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.

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.

Game On Escapes & More – Grinched (Review)

Location: Cary, NC (Also Columbia, SC via The Final Door)

Players: 3-7 (We recommend families of any size!)

Price: $22 per person ($20 at The Final Door)

Time to Escape: 45 minutes

You’re a mean one, Mr. Grinch!

Theme:

A certain green villain has stolen your letters to Santa! Not only that, but he’s made sure you won’t be able to find them by breaking into the home of Mr. and Mrs. Claus, boarding up the chimney and sealing away Mrs. Claus’s magical cookie recipe! The Clauses are away on official Christmas business, so it’s up to you and your family to right the Grinch’s wrongs, and maybe leave behind some treats for Santa on the way!

First Impressions:

Game On is one of our favorite local escape rooms, and they’ve partnered with one of our favorite escape rooms of all time, The Final Door, to help families celebrate the magic of Christmas with a new seasonal escape room! I can’t think of a better holiday activity than an escape, (or several escapes, as every holiday trip to my parent’s house over the last few has evidenced!) Game On invited us to test out this new room as soon as they’d finished, and of course, we jumped at the chance!

High Points:

To start the room, we were given crayons and asked to write our letters to Santa, which we did dutifully, as you can see below! We asked for pretty standard stuff, I think…

A bag of clementines, World Peace, the vengeance of Ares. You know, easy gifts.

Our letters were then to be delivered by one of Santa’s best elves, but alas! The Grinch intercepted her and whisked them away, and thus our adventure began. Santa’s house itself is bright and colorful, with spectacular Christmas decorations all around, and so many (locked) presents to open. The game itself is perfect for families, with a non-linear flow for children to work separately if they like, but at a difficulty level that allows for kids to work at their own pace on each individual puzzle if that’s preferred. Difficulty isn’t too simple, however, so parents can still enjoy the room by assisting their little ones with their adventure. The room is highly accessible for junior escapees, and several teamwork puzzles are available to encourage everyone to work together as a family!

There are so many tactile puzzles to manipulate, and clever technical and mechanical workings that truly bring the room to life with Christmas Magic! From start to finish, the game is an absolute joy to engage with, and families are going to love popping open or activating each and every surprise contained within the room. In fact, there are a few awesome activities that I won’t spoil here that are absolutely brilliant. I’ve played a few seasonal rooms before, and it almost always feels like a step down from a permanent room, but Grinched does not skimp on quality, keeping up to the high standards that both Game On Escapes & More and The Final Door have set for their rooms!

Low Points:

As far as I can tell, Santa did not entreat Ares to smite my enemies. However, Christmas has not yet arrived, so I remain optimistic.

Verdict:

Even though this room is geared towards children and their parents, our team of three veteran enthusiasts loved puzzling through Santa’s house! Families are in for a treat, especially parents who love escape rooms but haven’t been able to find one to take their young puzzlers to! I absolutely recommend this room for any kid or kid at heart, but be quick, this room won’t be around long, so book your time saving Christmas here! This room is also available at The Final Door, where you can book here!

10/10 (Phenomenal)

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

Game On Escapes & More – Trapped in the Jungle (Review)

Location: Cary, NC

Players: 2-8 (We recommend 4-5)

Price: $29 per person

Time to Escape: 60 minutes

We need a hero!

Theme:

A team of researchers and explorers went dark within the most shadowy corners of the Amazon. You’ve been sent in to find and extract them, but unfortunately, every night, the scanners go haywire, making it that much more difficult to identify where they are. You’ve found a distress signal late in the day, and as you approach the area, your helicopter suddenly loses power and crashes! It’s up to you to figure out what’s going on before nightfall and get out of there before the mysterious anomaly occurs again!

First Impressions:

MacGregor Manor is hands down one of the best escape rooms in the RDU area, and when we saw that Trapped in a Jungle was going live soon, we had to come back to Game On for more excellent escapes!

