Xscape – Bomb Squad: It’s All Wired! (Second Look Review)

Location: Hudson, NC

Players: 2-10 (We recommend 4-6)

Price: $20 per person Tuesday-Thursday, $25 per person Friday-Saturday

Time to Escape: 60 minutes

It’s still the bomb!

Theme:

The terrorist known as Omega has rigged up a nuclear bomb in his dingy, hidden apartment, and your bombsquad team has been tasked with making sure it doesn’t go off! Navigate his traps and puzzles to find the nuke, and disarm it carefully so that you can be the heroes of the day, rather than bits of ash at ground zero!

Xscape_Bombsquad_01

First Impressions:

This review might seem to be a bit of deja-vu, and if so, it’s because we’ve played Bomb Squad once before, about a year ago. During that game we experienced a major game mastering error that prevented us from escaping, and after speaking with the owner, they wanted to have us back to try again on the house so that we could have the full experience. It took us a good while, but we finally made the trek back so that we can more fully review this room! This is the first time we’ve ever replayed a room, but luckily, we were able to bring some newbies along, and we had forgotten most of the details of the previous experience.

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High Points:

I am extremely pleased to report that many of the issues we experienced during our last outing to Xscape have been remedied. Our game master was excellent, and provided a fantastic briefing and supportive clues when needed, all within the game flow. Gating issues we came across previously have all been eradicated, as puzzles we were able to previously solve out of order to no effect have been corrected to ensure this is no longer possible, and the aimless seek and find that featured heavily before was eliminated in favor of much more elegant, but still challenging, interactions.

The set design of Bomb Squad is still top notch, even a year later, and though I’m sure hundreds of teams have puzzled their way through Omega’s lair in the interim, the room still looks fantastic, with zero wear and tear in sight. The sense of immersion we felt within the room is spectacular, and the soundtrack, storyline, and lighting effects all heighten the feeling throughout. The story is fantastic, and new tidbits are delivered through humorous cut scenes peppered throughout the experience, providing a bit of comic relief during the intense adventure. Some unexpected twists fake out even the most hardened escape veteran, and the game is all the more exciting for it.

The game flow is spectacular and promotes teamwork throughout, focusing on good communication and tight puzzling, and although it is generally linear, no one was left standing around to wait for other puzzles to solve. There are several points in which the room became non-linear, and the interactions during those sections were well suited to dividing and conquering. The game also provides a very challenging experience, which demands keen observation skills and some really out of the box thinking, but does not stoop to obtuse puzzles or unfair interactions to artificially heighten the challenge. A mostly lockless experience, the tech that makes up the bulk of the room is well hidden, producing an escape that is continually full of surprises throughout. Even basic puzzles are presented in clever ways, spicing up what would be simpler interactions with a touch of cool tech and fantastically remastered gameplay. Overall, this version of Bomb Squad is superb, clearing up old issues and providing one of the best escape experiences in North Carolina!

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Low Points:

The only thing I think we had a problem with during this adventure was the video scenes. The dialogue is great, but sometimes difficult to hear during the game, especially when running from another room in order to see what’s happening. Even when in the same room, however, it can be difficult to decipher what’s being said. A small adjustment to the ambient noise or a louder dialogue track might help, but barring that, it might be helpful to include subtitles for those having trouble hearing.

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Verdict:

Our second run through Bomb Squad was even more amazing than the first, delivering an experience that is tactile, surprising, and most importantly, purely fun. It was great to see the improvements made, and I’m happy to be able to highly recommend this beautifully crafted experience. As I said before, Bomb Squad is absolutely worth the time and money, and is densely packed with clever puzzles to solve! Book your time in Omega’s lair here!

9.5/10 (Excellent)

Full disclosure: Xscape provided comped tickets for our team.

