Lockstar Escape – The Inncreeper (Review)

Location: Bluffton, SC

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

Price: $27 per person, 3 person minimum

Time to Escape: 60 minutes

What a Psycho!

Theme:

From the Lockstar Escape website:

You’ve checked into the Miss Fortune Motel, and found yourself trapped in your room. You soon discover you aren’t the first guest held captive by the creepy innkeeper. Can you escape before you suffer the same fate?

*WARNING* Although the game is “creepy” rather than actually scary, The Inncreeper is a horror themed game which contains elements of and/or references to the following: stalking, murder, dismemberment, torture, mysticism (tarot cards, Ouija board, palm reading), and a balloon. Upon request, the balloon can be removed. ūüėČ

High Points:

Usually when visiting an escape room in a smaller town, we don’t expect blow you away set design, but The Increeper was beautifully appointed, immersing us within the motel immediately! The usual cameras in the room were not as obvious as others, and allowed the room to feel more authentic, as well as tie into the theme of “creepy innkeeper torments guests.” Each stage of the room was convincing, and the puzzles integrated into the theme excellently. In fact, there were a few surprising moments included that we absolutely did not see coming, which is always a fantastic treat! The sound and tech design included within one moment was natural, and lent a creepy vibe to the rest of the room. (And, amazingly, the bed was really comfortable to puzzle upon.) A specific atmospheric touch that we have seen a few times before was included in the best way we’ve ever seen, and provided a neat memento of our experience. The story line was great, and we loved how it included specific nods to another well known motel, and required players to uncover the mystery themselves. The puzzles were fantastic, and while the room does have some tech, it is a mostly mechanical style room, with tactile interactions that rely on player interaction rather than electronics. Searching and more basic puzzle styles are included as well, but aren’t banal, and are generally more loaded toward the initial stages of the game for some easy wins that get momentum going. One particular favorite puzzle involved an ah ha moment that went off when attempting to figure out what a specific item was used for. I really love how this room signposts players in such intuitive ways without being too obvious or overly obtuse. It is difficult to find that balance, and The Inncreeper does an excellent job! While the puzzles trend toward the easier side, they aren’t too simple, and still present a challenge that will appeal to players new and old!

Low Points:

There are some remnants of old or tweaked puzzles that we wished were still in place because the puzzles they hinted at seemed like they’d be an awesome fit for the room. One in particular, however, did create an unintended red herring for our group. There was also one instance of a repeated puzzle. These are otherwise pretty small negatives however.

Verdict:

Overall, The Inncreeper does an amazing job creating a spooky, if not overtly horrific, vibe. The marriage of the theme, puzzles, and story is well implemented, and we had a brilliant time from start to finish. The room flows beautifully, and presents an approachable, intuitive, and wholly fun experience we absolutely loved! I highly recommend checking Lockstar Escape out if you’re in the area, they are truly a gem! Book your time in the Miss Fortune Motel here!

9/10 (Excellent)

Backstage Escape Games – The Haunting of Hyde House (Review)

Location: Myrtle Beach, SC

Players:  2-8 (We recommend 3-5)

Price: $34 per person

Time to Escape: 60 minutes

Children are the spookiest.

Theme:

From the Backstage Escape Games website:

Built in 1891, Hyde House hosted families, foreign dignitaries, and heads of state, all guests of the prominent Hyde Family ‚Äď Harrison, Constance and their young daughter Isabella. Though stories conflict, the family‚Äôs sudden misfortune centers around the untimely death of Isabella, after which Harrison and Constance disappeared without a trace. Some believe it was an accident; others suspect a much more sinister fate. For decades, Hyde House sat vacant, its stately elegance deteriorating from time and neglect. Local legend began to profess a curse on the house, claiming tormented spirits haunted its halls. Paranormal experts and ghost hunters began to flock to Hyde House, and the house itself was deemed a historical landmark.Today, the Hyde House Historical Foundation hosts thousands of visitors to the home, but your group of guests is about to have an unforgettable experience. Abandoned by your tour guide, you‚Äôll become trapped in Hyde House and discover you are not alone. Little Isabella haunts the mansion, playing games and leaving puzzles to lead you to her most cherished friend, her doll Emma. With your help, she may have hope at last! Can you reunite Isabella with her doll and free her troubled soul from an Earthly purgatory?

First Impressions:

Our previous two trips to Backstage Escape Games have all been excellent! The games here have always been stunning, and when we visited last year, I happened to notice that there was a teaser for a new haunted mansion room! We were told that it would be opening in the summer, and while it took us a little longer than we wanted to finally make it out for Hyde House, we were raring to go when we finally did.

