Escape Quest – Black Widow (Review)

Location: Alexandria, VA

Players:  2-8 (We Recommend 4-6)

Price: $34 per person

Time to Escape: 60 minutes

Y’know, after the death of husband #3, you’d think she wouldn’t be so alluring…

Theme:

The Black Widow is a notorious alleged serial killer whose previous three husbands have all died under mysterious and violent circumstances. Her fourth husband has recently gone missing, and though the police have nothing so far, they’ve hired your group of private investigators to break into her home and find out what happened. Uncover the truth quickly, though, as you don’t want to get caught in her web!

First Impressions:

The Black Widow’s home is lovely, and eerie, with signs of her subtle madness hidden throughout the room. As always from Escape Quest, the attention to detail and production values are wonderful and immediately immersive. Rooms feel nothing like the usual converted office spaces, and help transport you into a new space while telling their stories.

High Points:

Along with the immersive and beautiful room, comes a slew of thought provoking puzzling. Each item leads from spot to spot, but in a subtle way, allowing for quite a few moments of revelation. While building toward the meta puzzle, new revelations are found, and each step is satisfying in it’s feedback when solved. All details of the room are woven into the puzzling, and finding small details or prop interactions were very enjoyable. The reveal near the end is exciting, and the climax feels appropriate and fun. One puzzle in particular is tactile and feels great when solving, but also helps build a creepier atmosphere once it has been completed.

Low Points:

We accidentally skipped one puzzle, which was optional, but became a sort of an unintentional red herring for us near the end. The solution for a couple puzzles felt a bit tenuous and in one case, we found that a certain puzzle was used twice in different ways, which was fairly unusual.  

Verdict:

Black Widow was our final room during our DC trip, and I couldn’t have asked more a more enjoyable experience for our capstone. This adventure left me wanting more, and I cannot wait to return to Escape Quest to see what they can cook up next. As with all of their rooms, I very much recommend you give them a try. Beginners and Enthusiasts will find something to enjoy here, and I would say that Escape Quest is the overall best company to visit in the DC area, definitely give them as shot if you’re in the area. Book your investigation into the Black Widow here!

9/10 (Excellent)

Full Disclosure: Escape Quest comped our tickets for this game.

Escape Quest – Captain’s Quarters (Review)

Location: Alexandria, VA

Players: 2-6 (We Recommend 4-5)

Price: $34 per person

Time to Escape: 60 minutes

We’re bad guys, but we’re not THE bad guys!

Theme:

As a crew of privateers, you’ve been patrolling the high seas with your letter of marque, taking down enemies of The Crown and keeping a tidy bit of the spoils for yourselves. But your pirate past beckons when you find a rival Captain has commandeered a large chest of gold and jewels for himself. Under the cover of night, you sneak into his quarters with a trusted few in order to take the bounty for yourselves! But be quick, the Captain will return shortly, and he’ll be none too pleased to find you lurking about…

First Impressions:

We were told that Captain’s Quarters was one of Escape Quest’s earliest rooms, and though our GM thought we’d be less impressed by this room due to this, we were still wowed by the great production value of this room. There was an exciting soundtrack playing to spur us along, and though this was our 3rd room in a row here, we were energized and excited to continue escaping!

High Points:

Though this was a strictly linear, Generation 1 room that included limited tech and mostly lock inputs, it fit the theme and remained an enjoyable escape. The room itself was comfortable for our group of 4, and could easily fit the maximum of 6, which is rare for escape rooms, I find. Props were convincing and enjoyable to work with, and puzzles connected well from one to the next. One particular teamwork puzzle was a fun surprise, and searching through the room turned up some entertaining hidden compartments. One thing I very much enjoyed about Escape Quest, was that they took the standard after escape photo inside of the room, using props you’ve found throughout, turning the usual memento into something a bit more exciting.

