A Puzzler’s Guide to Amazon Prime Day Deals

We scoured Amazon’s Prime Day deals (which are continuing today) for the kinds of things that we think escape room players might enjoy.

So here they are, in no particular order:

Exit: The Game – The Sunken Treasure

Sunken Treasure's box art features a sunken tall ship.

Most of the Exit series is on sale for Prime Day. The Sunken Treasure is one of my favorites (full review) that they offer. It also happens to be one of their easiest games, so it’s great for first-timers to the series.

Mysterium

Mysterium box art.

This is one of the most frequently played tabletop games in our collection. It’s collaborative, easy to learn, challenging to master, and incredibly replayable.

6 Key Puzzle Lock

A large and sturdy brass padlock beside 6 strange brass keys.

I love puzzle locks and this is a good one. We recommend it as a puzzle itself. Please do not put a puzzle lock in an escape room.

3D Crystal Panda Puzzle

A 3 dimensional panda bear holding bamboo.

I have a 3D Crystal Rubber Duck puzzle that I truly enjoy. It has some interesting mechanics. The panda variant is pretty adorable.

Dog Treat Puzzle Ball

2 balls containing dog food

Good doggos should get to puzzle too.

(Note: I love dogs, but I’m allergic to them. I have no idea if this is a good product, but I do like the concept.)

A beautiful shiba on a train platform at night.
This photo of Nick Moran’s dog Elinor was stolen and published without permission.

(If you purchase via our Amazon links, you will help support Room Escape Artist as we will receive a very small percentage of the sale. We appreciate the support.)

Looking Glass Adventures – Mystery at Maryweather Mansion [Review]

Study Egypt

Location:  Toronto, Ontario

Date Played: May 26, 2019

Team size: 2-12; we recommend 2-4

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: $25 CAD per adult, $20 per child (under 13)

Ticketing: Private

Emergency Exit Rating: [A+] No Lock

Physical Restraints: [A+] No Physical Restraints

REA Reaction

Mystery at Maryweather Mansion was not designed for me and my group. Looking Glass Adventures’ target market was younger families, as demonstrated by the changing tables in their bathrooms.

Considering their goal of producing family-friendly adventures that adults can enjoy, I think that they are doing a lovely job.

In-game: A cartoonish purple and green door.

Did I see anything mindblowing? No. However, Mystery at Maryweather Mansion had solid puzzle and set design with a few creative interactions.

If you’re a family in Toronto looking to introduce your children to puzzle adventures, this is a fantastic choice. If you’re an adult looking for a solid escape room with a few interesting interactions, you can absolutely find fun within Mystery at Maryweather Mansion. We did.

Who is this for?

  • Puzzle lovers
  • Families
  • Newbies

Why play?

  • Cute, clever puzzles
  • Approachable gameplay

Story

Renowned archeologist/ adventurer Ms. Maryweather was off on another one of her journeys when she heard a rumor that a rival archeologist was planning to steal her most prized possession from her mansion.

She contacted us, her loyal pupils, to sneak into her home, bypass her security, identify her most prized artifact, and hide it before it could be stolen.

In-game: A purple walled study with a couch flanked by table lamps.

Setting

Mystery at Maryweather Mansion was built around the main character’s study. It looked like a traditional escape room with a few added elements that reminded us that the room was targeted at children.

While most of the game looked typical, the final act had the most interesting aesthetic (and gameplay) twist.

In-game: A wooden desk with locks on the drawers.

Gameplay

Looking Glass Adventures’ Mystery at Maryweather Mansion was a standard escape room with a family-friendly level of difficulty.

Core gameplay revolved around searching, puzzling, observing, and making connections.

In-game: a coat rack with a pair of hats and a handbag hanging from it.

Analysis

➕ The in-character delivery of hints was delightful.

➕ The story behind Mystery at Maryweather Mansion was light but solid. Above all, it didn’t come with a ton of reading.

➕ There were a couple of creative puzzles. My favorites made clever use of Ms. Maryweather’s artifacts.

In-game: A large antique radio beside a couch.

➖ One of the puzzles that I truly enjoyed the mechanics of also felt like it was missing a bit of clue structure. The solution was alluded to, but even after having derived the correct answer for all of the right reasons, we weren’t confident at all until we saw that it worked.

➖ The lighting was too low, especially for the amount of searching required of us. We probably would have had an easier time in this game if we’d had a kid or two searching about.

➕/❓ While the set wasn’t fancy by any measure, Looking Glass Adventures selected an achievable locale and did a fine job. If your game selection is motivated specifically by set design, there won’t be anything that blows your mind.

➖ There were a few locks that had seen a few too many adventures and deserved to retire.

➕ Looking Glass Adventures provided an amusing bonus puzzle after the main game concluded. They do this for speedy teams. This was delivered in-character with the same charm as the hints.

Tips For Visiting

  • Looking Glass Adventures requires at least 2 adults present in the room with a group of children.

Book your hour with Looking Glass Adventures’ Mystery at Maryweather Mansion, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.

Disclosure: Looking Glass Adventures provided media discounted tickets for this game.