High Points:

Per usual for Backstage Escape Games, the set design is absolutely flawless. The opening brief is engaging and immediately captured our attention, and the sound design and practical effects that were employed throughout the room elevated the room to a Hollywood style escape experience! At no point did we feel disengaged for the adventure, as there was always something to do for our team of two, and the room continued to surprise us in the best of ways with new puzzles and rooms! The Haunting of Hyde House started us on the “outside” of our intended room, and presented this break in superbly, making for an awesome start to the experience. This whole opening sequence set the feel for the adventure splendidly, and got things off to a raring start that never slowed down. The vibe of this haunting is well presented, and gives off more of a spoopy, Scooby-Doo style of scares rather than a fully terrifying experience, ensuring that it remains fun for all types of players and horror comfort levels.

The game itself presents very clear goals as we moved forward within the game flow, and once we determined what puzzles were being presented, the room was very intuitive. Overall, the connections between each point were very clear, and we were not casting about attempting to figure out any leaps of logic or bypass any distracting red herrings. Though the room was almost completely linear, this worked well for us, and kept the game flow trucking along extremely smoothly. Two puzzles in particular provided some amazing moments of revelation, and it felt awesome once we had determined the clever logic behind these puzzles. One of my favorite interactions in the room involved a puzzle we had previously completed evolving into a whole new one through the use of some interesting haunted tech.

Low Points:

Two puzzles in particular are color focused, and the lighting in the room definitely does not help players differentiate between some of the more similar colors. This is a recurring problem for a lot of horror rooms that employ this type of puzzle in particular, due to the usual dim or spooky lighting, that could be relieved by having only a few very different colors included. A couple of puzzles are somewhat involved, but do not provide feedback though a sound cue or button press, so we just had to trust what we were doing was correct in both of these cases. Luckily, what we were doing made sense, overall, so it was mostly forgivable, but feedback would really help to solidify our choices. One early puzzle required a fair amount of aimless guess and check, and while there was a clear way to winnow down the initial selections, the amount of inputs and items we could use was still fairly large. The story of this room seemed lighter, overall, and though the puzzles were integrated well into the theme, a lot of the Why? tended to get lost between the cracks. The maximum eight players would feel very stuffed within this room, and due to the mostly linear game flow, I’m sure there would be several choke points where folks would be standing around while others solve.

Verdict:

The Haunting of Hyde House is a great game, with some amazing surprises hidden around every corner. While there are a few small hiccups, this one is absolutely not to be missed, and will be a great experience for enthusiasts looking for a fun challenge and new players seeking an hour of spine chilling escapes! I wholeheartedly recommend checking this, or any other Backstage room out. Book your time helping out Isabella here!

8/10 (Great)

Full Disclosure: Backstage Escape Games comped our tickets for this game.

Backstage Escape Games – Dark Winter’s Night (Formerly, The Cabin at Beachstone Lake) (Review)

Location: Myrtle Beach, SC

Players:  2-7 (We recommend 3-5)

Price: $34 per person

Time to Escape: 60 minutes

Santa’s not here right now.

Theme:

From the Backstage Escape Games website:

Are you ready for a chilling Christmas story?
In the small town of Parkview Point, something strange has happened at the long-abandoned cabin on Beachstone Lake. Quiet for years, the cabin has suddenly sprung to life with Christmas decorations and cheer. All across town, children noticed that their gifts under the tree and letters to Santa were missing, replaced with a terrifying note from Krampus. The half-goat, half-demon evildoer has challenged anyone to enter the cabin and escape with the gifts. If they do, then the town will experience joyful Christmas seasons for decades to come. If they fail, then Christmas will be forever canceled in Parkview Point.

First Impressions:

We happened to be in Myrtle Beach during December, and while this room runs all year, it seemed like the perfect time for some holiday themed escapes! Even better, this room wasn’t all warmth and tidings of good cheer, there’s a Christmas-hating demon on the loose to outwit! Krampus is such an interesting character, and to have a room revolving around him seemed like it’d be an excellent time!

