Escape Adventurer Gets Married! (and goes on hiatus)

In just a few short days, I’ll be getting married to the love of my life! It’s been an exciting and very busy last few weeks and months, and I’m so eager for the day to finally arrive. There’s still a lot to do, and a honeymoon to go on, so we’ll be taking the next few weeks off. Not to worry however, Escape Adventurer will return with new content beginning June 11th.

Kara, I love you more than words can express, but I will do my level best to make sure I show you how much every day. I cannot wait to spend the rest of my life with you, making memories and maybe escaping a room or two (or a few hundred, let’s be real.)

~Brandon

Codescape – Deep Space (Review)

Location: Charlotte, NC

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

Price: $28 per person

Time to Escape: 60 minutes

In space, no one can hear you scream

Theme:

From the Codescape website:

Is humanity truly alone? Radio signals have been received from a distant part of the known universe, suggesting the existence of intelligent life. As a team of exobiologists, you have been sent on a mission to deep space, in hopes of making first contact. But somewhere along the way, a breach has compromised the spacecraft’s security… Will you discover alien life, or will it discover you first?

First Impressions:

After a tangle with the ghosts in The Residents, it was time to shoot into space to deal with some aliens! This was our final room to play at Codescape, so we were interested to see how it played. It certainly looked interesting, and we’ve been looking for a great outer space themed game, so we were excited to get started!

High Points:

To start the game, there was a really fun technical interaction that encouraged teamwork from the start, and was a simple, yet fun start to the room with a fun payoff. Most puzzles and props were really cool, with some interesting designs throughout the game, most notably after solving the penultimate puzzle. The payoff to this is one of the most fun engagements I’ve seen in an escape room recently, and the unexpected nature of it just added to the experience. The set design was colorful and the soundtrack and lighting matched the theme well. Game-flow also worked, but with the caveat that it begins to break down after you have more than three or four players present within the room.

Low Points:

Unfortunately, the entire room began to feel rather same-y, as the mostly linear experience tended to boil down to the same type of interaction. While varied enough to veil this, a lot of the game can be seen as a “simon says” type room. Further, because of the mostly linear design and lower amount of puzzles, a maximum of eight players will definitely see a lot of the players facing large amounts of downtime with little to do. The biggest puzzles require a maximum of three people to comfortably complete before becoming an issue of too many cooks, and unfortunately, without buying out the rest of the tickets, there’s not much you can do to prevent overbooking. One particular puzzle presents a color based conundrum, but the lighting and solution choices tend to make several spots look overly similar, causing difficulty in solving not due to the challenge, but because the parameters of the interaction are not clear. During the final puzzle, the soundtrack is amped up with techno music that not only feels out of place, but is far too loud, adding artificial difficulty to a teamwork puzzle that relies on communication.

Verdict:

Deep Space is an interesting game that divided our group quite a bit. Some of us thought it was good, while others hated it. It all comes down to the fact that several folks ended up on the edges of the puzzles looking in due to the mostly linear game design and low actual maximum people that could work on any given puzzle. I’d say this is a fun room for beginners and those who can ensure that their group stays small, but if you’re looking for an experience that can handle more players, I’d look elsewhere. Book your expedition into the unknown here!

6/10 (Alright)

 

Unlock! Mystery Adventures: The Tonipal’s Treasure (Review)

Location: Your Home!

Players:  We recommend 1-3

Price: $14.99

Hoist the Black Flag!

Theme:

You’ve been on the trail of Captain Smith’s fabled buried treasure, and are on your way to Tonipal Island to claim it when the Governor throws you in prison for some contrived reason! Not coincidentally, the treasure hunter Johnson has started to make his way to the treasure himself, and will snatch it out from under you soon if you don’t hurry! You’ll need to escape from prison, find a treasure map, and enlist the help of a Voodoo practitioner along the way if you hope to succeed!

First Impressions:

The Tonipal’s Treasure is right up my alley, presenting a pirate treasure hunt full of swashbuckling adventure and devious puzzles! I noticed that the cards themselves were a bit different from their usual design, and this hinted at an excellent surprise that was in store for later. The full design of the game is one of the best in the series, and I couldn’t wait to see if the content matched the excellent packaging!

