Time’s Up Escape Rooms – Millionaire Murder Escape (Review)

Location: Cary, NC

Players: 4-12 (We recommend 5-6)

Price: $25 per person

Time to Escape: 60 minutes

Ikea Millionaire

Theme:

The millionaire Fredderick Trummel has been murdered, and you have been called to his home for the reading of his will. Upon entering his dining room, however, you are locked in and there’s no executor to be found. A note from Fredderick informs you that you’ve been tricked and implicated in federal crimes against the late millionaire! Figure out who the murderer is, and escape Fredderick’s home before he exacts justice against you from beyond the grave.

First Impressions:

Time’s Up delivered a larger room for their Millionaire Murder experience, but it was mostly empty when we walked in. It was, however, definitely too small for a group of 12 puzzlers, I would venture 8 would be the coziest you’d want to get in here, and that’s pushing it. A large centerpiece was competently decorated, if not mind blowing, but there were only a few other pieces that stood out, but they didn’t quite give off the decadent feel a millionaire’s dining room should. Prices written in sharpie on the backs of most items gave away the inexpensive nature of the room. Our Gamemaster was upbeat and friendly however, and seemed eager to please.

High Points:

Though this was a very low tech experience, there were a few fun surprises and original puzzles at the beginning of the experience. The initial few puzzles were well clued and worked smoothly, and the story set up was interesting.

Low Points:

As we progressed through the puzzles, though, the adventure degraded as the flow and technical issues began to break down the immersion. Mid to late game puzzles weren’t very well clued, and many props we found didn’t fit the theme, as they did not seem like the property of a millionaire. One such piece had been busted a few times, and simply not replaced, which was odd since this supposedly belonged to  someone for whom money was no object. There was also a red herring item that was oddly well hidden, which wasted a fair bit of our time. One lock was opened via the wrong key, due to the looseness of the lock and cheap nature of the item itself, and we were told to replace the item inside and lock it back, which irked us. Some later puzzles were not clued, and as a result, ended up in fruitless searches of an already sparse room. Overall, the experience started strong, but faltered quite a bit as time went on, ending with a whimper.

Verdict:

The Millionaire Murder Escape was full of missed opportunities. While there were interesting ideas and puzzles, the execution was subpar as so much more could’ve been done with the space. The owner seemed receptive to feedback, and genuinely seemed to want to improve the experience, but as is, it’s a difficult recommendation to make. You can book your escape from The Millionaires Murder here!

4/10 (Subpar)

 

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)

Time’s Up Escape Rooms – The Bank Vault (Review)

Location: Cary, NC

Players: 2-8 (We recommend 4-5, details below)

Price: $25 per person

Time to Escape: 60 minutes

Time’s Up’s most difficult room delivers a polarizing first generation challenge.

Theme:

You and your team are new employees at the bank, but your first day is ruined when you are robbed and thrown into the bank vault by your assailants. You’ve got 60 minutes to get out before the airtight vault runs out of air, but you haven’t been trained on how to unlock the vault from inside! Luckily, your manager, (who fortunately must’ve been playing golf that day,) has left a series of clues inside to help you escape.

First Impressions:

Walking into the vault didn’t really impress, as it seemed like a sterile bank lobby, coupled with an employee locker room, obviously, theming was not the strong suit of this room. Luckily, there were clues to find and many many locks to solve, (which could be good or bad, depending,) along with what looked like a massive metapuzzle on the wall, which, though low budget, struck me as a pretty cool, and lovingly crafted, design. It was a fairly small room, and with 5 players, it was cozy. Any more than that would’ve been claustrophobic.

High Points:

I wasn’t wrong about the metapuzzle. It easily brought together many parts of the room, and was a satisfying conclusion to the escape, though groups that didn’t pay enough attention would be out of luck. The puzzles were enjoyable to solve, and were all properly clued, allowing just enough of a hint to solve as a team. Most all of the props were fun to manipulate and play with, and led to some interesting perspective puzzles at times.

Low Points:

I enjoyed the puzzling for the most part, however some puzzles required a bit of outside of the box thinking that may not come naturally to those that are used to playing other rooms under the standard rules. The overall decor of the room was banal, so the main draw here were the puzzles, which I found to be interesting, but was nothing too mind blowing. There were a couple instances of solving the lock instead of solving the puzzle, which was a frustrating experience, and there was one lock we bypassed altogether, as we were totally unsure as to whether it had a solution or not.

Verdict:

Overall, I think newer groups will enjoy this room much more than enthusiasts, but I also don’t think it would be a great room to begin your escaping career with. Having spoken with other fans, it seems that you’ll either love this one or hate it, and though I had fun with the room, I can definitely see where others won’t be impressed. If you want a deep story or an immersive theme, you won’t find it here, but for an hour of puzzle solving, it might fit the bill. Time’s Up’s owners, however, really do put a lot of effort in, and care about their product, which shows in their interactions with players and upbeat customer service. Book your escape from the Bank Vault here!

5/10 (Mediocre)

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