Lockbusters – Cremlocke Manor (Review)

Location: Orlando, FL

Players:  2-7 (We recommend 2-4)

Price: $29 per person

Time to Escape: 45 minutes

Mr. Cremlocke is quite the lady-killer.

Theme:

Cremlocke Manor has always been the subject of immense speculation and suspicion. The former owner has long since passed away, and the sordid history of the manor has passed into the status of an urban legend. The master of the mansion’s previous four wives all died under mysterious circumstances, and it’s said they, and their treacherous husband, continue to haunt the halls of this once great manor to this day. As paranormal investigators, it’s up to you to see if you can finally put these spirits to rest. Careful, though, as others have gone in with the same good intentions and have never returned!

First Impressions:

For our last spontaneous room of the day, we were taking on Lockbusters’ forty-five minute haunted manor! I always love a spooky room, and this was definitely one of the rooms I was most looking forward to during our time at Lockbusters, even though it was a shorter experience.

High Points:

Cremlocke Manor is definitely a spooky game, with a fantastic story to go along with it. With new story beats popping up fairly frequently, new tidbits of narrative help develop the narrative as we solved. The mystery continued to build until everything culminated in a fantastic climax, propelling us towards a frantic race to complete the final puzzles and set everything right at the end. Cremlocke may be a smaller room than some of Lockbuster’s other experiences, but it has the biggest story of all of them, which really helps with the immersion factor. The puzzles themselves are well integrated into the story as well, and many tie directly into the mystery, allowing each moment to hold a bigger significance than just another roadblock along the game flow. The puzzles became more and more creative as the game continued, and we greatly enjoyed the use of tech within the room to help the ghastly manor become magically alive with supernatural power!

The set itself is fantastic, and feels convincing as the sitting room of an opulent manor home. The lighting effects and creepy sound effects build an atmosphere of creepiness without relying on cheap jump scares and provides a more horror themed than horrific experience overall. The experience provides many clues as to what needs to be done from the start, and does a masterful job of ensuring that the threads of the ultimate solution are intuitive and evident once everything comes together in the final, frantic interaction. Though the room is very linear, this approach works well in delivering a well fleshed out story that did an excellent job surprising us with it’s twists and turns.

Low Points:

The beginning of the room starts off fairly directionless, and the initial interaction doesn’t really have much in the way of cluing to get players going. We wasted a lot of time trying to figure out what to do, and by the time we asked for a much needed hint to get started, we were already feeling the time pressure of a forty-five minute room. One particular early stage puzzle was made even more difficult as we had a little trouble snagging what we needed, which wasn’t an intended challenge. At one point, there’s also a bit of a red herring due to the nature of one of the props used to solve the presented challenge, adding a little too much uncertainty to what exactly we needed to be doing. Due to the room’s linear set up, a bigger group might have trouble staying fully engaged since there’s only so much to work on at one time.

Verdict:

Cremlocke Manor is a great experience for smaller groups and newer players, with a linear game flow that allows for an expansive, and hauntingly excellent story! Enthusiasts will enjoy the immersion level of this room, and the mystery to be solved within is absolutely to die for. If you’re looking for an escape that provides mystery, original puzzles, and a gripping narrative, you definitely cannot go wrong here. Find out what happened in Cremlocke Manor here!

8/10 (Great)

Full Disclosure: Lockbusters provided our team with comped tickets.

Lockbusters – Chopper Down (Review)

Location: Orlando, FL

Players:  2-7 (We recommend 4-6)

Price: $32 per person

Time to Escape: 60 minutes

Blackhawk Down

Theme:

Your team of military operatives has crash landed behind enemy lines, and have been subsequently captured by the enemy. Determined to complete your mission, you must first break out of your cell, gather what equipment you can from the wreckage of your helicopter, and infiltrate the enemy fortress. Once inside, you’ll need to find their missile and use it against them!

First Impressions:

After a rollicking good time during Pirate Adventure, we were ready to take on Lockbuster’s most difficult game, Chopper Down! Well, not quite ready. Before our previous game, we met a couple of enthusiasts and stuck up a conversation before they headed into Lockbuster’s version of Cannibal Collector, a game that we had played previously and loved. Knowing we might need a couple more experienced hands for this one, we were happy to hear they were down to escape another room! (And we absolutely needed their help!)

High Points:

Lockbusters does an excellent job with their sets, and Chopper Down is absolutely no exception. The sound design and lighting really enhanced the mood, and one giant set piece was a wonder to behold. (Though I am a bit disappointed we didn’t get to root around in it.) Great care has been made to ensure the wreckage feels immersive and authentic during the adventure, and it shows. The story is fairly simple, but original, and once the room starts, it’s very clear what your mission is, you just have to figure out how to complete it. This room absolutely lives up to it’s reputation as a challenging room, and for the most part, it isn’t obtuse or difficult for the sake of difficulty. With a good group of enthusiasts, this one feels like an appropriate challenge.

