Escape Room Arlington – Glitch (Review)

Location: Arlington, VA

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

Price: $28 per person

Time to Escape: 60 minutes

Care to see how far down this rabbit hole goes?

Theme:

From the Escape Room Arlington website:

Have you ever had a dream, that you were stuck in an escape room, that you were so sure was real? What if you were unable to wake from that dream and unable to escape? How would you know the difference between the dream world and the escape room you’re trapped in? Jump down the rabbit hole and find out.

First Impressions:

Escape Room Arlington has some fantastic rooms available, and great rooms always energize us for more. Our only regret was that this was the last room available here during this trip! After a previous “problem in virtual reality” room proved to be incredibly disappointing, I was looking forward to what could be done with this theme when in the hands of such capable designers!

High Points:

The set design of this room is fantastic, with a black and white color scheme inside of a Spartan room that slowly becomes more dynamic, opening up in surprising and interesting ways in order to evoke the feel of breaching new areas of a virtual reality simulation gone wrong. Lighting and sound design work well in this regard as well, and the opening video creates a feeling of ominous urgency that carries throughout. Props are very cool, and many allow players to interact with the room in interesting ways. One in particular is something I haven’t seen in an escape room before, but it’s inclusion is a lot of fun, and gave us an item that was great fun to play around with. The game begins with a great reference to the Matrix, allowing players to make a decision that will affect their gameplay, and the room plays as a homage to the sci fi masterpiece while still remaining it’s own thing.

Glitch is fairly non-linear, and the multiple puzzling paths allow for groups to take a divide and conquer approach to the adventure that generally keeps everyone engaged with the game. The game flow works well and is absolutely chock full of wonderfully abstract puzzling to wrap your brain around. While abstract, the thinking behind these conundrums is generally very logical, and there aren’t any leaps or red herrings to be found within. Everything remains within what could be a very broad theme, but remains tight through an obviously well crafted vision of design.

Low Points:

We came across a particular technical failure that stymied our progress for a while, and it took a bit for everyone to realize that there was a problem, but once it was identified, our Game Master was quick to correct the issue. One puzzle caused a lot of confusion, as even though it was solved at some point, there was no feedback once it was solved, and we kept coming back to it long after we retrieved the items it unlocked as it wasn’t clear that this is what caused the box to open. In fact, there were several moments at which we solved some of the more technical puzzles, and there was very little feedback to notify us what had happened due to our solve. The ending was a little anticlimactic, but there wasn’t much story-wise to build off of, as this ended up being more of a puzzle room than a narratively driven escape, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it would’ve been interesting to have a bit more story injected into the experience.

Verdict:

Glitch is a fun room that combines clever tech, hidden secrets, and some fantastic Matrix references in order to deliver an adventure that’s densely packed with puzzles! While there are a couple issues here and there, I think this is a great room for veteran players who are looking for challenging puzzles, and new escapists who are looking for a cool  way to start off their escaping career! You can book your time within the simulation here!

7/10 (Good)

Full Disclosure: Escape Room Arlington provided media discounted tickets for this room.

 

Escape Room Arlington – Super Villains (Review)

Location: Arlington, VA

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

Price: $28 per person

Time to Escape: 60 minutes

Gotham City needs its heroes.

Theme:

From the Escape Room Arlington website:

Slip on your spandex and strap on your utility belt! The super villains have escaped the comics! Using your wit and wiles, you must break into the very heart of darkness; transport yourself into the comic lairs of four of the city’s most notorious super villains, discover the clues they’ve left behind and save the city… if it’s not too late.

First Impressions:

Escape Room Arlington had already shown us some impressive rooms, so we were absolutely hyped for their take on the rare Superhero genre, at least in regards to escape rooms! Side note, as much as we love being the super heroes, the title of this room made me pine for a room where you get to be the super villains, which I think would be enormously fun! Perhaps a sequel is called for?

High Points:

Super Villains begins with an intense opening in an expansive, varied, and beautiful set. Initially placed in the center of a completely open space, players travel between the lairs of Catwoman, Joker, The Penguin, and The Riddler, and each room is wonderfully decorated to reflect the personality of their owners. This openness is great for larger parties, allowing the group to split up and take on their favorite villain, while crossing over between each room as pertinent clues reveal themselves. This is exactly what our group of five did, as from the word go, I took the Catwoman room, one friend took on The Joker, and my wife and other two friends split time between The Penguin and Riddler’s lairs. At no point during the game were any of us not fully involved with puzzling, and we all found puzzles to suit our tastes and solving styles. The rooms weave together beautifully, and the game flow’s entirely non-linear threads tie together perfectly at the climax, giving us tangible feedback on our progression and making for enormously satisfying solves. Wrapping everything into the theme of the room are a cavalcade of fantastic props, including some tactile items that encourage some great mechanical puzzling.

