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)

Last Second Escape – Dragon’s Keep (Review)

Location: Richmond, VA

Price: $25 per person

Players: 2-6 (We Recommend 2-3)

Time to Escape: 60 Minutes

Locks aren’t Magical.

Theme:

We landed ourselves a great find, a trove of dragon’s eggs! Like pure idiots, however, we decided to show the king, who has locked them away in a wizard’s tower. We’ve only 60 minutes to take them back before the King’s wizard returns to steal them away forever.

First Impressions:

Like Project 00, we were given a mumbled story about a Dragon and how we needed to recover dragon eggs we had found that were taken by the king. We told we were wizards, but instead of being able to wield magic during our quest like we did within Quest for Honor, I could see that we were going to be relegated to solving spin dials and directional locks like mere mortals.

High Points:

Entering the room, Dragon’s Keep had a lovely set design, similar to the polish of Mine Shift, evoking the spirit of an ancient castle keep. There were a few technological puzzles that began to evoke the feeling of magic that we were told they were going for, but unfortunately there were also several basic locks to muddle through as well, killing the magical mood. The ideas of the room, like most of Last Second Escape’s experiences, are great, but as can be seen below, the execution is lacking.

Low Points:

In a room that we were told was supposed to evoke a sense of magic, there were far too many modern locks, the likes of which you’d find in a high school or in a gym locker room. One puzzle that seemed to rely on correct placement triggered randomly, becoming a room-long joke for our group, and ending by falling completely flat when the tech shorted out, which was, according to an employee, due to pieces falling off of one of the props, which is inexcusable for a new room. Of course, this was noted as “interesting” by said employee, and no apology was offered. Another thing noted as unapologetically “interesting” by this employee was that a certain puzzle within the room had two valid solutions as presented, though only one worked, which caused us extreme frustration. Connective tissue throughout game flow was non-existent, leading to incredible confusion and random solutions. Another puzzle within the room was based on colors, which were difficult to see within the dim room, and adding insult to injury, the light sources given did nothing to help illuminate the parts of the puzzle we needed to see. The design of this game was extremely poorly thought out, presenting a nice looking package, but failing to deliver on all other fronts. Because of these many game issues, we needed to call out for a hint on multiple occasions. The first time we did so, we were greeted with two full minutes of silence, wasting our time until we finally grabbed the attention of the game master. This experience was a disaster on multiple levels.

Verdict:

Dragon’s Keep is a beautiful set that is mired in so many basic problems. All facets of our experience were in some way flawed, and we were just happy for it to end. Unfortunate breakdowns in game design and technological interactions leads me to caution against booking this room until it is fixed on multiple levels. If you’d like to check it out anyway, you can do so here.

3/10 (Poor)

Full Disclosure: Last Second Escape provided discounted tickets for our group.

The Deadbolt Mystery Society – Asylum (Review)

Location: Your Home!

Players:  We recommend 1-4

Price: $24.99 per box, plus $4.99 shipping

We’re all mad here!

Theme:

The Saturn Hills Asylum has been shaken by the murder of the Judas Killer, Wolfgang Koch! The circumstances of his murder have police baffled, so the Mayor of Valley Falls has contacted you to help solve the case. This one’s a doozy, though, as most of the suspects are the manipulative and murderous patients at the Asylum! Sift through the evidence and find out what sort of insane plot caused the Judas Killer to be hanged!

First Impressions:

The sight of another fantastically designed Deadbolt Mystery Society box on my doorstep was a highlight of my day! Opening up this box revealed a much heftier second case from Deadbolt, which is always a great surprise! We enjoyed Deadbolt’s first case Murder in 3B quite a bit, so seeing that there was even more to solve this go round was excellent! Already our favorite subscription box, we were excited to delve into this twisted mystery.

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Another crazy mystery begins!

High Points:

Asylum absolutely upped the ante with their second box! Not only does the mystery include more props and evidence to go through, the mystery itself is much more involved, including numerous side stories, online components, and great codebreaking to tackle. Though the side stories aren’t quite as humorous as their previous box, they are engaging and provide realistic clues that immerse you into the world and social dynamics of Saturn Hills Asylum perfectly. We were happy to see that hints and the solution document were separated from the in universe files, which kept us within the world of the Asylum. The puzzles are presented in a believable way, with hidden details pointing you toward each new breakthrough. The props are great, and fit with the theme well, intertwining with the mystery and becoming more integral to the story than in most other subscription boxes. One particular Easter egg was hidden in plain sight and provided us with a particularly interesting moment of realization, occurring just in time to begin unraveling a deeper conspiracy than we had originally suspected. The story is self-contained, and resolves with an excellent climax and explanation, while still hinting that we may not have seen the last of Saturn Hills and its colorful cast of characters. Except Wolfgang. You know, on account of the hanging.

