Location: Charlotte, NC
Players: 2-4 (We recommend 2)
Price: $28 per person
Time to Escape: 60 minutes
From the Timed Out website:
Ho Ho Ho, Merrrrrryyyyy Christmasss! By the time you receive this I’ll be off on my present delivery run for the year. I was recently informed that one special child, Noel Bailey’s Christmas list was misplaced! The Central Elf Agency has received intel that it is likely at her father’s hunting cabin in northern Vermont. Your elf team is tasked with investigating the cabin and recovering the list, but be warned, we’ve heard that Noel is a rather…. Creative little girl. Find the list within an hour to allow for me to properly deliver Noel’s presents!
Timed Out is one of our favorite spots in Charlotte, and we were enormously excited for Depth, but first, we wanted to take on their seasonal Christmas room, Noel. This smaller room was perfect for my wife and I to puzzle through while our teammates took on Precinct, a room we had previously loved and recommended. Though December had come and gone, we were still full of holiday spirit and ready to help Santa find Noel’s Christmas List!
Noel takes place in what can only be described as the coziest Christmas cabin imaginable! Though I’m much more of a Halloween person at heart, I could definitely imagine spending a holiday in this puzzle filled room! The way the room has been decorated provides an incredibly immersive atmosphere, rife with a super chill vibe, a comfy recliner, and a festive, but not annoyingly so, soundtrack. The decorations aren’t just for show either, as many are highly tactile props that can be changed and used in deviously clever, well themed puzzles. This may be a seasonal room, but nothing about the build out says “slapped together” like some other temporary rooms do. This could easily be a year round experience. The room is filled with story, and though it is lighter fare, it’s great to see that at all times the experience feels purposeful and tied to the intial mission of seeking out Noel’s Christmas List.
And what an exciting mission it is! Though the room is eminently family friendly, it’s still an enjoyable challenge for seasoned escapists, and my wife and I had an absolute blast working through the incredibly smooth game flow. While the flow is strictly linear, this does not harm the game, as the player limit of 2 to 4 is designed well for a small family or couple, ensuring that no choke points will leave anyone out. Even some of the quicker puzzles have multiple steps that can be worked simultaneously, allowing for players to divide and conquer, even within the bonds of a linear game. Signposting is subtly integrated, and it never feels as though you’re flailing about, wondering what to do, but answers are not just handed over, ensuring that the experience still delivers a reasonable challenge. For a smaller escape room, Noel is densely packed with enigmas, providing a full gamut of puzzles to solve, further ensuring a fully developed adventure. Progress is easy to track, using a very simple meta puzzle that literally builds as players work their way through the room, and it’s very simple to gauge how you’re doing on time. The climactic moment of Noel is just so much fun, delivering a payoff that ties off the mission in an excellently themed finale.
This is definitely an easier room, and while that does not deter us or ruin our fun, it’s good for enthusiasts to know in case they’d like to seek out a more difficult experience. The only real problem we came across was that one particular puzzle that involves deciphering pictures made through the course of the puzzle, and while we were able to determine what was what, three of the five were a mite ambiguous.
Despite the small space in which Noel takes place, the is a fully realized escape adventure to be had within! Far from the stereotypical “seasonal escape room,” Timed Out boasts what could easily be a year round room within Noel’s cozy Christmas cabin. Perfect for families, new escapists, or even a couple of hardened escape veterans, I highly recommend checking this room out when the Season comes round again! Though only available during the holiday season, you can check out all of Timed Out’s wonderful experiences year round here!
Full Disclosure: Timed Out provided comped tickets for our group.