Low Points:

Some players will be disappointed by the lack of technical items in the room, especially if they’ve recently played one of Escape Quest’s more technology heavy games. One entertaining teamwork puzzle was a bit more well hidden than felt necessary, but was fun once we’d found it. A couple props felt a bit off theme, but weren’t enough to break the immersion. Some puzzles I had seen before, and were, we were told, part of a prepurchased set, so there may be some repeats for Enthusiasts, though the puzzles were well done overall.

Verdict:

The Captain’s Quarters is a fun experience, but is probably best suited for those new to the Escape Room hobby. Beginners will enjoy this as a low-tech introduction to escape rooms, but Enthusiasts will escape quickly, and may have a few repeats in puzzles. I recommend trying this one out if you’re into the theme or are introducing new players to Escape Rooms, but if you’re more experienced, check out the excellent Black Widow, King’s Ransom, or Lost Temple rooms at Escape Quest, which are newer, and should be more challenging for you! Book your heist in the Captain’s Quarters here!

7/10 (Good)

Full Disclosure: Escape Quest comped our tickets for this game.

Escape Room Live Georgetown – Titanic (Review)

Location: Washington DC

Players: 2-8 (We Recommend 4-6)

Price: $28 per person

Time to Escape: 45 minutes

There was enough room for Jack on that door.

Theme:

As passengers on the Titanic, you’ve prepared for a trip of luxury and decadence aboard the world’s biggest and most unsinkable cruise-liner! However, midway through the trip, you feel a jolt, and when you look out your window, it seems the water is rising at an alarming rate! You’ve only a limited amount of time before you’re trapped in your stateroom, but the doors are locked and the emergency exits are malfunctioning. You’ll need to solve your predicament soon, or you’ll go down with the ship!

First Impressions:

After an amazing time in the Ghostbusters room, we had very high hopes for Titanic. Located in the same area, and decorated on the outside just as well, the experience seemed promising. After being assured that this would be an equal challenge to Ghostbusters, we were ready to escape!

High Points:

One early puzzle was fun to figure out, and required some interesting perspective and physical manipulation. Interactions in the room were mostly technical, and only required a few traditional locks and keys. Feedback when solving a puzzle was clear and consistent. While the room was competent, and worked reasonably well, it was banal.

Low Points:

Entering the room was not quite as exciting here, as the room itself felt much more sparse. Decorations and lighting was competently done, but were implemented in a way that didn’t give us the sense of excitement that Ghostbusters or Poeanormal Activity delivered. The room itself didn’t really feel like much of a stateroom, and was relatively empty overall, withlater parts of the game feeling as though they did not expand or add much to the experience. Multiple puzzles were exact repeats of others we had previously experienced, some even in DC, and the experience as a whole felt uninspired. Other puzzles that were original to the room weren’t very satisfying to solve, and in some cases, didn’t make much sense as part of the room. Do not touch stickers were more copious in this room than others at Escape Room Live, and that combined with several worn down props made the room feel less cohesive and well maintained.

Verdict:

Titanic, as an experience, feels overly plain. It is a fairly well decorated room, with some interesting technology, but nothing that we haven’t seen done before, and better. We left this one feeling overall underwhelmed with the experience, which was a downer after the amazing Ghostbusters room. Beginners will more than likely feel lost in the overall difficulty, while Enthusiasts will be unimpressed with the lack of variety. It’s not a bad room, generally, but it’s average at best, and there are much more impressive rooms in DC, one of which is mere feet away! I feel like the room would be a good first attempt elsewhere, but for the high budget nature and prestige of Escape Room Live, it doesn’t measure up. You can book your time on the HMS Titanic here!

5/10 (Mediocre)

Escape Room Live Georgetown – Ghostbusters (Review)

Location: Washington DC

Players: 2-8 (We Recommend 4-6)

Price: $28 per person

Time to Escape: 45 minutes

Who ya gonna call?

Theme:

New York is under a supernatural attack, and the Ghostbusters phone is ringing off the hook, but they’re nowhere to be found! It’s up to you and the rest of the Ghostbusters new B-team to trap the spirits terrorizing the city and put them back into the containment unit before it’s too late!