Low Points:

Connections could feel a bit more vague during this investigation, and while we correctly determined the killer, it felt like it was due to our full elimination of other suspects rather than solid evidence pointing toward them. Though there are reasons for the suspect to be the killer, we weren’t as 100% sure as we were regarding the Murder in 3B case.

Verdict:

Asylum upped the bar for The Deadbolt Mystery Society and subscription boxes overall, further cementing them as the standard all others should be measured by! Crafting an excellent self-contained mystery that left us wanting more, I cannot recommend this box enough! I’m really hoping we get to see more from the cast of crazed characters residing within Saturn Hills in the future, and cannot wait for next month’s box, The Haunting of Indigo House! Join the Deadbolt Mystery Society here! Right now, you can get 30% off your first box with the Promo Code TRYDMS!

9.5/10 (Excellent)

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

Last Second Escape – Project 00 (Review)

Location: Richmond, VA

Price: $25 per person

Players: 4-8 (We Recommend 2-4)

Time to Escape: 60 Minutes

It’s not The Bomb.

Theme:

This one is dicey. The website (as of this writing,) says that we’re a team of elite agents who, after taking out a cell of terrorists, need to shut down the launch of nuclear warheads. The Gamemaster said we were spies who needed to break into a hideout and disarm some bombs. The game itself made it out to be a training exercise. What’s the real theme here? Your guess is as good as mine, honestly.

First Impressions:

We’d had a couple of average to poor experiences so far with Dark Carnival and Mine Shift, respectively, but these could be chalked up to newness of the room or unfortunate errors, and both rooms seemed to have potential. Since Project 00 was an older room that Last Second Escape had more time to make adjustments with, I was cautiously optimistic that this might be a better experience.

High Points:

I really liked the laser maze. These are fairly ubiquitous within a lot of escape rooms, but I always have fun doing them. At the beginning of the room, one of us was handcuffed to a briefcase, which was an interesting start, but that spot of interest was short lived.

Low Points:

This room was an absolute train wreck for the most part. At the beginning, the gamemaster mumbled a mostly incoherent story to us, which did nothing to excite us for the mission. Once we found a black light, we were supposed to use it in several uninspired shine-the-black-light-everywhere “puzzles.” To reiterate my thoughts on black light over-reliance, when there are no clues to direct you, which was the case here, it’s just lazy game design. Unfortunately, this was one of the most egregious examples of black light abuse I’ve ever seen, and it showed within the already choppy game flow. Another broken puzzle revealed itself to us almost immediately, but we were assured we’d be able to use it properly later in the game. However, the puzzle never worked due to it being completely worn away in most spots. At no point was an attempt made to correct this severe error, nor was an apology given while we were there. Randomly placed solutions were presented as puzzles, which did nothing to dissuade us from our thought that this game was even more poorly crafted than the others we’d experienced at Last Second Escape. Set design was also incredibly uninspired, feeling sparse and nonsensical in one particular area. The room felt like a converted office space, and was not immersive in the slightest. There were no puzzles we had not seen before implemented more interestingly, and by the time we reached the half way point of the room, I wanted nothing more than to finish up so it could be over. This is, by far, the worst room of the eight we did during our Richmond trip. In fact, I’d put it in my bottom 10 as well.

Verdict:

There is so much that needs to be overhauled to make this room recommendable that I would advise scrapping the whole thing. Whereas the other rooms at Last Second Escape were good ideas with somewhat flawed implementation, this room was just horrible throughout. You can definitely do better, but if you would like to book Project 00, you can do so here.

2/10 (Bad)

Full Disclosure: Last Second Escape provided discounted tickets for our group.

Last Second Escape – Mine Shift (Review)

Location: Richmond, VA

Price: $25 per person

Players: 4-8 (We Recommend 2-4)

Time to Escape: 60 Minutes

Willy’s a moron, do we really want to save him?

