A-Escape  – Diner 51 (Review)

By: Johnathan Byerly

Location: Asheville, NC

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

Price: $25 per person

Time to Escape: 60 minutes


A nondescript diner in the middle of the desert.

A missing scientist.

A decoded signal from light-years away.

On the eve of humankind’s first contact with an arriving extraterrestrial fleet, you may be Earth’s final hope for discovering how it’s all connected.

First Impressions

Booking was easy and the staff were quick to respond to emails. Stopping in was a last-minute decision, so we were really happy with their responsiveness.

No video intros or instructions, the staff member is there to answer all your questions and tell you the story in person. A warm throwback to earlier days of escape rooms and happy to miss the often cheesy video introductions. After a very simple lobby and exterior, the game master led us into the diner and we were off!

Immediately we were impressed with the level of effort and detail put into the set design and theming. It was clean, shiny, and bright, much like you would expect a road-side diner.

High Points

This first room was amazing -. Bright colors, old-school diner booths, even a counter and register. It’s their newest room and their effort to make a quality room shows.

Many of the props were interactive and there were some great reveals. I loved there’s a final puzzle that you work on throughout the entire experience and the story leaves you with a critical choice that’s both fun and very thematic. Lots of backstory for those who like reading and reviewing props not directly related to solving a puzzle.

The design varied from being linear to bring us together to letting us each work on a puzzle in smaller groups or alone. There’s also some great hands-on puzzling.

Low Points

Sadly another major reset failure (and the use of a power-related prior puzzle in Abandoned Submarine) led to us turning off the power to half the building. Seriously, if no room ever asked me to interact with a breaker box, fire alarm, interior of wall sockets/light switches, or other obvious electrical systems it would be great. To their credit, the staff leaped into action and got everything up and running again within minutes. Still, we left feeling a bit embarrassed.

The second part of the experience clearly doesn’t have as much love and attention as the first part. While we loved the “E.T. Phone Home” style capstone puzzle, it was a little flimsy and touchy to use.


A unique take on the alien trope! I don’t know why more places don’t explore the classic diner experience, but it really made for something memorable. This is also one of the rare experiences that lets you make a choice on how your room ends.

You can book your experience by clicking here.

8 out of 10

Full Disclosure: We received a media discount on our ticket purchases

Giveaway! 2 Free Passes to Mystery Mansion’s Night Terrors


A quick announcement today, we have stumbled into possession of two free passes for Mystery Mansion’s Night Terrors, one of our favorite live online, avatar based escape games. Do not ask how we came to own these passes, it involved three goats, a very unnecessary murder, and a guy named Mitch. That’s all I can say.

If you’re interested in winning these free passes, stumble on over to our facebook page, here, and give us a follow, then like and comment on the contest post therein, and you’ll be entered. We’ll randomly select a winner in one week, 9/8/2021, and will let you know if you’re the lucky winner! Best of luck, and don’t get dead!

District 3 Escape Rooms – Interrogation Room (Review)

Location: Your Home via the Magic of the Internet!

Players: 2-8 (We recommend 3-5 players)

Price: $22 CAD per person (About $18.07 USD at the time of writing)

Time to Escape: 60 minutes

What do you know?!?!?


From the District 3 Escape Rooms website:

An investigation begins the day after an attempted heist at a museum. Despite being brought in for questioning as suspects, unease led to your attempted escape. Staying too long may lead to your arrest, or perhaps worse!

First Impressions:

We were excited to be invited back to District 3 as we had really enjoyed their Haunted and Cabin rooms, so when they asked if we were interested in returning, we instantly responded in the affirmative! The Interrogation Room seemed a basic theme, but we were sure that District 3 had something interesting up their sleeves, and we absolutely weren’t disappointed with the experience.

High Points:

Interrogation Room’s set is well produced, and the sterile seeming nature of the first room is brilliantly immersive and hides many of the surprises well. As we went deeper into the room, we were delighted to find out how so much of the room was well hidden in plain sight. The story also evolves well, starting off with a standard, “you’ve been held here even though you are innocent,” theme and blossoming into areas we definitely were not expecting! The whole experience utilizes Telescape well, and presents some of the puzzle items as well as our inventory in an intuitive way that ensures we always knew what was available to us. There were also a few awesome interactive elements that made us feel like we were affecting the room from our computers. Our avatar was also brilliant, making sure to react to things in the room and keep things light hearted as we moved along the puzzling branches. Our avatar also felt more like our teammate eschewing the, “well intentioned but unbelievably stupid person in the room,” style avatar that seems to be very popular with many other experiences. We had to engage with our avatar in order to solve multi part puzzles and other such interactions, which was great, and was definitely something I haven’t seen much of. The puzzles themselves were very intuitive, and fit nicely together once all the clues were available to us. There was even a bonus puzzle for us to solve, which if we could complete within the time limit, would provide us with bonus points for District 3’s leaderboards! The game wraps up everything well within the story, but leaves open the possibility of a sequel, which we are excited to play once it arrives! The distinct, ongoing stories of District 3 are fantastic, and we really love how they have been implemented; there’s very few folks who story lines like this, and District 3 does it very well.

