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)

Sleuth Kings – Case 016: Flyer Fundraiser (Review)

Location: Your Home!

Players:  We recommend 1-4

Price: $29.95 per box

Eat your heart out Nancy Drew.

Theme:

Teenage crime solver Asuna Yukimura, inspired by the events of Case 009: Part-Time Thieves, has started the Flyer High Young Detective’s Club! She and her friends have solved a few small cases so far, but a recent theft of $40,000 from the school’s fundraiser inspires the Club to take on their biggest caper yet. Johnny Cavallo, Flyer High history teacher, currently stands accused of the crime, but the evidence against him seems just a little too convenient, so Asuna has asked Sleuth Kings to help her crack the case once again!

First Impressions:

Sleuth Kings is fantastic at developing fully realized characters, and Asuna is one of the most fun assistants Sullivan has ever worked with. Full of teenage bravado and witty quips, I was excited we would get to hear more from her during this case! As it is also a sequel of sorts to one of our favorite cases, Part-Time Thieves, we knew we were in for an excellent adventure once we cracked open the box!

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Join the Young Detective’s Club and solve the case!

High Points:

The puzzles within this case are phenomenal! Multi-layered, but approachable, with intuitive solutions and so many ah ha moments, they deliver a game flow that is incredible fun to work through. As always the puzzles are perfectly integrated into the theme, and wouldn’t feel out of place in any high school, with clever and sometimes devious little clues that are extraordinarily satisfying to solve. Though the case, we felt, was a little on the easier side, it never felt like a chore or dipped in quality at any point. We’ll take a shorter adventure of amazing quality over a three and a half hour slog any day! Still, there’s quite a bit to do, and the layers and connections between the clues and extra information will have you bouncing between each one in a flurry of excellent mystery solving!

Cracking codes at Flyer High is always a lot of fun, as the world-building that Sleuth Kings has done to bring the school to life is impressive! The nostalgia, frustrations, and teenage optimism that is conveyed throughout the case makes it so immersive, and it is woven expertly throughout the experience. The characters are brought to vivid life by dialogue so keenly on point you feel as though a teenager must’ve written it. Very rarely has a subscription box felt so realistic as this one, so I absolutely must commend everyone involved with writing this case! Beyond this, the case is chock full of fun easter eggs from past cases, and every time a new one popped up, it brought a smile to my face, so veteran Sleuths will definitely not want to miss this one! As a related side note, if you are interested in reading some of my life-changing poetry, this case is absolutely for you.

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Ah, my old Alma Mater is still printing my most popular poem to date on their lunch menus. Kinda miffed they’re calling me a senior… I’m only 29!

Low Points:

We were able to jump around in the story at the end by accident, which had us scratching our heads for a minute since we did things out of order, so some information was revealed early, but there was just one step we missed. We went back and solved the other part, and it was entertaining, though it was less surprising since the ultimate solution to that part had already been revealed. That’s mostly on us though, so it’s a very small complaint.

Verdict:

I am glad to say that Case 016: Flyer Fundraiser is a more than worthy sequel to Part-Time Thieves! Expanding on the setting and puzzling of the previous case while still filled to the brim with all the high school charm we loved so much, I absolutely recommend picking this one up, and snagging Case 009 as well for the full experience! This case can be purchased from the Sleuth King’s archives here, and if you’d like to subscribe to upcoming adventures, (which you absolutely should because Case 017 looks astounding,) you can use the promo code ESCAPEADVENTURE to get $5 off your subscription here! You can also read the rest of our Sleuth Kings reviews here!

10/10 (Phenomenal)

Full Disclosure: Sleuth Kings provided a complementary box.

Break Out Myrtle Beach – CSI: Myrtle Beach (Review)

Location: Myrtle Beach, SC

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

Price: $28 per person

Time to Escape: 60 minutes

Looks like he couldn’t… *sunglasses* escape his fate.

Theme:

The Myrtle Murderer is set to strike, and the only thing standing against them is your CSI team! You’ll need to head back to the scene of his last murder and solve the clues in order to unmask them and bring them to justice! Watch out, though, they may be closer than they seem.

First Impressions:

Despite a fairly shallow story, Break Out has always been a quality stop with some of the best games in South Carolina, so we were still very excited to get started. We’d been advised that while this room shares some similar puzzles with Break Out Charleston’s Escaping Death Row, it was different enough to constitute an original experience. I can definitively say this is true, but if you don’t want to repeat any puzzles or surprises, you might want to check out a different room if you’ve done Escaping Death Row before. This fact holds no bearing on my review of the room however, as the experience does hold up as a separate entity.

