The Escape Game – Rugrats: The Search for the Losted Toys (Review)

Location: Your Home via the Magic of the Internet!

Players:  Up to 8 (We recommend 4-5)

Price: $35 per person

Time to Escape: 60 minutes

Theme:

From the The Escape Game website:

Angelica has tricked the babies and hidden all of their bestest toys. But, oh, no! She unwittingly misplaced her beloved Cynthia doll, too! Join Tommy and the gang to track down their most favoritest toys and save playtime! Oh, and you better hurry because it’s a race against the snore. If Grandpa Lou wakes up from his nap and catches you outside the playpen, you’ll be scooped up and toyless – maybe forever!

High Points:

The instant we began our Search for the Losted Toys, I noticed how brilliantly the set evoked the feel of the old Nickelodeon show. As a big fan of Rugrats when I was little, this room absolutely brought back memories, and I love the art style that The Escape Game has employed to bring the world of Rugrats to life! Starting us off in the babies playpen was a great touch, and the way we escaped from there kicked off things in a fantastic way! As we progressed, puzzles gradually increased in difficulty, presenting a difficulty curve that started with some easy wins to get our momentum up, and becoming more complex as we neared the final few toys. I loved how some of the late stage puzzles were brilliantly layered, and the final room really did have some of the best overall interactions in the game. The game isn’t quite as difficult as others we’ve played from The Escape Game, but it does present a great challenge while still being a suitable game for families, and a great intro to escaping for older kids! The escape itself was pretty linear overall, which was good for the remote nature of our experience, ensuring that we weren’t jumping between too many points and letting clues get lost in the fray. The puzzles and interactions were varied nicely, allowing for several different types of puzzler to shine, and keeping the proceedings from getting bogged down in any one type of puzzle. One of my favorite interactions, though it would have been cooler if we had been able to do it live, allowed us to contact one of the best side characters from the show, and it was such a rush of nostalgia to hear his dulcet tones! On the whole, our team has a brilliant time solving through the Pickle’s home, and ensuring that the Rugrats, (even Angelica!) were reunited with their beloved toys.

Low Points:

Though we really enjoyed our time with this super creative Rugrats room, I highly, highly recommend doing it in person if you can. The remote experience is translated decently, but a lot of the puzzles included within the room are very tactile and do not translate well. One of these puzzles in particular takes forever and is very tedious to run through. However, we recognize that were we physically in the room, these interactions would have been a lot more fun. Overall, our avatar did a great job, but was required to do so much of the room for us that we felt like we had missed out on particular parts of the game. Other than that, there is one interaction in particular that requires light outside knowledge as well, and the main parts of the puzzle are somewhat banal.

Verdict:

On the whole, Rugrats: The Search for the Losted Toys is a great way to spend an hour, with the caveat that if you are able to play this one live (Available in Las Vegas and King of Prussia,) that will be a better experience overall. However, we still had a great time with the remote experience, reliving the nostalgia of Rugrats, and enjoying the brilliant set while recapturing those losted toys from Angelica! Book your time helping the Rugrats here!

7.5/10 (Good)

Full Disclosure: The Escape Game provided our team with a complementary game.

Game On Escapes & More – Sorcerer’s Mistake (Review)

Location: Cary, NC

Players: 2-8 (We recommend 3-4)

Price: $27 per person

Time to Escape: 60 minutes

Theme:

From the Game On Escapes & More website:

Abis the Sorcerer was working on something in the workshop in secret and is now missing!  A mistake must have been made.  Can you find out what the Abis was working on, help complete the mission, and escape?

