Location: Charlotte, NC
Players: 4-8 (We recommend 4-5)
Price: $28 per person
Time to Escape: 60 minutes
Under the Sea
From the Timed Out website:
One thousand miles off the African Somali coast, research station Sumundra sits on the ocean floor. Here scientists study the undersea ecosystem. But the station has gone dark, and the team is not responding to communications. The condition of the Sumundra and its inhabitants is unknown. Your team must descend 1,000 feet to the Sumundra, assess its condition and retrieve all records and research to prevent yet another mystery of the deep ocean.
Last year, we were highly impressed with Timed Out’s three rooms, but unfortunately, we weren’t able to try out their newest experience, Depth, as it hadn’t yet come out. It was a must visit for our next trip out, and was absolutely one of the most highly anticipated experiences for this trip. I’m happy to say it did not disappoint!
Depth is an absolutely beautiful experience, with an awesome set that immediately wowed us. I love how Timed Out designs their sets, and the way Depth is laid out is immediately immersive. Lighting and sound design work perfectly in tandem to create a really awesome environment to puzzle within, and all the elements combine to create a truly elevated experience. Puzzles are well themed, and all tie into the mission seamlessly, with an opening that tasks the separated players with getting the power on, and a progressive meta puzzle later that utilizes a big set piece fantastically. In fact, all of the set pieces within the room are beautifully integrated into the puzzling, and every item feels like an important piece of the Sumundra. Many of the props were custom 3D printed, ensuring they are highly original and look fantastic within the context of the room. These props lend a tactile feel to the experience as well, upping the immersion to help us feel like we are actually performing the scientific tasks required to complete our mission.
The game design is great as well, with an almost completely non-linear flow once the game gets going, and multiple teamwork puzzles that kept our group of six fully engaged for the most part. Though we began the game separated, both of the initial rooms feel like they have enough to keep everyone engaged, and there’s no “curse of the less interesting room” to be found here, as both had really fun puzzles to solve. One early stage teamwork puzzle is very clever, and though we somehow glitched past it due to our weird ability to accidentally open stuff, it is very well designed and was only glitchable due to the powerful aura of chaos that seems to surround our team, (with apologies to the no less than three businesses that have experienced freak power outages on days we visit.) During the most open ended parts of the room, we split into teams of two or three, flitting about between some of the coolest puzzles we’ve seen, racking up loads of satisfying ah ha moments as we discovered the hidden meanings behind the room’s many ciphers and clues. Most all of these puzzles involved a large, well designed set piece, adding to the cool, science-y feel of the whole game. In fact, it’s very hard to pick a favorite puzzle here, as all of them were so engaging and interactive.
The penultimate puzzle caused some severe frustration with our group. It is a teamwork puzzle, but is only for four players, so any additional players may be a little left out, especially if one of the tasks doesn’t appeal to their skill set. There was also a small technical glitch with my personal task that made things a lot more difficult. Overall, though, this is a fairly intense interaction that relies on a lot of dexterity and time pressure that did not translate well for our group, especially when we were milliseconds from victory but were forced to restart due to a minor error. Luckily, our GM sensed our frustration, (it wasn’t well disguised, sorry!) and overrode the puzzle for us, a pity move we highly appreciate and embrace with open arms. Though the room was definitely a lab, and was themed aquatically, we would’ve loved if there had been a little more to get across the feeling of being under water.
Depth is an astoundingly good game that kept us all frantically puzzling from start to finish, and minus a highly frustrating experience with a dexterity based puzzle that kept us fully under pressure, we had a wonderful time in this room! It’s certainly one of the most challenging experiences in Charlotte, so I’d recommend having a few rooms under your belt before taking it on, but enthusiasts will have a great time working out the challenges within, and newer players will still enjoy the experience as long as they are open to taking a hint or two as needed. Book your time cracking the mystery of the Sumundra here!
Full Disclosure: Timed Out provided comped tickets for our group.