Theme:

Old Willy’s been working at the old mine for a good long while, and though it’s hard work, he’s always been cheerful and upbeat! In fact, he thinks he’s found what could be his ticket to retirement, so he’s gotten a head start on the day, sneaking into the mine early to get a jump on extracting some gold! Unfortunately, he’s caused a cave-in, trapping himself inside. It’s up to you to save him, but you’ll only get an hour since Willy’s rigged some dynamite to explode!

First Impressions:

Mine Shift was another interesting theme, and the set looked very much like the mine it was supposed to represent, but we were given two extremely poor lights, both of which needed new batteries. We were eventually given said batteries reluctantly after being told they were, “supposed to be dim,” but one still had a short, making our experience immediately frustrating. Not a great start.

High Points:

The technological interactions provide good feedback letting you know when an item is in place and tend to work smoothly. Set design, for what we could see, was well done, feeling like an old prospector’s mine, but at the same time was not overly claustrophobic. The theme was original, and bits of story could be found, accompanied by Willy’s commentary. When puzzles were good, they were very well implemented, but as we came to find out, the bad really started to compound upon itself as we got further into the game.

Low Points:

Reset errors in this room really tanked our experience, and had we not been able to use props to “glitch” past the roadblock, this room would have been rendered unsolvable at best. What really irked us about this is that when it was noticed that a critical piece we needed was located behind the lock it was intended to open, the staff member simply mentioned that that was, “interesting,” failing to offer any sort of recompense or, at the very least, an apology for the blunder. Funnily enough, the room was technically “won” one minute in when I found the box that contained our goal already open. I was initially confused as to why I needed this item until upon a second look at the box, the reset failure became clear. Puzzles made little sense thematically because, as one teammate mentioned, “If Willy is such a weapons-grade idiot, how is he setting up all these logic and math puzzles?” Though there are several technological interactions, a lot of puzzling is presented via laminated handouts, which was highly uninteresting. One of these aforementioned puzzles has two possible solutions, with no way to rule out which is correct, causing an unnecessary guess and check element. Last Second’s love affair with black light overuse became wholly apparent beginning in this room, leading to groan-worthy “puzzles” and smacked foreheads. Some puzzles within had obvious clues towards solutions, but did not have a way to suss out their order, creating even more guess and check nonsense. A lot of puzzles had audio cues that repeated if you moved or removed the items, which slowly eroded our sanity.

Verdict:

Mine Shift really should be Last Second Escape’s best room, but our experience was absolutely destroyed through a combination of reset failures, finicky puzzles, and staff indifference. Though there are some puzzles that would count as a minor groan here and there, these issues magnified the problems within the room and conspired to deliver one of the most subpar experiences we had in Richmond. Until these problems are fixed at a basic level, I’d give this one a miss. You can book your time with Willy here.

3.5/10 (Poor)

Full Disclosure: Last Second Escape provided discounted tickets for our group.

The Resystance – Box 2: Prohibition (Review)

Location: Your Home!

Players:  We recommend 1-4

Price: $30 per month

Resyst.

Theme:

From the Resystance website:
We are in danger from unknown forces that conspire against us. The air you breathe, the water you drink, the land beneath you is no longer yours. Perhaps it was never yours. There is no security left in this world. We must band together. Resystance Leaders will be communicating shortly to reveal the danger and train you. History has much to teach. We must fight back, but great danger lies ahead. Be careful. Be safe. Be anonymous. Resyst.

Sounds mysterious, and it is!

First Impressions:

I was initially not sure what to expect from The Resystance. The website seemed to hint at a shadow war that was on the horizon, with agents from both sides battling for an unknown cause. An audio file we received after signing up also promised that The Resystance itself would be contacting us in order to train us to fight against those endangering our world. We received the promised correspondence within a suitably plain box stamped with the Resystance logo, cementing the aura of mystery that surrounds the experience.

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A suitably mysterious box!

High Points:

When we began our training mission, we found ourselves transported to Prohibition Era America! We were given a letter of introduction from Resystance leaders as well as a few intriguing items and a newspaper to get us started. Within the box there were a couple of envelopes that we were to keep sealed until we reached a certain part of the story, and this functioned as a great way to dole out new pieces of the story as well as more props and puzzles! It was always clear when we had solved the puzzle correctly and were allowed to move forward with the envelopes, providing a more structured progression to the box’s game flow. This was a great and highly original way to keep our focus on certain parts of the game, preventing the sometimes mercurial nature of some subscription boxes from infecting the experience. Puzzles were masked well, but enough direction was given that we did not feel lost in any way, and once we had found the threads we needed, it became clear what our goal was through several satisfying ah-ha moments! The props themselves were high quality, and extremely enjoyable to use, and the newspaper especially was an amazing treat to work through. As this was only the second box produced by The Resystance, I’m looking forward to seeing the items and mysteries in store for the upcoming boxes!

