The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

This is not a review of a specific escape room, but rather a general comment on escape rooms.

The escape room industry is exploding! Every day a new room is opening. I think that with my experience I am qualified to comment on the quality of what I have seen.

Let’s break it down:

The good

Those are the escape rooms that are here to stay. They owners are there to make money of course, but they are not there for the quick buck. As soon as you walk into the lobby and certainly as you enter the room you see the level of investment that the owner has put into the room. NOT necessarily in monetary value, but more so in investing in the game itself. If you’re engaged as a player, if you feel like part of the adventure, if the game makes sense and flows its a good game.

If it’s the fastest hour of your life. It’s a good game.

The bad

You walk into a room and start playing your game. In minutes you just want it to be over. If it doesn’t make sense, if the puzzle is just there because you get the feeling that someone just threw the puzzle in there without connecting it to the story, its a bad game. It can be a million dollar room (believe me, I’ve seen some amazing rooms) but the games just don’t make sense it’s a bad room. And it’s a shame because it ruins it for everyone. There are so many of those around. It sucks when you walk out of a room and feel like you’ve just wasted an hour that you won’t get back. It sucks when you try and find redeeming qualities of the experience that you just went through, and you simply can’t find any.

The ugly

These are the worst rooms! Ever! The idea is great, it has so much potential. You’re excited when you read about it on the web site, you’re ready to go as you enter the room. Then in the space of a few seconds, all the wind is out of your sails.

My pet peeve (among others) are ugly rooms. Those rooms that offer a great idea for a game and then execute them like an after thought.

Owners, please for the love of everything holy. If you have a great idea, make sure that you put an effort into bringing it to life, because I’ll come and play it.

Don’t make me hate you.

Verbal Diarrhea

I have verbal diarrhea. This blog is a collection of reviews that I have collected over the past four years or so. I am publishing these posts in quick sequence because I have finally decided to get off my back side and do something about it.

Although I may not remember exact dates, I will try and publish my reviews and thoughts as soon as I can.

But I promise from now on that any time I do a room in the future I will publish as review as soon as I can.

My First Wow

As I mentioned in my last post and my introduction I’m an engineer. My work takes me to many places around the world and allows me to play rooms all over the globe. This time I landed in Tucson, Arizona.

Again, a quiet night with little to do. So….

I went looking for an escape room. I came across Escape Room Tucson. I know this is a shout out to them, and I am not affiliated with them. But I need to set some ground rules. When I post a review, if it is a good review I will mention the name of the establishment and if my experience was not so good or down right bad, I won’t mention them by name.

I called Escape Room Tucson and asked about playing one of their rooms. For the first time (admittedly I was an escape room noob at the time) but the owner asked me if I had played an escape room before. After I said I played one, she suggested that I play their beginner room, called “The Hangover”. It was very nice to know that the owner had wanted me to have a fun and fitting experience and wasn’t just after my money (more about that later).

I was asked to arrive 15 minutes before the scheduled game time to go over a “briefing?”. OK… I haven’t had a briefing before a mission since my time in the service. Interesting, what is all this about…

Well, I go there, this time with a bunch of people I know from work. We are greeted by the owner AJ, sign the obligatory waivers and sit down for the briefing. It was immensely helpful. It was not a serious briefing in the sense that we laughed a lot and made jokes, but the information that we gained there really did help us. We went over rules, hints, tips, techniques and most importantly. How important it is to use common sense.

Now for the game. The setting is a Las Vegas hotel room and the aim is to bail from the room within one hour before security comes and finds out the mess we made of the room (Sounds familiar ?!?!?).

It is a room based around locks and keys and it was so much fun!!! We had a real blast. The room theme as well as the games fit really well into the theme of “The Hangover” and time flew by. This time though, we were all working all the time. There was so much to do at any given time that I can honestly say that it was one of the shortest hours of my life.

We escaped with seconds left. Opening the final lock and escaping was such a rush. We all had adrenaline running through our veins. Yeah! we got this! We were all high fiving each other and in comes the owner and starts high fiving all of us as well.

One more thing. In this room there was an actor in the room with us, the game master. There to give us hints when we need them, but in this case they didn’t play the game for us. Something that later on I would find can be extremely helpful or extremely infuriating. In this case it was just the right amount of help.

After the escape and when we all calmed down we had our photos taken and headed out for Mexican food (as if there is anything else in Tucson), but I already knew where I was going on my next business trip to Tucson.

Again, this is a shout out for Escape Room Tucson (www.escaperoomtucson.com) and AJ. Thank you for such a memorable experience and for really igniting my passion about escape rooms.

In one sentence. This is how an escape room is meant to be done.

My first review

Several years ago my engineering job took me to Scottsdale. On a quiet night with little to do I was looking for something, anything.

I went online and found┬ásomething called an escape room. My ears were pricked. I called them up, not knowing what I’m in for and a life long obsession was born.

So here it is.

It was an apartment and the aim of the game was to funnily enough, escape the apartment.

I won’t go into the games themselves because I don’t want to reveal their secrets.

But here is what I learnt:

  • Working with strangers is not always bad. In fact due to the low level of familiarity with the other players we were more “respectful” towards each other, so communication was better.
  • On the flip side. Language barriers are always a challenge especially when dealing with puzzles that are in the English language. For me as a native speaker, escape rooms in an English speaking country pose no problem. But I could just imagine playing a room in France, Spain, China or any other non-English speaking country.
  • I have good eye sight. But one of the puzzles was outside the room. It was night and the final piece of the puzzle was really hard to see. It was a bit of a let down.
  • Puzzles were number based and the room was based entirely on locks and keys. It was what I learnt much later a “gen 1” room. Over the years, “gen 2” was born. But more about those later.
  • The room was linear, there was one path for the game play which means, that although it was fun, there were times where I was standing around waiting for other players to finish.

 

We came so close to escaping, but alas we did not. The fire was ignited and here we are…

All in all, it was a great experience and set the bar for the future rooms I would play.

Well, hello there…

Hi there.

A little about me. About four years ago I did my first escape room. To date I have done well over a 100 rooms. I guess this makes me some sort of “expert” on escape rooms. I have played as many as five rooms in a single night. Maybe a better word than enthusiast is nut. I’m also an engineer by trade which creates a natural connection between me and the technology involved in escape room games.

Other than that, I love puzzles. Really, Really love puzzles. The affinity to escape rooms is only natural.

Recently, I have sat down and tried to recount all of my experiences. I wanted to share them with others and I want to have my say, for all that counts. So, I decided to blog it.

I want to write about good experiences, bad ones, thoughts about the escape room industry. People I’ve met with and other players and owners I’ve had the chance to talk to.

I’m apologizing ahead of time for the lack of photos. As you know, owners are a secretive bunch about their trade…