Codescape – The Residents (Review)

Location: Charlotte, NC

Players: 2-8 (We recommend 3-4)

Price: $28 per person

Time to Escape: 60 minutes

Do come in… we’ve been expecting you!

Theme:

From the Codescape website:

The house at the end of Winding Hollow Road dates back to 1881. Despite its longstanding presence, the home has rarely been occupied. Families would move in, and quickly be driven away… Five past residents ended up in a nearby psychiatric institution, all curiously alluding to the old home’s attic as the sole source of their derangement… You’ve been sent to investigate the ominous Winding Hollow Estate. Will you discover what’s lurking within the shadows?

First Impressions:

Codescape is well known in Charlotte for having great sets and immersive games, which is exemplified by their Shipwrecked room, which we really loved. We all have our faults, however, so we were definitely hoping for a more Shipwrecked-like experience and less of an Experiment one. I had high hopes going in, as The Residents comes highly recommended from many local enthusiasts, and is a spooky haunted attic, one of my favorite themes!

High Points:

The Residents is a great introductory game, presenting a fairly straightforward game flow while sprinkling the puzzles throughout a non-linear path. This kept most of our group engaged during our time in the room. The puzzles themselves are very original, and used many of the props within the room in outside the box ways that demanded keen perception and teamwork to conquer. The room incorporates several well hidden technological items to keep players on their toes with scares and interesting interactions. The set design is great, and really immerses players in the creepy old attic, adding several weathered touches to the game to drive home the history of this haunted home. Story touches are interesting, and while they are somewhat secondary to the puzzles, they don’t feel haphazardly thrown in.

Low Points:

For enthusiasts, this one might fly by a little quickly. We escaped in ~27 minutes, and were just behind the record, so I could definitely see other experienced groups breaking out really quickly, and at $28 a person, that’s a steep price for how long we actually spent within the room. The maximum of eight is also much too high. For this trip, we had seven players at times, much more than our usual cap of 4-5, and it was very tight in The Residents. The rooms could hold that many people, but we were right on top of each other at several points, and the game flow, while non-linear, still did not support that many players. The attic’s set design is very nice, and did provide an immersive experience for the most part, but the climax of the room left much to be desired, as the room just sort of ended without much in the way of fanfare or revelations.

Verdict:

The Residents in a great game for beginners to start their escaping career with, or for enthusiasts to bring new players along to, as the straightforward and somewhat simpler game is a perfect introductory room. Enthusiasts might want to check out a more challenging room instead, or try to keep their group size small, (this may be difficult or overly expensive, as Codescape employs a public ticketing model,) though there is still a lot of excitement to be found inside if one is a fan of the theme. You can book your time investigating the haunted attic here!

7/10 (Good)

 

Codescape – Shipwrecked (Review)

Location: Charlotte, NC

Players: 4-10 (We recommend 5-6)

Price: $28 per person

Time to Escape: 60 minutes

It belongs in a museum!

Theme:

Long ago, the Asi Sword, a legendary weapon of untold power, was stolen by a group of pirates. While making their escape, however, a violent storm swept over their ship and they disappeared without a trace. Rumor has it they were shipwrecked on the coast of India, but no one has seen evidence of the disaster until now! Your team of archaeologists has arrived on the scene in search of the artifact, but unluckily so has a team of ruthless treasure hunters! You’ll need to find and solve the mystery of the Asi Sword quickly, otherwise, it might soon be lost again!

First Impressions:

Though we were unfortunately disappointed by The Experiment, Shipwrecked came highly recommended, and we definitely wanted to give Codescape another shot! The initial feeling we had about this room was definitely more exciting, as the room was very elaborately decorated, with a Hollywood style set that evoked feelings of a haunted jungle shipwreck and displayed several interesting set pieces to puzzle with.

High Points:

Puzzles flowed well from one to the next, and there was no ambiguity or guessing required. A worthy challenge was presented, however, as this clarity didn’t make things too simple for us. A nice mix of non-linear interactions allowed for several spots where our team of six were all working together throughout, with very little downtime. Themeing was spot on, and provided a spooky vibe through theatrical lighting and set design coupled with a slowly developing story that immersed us in the mystery of the Asi Sword. Teamwork was rewarded heavily, as many set pieces demanded we solve puzzles by communicating effectively.

Low Points:

One large scale puzzle was a the final requirement to get to the next stage of the game, and while our whole team could work on it, it was a large time sink that felt repetitive after a while. Another puzzle was solved easily enough, but confused us as it was fairly finicky, requiring us to fiddle with it further even though we had the correct answer.

Verdict:

Shipwrecked is a large scale puzzling adventure that lived up to the hype, delivering a spooky pirate adventure that was able to keep our larger group engaged throughout with tactile and satisfying puzzling. For beginners, this will be a highly accessible, but challenging adventure, and enthusiasts will enjoy the original puzzles and great flow. Book your archaeological expedition here!

8.5/10 (Great)

 

Codescape – The Experiment (Review)

Location: Charlotte, NC

Players: 2-9 (We recommend 3-4)

Price: $28 per person

Time to Escape: 60 minutes

Scary in all the wrong ways.

Theme:

You were caught wandering around the grounds of the old Central State Asylum, delirious and babbling, so you’ve been brought inside by the attendants to get the help you need. Or so you’ve been told. You know you and the other patients aren’t crazy, and you’ve got to get out!

First Impressions:

They say first impressions are everything, and The Experiment made a terrible one. The barren first room had very little to do, and although it was obvious that there would be more in subsequent rooms, I didn’t hold out much hope. With seven players, it felt like there’d be a lot of standing around for some of us, and unfortunately, that was the case. We started off with three puzzles, one of which was well clued, one of which would be irrelevant and soon forgotten for a good while, and another that had no clues whatsoever, and for the unlucky, impossible to solve without serious help. We then were given a way to make it through the next door we found, but this puzzle for one person made no sense to anyone, and the solution was triggered by utter accident. The worst part is that it got much better, and then so much worse from there.

High Points:

Once we’d made it through that slog, we were treated to a set of pretty great puzzles. Everyone had something to do, and all interactions made sense. It was unfortunate that section only lasted for maybe seven minutes, as it was all downhill from there.

Low Points:

A lot of the problems that we saw at the beginning filtered over to the rest of the experience, and after a promising uptick, everything fell apart. Too many people and not enough puzzles became a problem, as crowding around one puzzle or standing around idly started to become the norm. One particular interaction was amplified in it’s annoyance due to the always infuriating problem of not being allowed to write anything down. A sound based puzzle that goes by too fast as part of a long spiel that must be listened to again and again without the aid of a whiteboard enters the frustrating territory of difficulty without fun. The endgame was interesting on paper, but the execution quickly fell flat, and all final puzzles were poorly designed for any more than 2-3 people. 

Verdict:

Having heard great things about Codescape in general, I’d love to go back and try their other rooms, but if this had been my first exposure to Escape Rooms, I don’t think I’d have done a second without major encouragement. An all around major letdown, and probably my least favorite room to date. Without a major revamp and drop in the maximum players allowed in the room, I cannot recommend this one at all. If you’d like to book an escape at Codescape, you can do so here.

3/10 (Poor)