Southern Pines Escape – Doomed to Die (Review)

Location: Southern Pines, NC

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

Price: $27 per person

Time to Escape: 60 minutes

Escape Noir

Theme:

From the Southern Pines Escape website:

It’s 1940 and prior to P.I. Peter Ingles murder and there’s a crooked cop inside the precinct. Peter has been asked to help find the murder weapon that has disappeared from Evidence. Peter is away working on a new case and has asked for your gumshoeing. There is an hour before trial, and the evidence needs to be present before the trial begins – without it, the murderer won’t swing.

First Impressions:

Southern Pines Escape was recommended to us a couple years ago when we visited The Great Escape Cameron, which has, unfortunately, closed down. It took us a while to get back out to the area, but we were excited to take on all four rooms as part of an escaping day trip!

High Points:

If there’s one thing that stood out to me about Doomed to Die, it is that there is a large density of puzzles within the room, in fact, there are quite a few more than I originally expected upon our entry into the room. There is a good variety in these enigmas and interactions, though sometimes it can feel as though there is no real thematic connection between the overarching story and the tasks within the room. For example, for a room that takes place within the 1940s, one particular item feels completely out of place, but the puzzle that it presents is a lot of fun to complete. The game flow is mostly linear with a few exceptions, and the connections made good sense within the puzzles themselves.  Set design is competent, rising above “converted office space,” but isn’t overly mind blowing. However, the design works within the theme, presenting a private investigator’s office well enough. Overall, this is a fairly basic, but enjoyable, first generation room that will appeal mostly to new players, and delivers a serviceable introduction to those who want to experience escape rooms for the first time. The whole package presents a game that may not be overly impressive to hardened enthusiasts, but is certainly an above average room that is good for an hour’s puzzling.

Low Points:

One particular interaction was actually a really cool moment of revelation, but the cluing is very light, and we only figured it out due to having a fair amount of experience with escape room technology rather than due to anything in the room cluing us into the method of solving. One puzzle requires the use of a fairly ubiquitous escape room prop, which is fine for the interaction it is involved in, but some of the clues have been rewritten, and some that are meant to have been removed aren’t quite gone, confusing the puzzle and leaving some red herrings around the area. There’s a fair amount of guess and check, as similar locks are used throughout the experience, and the answers don’t direct to any particular lock. There is no real story to the room after the initial briefing, so the whole room mostly feels like a “because escape room” experience, and while having a puzzle room isn’t necessarily bad, it’s always better to have a story to support the adventure. The final escape is a bit weird as the required lock is just placed to the side of the door, leading to a fairly anticlimactic end. The room can fit up to eight players, but I’d recommend a smaller group, as even a lightly experienced team is going to have a few folks standing around at the max group size due to the general linearity.

Verdict:

Doomed to Die is a fairly enjoyable puzzle room for a couple or small group, and I definitely wouldn’t recommend it for much larger than a group of four. However, it is a fun experience, especially for newer players, as it contains some clever puzzles and interactions, and is a competently designed adventure. More experienced players will want to further limit their group size, and those who prefer good story integration may want to look elsewhere. That being said, we enjoyed our time as a group of two within this room. You can book your time seeking the incriminating evidence here!

6/10 (Alright)