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Time-travelling tools!

Low Points:

We received one set of items at the outset that felt out of place, which probably would have made more sense had it been inside one of the progression envelopes. This was later explained to be a minor shipping error, which is completely understandable. The training mission set up is an interesting way to start the storyline, but we didn’t get any insight into the meta-narrative just yet, beyond a audio introduction when we signed up, which was a slight disappointment. Hopefully going forward we’ll get a clearer picture of what lurks in the shadows!

Verdict:

The enigmatic nature of The Resystance was a great set up, and though I expected a more cloak and dagger storyline, the time-hopping training adventure was engaging and presented a great challenge! I look forward to seeing how the storyline develops, and how our training might develop into the meta-narrative and recommend those intrigued by a long term mystery to give this one a shot! Use the promo code ESCAPERA for 10% off and join the Resystance here!

8.5/10 (Great)

Full Disclosure: The Resystance provided a complementary box.

Last Second Escape – Dark Carnival (Review)

Location: Richmond, VA

Price: $25 per person

Players: 4-8 (We Recommend 2-4)

Time to Escape: 60 Minutes

Carn-evil!

Theme:

Once a year, the Carnival comes to town, bringing games, rides, and popcorn to the people of Richmond! It also brings a shadowy ringmaster, who steals away children, disappearing them from this world forever. With the vanishings always happening around the time of the carnival, you’d think you’d have the sense to keep away, but for whatever reason, you’ve come to this Dark Carnival and now you must escape before the ringmaster comes for you!

First Impressions:

The set here was simple, but a nice set up of carnival-like games and bright colored lights, and the theme of a bleak, sinister carnival appealed to our team greatly. We were definitely excited to see what dark secrets were hiding just beneath this cheery exterior as we began our adventure!

High Points:

The initial part of the game involves many great carnival game themed puzzles, which are a delight to figure out and execute, with physical interactions mixed within the intellectual ones, varying the game well. The bright designs bring the carnival to life within a simpler set, still bringing a sense of immersion to the theme. Technological interactions are interesting, and bring the room to life in an interesting way.

Low Points:

Unfortunately, the Dark Carnival never really got that dark. We were expecting a sinister horror theme, but it never manifested, instead presenting the bright carnival and what felt like a back office rather than the lair of an evil, mysterious ringmaster. If this had been more of an Escape the Carnival theme rather than a Dark Carnival one, it would’ve fit the room better. One puzzle relied on color and positioning, but two of the colors were extremely similar to the point we could not tell the difference, taking what was originally a fairly interesting puzzle and making it a game of guess and check. A puzzle that was presented soon thereafter had a standard method of solving, but the presentation was banal and even worse, it did not work properly at all, forcing the GM to enter the room and give us the code. The sensors for what could’ve been an incredibly fun carnival interaction were jostled out of place, and when we brought this up to the Gamemaster as an issue, we were told that they were aware, but there wasn’t really anything they could do about it. The connective tissue of the rooms is very sparse at times, leading puzzles to become guessing games of degrees. In these cases, the addition of a simple clue could have solidified solutions instead of leading to vague approximations. There was also an intentional red herring, which did nothing to make a completely bland final puzzle any more interesting, further highlighting that this particular puzzle didn’t have much going on for it, ending the room anti-climatically.

Verdict:

Dark Carnival promises an interesting theme and doesn’t quite deliver what is expected. Though there are a fair bit of great carnival puzzles in the beginning, mishaps and messed up props marred the experience throughout. Last Second Escape has a great idea, and a good foundation to build an excellent game upon, but right now, there is still a good bit of work to be done. This is definitely their best game so far, but I can’t recommend checking it out quite yet, as it is an average disappointment for now. Fixing the issues, connecting the game flow more smoothly, and adding a more sinister air to the room would do this room a huge service however, and I hope they can improve it in the future! You can book your escape from the Dark Carnival here.

5/10 (Mediocre)

Full Disclosure: Last Second Escape provided discounted tickets for our group.

Escape Room RVA – Vanity (Review)

Location: Richmond, VA

Price: $25 per person

Players: 2-6 (We Recommend 3-4)

Time to Escape: 60 Minutes

You’re beautiful, dahling!