High Points:

What an immersive room! The initial game briefing takes place at the front of the titular cabin, and sets the tone with a quaint exterior accentuated by whimsically tortured Christmas decorations. To add to the charm, a radio announcer comes over the loudspeaker to deliver the half-wacky, half-creepy story, and keeps the immersion going by starting up a fantastic Christmas themed playlist that’s ever so slightly ominous. The inside of the cabin is just as awesome, with perfect d√©cor and fantastic technology that removes you entirely from Myrtle Beach and transports you to the chilly winter world of Krampus! The story is well delivered through every facet of the game, whether it be puzzles, the evolving room itself, or the notes left behind, keeping us wholly engaged throughout the experience.

Puzzles are excellent, and highly varied, allowing for our team to divide and conquer this non-linear room. The game flow is hugely intuitive, and will make sense to even the newest of players with it’s tactile and creative interactions. Every step of the way gives excellent feedback, and so many of the creative enigmas housed inside the room are just pure fun to solve. It constantly feels like you’re truly working through the demented machinations of Krampus brought to life as you work through the many physical activities and manipulate the various props. There are a lot of hidden items, but they are stashed at key points during the game, ensuring the experience doesn’t become a glorified scavenger hunt, and the meta-puzzles build towards satisfying ah ha moments. Almost every step of this game is pure puzzle solving bliss.

Low Points:

There is one point within the room that can be absolute auditory torture if you don’t achieve your goal quickly. We did not, and our sanity eroded. I think that was the point, but still, that was rough. Near the end, I had flashbacks to a couple of the overly long puzzles from Backstage’s other room, The Legend of Atlantis. In an otherwise excellent game flow, these puzzles can really bog a group down, however, there was only one in The Cabin at Beachstone Lake, and I jumped on that grenade willingly since I tend to be at least decent at solving that type of puzzle. Our group of 3 was fairly comfortable in the room, but still tripped over each other now and again, so I can’t imagine stacking the maximum of 7 in here, so I’d recommend attempting this one with a smaller group if at all possible.

Verdict:

The Cabin at Beachstone Lake keeps up the stunning quality that Backstage Escape Games initially produced with Atlantis, proving once again they’re the bar for Myrtle Beach escape adventures! This room is perfect for anyone looking for a truly memorable outing, and if you’re in the area, you absolutely should try it out! Book your time matching wits with Krampus here!

9/10 (Excellent)

Full Disclosure: Backstage Escape Games comped our tickets for this game.

Break Out Myrtle Beach – Red Beard’s Revenge (Review)

Location: Myrtle Beach, SC

Players: 2-10 (We recommend 3-5)

Price: $28 per person

Time to Escape: 60 minutes

At this point, Black Beard needs to look out for me… I’ve robbed him at least five times!

Theme:

As part of Red Beard’s crew, you’ve infiltrated Black Beard’s ship! Apparently there’s a beard color based pirate war going on right now. Luckily Blue Beard isn’t here, that guy is creepy! Anyway, it’s time to get your revenge and steal the treasure you know Black Beard has squirreled away on his ship, but in order to do so, you’ll need to follow the clues hidden within. You’ll have to do it quick, however, since the ship is only docked for an hour. Once your time’s up, you’ll be off the ship, just hope it isn’t from a plank!

First Impressions:

While we were a bit underwhelmed by CSI: Myrtle Beach, it was the first time we’d been disappointed with this designer’s rooms. Upon entering Black Beard’s ship, we instantly knew this game was newer, as the set design was more up to par with what we are used to from Break Out. As a pirate aficionado, I was excited to bust through Black Beard’s ship once again!

High Points:

As previously mentioned, set design in Red Beard’s Revenge is up to the usual par for Break Out, with the whole area feeling like the underbelly of a docked ship. Lighting is done well, setting the mood without becoming too dim to see properly. The puzzle flow is fairly linear, with a couple points allowing for non-linearity for a short period, and can handle a group of 3-5. There were a few really engaging interactions, both of which were enjoyable variations on some old favorites. Most props and puzzles integrated well together in order to make intuitive sense for a good ah ha moment here and there. Our GM was engaging and helped with hints that she would graciously expand on when were contracted a case of the dumbs on one puzzle.

Low Points:

Luckily, newer rooms at Break Out Charleston and Myrtle Beach aren’t guilty of this, but older rooms tend to contain things that are hidden just for the sake of being hidden. These scavenger hunt items have thankfully fallen out of fashion in today’s market, but unfortunately they persist here. Aimless searching should generally be replaced by a puzzle or clue about how to find these items, as wandering around looking for secrets is fairly banal at this point. There are a couple points at which the connective tissue breaks down, making for some intense logical leaps we are still puzzling over, but overall the room doesn’t stumble down that path overly often. One particular puzzle requires some outside knowledge, which we luckily had but still, math in escape rooms feels more like homework than an engaging puzzle.

