mind.

First Impressions:

We had played the previous incarnation of this room at Green Light Escape in Wilmington, NC Escape’s sister location, and had a great time. Now two years later, we were interested to see how this room had evolved when it made its debut in Durham. After our previous two trips to the new and improved NC Escape, we were certain we were in for another exciting romp!

High Points:

The previous owners had housed the wholly disappointing Dreamscape within this room. What a difference new management makes, however, as the room is now completely unrecognizable, as well as leagues better than that game. In fact, compared to the original Alien Escape in Wilmington, this adventure is even cooler than the last, with updates to technology, scenery, and the addition of brand new puzzles. Though we had played this game a couple years ago, it didn’t feel like a retread, and whenever a puzzle we remembered came up, it was easy to pass it off to someone who hadn’t done it before and move to another interaction, as the non-linear experience is absolutely filled to the brim with puzzles. I’ll admit, there was one puzzle I didn’t get to do last time that I remembered thinking looked really fun, and I’m glad I was able to literally give it a whirl this go.

The set design has been updated, and looks even nicer than before, with some crazy props and tactile puzzles that work beautifully within the world of this escape. One particular large scale set piece has been upgraded quite a bit from the original, and it looks  absolutely amazing now. We really enjoyed how interactive the room felt, melding physical pieces with well hidden technology to ensure that the game was as immersive as possible. Sound design and lighting play a great part as well, and though I think Brewery Heist is the coolest set in the Durham area, Alien Escape certainly doesn’t slack off in this regard. In terms of puzzles, this room continues to be incredibly creative, and some of the new puzzles strike that great balance between seeming overwhelming at first, but becoming increasingly intuitive as we interacted with them. One puzzle in particular gave nothing away via a very minimalist presentation, but evolved into one of my favorite interactions in the room by the end. This puzzle, as well as a few other very clever enigmas, deliver some of the best ah ha moments I’ve had lately, and overall, they are just a blast to work through. The game flow is effortlessly smooth, and is paired up with some fantastically subtle signposting to ensure our group of five remained fully engaged with the adventure from start to finish.

Low Points:

There was one particular puzzle we came across that, for us, was easily hackable. In fact, we solved it in a way that it had not been done before, but we weren’t clear at all on how it was supposed to be solved until we inquired about it afterwards. The puzzle in question didn’t have a wholly intuitive way to solve in room, and could use a bit of cluing to ensure the usual method of solving makes more logical sense.

Verdict:

Alien Escape is a great adventure, and I’m glad that it has made it’s way to Durham! Even better, this game isn’t just a retread of what we played in Wilmington, but an updated and still immensely entertaining escape that was absolutely worth another look. I highly recommend checking out this room, as well as the others at the new and improved NC Escape. I cannot wait for their next creations! Book your time in the alien spaceship here!

9/10 (Excellent)

Full disclosure: NC Escape provided comped tickets for our group.

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