The game flow was almost completely non-linear, which kept the four of us completely engaged, as there was something to do one hundred percent of the time. Bouncing back and forth between the rooms, the game naturally presented us with clues that allowed us to make intuitive connections between props, as well as separate what was important from what wasn’t. The puzzles presented throughout the room are highly original, and many rely on interacting with the set in entertaining and tactile ways. One of the final few puzzles helped culminate a large seek and find game we had played throughout, and though we usually are underwhelmed by item hunts, this one was satisfying and had an entertaining conclusion. The final sequence was awesome, and the climax was appropriate, ending the adventure on a high note.

Low Points:

For all the fun of Chopper Down, it did have a few hiccups that derailed our experience now and again. A couple puzzles were rather banal compared to the rest, one feeling a bit too simplistic, and the other being… somewhat weird with the answer given. The non-linear nature of the game caused a little havoc from time to time when something solved in one area opened something in a vastly different area, creating some confusion on what had opened. Luckily, the feedback was such that we knew we were correct, it was just the matter of finding what opened. Usually, there were bells connected to the item, but if everyone was farther away, this would go unnoticed. Several puzzles would benefit from just a smidge more cluing, as either it was entirely unclear what the rules of the interaction were, or there was no indication where a certain answer would fit. The weak cluing in a couple instances were the only points in which the room felt obtuse, or difficult to be difficult, and I think just a tiny bit more direction could improve the puzzles while still remaining a challenging experience.

Verdict:

Chopper Down is a doozy, no question about it! But with a determined group of enthusiasts, I’m sure the mission can be completed. Newbies may want to try out a different room or two before tackling this one, but overall, it’s a really entertaining romp. I definitely recommend getting a group of at least four seasoned teammates together for this one, and when you do, you can book here!

7.5/10 (Good)

Full Disclosure: Lockbusters provided our team with comped tickets.

Lockbusters – Pirate Adventure (Review)

Location: Orlando, FL

Players:  2-8 (We recommend 2-8)

Price: $32 per person

Time to Escape: 60 minutes

Drink up me hearties, yo ho!

Theme:

You’ve made your way onto the ship of the legendary pirate, Captain Bonefish, who unfortunately didn’t have any burgers and sushi on his ship. Armed with a lust for gold, and the knowledge that the Captain left clues to the location of his vast fortune somewhere on board, you set off on an adventure that could end in fame and glory, or a watery grave!

First Impressions:

We arrived in Orlando a bit earlier than we initially expected, and after lunch, we were just wandering about, waiting for our Airbnb to be ready. Obviously a quick search for nearby escape rooms was in order, and we found that Lockbusters, a spot we wanted to try out but were unable to fit into our schedule at first, was less than a mile away! I called to see if they might be able to fit us in on short notice, and were excited that Gabe, an awesome GM we had a lot of fun with in previous rooms, was now at Lockbusters and was able to squeeze us in to the three rooms we hadn’t done yet!

High Points:

This room was huge! It was an excellent surprise when we found that the room just kept opening up more and more, taking us through a complete pirate adventure. The storyline itself was simple, a usual find the pirate’s treasure affair, but the ever evolving room really elevated the experience beyond being just that. The story being told is yours, and is reminiscent of The Goonies, with somewhat less actual mortal peril. Each room is distinct, and full of puzzles, with the experience bouncing us back and forth as we frantically solved each enigma. The room absolutely kept both of us engaged, but it was definitely manageable. A larger group would still have a lot of fun, as the experience is non linear, and there are many opportunities for teamwork during the larger scale puzzles.

The game flow was extremely intuitive, with each riddle clued excellently. Those points at which there were fewer explicit clues were still environmentally intuitive, and the sense of satisfaction we received from these interactions was substantial. There are not too many locks in the room, and most puzzles rely on some very well hidden tech, giving the game a magical feel throughout. Each time a puzzle was successfully solved, it was obvious that something had opened, as the appearance of a newly revealed item would sound out clearly, preventing any confusion from silently opening doors or boxes. The whole experience is wonderfully inventive, with a Hollywood style set design and dynamic lighting and sound effects being utilized throughout. The room is also fantastically tactile, with some of the most original puzzles being solved via manipulation of some well themed set pieces. The immersion of this pirate adventure is really second to none.

Low Points:

There were quite a few moments where we stalled out because there was a lot of scavenging to do. Though hidden objects are ok, it’s always much more fun when there’s a clue or puzzle involved with finding them. A couple times, one puzzle type was repeated, and not being huge fans of them, it did get a bit old. Both versions, however were set up in such a way as to be more directed, so it was more enjoyable than usual.

Verdict:

Pirate Adventure isn’t just another pirate themed escape room! Lockbusters has definitely created a great room here that floats above the run of the mill, and does an excellent job immersing players within their own treasure hunting story. With a great game flow, inventive puzzles, and a superb staff, I can absolutely recommend giving this room a go. Book your time hunting for Bonefish’s treasure here!

8.5/10 (Great)

Full Disclosure: Lockbusters provided our team with comped tickets.