Port City Escape – Motel 813 (Preview)

Location: Wilmington, NC

Players:  2-5 (We recommend 2-3)

Price: $26 per person

Time to Escape: 60 minutes

No Vacancy

Theme:

After a long day of driving, you’ve decided you need to stop for sleep. Spying a motel on your way that doesn’t look too sketchy, you pull in and get a room. Number 813 to be exact. When you enter, the 70s vibe strikes you as odd, as do the weird decorations and creepy dolls. To add to the uneasy feeling, the lights suddenly shut off and you can’t get the door open! Figure out the mystery of the room and find a phone to call for help before whatever is in this room tires of playing with you!

First Impressions:

The aesthetic of the room is really great, and stepping in and closing the door really does transport you into a disused motel room from the 70s. Horror rooms are always exciting for me, doubly so when the room involves a supernatural theme rather than the usual fare of serial killers and mad doctors, I was definitely looking forward to this one!

High Points:

Along with the immersive set, a mysterious story regarding a family that stayed here in the past began to evolve as we solved the room’s linear puzzles. I’m always glad to see when a room evolves beyond a puzzle room and becomes a full escape experience, so exploring these story elements was a lot of fun. The space is well used and contains many hidden secrets, encouraging groups to explore every nook and cranny to piece together the enigmas. Props stay well integrated into the theme and one in particular is extremely fun and hilarious to use due to it’s unwieldly and now obsolete nature.

Low Points:

To preface, most low points were a result of the nature of the room being tested for full release. Some parts of the room felt incomplete, and a couple hidden objects felt much too well hidden for the setup. We also noticed that the story was appropriately mysterious and spooky, but unfortunately stayed that way when all was said and done. However, in our discussions with the owners, we were assured that these issues were being addressed, and were also informed of some new features that we think will really tie to room together well!

Verdict:

As this was a beta test and this is more of a preview, I will refrain from giving a concrete score to the room, as it was not 100% finalized during our visit. However, there is a lot of potential throughout and we did enjoy our time in Room 813. While parts were rough around the edges, this is to be expected for a beta test and after our discussion with the owners afterwards, we are confident that this room will be a great spooky experience! Motel 813 is now open and you can book your haunting here!

Full Disclosure: We beta tested this room at no charge. Elements may have changed since our visit.

Port City Escape – Nuclear Countdown (Review)

Port City Escape – Nuclear Countdown (Review)

Location: Wilmington, NC

Players:  2-10 (We recommend 4-5)

Price: $26 per person

Time to Escape: 60 minutes

We work together this time, comrade!

Theme:

It’s the middle of the Cold War and tensions are high on both sides. Luckily, however, mutually assured destruction is keeping anyone from making any rash decisions, and a razor thin détente is holding on. The posturing and fear, however, has sparked one man to take control of the nuclear launch codes and he has threatened to let them fire in one hour unless the warring nations work together to stop them!

First Impressions:

After Blackbeard’s Escape, we were excited to see what Port City would do with another historically ripe theme. The Cold War is definitely an interesting point to explore, and escape rooms are a great way to add a little historical education while having fun, as seen in rooms like Ripper – Solve the Mystery!

High Points:

Some historical props and pieces to puzzles were interesting to see and examine, even if they were not 100% able to be interacted with. There were a few puzzles were fairly interactive and supplied multiple step conundrums to solve, which led to an enjoyable puzzle thread near the end. Cluing was direct, allowing us to generally know what we needed to do next.

Low Points:

The story was a little convoluted, and as it evolved within the room, it made less and less sense to us, as the motivations of our bad guy became weirdly conflicting. The room was quite a bit sparser and felt, on the whole, a lot emptier than others we did at Port City. Puzzle props were not as high quality as in the other two rooms, and felt overall like a step down from their Blackbeard room. Puzzles came fast and furious in a non-linear fashion, but weren’t extremely exciting to us, mostly feeling banal at best, and frustratingly obtuse at worst. Set design did little to catch the eye, which was a huge departure from Port City’s other rooms, which were very immersive. Though many props were theme appropriate, the way many were presented felt sterile and non-interactive. Afterwards multiple teammates lamented that they did not feel very engaged throughout.

Verdict:

Nuclear Countdown was surprisingly average compared to Port City’s other escape experiences. The theme itself is full of potential, but overall, the game doesn’t rise to it. I definitely recommend trying out the other rooms here, but this one will need some work to become an adventure that truly stands out from the crowd. You can book your time in the bunker here.

5/10 (Mediocre)

Full Disclosure: Port City Escape provided Media Discounted tickets for our group.

Port City Escape – Blackbeard’s Escape (Review)

Location: Wilmington, NC

Players:  2-10 (We recommend 4-5)

Price: $26 per person

Time to Escape: 60 minutes

A pirate’s life for me!

Theme:

Blackbeard has blockaded the port of Charlestowne, SC, demanding a meeting with the governor. You are a prisoner in the brig of one of his vessels, which has currently made port in order for Blackbeard to deliver his demands, giving you only an hour to escape. You’ll need to sneak out of your cell somehow, and maybe steal some of Blackbeard’s treasure for yourself before breaking out and disappearing into the bustle of Charlestowne before anyone knows you’ve gone missing!

First Impressions:

To preface, I love pirates, or at least the romanticized version of pirates that are the norm in popular fiction, but I’ve never played a pirate themed room that has been amazing, so while I always go into new rooms optimistically, my history led me to make sure I tempered my expectations. The admittedly cheesy intro video didn’t really get my hopes up too much, but I reserved judgment for when we actually entered the room.

