To preface, The Final Sacrifice was retired on September 17th, 2017, the day just after we played. We made a special trip to Charlotte to do so, and we’re glad we did. The only regret we have, is that we can’t recommend others go! I figured I’d still do a review, however, as this room is, (Spoiler Alert,) definitely worthy of the praise I’m about to heap on it here.
Location: Charlotte, NC
Players: 2-10 (We recommended 8-10)
Price: $25 per person
Time to Escape: 60 minutes
You have been following The Church of Light and Dark’s teachings as an acolyte to the cult, but today, your faith is to be tested as part of an initiation ritual to contact and bring forth their dark god, Baruta. You have a limited window to do so, however, and those who fail this test will be sacrificed to sate his anger! As evidenced by the blood on the altar, many have failed, but those who succeed are promised immortality! Break free from your chains and complete the ritual, and you will become one of the few worthy of eternal life!
Exit Strategy South’s usual rules briefing is turned completely on its head, as the normally bright room is pitch dark save for a single lantern when you’re led in. The employee who leads you in slips away and you’re left in silence (or in our case, loud joking rowdiness,) with your team, waiting for your game master to arrive. When he does, it is a exciting bit of theatre, and for our team, a hilarious back and forth with the cult leader! This briefing set the tone for this intense, creepy, but unexpectedly light-heartedly humorous adventure. Once our introduction was complete, we were hooded and led half of the group at a time into the sacrificial chamber. There, we were chained to the wall, (or in one unlucky initiate’s case, the sacrificial table,) after which our time began!
After that splendid introduction, we were immediately thrust into the meat of the room. To start, the big reveal that one of our friends had been chained to a table was a startling, (and let’s be honest, amusing,) start to the room. A linear, one room experience, The Final Sacrifice somehow was still able to immerse all 10 of our group members in the expertly crafted story and puzzles. Once we began to unlock each other from our restraints, it became obvious that teamwork was absolutely necessary to our success. This was one of the few rooms where it really felt like each person was integral to our overall success, and breakdowns in communication could be deadly. The lighting and sound effects really made the room come to life, not to mention the great props to be found within. Macabre surprises lurked around every corner and within every unlocked area, and every solved puzzle felt like a victory. The hint system and GM interactions were perfectly executed, and I could not have asked for a better overall experience as story, puzzles, interactions, and flow came together to provide an intense and immersive experience I’ll never forget.
We didn’t have many, though I can see one particular puzzle ruining the experience for some groups, especially if they are mostly strangers, as teamwork is heavily required here. In fact, one of our friends was unable to join our group, but played in the next time slot after our excited recommendation to do so, and the fact that she played with less than friendly strangers tanked the experience for her. But that’s more an issue with playing with strangers in general. Also, two players are locked down for longer than the others, and that can be a pain in the butt, especially if other teammates don’t work quickly! The only other low point is that this room has been retired, which is a shame!
As of around 100 rooms, The Final Sacrifice is, without reservation, my absolute favorite escape adventure to date. Marrying an immersive theatrical experience to a solid puzzling quest, it set a new standard for escape rooms. A true enthusiasts room, it was a tough, but insanely rewarding challenge that demanded teamwork, observation, and time management, doling out an increasingly amazing story as we delved deeper into the mysteries of The Church of Light and Dark. I hope that whatever replaces this experience is just as fantastic! In the meantime, you can check out Exit Strategy here!