Xscape – Bombsquad: It’s All Wired! (Review)

Location: Hudson, NC

Players: 2-10 (We recommend 4-6)

Price: $20 per person Tuesday-Thursday, $25 per person Friday-Saturday

Time to Escape: 60 minutes

It’s the bomb!

Theme:

The terrorist known as Omega has rigged up a nuclear bomb in his dingy, hidden apartment, and your bombsquad team has been tasked with making sure it doesn’t go off! Navigate his traps and puzzles to find the nuke, and disarm it carefully so that you can be the heroes of the day, rather than bits of ash at ground zero!

Xscape_Bombsquad_01

First Impressions:

Xscape is in Hudson, NC, a town I wasn’t even aware existed until I started a search for escape rooms near an event I was attending with my girlfriend and escape partner in crime. For me, this is a good thing, as any time I find an escape room in the proverbial middle of nowhere, it’s always been this top notch oasis in the middle of the desert. After looking through their website and the many pictures of their rooms they had posted, I was sure this business would be a lot of fun!

Xscape_Bombsquad_03

High Points:

Set design inside Bombsquad is some of the absolute best I’ve seen. The location of the room and decor on the outside walls already build a sense of immersion before you enter, and once you do, you’ll be fully immersed within Omega’s world for the full hour! The room is also absolutely brimming with tech convincingly built by a madman! Only two locks are included inside, and every other puzzle is a highly themed technical marvel. There were a few different interactions and enigmas that we had never seen before, and this was my 150th room, so that’s saying something! Videos played during the beginning and different parts of the room are a lot of fun, and well produced, adding a great story element to the production. There is also a type of puzzle I normally despise that is implemented within Bombsquad in such an innovative and excellent way that it became one of my favorite interactions in the whole room! Teamwork is absolutely essential in this room, and focuses on good communication and tight puzzling. The storyline is conveyed wonderfully, and the climax was extremely unexpected, even for escape veterans! Xscape also boasted excellent customer service, before, during, and after our escape! We actually ended up with a major issue which caused us to fail, and they were very receptive to feedback and able to alleviate all of our frustrations! More about that below.

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Low Points:

Unfortunately, our GM was very new, and provided hints that were out of order, which drained a lot of our time during the end game, leading us to waste a lot of time unable to progress because though we were doing the right thing, we were doing it out of order. This also caused us to fail the room, though we are certain we could’ve made it out, had the clues been ordered correctly, which was frustrating. Luckily, however, we contacted Xscape about this, and they immediately let us know how sorry they were that this happened, and assured us that they would make the adjustments to ensure this didn’t happen again. We were invited us back to try their Egyptian Tomb room, as well as play through Bombsquad again with the adjustments made, as they agreed that we should’ve made it out. However, Tyler was an excellent GM otherwise, and provided great customer service throughout our experience, that one hiccup aside. There were a couple points at which there was a fair amount of hunting around that could’ve been better served through non-scavenging puzzles, and lesser use of a certain escape room cliché. The final parts of the room felt less tightly designed, which could be due to the cluing issues detailed above, but also could’ve benefitted from some better gating of puzzles.

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Verdict:

Bombsquad is an excellent room, and though we experienced a few issues, we definitely recommend checking it out. Bombsquad absolutely provides an escape adventure that is worth your time and money, and boasts challenging puzzles that veterans may have never seen before! Newer players might want to have a couple games under their belt before taking on this more difficult experience, but it is definitely accessible as a first time room. Book your time in Omega’s lair here!

7/10 (Good)


Note: Though I don’t normally add a note to score, I wanted to emphasize that throughout this room, I was thinking that this was one of the best rooms I’d done lately, and would at the least be a 9/10. I’ve scored it a couple points lower due to issues that cropped up during our experience, but after speaking with the owners, I heartily believe that those issues will be sorted soon. Xscape seems absolutely dedicated to a fantastic customer experience, and I wanted to make sure this point was clear!

Full disclosure: Though we paid full price for our tickets, Xscape provided a private room for our team.