Due to our frantic divide and conquer puzzling, we made pretty good time in this room, (and capstoned our years long quest for a golden gnome, a Ravenchase staple,) but that isn’t to say that the adventure isn’t densely packed with puzzles, quite the opposite! So many of these interactions are part of the set design, and figuring out their secrets is immensely enjoyable. There are some neat twists on standard designs, helping the entire game feel fresh, even for folks on a 23 room mega-marathon, and working through this highly intuitive yet entertainingly challenging experience was absolutely one of the highlights of our trip. In fact, I’d say it’s one of the highlights of my escape career so far!

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Our quest for a golden gnome is finally complete!

Low Points:

There was one particular puzzle that involved a fair bit of squinting to make out, which is somewhat by design, but even with tools to figure this one out, it’s a bit of a seek and find that was mostly underwhelming. That being said, we enjoyed every other puzzle in the room, so it wasn’t that big of a deal. The only other thing is, as may be obvious, this room could be a bit easy for long time enthusiasts, however, I feel it was still a reasonable challenge, and we had a glorious time in this room.

Verdict:

Escape Room Arlington’s Super Villains is a novel room, with an interestingly open layout that still manages to hide many secrets within its walls! Original puzzling, some beautiful set designs, and an intense storyline that had us battling it out with some of our favorite villains all wove together into one of the most exciting games we have played in Virginia or beyond! Without a doubt, I recommend checking out this room, and look forward to what the designers come up with next! Book your time in Escape Room Arlington’s manic comic book here!

9/10 (Excellent)

Full Disclosure: Escape Room Arlington provided media discounted tickets for this room.

 

Escape Room Arlington – Secret in the Attic (Review)

Location: Arlington, VA

Players: 2-8 (We recommend 4-5)

Price: $28 per person

Time to Escape: 60 minutes

Spill that tea!

Theme:

From the Escape Room Arlington website:

Everyone loves your Grandmother, including you. Baking cookies, knitting sweaters, and everything else on the good Grandmother checklist. But you’ve always felt that there was something off about her, she always seemed to have lived a life more adventurous than the stories told of her youth. After she retired and moved away, you took it upon yourself to find out her secret. What was your sweet old Grandma hiding in the attic? The answer may change your life forever.

First Impressions:

After escaping the harrowing, yet enormously cool Mind Trap, it was time for us to embark on a somewhat more light hearted adventure. While the theme could certainly make room for some dark revelations, (and of course after escaping a serial killer, we couldn’t help but wonder,) but Escape Room Arlington’s website assured us this was a family friendly, wholesome adventure. While we were the slightest bit disappointed grandma didn’t have literal skeletons in her closet, we were excited to see what the big revelation would be!

High Points:

Our first steps into the room was astounding, as grandma’s house truly felt like the home of a grandmother, minus the distinct scent of mothballs. Antiques, a strangely familiar late 60’s couch, and the ubiquitous touches of the home of an elderly lady were all well incorporated into the room, and it brought back memories of spending time with grandma when I was a child. The set design here is brilliant, and though we’ve done grandma themed rooms before none were quite as marvelously decorated or nostalgic as this one! The design of the room also pays off the promise of a secret attic in a literal way, leading us up some winding stairs into the titular room, which added to the excellent immersion. The room itself is completely non-linear throughout, and the open space of grandma’s house truly ensures that the maximum eight players will not only be able to spread out comfortably, but always remain engaged with the game flow as well.

Speaking of game flow, it was amazing to me just how much there was to do within the room. Though we flew through the room, it always felt like each of us were interacting with a puzzle or working through the connections from start to finish, and our engagement with the room ensured that though we were making our way through at a good clip, it did not seem like it. In fact, it was surprising to us when we were almost done with the room and saw that we still had quite a bit of time to finish, we were that lost within the game’s immersion! The solves were very satisfying, and though the room was one of Escape Room Arlington’s easier challenges, we still had to work for our escape. The connections made were intuitive, but it took a good bit of brainpower and collaboration to crack the various codes. By the time we reached the excellent climax, we were jazzed and ready for more.