Theme:

The theme of this room is actually quite mysterious, and anything I could write to encapsulate the theme myself would spoil some of the revelations gained inside the room, so I’ll just provide you with the description from Escape Room RVA’s website here:

“Stare into a mirror long enough and you will ultimately discover the truth. Past the ever present glow of the cell phone screen the unvarnished reflection of the worlds most famous starlet Beatrice Mary proved too much for her fragile mind. Follow her footsteps into the madness.”

First Impressions:

From the moment we entered Beatrice’s dressing room, it was obvious that she was obsessed with herself. The enormous amount of mirrors and self-indulgent items really gave us an instant picture of the personality of our subject, even before the game began. The sense of mystery that pervaded the room was all we needed to peak our interest greatly.

High Points:

This was a highly different experience than your usual puzzling fare, telling a moody tale of depression, aging, and dependence that I’d never expected an escape room to pull off, but Escape Room RVA pulls it off naturally and with style. The transitions between stages of the rooms were all highly surprising, at times jarring, and launched the narrative forward in directions we never saw coming. Alex, again, was an awesome game master, interacting with us and providing a great tone to the room as we progressed. Some really original interactions were included, combining a cliché trope with a truly fantastic clue to make a puzzle that would’ve been forgettable in any other room and make it memorable. There was another heavily interactive portion of the room that used a technical prop to augment our reality in an astounding way.

Low Points:

One particular puzzle could have used a little more cluing, as it made sense once we realized the answer, but came across as a slightly damaged prop. This particular interaction feels as if it was next to unsolvable without a hint, due to it’s nature, but I could be wrong here. There was a particular puzzle as well that had some misleading language within it’s clue, leading us to believe we did not have enough to solve the puzzle when in actuality, we had almost solved it already. This puzzle also involved a fairly drawn out process that ceased to be interesting before it was over.

Verdict:

The twists and turns of Vanity are great fun, and while there are a few blemishes here and there, (beyond those Beatrice tries to hide,) it is a solid adventure that touches on deep themes you don’t usually experience within an escape room. I think this room is best for mature players, as younger ones may not fully understand the dark storyline inside, but I do still recommend giving it a shot. Investigate Beatrice’s descent into madness here!

7.5/10 (Good)

Full Disclosure: Escape Room RVA provided discounted tickets for our group.

Sleuth Kings – Case 006: The Show Must Go On (Review)

Location: Your Home!

Players:  We recommend 1-4

Price: $29.95 per box

Super Sleuths!

Theme:

Sleuth Kings is a private detective agency run by Sullivan King, who took over the family business after his father Isaac’s disappearance in 2017. Since he’s been heavily engaged with investigating what has happened to his father, he’s needed to outsource some of the cases that come across his desk. That’s where you come in! Case 006’s summary is as follows: Eva Verde was on the cusp of having her dreams come true: she was hired as the director for the comedy-horror musical Smilin’ Jack. Everything was perfect until otherworldly threats spooked her cast into refusing to perform. Now, unless Sullivan can figure out what’s going on, Eva’s career will be over before it starts. Can you help Sullivan end the ghostly threats so that the show can go on?

First Impressions:

Inside of the Sleuth Kings box, there was a rolled up poster for the aforementioned play: Smilin’ Jack, and a file folder containing the rest of the materials for the case. There were quite a few interesting items included within, and the accompanying story was definitely well presented through these authentic-feeling props!

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Evidence and related items from Smilin’ Jack!

High Points:

Sleuth Kings masterfully wove together the puzzles and an evolving storyline with style. The introduction provided a clear starting point, but allowed us to explore the evidence at our own pace, should we so desire. A great addition that allowed us to adjust the difficulty of our experience was a separate note with Sullivan’s preliminary thoughts about the case and analysis of each clue. We could disregard this note for a more challenging experience, or refer to it in order to simplify the case somewhat. We decided to use this as a hint sheet when we got stuck, giving us a nice mix of challenge, but not leaving us high and dry when we needed a nudge. Speaking of the hint system, throughout the case, you’ll be in contact with Sullivan via email, adding greatly to the immersion and can contact him for help working out a puzzle at any time. No ordinary chatbot, Sullivan’s emails felt very genuine and added to the experience overall. Puzzles were an appropriate test of our skills, without feeling overly convoluted or obscure, and each section brought us a step further toward discovering the culprit! One interaction in particular was extremely original, providing a fun solution that we certainly did not expect. Another fantastic addition to the immersion was once we had completed the case and let Sullivan know who or what was behind the threats, we were told he’d be in touch regarding a thank you from Eva soon. This epilogue was delivered via US Mail, and contained a satisfying conclusion as well as another surprise, a new puzzle that tied into the metanarrative regarding Sullivan’s father!