High Points:

The centerpiece of the Jungle itself is not only amazing to look at, but is a great hub for a series of well thought out and engaging puzzles! In fact, set design is very well done, and include a wonderful lighting effect to keep a general track of the time before sundown. Though the puzzles themselves seem esoteric at first glance, once you have collected everything you need to solve each interaction, the solutions become clearer and clearer, while still remaining challenging. One of the best parts of this room is that for many of the puzzles, you’ll find props and décor that seems out of place, and as you solve, those items will reveal their relevance in an extremely satisfying ah-ha moment! Even props that seem like mere decorations can surprise you here, and almost everything we touched ended up being important due to the tight puzzle design and excellently directed game flow.

The shift from the early to late game puzzles is thematic, and the beginning of the second half of the game is appropriately mysterious and caught all of us off guard. The later game is more mechanical, and meshes with the new environs in a fantastic way. Care was obviously taken to ensure each step of this adventure related to the theme of the room, and furthered the story. The climax of the game is excellent, and allows you to make a choice I haven’t seen before in an escape room, so kudos to the designers for adding in that excellent interaction!

Low Points:

The only puzzles we needed hints on could’ve used a smidge more direction, though it could be that our team is generally terrible at this type of interaction. One of them, is being iterated per the designer, so it shouldn’t be a problem by the time of this writing. There was an unintentional red herring we came across that took us some time to resolve as meaningless, which we also discussed, and steps are being taken to remove the effect this particular item causes. One puzzle made total sense to us, but could use a slight bit of feedback in order to ensure teams know they’re on the right track.

Verdict:

Trapped in the Jungle is another excellent addition to the Raleigh Durham area escape scene, and I am excited to see what comes next for Game On! The obvious care and attention to detail allows their rooms to shine, and this one is no exception. You should absolutely give them a shot when you’re in Cary, and you can book your time escaping the Amazon here!

8.5/10 (Great)

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

Game On Escapes & More – MacGregor Manor (Review)

Location: Cary, NC

Players: 2-6 (We recommend 3-4)

Price: $29 per person

Time to Escape: 60 minutes

A Haunted House Worth Getting Trapped In!

Theme:

You’ve foolishly decided to purchase the MacGregor Manor sight unseen. What you didn’t know is this “Dream House” was such a bargain because of the supposed curse that was placed on it decades ago! In fact, no one has been inside since 1974, and the group that entered then was killed in a car accident just one hour after they left. You only have an hour to break the curse and prevent misfortune from falling upon you!

First Impressions:

Game On Escapes & More is located in a cozy suite within a large shopping center in Cary, NC, and was well outfitted for having been open for just a few weeks when we visited. The owners were great and very personable, and we found that we had several favorite rooms in common. They were obviously escape room enthusiasts as well, so we were very optimistic to see what they had cooked up for MacGregor Manor! The experience did not disappoint!

High Points:

This room is absolutely chock full of technological interactions that evoke a supernatural feel, all of which have a natural place within the theme of the room. A mix of basic locks are also included, but are placed realistically, preventing any breakage in the immersion. The story is mysterious enough to peak our interest and leads into the room well. Set design is excellently crafted, combining with lighting and sound effectively in order to create a spooky atmosphere without being blatantly scary. Mostly a non-linear experience, this room kept our group of four fully engaged for the most part, allowing us to break apart and come together through the weaving threads of game flow. After a small speed bump at the beginning of the game, the connections were intuitive and full of a ha moments. The room opened up in surprising ways, allowing for the room to hide secrets in unexpected places.

Low Points:

There was one point near the beginning where the most obvious puzzle we could engage with was more of a red herring than anything, leading to a good bit of fumbling about before finding what we actually needed to be working on. One puzzle was interesting, but caused part of our group to have actual physical headaches due to the nature of the task itself. There were a couple of spots we felt could benefit from slightly more cluing in order to be less obtuse, as we stumbled upon these solutions rather than find them naturally through the game flow.

Verdict:

MacGregor Manor is the first really great escape room in Cary, NC, and I look forward to seeing what Game On Escapes comes up with next! We were able to have a sneak peak at their upcoming Trapped in the Jungle room, and we have very high hopes for the future! You should absolutely check them out here!

8/10 (Great)