Urban Enigmas – Innocence (Review)

Location: Athens, GA

Players: 1-8 (We recommend 4-5)

Price: $25 per person

Time to Escape: 60 minutes

“Prison sucks. I have to escape.”

Theme:

Framed for a jewel heist, you’ve been thrown in prison awaiting a sham trial that will put you away for life. The warden has stepped out for an hour, making this your last chance to escape and possibly clear your name before he returns.

First Impressions:

Innocence has an incredibly interesting mechanic that I’ve not seen before, and makes for a really fantastic experience. As part of our briefing, we were informed that we had two objectives. Our primary objective was to escape our cell and break into the warden’s office, from which we could escape the prison. Our secondary objective, however, would determine the life we’d lead after our breakout. We needed to find a way to clear our names within the warden’s office in order to walk out as free men and women, otherwise, we could still escape, but it would be as fugitives on the run, forever looking over our shoulders.

High Points:

The sets were both convincing, even if they weren’t ostentatious. We began handcuffed and stayed that way for a while, which added to the teamwork element of the game, which I was glad to see, as most games that include handcuffs allow you some way to get out of them almost immediately. The dichotomy between the two rooms was great, as the prison cell was very much like your usual escape room, while the warden’s office changed the game into an investigative experience. I very much enjoyed this two-rooms-in-one approach. The investigation was assisted through a large evidence board that was a lot of fun to interact with.

Low Points:

Puzzles were solid, but were mostly standard code to lock interactions, which in some cases felt a little out of place for what we were solving. The warden’s office looked like an office, but after the higher set production in the prison, it was a little jarring to suddenly be in a white walled office. One particular puzzle was easier to solve using outside local information, we were told, but was solvable through a different path, so it’s a minor complaint. (6/10/17: Update: After speaking with the designer of the room, it turns out we were misinformed regarding the local information part. We solved the puzzle correctly, but that item was designed to be inconclusive, not solvable using outside knowledge.)

Verdict:

Innocence tries an original approach to escape rooms, and combines escape and investigation into one enjoyable package. The room is approachable for beginners, since you can escape the prison and investigate, but still get out within the time if you don’t fully solve the mystery, but has enough puzzling to work through for enthusiasts as well. I highly recommend trying out this room, and look forward to visiting their others! You can book your break out here! And best of luck beating our record!

8/10 (Great)

Odyssey Escape Game – Ripper: Solve the Mystery (Review)

Location: Alpharetta, GA

Players:  2-8 (We recommend 3-4)

Price: $28 per person

Time to Escape: 60 minutes

Get Ripped.

Theme:

The year is 1888, and you are Scotland Yard’s finest detectives, hot on the trail of the notorious serial killer, Jack the Ripper. His most recent victim, Mary Kelly, has been found brutally murdered and you’re the first on the scene. You don’t have much time until Jack flees London, so you’ll need to act fast in order to figure out his true identity.

First Impressions:

Mary Kelly’s boarding room is very well detailed and, barring the standard escape room screen and camera, felt appropriate for the time period. The same was true of our first look at our office at Scotland Yard. The opening story gave us a sense of urgency, and the absence of any out of place locks was welcome. We were truly in for a different experience from the standard escape the room fare here.

High Points:

Most escape rooms give you something to mark down notes with, but the way it was handled in this room was fantastic and allowed for many players to take notes simultaneously and in a on theme way. We were told at the beginning of the room, that there were only a few locks, and that the majority of the room would involve interacting in non standard ways, and this held true. Puzzles were fun to figure out, and barring a couple, were very good at giving us feedback on our success or failure. The nature of our investigation was exciting, and allowed for a much different, but largely successful, flow to the puzzling. The final two revelations were thrilling, and the ending could feel a little anticlimactic for some, I very much enjoyed Odyssey’s take on this historical mystery.

Low Points:

Two things within the boarding room felt out of place, both due to their anachronistic nature. One was heavily part of a puzzle, so it felt less immersive. Moving between Scotland Yard and the boarding room could be difficult at times, due to it’s nature, and would preclude accessibility for some. Twice we asked for hints which confirmed we were doing the right thing, just not “right” enough, due to some finicky puzzles.

Verdict:

Odyssey excels at bringing their historically themed escape rooms to life, and Ripper: Solve the Mystery is a great example of how escape rooms can tell these stories in an immersive fashion. The mystery presented is slowly unraveled in a unique way, and the story unfolds naturally through the puzzles. The room focuses on investigation and allows for quite a few a-ha moments, which sets this room apart from many others in the South. Enthusiasts will definitely enjoy this distinctive challenge, but I suggest new players do a couple rooms before taking the Ripper on, as this is a fairly difficult room. Book your investigation here!

9/10 (Excellent)