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Talking parrots, broken compasses, and a treasure to seek!

High Points:

The Tonipal’s Treasure is jam packed full of puzzles, and working through it is an absolute blast! There are loads of creative interactions to play around with, and at no point do any of the puzzles presented feel boring. This adventure is also full of surprises, as many of the cards will be used in creative and innovative ways, unlocking various ah ha moments every step of the way. The game flow is impeccable for the most part, with only one point creating a roadblock due to insufficient cluing. This treasure hunt is also the most challenging, but fair, Unlock! game I’ve experienced to date. The game presents several locations all across the fictionalized Caribbean, and there are always several puzzles to solve at any given moment. Regarding the puzzles, they’re highly logical, and do not require any strange leaps to be made, and on the whole, each one provides just enough hints to lead players to fantastic moments of revelation.

The atmosphere that is set up by the Unlock! app is also fantastic, boasting a Pirates of the Caribbean-esque score, and loads of audio hints that are revealed by many of the cards. Feedback from the app is great, and the ability to take hints, track time, and work on certain “machine” puzzles in a more interactive way all combine to bolster the experience and make it more immersive than a basic at home escape room. The story develops throughout the game, and though it isn’t particularly deep, it accompanies the game well, and presents a climactic and satisfying finale.

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It wouldn’t be an excellent Unlock! game without a friendly puppy to help you out!

Low Points:

One particular puzzle is very poorly clued, and involves a fair bit of math that doesn’t make much sense on the surface. Honestly, it feels as though there’s something missing throughout the solve, and the reasoning behind one number never made much sense at all until we realized that a certain letter was actually a number. If you’re unfamiliar with the metric system, this one will become even more difficult.

Verdict:

The Tonipal’s Treasure is a fantastic addition to the Unlock! line of at home escape games. Innovating on the basic formula and including loads of surprising new ways to interact with the cards, I highly recommend checking it out. A more difficult adventure, veteran players will definitely enjoy the challenge, but I don’t think newer players would be lost thanks to the excellent game flow and helper app. We bought ours at the ever excellent Atomic Empire in Durham, NC, check out their online store here!

9/10 (Excellent)

2017 Extra Life Charity Event

Hi Everyone! This is a quick break from your regularly scheduled Escape Room content to bring you an announcement about Extra Life 2017.

Every year, I run a charity drive through Extra Life in order to raise money for the Duke Children’s Hospital, a Children’s Miracle Network Hospital that helps care for sick kids, many from families who couldn’t otherwise afford the critical care they need. Extra Life unites thousands of gamers around the world to play games in support of their local Children’s Miracle Network Hospital. Since its inception in 2008, Extra Life has raised more than $30 million for sick and injured kids. This is our fifth year running the drive, and are looking to make this year the best one yet, but we need your help to do so! If you’ve enjoyed my site or just want to help kids in need, please consider making a donation, even as little as $5 helps a lot! 100% of your tax deductible donation stays local to fund critical treatments, healthcare services, pediatric medical equipment and charitable care. If you’d like to help out, just click the donate link to the right of the screen here! That would be amazingly cool of you!

Also, we have a tabletop RPG convention that we run in conjuction with our drive, Extra Life 4: A Fistful of Cheat Tokens runs annually at The Gamer’s Armory in Cary, North Carolina and features a plethora of RPG gaming to enjoy over the weekend of Nov. 4th and 5th. Sign ups for Raleigh Tabletop Roleplayers’ games are here and here. We also features tables for Dungeons and Dragons Adventurer’s League and Pathfinder/Starfinder Society. Not sure what these games are? No problem! The vast majority of tables are open to newcomers unless otherwise stated. Tables will be $5 or $15 for the weekend, and all proceeds for Convention play will go towards supporting the kids at Duke Children’s Hospital as part of the Extra Life donation drive. Donations above and beyond the registration cost are always appreciated! If you’re in the area, I hope you can attend!

Whether you are attending Extra Life 4 or just want to donate, I appreciate all the help you can give! If you have any questions about the drive, just let me know using the Contact form!

Thanks in advance!

Brandon Smith ~ Escape Room Adventurer