High Points:

The room itself was one of the best decorated pirate rooms I’d been in yet, set design was extremely well done, and no small details were glossed over. There were a few fun, but not frustrating dexterity puzzles sprinkled among more standard escape room fare that I very much enjoyed fiddling with. Puzzle flow worked well, and there were subtle hints towards what went together, which helped lead us to conclusions without simply thrusting the answer on us. Everything within the room was a piece of the puzzle, and integrated into the game seamlessly. Though there was no technology present in the room, (appropriate, due to the theme,) the game did not feel low budget or less exciting.

Low Points:

Some of the same puzzles were used to open multiple locks, which was a little redundant. More modern locks were mixed with older, theme appropriate locks, which is understandable, but breaks immersion slightly and makes the room more of a puzzle room than an escape experience.

Verdict:

Blackbeard’s Escape has the best set design and game experience of any of the pirate rooms I had done before, and is the first one of that particular theme to feel like it was much more than simply good. While it has a couple of minor flaws, it would make a great introductory room for new players, and is still a fun and challenging experience for veterans. Book your time in the brig here!

8.5/10 (Great)

Full Disclosure: Port City Escape provided Media Discounted tickets for our team.

Green Light Escape Room – Alien Escape (Review)

Location: Wilmington, NC

Players:  3-8 (We recommend 4-5)

Price: $26 per person

Time to Escape: 60 minutes

Don’t get probed!

Theme:

Waking up to the hum of unfamiliar machinery, you and your friends slowly realize that the room you are standing in is not of this planet! As impossible as it may seem, you’ve been abducted by aliens, and judging from the sterility of the room and the sharpness of the instruments on the tables, it isn’t going to be a pleasant trip! You’re contacted soon after waking by another human survivor, who lets you know that he has found an escape pod and will wait for you to find him, but he’s not going to wait around forever and be recaptured, so you’ve got 60 minutes to get out or get probed!

First Impressions:

While waiting for the previous group to finish up in the Alien room, we heard some… interesting noises emanating into the lobby. Evidently the group was all kids, so some noises could be easily explained that way, but it certainly sounded like they were having a blast!

High Points:

Set design in Alien Escape was the best among the three rooms at Green Light Escape Room, with fantastical props, weird alien dissections, and… something growing on the walls around a strange machine. After a slightly bumpy start (totally our fault, as our brains had begun to numb at this, room #5,) the logical flow of the room ran together very well. The linear nature of the beginning didn’t leave out any in our group of 6, and the branching paths and teamwork puzzles of the second half of the room kept us all busy. Several of the puzzles integrated well with the theme and allowed for spatial puzzle solving involving the whole team. One puzzle we were advised was a new addition was elegant in its simplicity, but was still a challenge to solve, while not being an enormous time sink. The climax of the room was appropriately exciting and well implemented, and disoriented us in the best possible way.

Low Points:

A couple of the props were worn and could stand to be replaced. One beginning puzzle was interesting to start, but dragged after the first half of solving, though its solution triggered a fun interaction. Some basic lock types showed up that, while understandable, don’t quite mesh with the theme as well, due to the alien nature of the room, breaking immersion slightly.

Verdict:

Alien Escape was a definite favorite of mine in Wilmington, and not only was a superb game boasting great puzzle flow and set design, but was challenging to boot. I’d definitely recommend checking it out, and while you’re there, you can try to beat our new record, boasting our brand new team name! (Special thanks to A-Team member Cathy Nanni for devising the new moniker!)

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Book your abduction here!

8.5/10 (Great)

Full Disclosure: Green Light Escape Room provided Media Discounted tickets for our team.

Green Light Escape Room – Escape the Roxbury (Review)

Location: Wilmington, NC

Players:  3-10 (We recommend 4-5)

Price: $26 per person

Time to Escape: 60 minutes

What is love?

Theme:

The world’s most bumbling criminal has sent a bomb threat to the FBI, letting them know that his target, The Roxbury, has been littered with explosives and set to blow in one hour. Barely believing the threat, the Bureau sends it’s most incompetent team of Agents, you! Unfortunately, the threat is all too real, and you’ll need to find all the bombs and safely dispose of them before they blow you away!

First Impressions:

Kidnapped! was a good game, and we were looking forward to a rare, and more challenging, comedy room. The story delivered to us was pretty funny, so we were very ready to get started, as we were led down the hall and into the room itself.

High Points:

Once we had made our way into the Roxbury itself, the room kicked into high gear as the DJ table, bar, and other parts of the room had a great assortment of fun props to mess around with. The DJ table itself was excellent fun, especially for one player who spent a good bit of time enjoying the turntable and it’s many buttons and knobs. Her discovery of the volume knob made for a hilarious misadventure of unintended humor as well. The second half of the game has several really fun puzzles that jump from spot to spot in the room, and allow for a non linear mode of solving which engaged the whole group. Set design for the club itself was immersive and a lot of fun to explore and interact with.

Low Points:

We were surprised by the banality of our initial entrance into the room, as we were expecting the nightclub, but we were ushered into an employee break room for the nightclub instead. While the set design for this stage of the game obviously looked like a break room, it wasn’t exactly an interesting set to start a room in. For a comedy room, most jokes were mildly amusing, and the humor was mostly referential, so for those who aren’t in the know, the comedy will fall flat. The storyline to start the room was appropriately zany, but might be too topical to stay humorous for long, and once the room began, the story didn’t really continue through the escape. One particular puzzle seemed sort of random, as there wasn’t really any direction toward it and it didn’t seem like a puzzle until we were given a clue that it was.

Verdict:

Escape the Roxbury is an enjoyable game with several minor flaws. Though it doesn’t quite reach the comedic goals it sets for itself, it does provide a good game that could be built upon further to deliver a more immersive and thrilling escape. Book your trip to the Roxbury here!

7/10 (Good)

Full Disclosure: Green Light Escape Room provided Media Discounted tickets for our group.