High Points:

Sorcerer’s Mistake is Game On’s family friendly room, and like their holiday room Grinched, is still a lot of fun to puzzle through if you’re only a kid at heart. Though the game is intended to take 45 minutes, a full hour is given, and allows players of all skill levels and ages ample time to work through the puzzles. The set itself was small, but well decorated, and while it wasn’t the largest escape room we’d been in, it still fit our group of four comfortably. I really enjoyed the initial stages within Abis’s laboratory, as it was filled with interesting props and items, lending a magical feel to the room. While not as elaborate as some of Game On’s other rooms, the lighting and design does an excellent job evoking the desired mood. The puzzle flow worked excellently, and added in a few great interactions to ensure smaller puzzlers would be able to contribute, and while the room provided an easier level of difficulty, there was still enough of a challenge to make solving enjoyable. The game design was brilliantly thought out, and I really liked how some escape room mainstays were incorporated without feeling overdone, making this one of the better introductory style rooms I’ve encountered. Sorcerer’s Mistake is definitely one of those rooms that you can take new players to in order to get their feet wet, but still feel as though you received a full experience that isn’t dumbed down or banal. There were also a couple of great practical effects that we enjoyed seeing activate during our solves. Overall, even though this room is intended for families, I think anyone could have a brilliant time working through Abis’s magical journey!

Low Points:

One of the puzzles was an excellent tactile challenge, but we were able to easily circumvent it using the tools in an unintended, but not destructive, manner without realizing we were missing out. Enthusiasts might find this room very easy due to the family friendly nature, which isn’t a low point, just a heads up regarding the intended audience. Overall, the room was a bit dim with no flashlights, so sometimes it was a bit difficult to see, especially as we progressed into the later room that was darker.

Verdict:

Sorcerer’s Mistake is overall a wonderful room, allowing for a family friendly experience that delivers a fun challenge that allows little ones ample chance to contribute and enjoy themselves without leaving older solvers bored. I absolutely recommend checking it out for anyone looking for an introductory experience. Figure out how to correct Abis’s mistake here!

8/10 (Great)

Full Disclosure: Game on Escapes & More provided media discounted tickets for our team.

The Deadbolt Mystery Society – Blast From The Past (Review)

Location: Your Home!

Players:  We recommend 1-4

Price: $24.99 per box, plus $4.99 shipping

Theme:

From The Deadbolt Mystery Society website:

The 80’s were a decade of big hair, MTV, video games, outrageous clothing, and fun. The Valley Falls High School “Class of ‘86” is having a Blast From the Past reunion to relive the glory days of their youth and see old friends that they’ve lost touch with over the years. The reunion is a roaring success until the principal is found strangled to death in his office. Only someone attending the reunion could have killed him. But who? And why? Take a nostalgic step back into the 80’s, find out who killed the principal of Valley Falls High School, and experience a Blast From the Past!

High Points:

Everyone loves the 80’s, right? Although I am only a child of the 80’s in the most perfunctory sense, having been born in the later months of 1989, I did greatly enjoy the music and media of the 80’s as a kid. Though a knowledge of 80’s pop culture helps to appreciate this box further, in no way is it required, though one puzzle will definitely be a breeze if you’re well versed! The box itself is super dense with puzzles and 80’s nostalgia, and does a really good job of integrating some of this nostalgia into the puzzles themselves. The puzzles are also varied to a degree that even with a larger group, (though we recommend no more than 4,) everyone will be able to work on something without any dead time. Deadbolt again does a brilliant job of breaking the game into separate stages, while still allowing for a bit of non-linear detective work. I really love how there are a fair amount of items to go through at any given time, but not so many that players are drowning in evidence. A small touch we really loved in Blast From The Past is that the interviews with suspects, which usually involves a large chunk of reading we generally go through at the beginning of a case, are a bit more spread out, and feel more integrated into the game flow. I think this is a great shift, and would love to see how these are spaced out in the future. One particular puzzle we really enjoyed was spread out throughout the course of the mystery, which began with a simple, but enjoyable logic puzzle, and evolved during the later stages of the game. The props that were provided to facilitate this interaction were great, and we loved the tactile nature as well. Speaking of props, they were all used well, and were excellently woven into the game leaving no room for extraneous objects or red herrings. While there is some decoding, it isn’t arduous or basic, with one particular puzzle using a beloved 80’s item to create a really cool code. Overall, we really loved the density of puzzles and the challenge provided by Blast From The Past, and it afforded us a fantastic 2 hours of play time!

