Time Traveler Escape Games – Lavinia Fisher’s Boarding House (Review)

Location: Charleston, SC

Players: 2-8 (We recommend 3-5)

Price: $28 per person

Time to Escape: 60 minutes

Have a nice slay!

Theme:

You and your friends have been travelling all day in order to reach Charleston, SC, but the sun has just dropped below the horizon and you need to rest. Luckily, the Six Mile Wayfarer House is just down the road, and the congenial Lavinia Fisher has plenty of room for all of you. She offers you all a cup of tea while she prepares your room, andyou gladly accept. After you’ve settled down in the attic boarding room however, you begin to feel uneasy and find that the door has been locked from the outside! Unnaturally sleepy, you must fight through the effects of the now obviously poisoned tea, or fall victim to America’s first female serial killer!

First Impressions:

Like Dr. Trott’s Apothecary, Lavinia Fisher’s Boarding House is based off the local Charleston legend of the first female serial killer in America. An interesting take on the usual trope of escape room serial killers, a favorite guilty pleasure of mine, I was excited to see how this historically based game would turn out!

High Points:

The infamous Lavinia Fisher was notorious for poisoning her guests with tea, and our visit to the Six Mile Wayfarer House was no exception. After downing some Snapple tea, (which we all agreed was definitely not poisoned, no sir,) we were ushered into our accommodations and locked in! The historical building offered a very authentic looking boarding room, with strange architecture and interesting furnishings, keeping us immersed in the early American theme. There’s a particular prop that most enthusiasts have seen that is presented in a slightly more interesting way, keeping our usual distaste for it at bay. There are a couple original interactions that we really enjoyed, one of which required some excellent teamwork and communication. The puzzle threads lead towards a great reveal, showing us the startling handiwork of our host and bringing the creepy vibe which had only been hinted at throughout the early stages of the room. Slow burn horror truly is the best horror.

Low Points:

There is one particular part of the room that is technical in a way that doesn’t quite fit the overall adventure. The puzzles it is integrated with feel off theme and random; technical for the sake of having tech. Two early game puzzles are triggered by the same input, and the clues to open them are very similar, so we spent an undue amount of time spinning our wheels when we started up a later part of the game early, figuring that the original puzzle was solved. Luckily, the GM set us back on track after a while, but this could be prevented by having different input devices or making the interactions a bit less similar. A lot of the puzzles in the room are vague, without much connective tissue between them to lead towards intuitive solutions, and in some cases, we only figured out one of them because it looked like there would be some technical interaction at a certain point in the room. New players will have a lot of trouble in these spots, due to the already obtuse presentation of these puzzles.

The room itself looks very convincing, but unfortunately the ceiling is very low in points. I’m not the tallest player by any stretch of the imagination, but I banged my head no less than five times, even as I was trying to be careful not to. Our usual group didn’t play this one, but our over six foot teammate would’ve had a headache by the end of this one for sure. The room is otherwise spacious, and will fit the maximum of eight players, but the linear game flow really doesn’t. We had five, and it was really difficult to have more than two people physically working on any one puzzle; enthusiasts will find the flow very cramped. Again, as in their previous room, there is no timer, which can help or hurt depending on your preferences, but we really prefer to measure our time independently, so I mention it here. Finally, we had some severe trouble with the final puzzle due to faulty feedback, stretching an already banal interaction into a much longer ordeal. The climax wasn’t overly exciting, and made very little sense within the theme, which was disappointing given the much more engaging nature of Dr. Trott’s Apothecary.

Verdict:

If you have only a couple players, Lavinia Fisher’s Boarding House might be more exciting, but the game flow issues and uneven storyline make this room a hard sell. Newcomers will be frustrated by puzzles that seem to cater to enthusiasts being able to spot tech rather than being clued naturally, and enthusiasts will feel limited by the overly linear gameplay. If you’re visiting Time Traveler Escape Games, I definitely recommend trying Dr. Trott’s Apothecary instead, but if you want to try your hand at escaping the Six Mile Wayfarer House, you can do so here.

5/10 (Mediocre)

Full Disclosure: Time Traveler Escape Games comped our tickets for this room.

Time Traveler Escape Games – Dr. Trott’s Apothecary (Review)

Location: Charleston, SC

Players: 2-8 (We recommend 3-5)

Price: $28 per person

Time to Escape: 60 minutes

A bit of heroin for your cold will fix you right up!

Theme:

It’s 1867 and the rain has been falling in Charleston, SC for four straight days. Citizens are beginning to worry that Dr. Trott is the reason for all their woes, due to the fact that he’s captured a mermaid within his apothecary and refuses to set her free! The unprecedented storm threatens to bury the whole city underwater unless you can find the mermaid and set her free. Dr. Trott returns in an hour, though, so you’d better act fast!

First Impressions:

Dr. Trott’s Apothecary is based on a local legend that you can read about here! It’s really quite fascinating that people truly rioted outside of a pharmacy because they thought that the owner was holding a mermaid hostage, but that’s the 1800’s for you. An escape room based on the hidden legends of Charleston really sounded like a fantastic idea, so we were very excited to give Time Traveler Escape Games a visit during our most recent trip out!

High Points:

Dr. Trott’s Apothecary is well decorated, housing some excellent tech, lighting, and sound effects to simulate the storm, as well as other hidden surprises to assist with the immersion factor of the game. Though there are a few trick puzzle boxes and locks, generally a huge escape room sin, they are clued cleverly and justify their inclusion by being more than just a box purchased online and sat in the room for no thematic reason. The game flow runs nicely, and is non linear for the most part, with a subtle clue to start off the room’s puzzling threads. Each section of the apothecary feels like it’s own level of sorts, with all the threads coming together to unlock the next segment, leading to another challenge that repeats the process. We are big fans of this video game like style of escape room puzzling and are glad to see it catching on in Charleston!

Connections within the room are intuitive, and the meta puzzles for each step work smoothly, with the original and sometimes room spanning puzzles keeping our group of five engaged with the story throughout the entire adventure. When we needed a hint or two our GM provided clever clues that gave us just the right amount of push without giving the answer away outright, which is always appreciated. There’s quite a few props to play around with, and all of them are integrated well into the theme of a sea loving, (perhaps too much,) pharmacist from the 1860’s.

Low Points:

One puzzle failed spectacularly on us, and it seemed like there was no backup to overcome the technical problem. Though we eventually were able to force it to finally trigger, it burned a lot of time off of our clock. From behind the scenes looks of other tech heavy rooms I’ve done, I’ve noticed most have a program of backups in place should a puzzle be solved and the prop not trigger, so that might be worth looking into for Time Traveler Escape Games. Though light on hidden objects for hidden objects’ sake, there is one that felt overly well hidden, and without a puzzle or clue to help find it, it feels like a random scavenger hunt rather than an exciting solve. One early puzzle was interesting, but involved a fairly large leap of logic, coupled with searching for a small marking that just blends in with its surroundings, leading to some early frustration on our part. There’s also no timer within the room, which adds to the authenticity, but can make marking your progress within difficult, so this could really go either way based on your preferences.

Verdict:

Dr. Trott’s Apothecary is a fun room for first time players and enthusiasts alike, delivering multiple stages of puzzling fun. Though there are a couple points at which the room failed on us, these seem to be isolated cases of bad luck and I still recommend checking this one out in order to delve into the hidden history of Charleston for an hour, and commend Time Traveler Escape Games on coming up with such an excellent idea. Book your rescue mission here!

7/10 (Good)

Full Disclosure: Time Traveler Escape Games comped our tickets for this room.