Low Points:

.One of the puzzles didn’t work quite as smoothly online as we’d prefer, though we definitely think this puzzle would work a lot better live. It was a really cool idea, but just didn’t translate to the virtual experience quite as well as we’d like. There is one particular puzzle that can cause some confusion if an item is moved, and while we eventually solved it, it definitely was something that was easy to overlook virtually.


As always, District 3 has done an excellent job creating an interesting theme, engaging story, and immersive puzzling! We really enjoyed our time in the Interrogation room, and it was able to keep our group of 5 experienced escapists engaged for almost the entire hour. We highly recommend checking this one out, especially if you’ve enjoyed their previous online offerings. Get locked in the Interrogation Room here!

8/10 (Great)

Full Disclosure: District 3 Escape Rooms provided our team with a complementary game.

The Deadbolt Mystery Society – The Watcher (Review)

Kara’s Note: This review is brought to you by me! 😀

Location: Your Home!

Players:  We recommend 1-4

Price: $24.99 per box, plus $4.99 shipping

I always feel like… somebody’s watching me… and I get no privacy!


From The Deadbolt Mystery Society website:

Allison Zeller has a secret admirer. She thinks the mysterious guy is sweet enough at first until his behavior escalates past simple admiration and spirals into full-blown obsession. Someone is stalking her and growing impatient that they can’t have her. This infatuation culminates in a full-blown attack on Allison’s life, leaving her at death’s door. It’s likely that whoever did this to her will come back to finish what they started. Can you find out the identity of Allison’s stalker before it’s too late? Can you unmask The Watcher?

First Impressions:

*Trigger warning!* We really enjoyed solving this case, but due to the subject matter, it is unfortunately probably one of the more realistic “everyday” scenarios. As it pertains to stalking, I do want to note that this case could be triggering for some individuals, so just keep that in mind before doing this box.

Yay Points:

Deadbolt has remained steadfast in being one of my favorite subscription boxes, and it’s amazing to see how they’ve grown over the years. Not only have they been able to churn out quality content each month, but also, they’ve been able to refine and improve upon what I would’ve already considered pretty good set-ups. “The Watcher” is a fantastic example of how they’ve been able to take the best elements of previous boxes and apply them to provide a really fun puzzling experience.  

This was one of the longer Deadbolt boxes we’ve done recently, containing a multitude of conundrums that were all very intuitive. It was very clear which clues matched with their respective puzzles (even with some items containing elements for different puzzles), and their uniqueness ensured the gatekeeping of each solve was built into the experience. There wasn’t any “run of the mill” code breaking and you really get to use your detective skills to piece together the different bits of evidence to find out who the suspect really is. We were pleased to find that the suspect elimination method was more involved than previous boxes, and it was a very interesting way to flesh out the story while keeping us in suspense for who the culprit actually would be.

The story was presented in a more non-linear fashion than that of recent boxes, and was well crafted with intriguing characters. The design and style of props were varied and fit excellently into this story’s theme. In particular, the method of learning background information from and about the suspects was a thematically appropriate and effective way to learn about them. The thoughtfulness behind the design of another multifunctional item was appreciated and it was interesting to work with.

Pondering Points:

We found ourselves stumped at one point and weren’t sure what we were missing. After consulting the hints, we realized we completely overlooked what the answer was (despite recently solving it) due to its more ambiguous nature.

One of the items contained multiple pieces of evidence for the story. Although this approach was certainly efficient, it may have been helpful for some of the items to exist on their own, rather than just as a visual. This presentation made some a little easier to overlook when we were looking for what went with their respective puzzles.


“The Watcher” is an excellent choice for anyone looking for a well-designed case to solve! But don’t just take my word for it, 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!

9/10 (Excellent)

Full Disclosure: The Deadbolt Mystery Society provided a complementary box.