Low Points:

One particular puzzle included an audio clue that emphasized a direction that we thought was part of the game, but in the end didn’t mean anything, leading to a bit of unintended confusion. The epilogue on this one gets a little cheesy with all the on the nose references to the 80’s, but overall ties things up well. Not really a low point, but this is one of the more challenging Deadbolt boxes we’ve played recently, so new players might want to get some Deadbolt experience under their belts, or at least be open to using a hint or two!

Verdict:

Blast From The Past is a tubular new entry into the Deadbolt Mystery Society archives, and delivers an 80’s adventure that shouldn’t be missed! While it ranks on the more challenging end of things for us, we highly recommend this mystery to players new and old. 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.

Mystery Mansion Regina – Sleepy Man (Review)

Location: Your Home via the Magic of the Internet!

Players: 2+ (We recommend 4-5 players)

Price: $25 CAD per person (About $20.26 USD at the time of writing)

Time to Escape: 90 minutes

All good things…

Theme:

From the Mystery Mansion Regina website:

It’s time to face your fears and end the nightmare.
The finale to the Sleepy Man Trilogy is coming soon.

Basically, you know what’s coming, be ready. 😀

High Points:

We have absolutely loved every single minute we’ve spent with Mitch and the crew at Mystery Mansion Regina. They do a brilliant job in designing beautiful rooms and puzzles, and leading us through them as terrified/robotic/detective-y avatars! It is impossible not to have fun with Mystery Mansion Regina, and every time I see a new room of theirs go live, I am READY for it. Though I am more than sure that there will be many many more fantastic adventures to come from Mystery Mansion, Sleepy Man feels like the capstone of the crazy pandemic year plus we’ve had. One of our first remote games we ever played was Night Terrors, a game I absolutely love, which evolved into the Sleepy Man Trilogy, which is easily one of my top five remote experiences ever, and definitely up there in terms of escape rooms in general! I truly value the times we have been able to spend remotely with friends while the world was locked down, as well as some of the amazing people we wouldn’t have met otherwise, so thank you to Mitch and crew for allowing us to escape into these crazy worlds for a while, and being such an amazing host and avatar for our insane group.

That being said, let’s talk about Sleepy Man. Listen, if you are even remotely interested in escape rooms, and you aren’t a “No Horror” type of person, you owe it it yourself to play this trilogy. This story gave me vibes of some of my favorite horror experiences from across different media, channeling Silent Hill, early Resident Evil, and the Hell House, LLC trilogy to present an amazing escape experience unlike any other! Built solely for online play, Mystery Mansion allows players to do some crazy things they wouldn’t otherwise be allowed to do within an escape room. With Sleepy Man, the ante is raised, and we were consistently surprised throughout the game with how innovative this game was! It is truly a production, and it is so mind blowing to see how creative and original this game can be. I don’t want to spoil anything, but there are elements of Sleepy Man that I have never seen matched in any other online experience. The story is amazing, and wraps up the trilogy well, tying up all the various threads together splendidly. The initial stages of the game began with a wild start we were not expecting, and once we had solved this stage of the game, we were treated to a great opening scene that made brilliant use of the large space that Mystery Mansion has available. A familiar set we’d seen a few times previously made another return, but it had shifted and warped, becoming much less inviting, (if it ever was,) than before, rotting under the passage of time. From there, we moved into a really cool interaction that made great use of the virtual nature of the game. Going forward, every new moment was seamlessly tied to the next, and every interaction and cut-scene would top the last! Supremely creepy, the ambiance that is built within this game is flawless.

The puzzles themselves are astounding, and there are so many packed within the 90 minutes this room affords. There are no combo locks or word locks to be found here, just a frantic search for a way to stop the horror of the Sleepy Man from claiming yet another victim. Every interaction ties excellently into the game, with nothing out of place, and the game flows so beautifully; it is honestly plays like masterclass in game design. This is definitely a much more challenging game, but the clues and puzzles are very intuitive, with well hidden hints that lead players through the game without leaning to either extreme of hand holding or obtuseness. I have trouble picking a favorite puzzle or interaction, as there are several “stages” to the game that feel like separate video game levels, and each one has something amazing going on! The adventure includes different endings depending on decisions made within the rooms, and I love how two specific pressure points really amp up the game. We discovered the “True Ending” and found it to be supremely satisfying, capping off this trilogy perfectly.