High Points:

CSI Myrtle Beach starts off interestingly enough, with a non-linear puzzle progression and a good flow to keep a larger group entertained. Again, perhaps not enough for the maximum ten people if you are a group of enthusiasts, but there is definitely a lot to do from the get go. There are several intuitive and entertaining puzzles and interactions to engage with, and some devious surprises to find throughout. One of my favorite puzzles in the room involves interacting physically with a prop in a very intuitive way, leading to a great ah ha moment.

Low Points:

After the initial stage of the room, the game flow and connective tissue breaks down quickly. Worse, the experience from that point forward is strictly linear, further frustrating things. The clever interactions and puzzling from the early game give way to a tenuous game flow and connections that can only be made from the largest logical leaps. Furthermore, there are two puzzles that require outside knowledge, both of which we luckily had, but still have no place in the room, as there’s nothing within the room that can assist with the solving other than having the answers already. This being an older room, there’s also a lot of the searching for hidden objects that you don’t really see much anymore as games have evolved to be more puzzle focused as a whole, and while it isn’t egregious, it’s not particularly interesting either.

The set itself is competent, if somewhat slapdash. It feels as though there are a lot of random items scattered about in order to create a room, without any clear, cohesive threads between them. This bleeds over towards the rest of the experience, as the theme and storyline never really come into play, and while there is a twist ending, it ultimately falls flat due to the fact that there is no set up to make a shocking finale matter. Unfortunately, this room is the first that we just didn’t really like at Break Out, and I believe it’s due to it’s age. While a puzzle room like this worked well in the early days of escape rooms, it has aged rather poorly.

Verdict:

All in all, CSI Myrtle Beach is a puzzle room, and not much more. It has a couple of good ideas here and there, but beyond those, there’s a palpable feeling of “been there, done that” to the experience. While classic games can still shine in today’s market, this one is past it’s prime in relation to the other rooms on offer in the area, including the others at Break Out Myrtle Beach. I’d definitely recommend trying one of those instead, and you can do so here.

4/10 (Subpar)

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

Break Out Myrtle Beach – The Curse of Volcano Island (Review)

Location: Myrtle Beach, SC

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

Price: $28 per person

Time to Escape: 60 minutes

What a beautiful island! Pity about the curse.

Theme:

After your plane crash-lands over the Atlantic, you and your fellow survivors piled into a life boat and began floating, hoping for sign of land or rescue. Your pilot has spotted an island in the distance, and you paddle towards it in the hopes it is inhabited, but unfortunately when you arrive the whole place is deserted. Even worse, you find evidence that the island is likely cursed as well! Your presence on this forbidden land has been noticed by some greater power, and you’ll have to break the curse quickly before the volcano in the distance explodes!

First Impressions:

We have very much enjoyed Break Out Myrtle Beach’s sister locations in Charleston, SC, (Elite Escape Games, Break Out Charleston, and Charleston Escape Game,) so on our most recent trip to Myrtle Beach, visiting Break Out was a no brainer! Our first steps into Curse of Volcano Island presented the excellently immersive set design we’ve come to expect from these locations, and we were thrilled to start our escape!

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There’s that excellent Break Out polish!

High Points:

Beyond the aforementioned set design, Curse of Volcano Island seeks to create a highly immersive experience by utilizing a great soundtrack and awesome lighting effects. All these touches combined really bring the adventure life in the best possible way. The game is set up semi-non-linear fashion, with a few puzzles or interactions to solve available during any given stage of the game, which generally lead towards a puzzle to open up the next stage. This would keep a mid-size group entertained and engaged throughout, as many of the puzzles require a fair amount of teamwork to solve. Most of the room is set up in such a way that progress is easy to gauge naturally and within the theme, with new props being obtained and new areas opening as the team solves their way towards saving the island, and themselves! Perception is challenged throughout the game, and outside of the box thinking is not only encouraged, but required to best the many original puzzles that are housed inside!

The game flow works excellently for the most part, with intuitive revelations to be uncovered constantly. The density of puzzles and fantastic integration within the theme will keep most groups happily engaged, though the maximum of ten might make for too many cooks in the kitchen when enthusiasts are involved. Technology is seamlessly integrated within the room, and creates an atmosphere of magic while still providing excellent feedback during play, keeping groups on track during the entire experience. The storyline is engaging, and while mostly front loaded, the climax is appropriately satisfying, and tied everything up nicely.

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The volcano belches smoke on the horizon!

Low Points:

At one point, a small process puzzle may stymie progress and leave larger groups with little to do. Our team somehow bypassed this one with what must be the luckiest run of events leading to a lock opening extremely early, but we still solved a portion to confirm how the puzzle is solved. Luckily, after our accidental advancement within the story, our GM confirmed our incredibly unlikely guess was a freak accident, and advised us to ignore this particular box so we didn’t accidentally derail the experience for ourselves! There are a lot of really intuitive puzzles and interactions, but for two or three moments in which cluing becomes very sparse, and you’ll either know just what to do or you won’t, and these portions of the game can really grind everything to a halt. Our Gamemaster was very helpful in hinting us back on track, but for the most part these sections seemed to require outside hints rather than relying on information intuitively gathered from the room itself. There are a few points at which it feels like deja vu when a puzzle type is repeated, but this isn’t overly egregious, and overall, the puzzle or interaction is changed up enough that it doesn’t become repetitious.