Low Points:

There is one point we got hung up on due to a small, unintentional red herring that directed us away from the proper solution. It wasn’t egregious, but the inclusion was strange as it was simply there with no particular purpose. Another puzzle relies on searching a rather large area, so outside knowledge becomes very helpful, though not strictly required. The item used to derive the code for this puzzle was also a little finicky, leading us to need to guess and check at one point. Veterans are gonna bust out of this one very quickly. As noted, it didn’t feel like we escaped in under twenty minutes, but we did. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but folks looking for a challenge should bring a small team or try out one of Arlington’s more difficult rooms, like Glitch. That being said, we really enjoyed this room overall.

Verdict:

Secret in the Attic is an excellent game that mixes tactile props, clever and hugely inventive puzzles, and a light hearted and wholesome storyline that families and new players will love. This would be an awesome way to start a new players escape room obsession, and though this room is easier, a small group of enthusiasts should not miss out on the beautiful set and satisfying puzzles within. I recommend giving this one a shot, and savoring your time searching for the Secret of the Attic! You can book your time in grandma’s house here!

8.5/10 (Great)

Full Disclosure: Escape Room Arlington provided media discounted tickets for this room.

Escape Room Arlington – Mind Trap (Review)

Location: Arlington, VA

Players: 2-8 (We recommend 4-5)

Price: $28 per person

Time to Escape: 60 minutes

The Doctor will see you now.

Theme:

From the Escape Room Arlington website:

The good Doctor has always been a fan of clever games, especially over a vintage bottle of Amarone and an exquisite Foie de Veau painstakingly crafted with… extra special ingredients. After foolishly accepting an invite to one of his prestigious dinner parties, you find yourself trapped inside his dining room. Your task: crack the fiendishly clever puzzle he left behind, before the dinner bell chimes. Bon Appetit!

First Impressions:

The many escape rooms that are a part of the Ravenchase family have been some of our absolute favorite experiences in Virginia, and I have been wanting to visit their Arlington and Herndon locations for quite some time. The expectations were high as we stepped into our first Ravenchase room of this trip, and we absolutely were not disappointed at all!

High Points:

Mind Trap boasts a beautiful set, presenting us with an extremely well appointed dining room fit for someone of such… discerning tastes. As we started our adventure, nothing seemed amiss quite yet, but small hints peppered throughout the room hinted at the horrors that were to come. The dichotomy between that which the Doctor presents willingly and those things he keeps hidden is expertly designed, and this portrayal really benefits the room’s immersion and delivers a great surprise as it is revealed. The puzzles are somewhat non-linear, and kept our team entertained throughout with some fantastic tactile interactions, some of which are strange, but very intuitive. Most also involve some surprising reveal that we really enjoyed. Everything within the room matters, and the challenge in figuring out how to interact with the room is very well implemented. The connective tissue of the room is well signposted however, so we never felt an inkling of frustration while we explored the dingy halls of the Doctor’s madness.

The sinister nature of the Doctor pervades the entire room, and most interactions and puzzles are well designed to portray just how insidious he is. Scares are spaced just far enough to be effective, while still filling the room with enough horror to keep our team on their toes. The climax of the room is superb and totally unexpected, leading to a thrilling escape for the whole group. It’s really quite a simple addition to the room, but it works extremely well, injecting the experience with some fun psychological terror.

Low Points:

One particular puzzle takes some jostling to make sure everything falls together correctly, forcing the solve to become somewhat overlong. A few of the props have started to feel a little worn out, with dents and dings from seeing so many players come through. A couple of the puzzles within can feel a bit random, not really tying into the story quite a well, and feeling somewhat less immersive overall. Though the story is a great set up for the game, it doesn’t quite evolve, and we would’ve liked to find out a bit more about the good Doctor and those who came before and never left. It feels as though there’s just a little bit more beyond the final door that could be explored.

Verdict:

Mind Trap is an excellent room, especially for those that enjoy the sinister and spooky! Approachable for newbies, while still presenting a fun challenge and great surprises for veterans, I wholeheartedly recommend checking this experience out if you find yourself in Arlington. Book your dinner party with the good Doctor here!

8/10 (Great)

Full Disclosure: Escape Room Arlington provided media discounted tickets for this room.