Low Points:

There weren’t as many opportunities to make our long suffering GM do ridiculous things. We did get a few in though, and always appreciate the antics of #SexyMitch.

Verdict:

What has been created with Sleepy Man is easily Mystery Mansion’s best, most immersive experience, and it begs to be played! If you haven’t played Night Terrors or D’vile’s Curio Shop, you’re in luck, because you get to play all three back to back! Go, play it now, there is nothing more to be said but you are going to love this room, and if you don’t, you’re probably an inter-dimensional demon that haunts a guy named Alex. Book your fight against the Sleepy Man here! And the first 15 players to use the coupon code #SEXYMITCH will get 15% any online booking! This super sexy offer is limited, so act fast!

10/10 (Phenomenal)

Full Disclosure: Mystery Mansion Regina provided our team with a complementary game.

Game On Escapes & More – Blind Eye (Review)

Location: Cary, NC

Players: 2-8 (We recommend 3-4)

Price: $30 per person

Time to Escape: 60 minutes

Theme:

From the Game On Escapes & More website:

You find yourselves outside your neighbor’s apartment after hearing and noticing unusual behavior next door. It has been made apparent to you that all is not what it seems and there is likely a crime being committed here. He may be holding someone against their will. You’d like to involve the authorities, but first you decide the best course of action is to gain something tangible from his place to have probable cause for the authorities to search.

High Points:

We were asked to beta test Game On’s newest room, Blind Eye, and we were excited to get back to escaping! One of our first full trips out, we were excited to return to one of our favorite businesses in the area for a brand new room. The set itself was not quite as detailed as previous adventures, but as this room took place within a schlubby old guy’s apartment, it didn’t need to be as ornate in order to evoke the feel that the designers were going for. The theme was also conveyed well through story bits delivered as we solved, and though it was a darker theme, it didn’t cross any lines and become too dark. What we were there for, however, were the puzzles! There was a great mix of tech and lock based puzzling within Blind Eye, and it was spread out in a mostly non-linear fashion, separated into levels. This allowed our group of four ample opportunity to divide and conquer, and ensured that we were all engaged from start to finish! Each stage of the game drip fed clues that built upon each other until we finally reached the ah ha moment we were seeking. The difficulty curve here was also very smooth. Most of the early game puzzles did a great job delivering easy wins and the further we delved into the dingy old apartment, the more challenging the game became. One puzzle in particular was really fantastic, inviting us to think outside the room itself in order to find the answer! The game flowed really well, and we were never stuck due to a flaw in the design. Blind Eye also included an interesting easter egg for perceptive players, (that of course, we did not initially notice due to the fact that we are certainly not perceptive players.) It is really cool to see the level of attention to detail that has been given to this room, even though it is meant to be temporary, and I love that it still has that Game On polish we’ve adored in their other rooms!

Low Points:

There were a few extra bits and pieces that weren’t used in puzzles, which sort of cluttered up a specific area. I believe these were from excised puzzles, if I remember correctly, and it wasn’t too much of a distraction. One puzzle in particular displayed it’s information too quickly for us to process, making it more difficult that it was intended to be. Finally, there were a lot of color based puzzles during our play through, which could be a problem for color blind players and for keeping connections between puzzles clear. However, we spoke to the owner regarding these issues, as we were invited to beta test, and we’ve been assured all these have been adjusted. The only other thing I’d mention is the set is not quite as awesome as Game On’s other rooms. It’s still serviceable, especially since this is meant to be a temporary room, and doesn’t detract from the experience.

Verdict:

Blind Eye is a great new room at Game On Escapes & More, and even though it is a temporary room, the designers haven’t skimped on the puzzling! We had a fantastic time in the beta test, and are glad to hear that the small issues we found have been addressed. This spot can always be trusted to deliver a fantastic experience, and I cannot recommend them enough! Book your time in Blind Eye here!

8.5/10 (Great)

Full Disclosure: Game on Escapes & More provided media discounted tickets for our team.