First Impressions:

Escape Room Live Georgetown boasts an amazing lobby, with comfortable places to relax while waiting to begin your game, as well as a full bar and space that can be rented for parties. The artwork on the walls is a hilarious series of classic portraits redone with animals, my favorite being this Otter portrait!

The rooms themselves are under the lobby, and are housed in an excellently designed area with each exterior matching the theme inside. Ghostbusters being one of my favorite series, we had very high expectations.

High Points:

Ghostbusters did not disappoint. The theming of the room was on point, and the easter eggs peppered throughout were great callbacks to the original movies. The ghosts you catch and ghostbusting tools you interact with are true to the film and will be a great treat for fans. While a lot of Ghostbusters themeing is woven throughout the puzzles, no knowledge of the films is required, which is perfect. Our game master for this room was more than excellent, and provided engaging commentary as we progress through the room. Interactions throughout were unique and engaging, and the non linear nature of most of the room allowed our larger group to all stay busy puzzling. Ghostbusters is also a great challenge, and provides original brainteasers over a wide range of puzzle types. The room was so immersive, that even though we were only in for less than a half hour, we felt as though our experience was much longer! When we were told our (record breaking!) time, we could not believe it. We were left wanting more, but in a good way!

Low Points:

One particular puzzle had obviously been experiencing technical difficulties previous to our game, but the fix was handled well and in an immersive manner.

Verdict:

Ghostbusters is a fully immersive experience, and delivers an amazing time! Every inch of the room is excellently done, and the puzzling experience is the top for Washington DC. Beginners may want to experience a few rooms before attempting this one, as it was definitely a more difficult challenge, but enthusiasts will love the full package that Ghostbusters delivers! Book your time calming the mass hysteria here!

10/10 (Sublime)

Escape Artist DC – Night at the Museum (Review)

Location: Washington DC

Players: 1-12  (We Recommend 4-5)

Price: $20 per person

Time to Escape: 60 minutes

Wanna black out and tear up some paintings?!

Theme:

As employees of a prestigious art museum, you’re gearing up for an unveiling of a brand new exhibit, the centerpiece of which is sure to bring patrons from all over the world! It’s the night before the big day, and you’ve decided to have a party at the museum after hours. Everything is going swimmingly, until the celebration gets a bit out of hand, and the priceless painting is ruined! You’ll need to fix it before the museum security locks down in one hour, or be fired, never to work in the art world again!

First Impressions:

Escape Artist DC has a great lobby filled with fantastic local art that we found  was created by the owner. The customer service is excellent, and we were greeted warmly by the staff and briefed on our upcoming room after a short chat. The briefing room was nice, and provided a video going over the story of the room, as well as a succinct rules rundown.

High Points:

Escape Artist DC is different from other rooms that I’ve done, and not just from those in the DC area. The puzzles provided tend to be a bit more cerebral in nature and require a different method of thinking than your usual escape room. Puzzles are a good mix of technical interactions and basic locks, and most are impressively hand crafted. Two levels of an interesting hint system were available, and were very well implemented; I understand that more iteration is being done to continue to refine this system. Puzzles felt highly original, and those that were familiar to us had a pleasant twist to them that we enjoyed.

Low Points:

There was one technical malfunction that held us up for a while in the early game, but was fixed quickly once it was recognized. One late game puzzle felt overly convoluted, and the method for solving was fairly unsatisfying to our group, but in the middle of solving, we circumvented the solution through an accidental method. Some instances of outside knowledge are present, but aren’t as egregious as some other instances have been.

Verdict:

With Night at the Museum, Escape Artist DC delivers a unique take on escape rooms, and challenges players to think outside the box even more than usual. There are a couple blemishes here and there, but overall, this was an enjoyable experience. Beginners may find it difficult to overcome the initial learning curve, but help is available at all times, and enthusiasts will enjoy the unique experience this room has to offer. Book your Night at the Museum here!

7/10 (Good)