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But wait, there’s more!

Low Points:

Although the interaction with Sullivan was an excellent touch, adding to the experience greatly, there were points where we were waiting for him to get back to us while we had nothing further to investigate. Though it afforded us plenty of time to stock up on snacks, it did bring the experience to a halt a few times. It’s a minor gripe, though, and what it adds to the adventure is definitely worth it. We also found that for one puzzle that we had an extremely hard time with, once the first hint is given by Sullivan, you’re given the option to let him know that you’re lost. We figured this would contain a more directed hint, but unfortunately we were told that he’d figured it out, and we were just given the answer. It would’ve been nice to know that we’d be giving up on the puzzle when we emailed back, but we were almost to that point anyway, so it wasn’t too much of a worry. The only other thing was that while we enjoyed the epilogue, since it is spaced out we didn’t feel like the climax really took off as well as it could have. Again, these are minor things that are eclipsed by what they add to the experience.

Verdict:

Sleuth Kings provides a top notch experience that provides a sense of immersion I’ve not seen matched by other subscription boxes so far. By allowing you to interact with the detective, and the terrific epilogue to the story, you really feel as though you are part of the Sleuth Kings world! I definitely recommend giving this one a shot if you’re a seasoned puzzler, since the difficulty is a bit higher than other experiences, but everyone can enjoy it due to a great multi-layered hint system! You can use the promo code ESCAPEADVENTURE to get $5 off your subscription here!

8.5/10 (Great)

Full Disclosure: Sleuth Kings provided a complementary box.

Escape Room RVA – Lost Jewel of the James (Review)

Location: Richmond, VA

Price: $25 per person

Players: 2-8 (We Recommend 3-5)

Time to Escape: 60 Minutes

Escapers Never Say Die!

Theme:

The Jewel of the James, a famed pirate ship captained by the great Captain Morrow, has been sought after by treasure hunters for centuries since it’s disappearance in 1715. Your group of treasure hunters has finally tracked down the most promising lead yet, which has led you to the wreckage of what you are sure is the Jewel! Other treasure hunters are on your trail, however, so you’ll need to work quickly to figure out the puzzles and traps hidden throughout the ship in order to find the treasure and escape the wreckage!

First Impressions:

As we entered the Jewel of the James, I was highly impressed by the elaborate feeling of immersion that the design of this pirate ship provided. Highly detailed and authentic feeling, this is easily the best pirate themed set I’ve experienced yet! Set design isn’t everything, but this had me optimistic for what was to come.

High Points:

Alex was our game master again for this room, and his voice acting and excitement lent the room a high energy vibe that carried throughout the experience. As a side note, the staff at Escape Room RVA are a delight to interact with, and were a fantastic group! Many puzzles led to greater and greater surprises, all of which were hidden expertly, revealing a much larger experience than we first imagined. The set design, other than being highly immersive, also played with the space so well that we were unable to tell where the final exit could possibly be! The game flow works like a well oiled machine, leading us around the room expertly, but holds back just enough information to deliver a wonderfully crafted challenge. Props are used in unexpected, but intuitive ways, allowing for a bevy of unique puzzles to shine.

Low Points:

We figured out one puzzle out of sequence, as we hadn’t received the clue for it just yet, but it did not trigger as the Game Master let us know he doesn’t allow it to activate until the clue has been found. While we appreciate the effort to prevent us from getting confused by solving the puzzles out of order, this created a new sense of confusion since we had already solved the riddle. Perhaps gating the item along with the clue would eliminate both types of confusion in the future. One clue had us floundering due to an unintentional red herring, as it referenced a certain area that we came to find out we no longer needed to interact with.

Verdict:

Lost Jewel of the James provides a highly interactive and stunningly gorgeous experience, immersing you in your own Goonies-like adventure. Providing a difficult, but fair challenge, this room is definitely one you do not want to miss if you’re in the Richmond area! Book your search for the lost jewel here!

8.5/10 (Great)

Full Disclosure: Escape Room RVA provided discounted tickets for our group.