Location: Washington DC
Players: 4-10 (We Recommend 4-5)
Price: $25 per person
Time to Escape: 60 minutes
As a group of White House correspondents, you’ve gotten wind of a brewing scandal surrounding the President. The details are all nebulous right now, but you’ve found your way into the Oval Office, and have an hour to find out what’s going on so you can break the story once you escape!
When entering the Escape Lounge, we were greeted by the upbeat owner and her well decorated lobby just up the stairs from the street. They were preparing for a birthday party, but were happy to stop and help us get briefed and ready for our room.
The room itself was a decent facsimile of the Oval Office, and the centerpiece was quite convincing, it was, unfortunately, not oval, but building codes being what they are, we didn’t think much of it. Some unique props were to be found, and were satisfying to open. A few surprises were to be had, opening up parts of the room that seemed rather solid at first glance. The hint delivery system itself was cute.
So many escape room sins were committed here, and they built upon each other as we went, culminating in what may be the most disappointing conclusion to a room we’ve seen in a good while. The room had a CD player belting out overly loud, random music, which we were luckily able to turn down. A massive amount of double cluing ended up developing several dead ends along the way that only made sense once puzzles were solved. Some parts of the room had no bearing on anything, and were egregious red herrings. Many hiding spots were unintuitive and seemed to be placed for artificial difficulty rather than adding to the experience. A lot of the room felt as though it drifted off theme, and the over use of one particularly cliché prop exhausted us with its over implementation. The story didn’t build in a coherent way, and the climax fell completely flat. As a whole, the room felt like a random collection of average puzzles, glossed over with a political sheen.
Overly banal and haphazard, Escape the Oval Office is a disappointment. Our expectations of its theme remained unachieved, turning what could’ve been a story of puzzling political intrigue into a groanworthy flop. Enthusiasts will have seen it done much better before and beginners should steer clear. If you’d like to try it out for yourself, however, you can do so here.