Verdict:

The Curse of Volcano Island is an immersive romp, if minorly uneven in parts. The story and set design are amazing, as usual, and the puzzles are original and engaging, though the flow tends to suffer from time to time due to some deficiencies in cluing. However, I recommend giving it a shot as on the whole our escape was a lot of fun! You can book your time on the island here!

7.5/10 (Good)

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

Time Traveler Escape Games – Lavinia Fisher’s Boarding House (Review)

Location: Charleston, SC

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

Price: $28 per person

Time to Escape: 60 minutes

Have a nice slay!

Theme:

You and your friends have been travelling all day in order to reach Charleston, SC, but the sun has just dropped below the horizon and you need to rest. Luckily, the Six Mile Wayfarer House is just down the road, and the congenial Lavinia Fisher has plenty of room for all of you. She offers you all a cup of tea while she prepares your room, andyou gladly accept. After you’ve settled down in the attic boarding room however, you begin to feel uneasy and find that the door has been locked from the outside! Unnaturally sleepy, you must fight through the effects of the now obviously poisoned tea, or fall victim to America’s first female serial killer!

First Impressions:

Like Dr. Trott’s Apothecary, Lavinia Fisher’s Boarding House is based off the local Charleston legend of the first female serial killer in America. An interesting take on the usual trope of escape room serial killers, a favorite guilty pleasure of mine, I was excited to see how this historically based game would turn out!

High Points:

The infamous Lavinia Fisher was notorious for poisoning her guests with tea, and our visit to the Six Mile Wayfarer House was no exception. After downing some Snapple tea, (which we all agreed was definitely not poisoned, no sir,) we were ushered into our accommodations and locked in! The historical building offered a very authentic looking boarding room, with strange architecture and interesting furnishings, keeping us immersed in the early American theme. There’s a particular prop that most enthusiasts have seen that is presented in a slightly more interesting way, keeping our usual distaste for it at bay. There are a couple original interactions that we really enjoyed, one of which required some excellent teamwork and communication. The puzzle threads lead towards a great reveal, showing us the startling handiwork of our host and bringing the creepy vibe which had only been hinted at throughout the early stages of the room. Slow burn horror truly is the best horror.

Low Points:

There is one particular part of the room that is technical in a way that doesn’t quite fit the overall adventure. The puzzles it is integrated with feel off theme and random; technical for the sake of having tech. Two early game puzzles are triggered by the same input, and the clues to open them are very similar, so we spent an undue amount of time spinning our wheels when we started up a later part of the game early, figuring that the original puzzle was solved. Luckily, the GM set us back on track after a while, but this could be prevented by having different input devices or making the interactions a bit less similar. A lot of the puzzles in the room are vague, without much connective tissue between them to lead towards intuitive solutions, and in some cases, we only figured out one of them because it looked like there would be some technical interaction at a certain point in the room. New players will have a lot of trouble in these spots, due to the already obtuse presentation of these puzzles.

The room itself looks very convincing, but unfortunately the ceiling is very low in points. I’m not the tallest player by any stretch of the imagination, but I banged my head no less than five times, even as I was trying to be careful not to. Our usual group didn’t play this one, but our over six foot teammate would’ve had a headache by the end of this one for sure. The room is otherwise spacious, and will fit the maximum of eight players, but the linear game flow really doesn’t. We had five, and it was really difficult to have more than two people physically working on any one puzzle; enthusiasts will find the flow very cramped. Again, as in their previous room, there is no timer, which can help or hurt depending on your preferences, but we really prefer to measure our time independently, so I mention it here. Finally, we had some severe trouble with the final puzzle due to faulty feedback, stretching an already banal interaction into a much longer ordeal. The climax wasn’t overly exciting, and made very little sense within the theme, which was disappointing given the much more engaging nature of Dr. Trott’s Apothecary.

Verdict:

If you have only a couple players, Lavinia Fisher’s Boarding House might be more exciting, but the game flow issues and uneven storyline make this room a hard sell. Newcomers will be frustrated by puzzles that seem to cater to enthusiasts being able to spot tech rather than being clued naturally, and enthusiasts will feel limited by the overly linear gameplay. If you’re visiting Time Traveler Escape Games, I definitely recommend trying Dr. Trott’s Apothecary instead, but if you want to try your hand at escaping the Six Mile Wayfarer House, you can do so here.

5/10 (Mediocre)

Full Disclosure: Time Traveler Escape Games comped our tickets for this room.