Throughout the experience, we ran across a lot of similar locks that required us to guess and check against each one once we had solved a particular puzzle. A bit of cluing as to what goes where would improve this facet of the room greatly. On the whole, the room feels like another puzzle room rather than a fully engaging escape experience, with a story that doesn’t really evolve beyond, “find the treasure,” and puzzles that jump in and out of theme. Reaching the conclusion is anticlimactic since there really isn’t a compelling story there, but it serves well enough as this room’s ending.

Verdict:

I can’t really say that Red Beard’s Revenge is a bad room, but it never really rises above average, as most rooms at Break Out have evolved past the early days design sensibilities seen in Red Beard’s Revenge, so I can’t say it’s too good either. Honestly, it’s a serviceable room that newcomers will enjoy a lot more than escape room veterans, but with four much better rooms rooms available at this location, I’d recommend trying out those instead. You can book your time Black Beard’s Pirate ship here.

5/10 (Mediocre)

Full Disclosure: Breakout Myrtle Beach provided media discounted tickets for this room.

Escape! Myrtle Beach – The Great Granny Rescue (Review)

Location: Myrtle Beach, SC

Players:  2-5 (We Recommend 2-4)

Price: $25 per person

Time to Escape: 60 minutes

Granny v. Girl Scouts: Dawn of Moonshine

Theme:

Your grandma has been kidnapped by the Girl Scouts! They’ve been branching out from cookies and have decided that moonshine is a better racket, so they want Granny’s world famous moonshine recipe. Unfortunately, her memory hasn’t been so good here recently, and she’s had to set up a series of reminders around her shack in order to recall how to make her alcoholic delicacy. The Scouts have given you one hour to get a sample for them or you’ll never see your dear sweet grandmother again, so be quick and solve her codes!

First Impressions:

What a perfectly bonkers theme! During our last trip out, we enjoyed the light hearted nature of Escape! Myrtle Beach’s other room, Race Against Time, and were told that The Great Granny Rescue was on it’s way, so when we returned, this room was a must play. Upon being led to the room and seeing the surprise waiting for us upon the door, (I won’t spoil it,) I knew this one would be hilarious fun.

High Points:

Upon entering The Great Granny Rescue, it was immediately apparent that the set design had been stepped up immensely! While Race Against Time was a fun game in its own right, it had a more basic environmental design to it, so our expectations were blown out of the water upon seeing how great Granny’s shack looked. It absolutely made me feel as though I’d just stepped into the home of an elderly southern lady, every touch was just right! All around the room were fantastic details that not only helped with the immersion of the set, but added humorous touches to the game we really appreciated. Escape! Myrtle Beach excels at actually making comedic themed games genuninely funny by going the extra mile to be original with their humor and storylines. The whole room had unique and charming puzzles sprinkled throughout, but didn’t feel cheap; I could tell this whole experience was a labor of love from the very start.

The puzzling experience is fantastic, with a non-linear flow that easily kept the two of us busy for the full experience. I can absolutely see a party of the maximum six staying busy and comfortable within this room, though enthusiasts will obviously have a better time with fewer players, and Escape! Myrtle Beach’s policy of private rooms will be a boon to these groups! Our GM was very attentive, (and a really witty guy,) and if we needed assistance or there was something in the room that could cause undue confusion, he was quick to help us out. The hint system works very well within the theme, and was a fun surprise for the point at which we needed it. The game itself works off a truly excellent flow, with connective layers weaving between each other in one of the most satisfying ways I’ve seen in Myrtle Beach. Everything culminates into an exciting climax that can filter towards one of two endings depending on your performance, which is a cool touch.

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Missed the #1 spot by five seconds! Curse our late game hesitation!

Low Points:

There were a couple points at which red herrings confused us, but they were very small and easily explainable. Most rooms tend to eschew their use nowadays, so it was initially confusing for us to see. The late game had a weird flow to it, with the actions required causing us to stumble a bit due to the necessity of getting things right the first time. There were also some props that became finicky in the late game, but everything else worked a charm.

Verdict:

All in all, this bonkers room absolutely deserves a play if you’re ever in Myrtle Beach. The hilarious storyline and wonderful game flow build upon each other towards an exciting conclusion and great escape! The guaranteed privacy is a definite plus, and I could really tell that Escape! Myrtle Beach was 100% committed to ensuring we had a fantastic time. You can book your daring Granny rescue here!

9/10 (Excellent)