On Not Updating Escape Room Prices in Reviews

For years now we’ve been receiving this reasonable request from escape room owners and managers:

“Hey Room Escape Artist, I’m the manager of [escape room company] and we’ve updated our pricing from the $28 per ticket that we had when you reviewed our games to $35 per ticket. Can you update your reviews of our games to reflect the new pricing model?”

And every time, we politely decline this request.

A pink piggy bank looking into the camera.

Why No Price Updates?

When we review an escape room, we review it on a particular date and at a specific price point.

Both the price and the date we played the game were part of the experience.

My go-to example is that we absolutely loved Maze of Hakaina when we played it in 2017. It was fantastic at that time and price point. Our review was our snapshot of that experience. If we were to play it for the first time in 2019 at a higher price, that review would look quite different. How different? We can’t be sure.

Short of re-reviewing a game (Hydeout 2015 vs Hydeout 2019), which is complicated and often times impossible, the best thing that we can do is be honest with our readers about when we played it and what the experience was like at that point in time.

Crypto Escape Rooms – Below Zero [Review]

Cool!

Location:  Newmarket, Ontario

Date Played: May 26, 2019

Team size: 4-8; we recommend 4-5

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: $25 CAD per player

Ticketing: Private

Emergency Exit Rating: [A] Push To Exit

Physical Restraints: [A+] No Physical Restraints

REA Reaction

Below Zero was a standout game with high quality gameplay, narrative, and puzzling. Crypto Escape Rooms has really jumped out into the forefront of where escape rooms ought to be heading.

Newmarket may be a hike from Downtown Toronto, but it’s well worth the trip. When people ask me why I haven’t gotten bored of room escapes, it’s because of gems like Below Zero. Lisa didn’t play this one with me because I was traveling without her, but I am already trying to figure out how to get back there just so that she can play it too.

Below Zero brought me a lot of joy. If you can play it, you ought to.

In-game: A matrix of glowing dots on a door.
Image via Crypto Escape Rooms

Who is this for?

  • Adventure seekers
  • Story seekers
  • Puzzle lovers
  • Scenery snobs
  • Sci-fi fans
  • Players with at least some experience

Why play?

  • Wonderful character
  • Fantastic set
  • Great puzzles
  • Lots of humor
  • All around strong game

Story

We were among the last surviving humans, cryogenically frozen to protect us from a calamity. The good news was that the deep freeze had worked. The bad news was that we had been thawed hundreds of years early.

We had to figure out how to restore ourselves to cryo-freeze.

In-game: Wide angle shot of a control room.
Image via Crypto Escape Rooms

Setting

Below Zero was set in a sci-fi cryogenics lab overseen by a charming artificial intelligence. The set was gorgeous, with puzzles and effects deeply integrated into the environment.

In-game: Wide angle shot of a room with access terminals along the walls.
Image via Crypto Escape Rooms

Gameplay

Crypto Escape Rooms’ Below Zero was a standard escape room with a moderate level of difficulty.

Core gameplay revolved around puzzling, making connections, and interacting with a character.

In-game: A futuristic blue, glowing screen and interface.
Image via Crypto Escape Rooms

Analysis

➕ Bert, the AI, was a wonderful and unique character. His influences were clear, but he proved himself to be far more than just another GLaDOS clone.

➕ Below Zero was a strikingly well-written escape game. I have nothing but praise for the narrative structure, character development, and humor of this game.

In-game: A series of chambers, a radiation symbol on the wall.
Image via Crypto Escape Rooms

➕ Crypto Escape Rooms made excellent use of choice in Below Zero. With clear options, we made a knowing decision and faced the consequences of our selection.

➕ The set was fantastic.

In-game: A storage device with a red object within it.
Image via Crypto Escape Rooms

➖ There were a number of moments that were too loud. On the one hand, this added to the ambiance. On the other hand, it happened a bit too often and the impact diminished.

➕/➖ There was a clever take on the laser maze. I loved what Crypto Escape Rooms did with this mechanic. Unfortunately, it was a little too easy to bypass one of the coolest parts of this interaction.

In-game: Close up shot of a control computer.
Image via Crypto Escape Rooms

➕/❓  Over the course of Below Zero, there were a few occasions where we encountered increasingly challenging renditions of same puzzle concept. I loved the way that this played. I can, however, imagine teams that don’t quite gel with this puzzle type diving deeper into demoralization with each subsequent iteration.

➖ A few props that get handled a lot were showing some wear and could benefit from another coat of paint.

In-game: An input terminal with different disks input into slots.
Image via Crypto Escape Rooms

➕ I’m a sucker for a strong interface where you know that you’ve done something when you interact with it. Give me some good buttons and my enjoyment of a game will jump immediately. Below Zero had great button-y buttons.

Tips For Visiting

  • Parking: Crypto Escape Rooms has a parking lot.

Book your hour with Crypto Escape Rooms’ Below Zero, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.

Disclosure: Crypto Escape Rooms provided media discounted tickets for this game.

Big Break Hamburg – Time Travel [Review]

Climb and crawl through time

Location:  Hamburg, Germany

Date Played: May 10, 2019

Team size: 3-7; we recommend 3-5

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: from 75 € per Group for teams of 2 to 154 € per Group for teams of 7

Ticketing: Private

Emergency Exit Rating: [A+] No Lock

Physical Restraints: [A+] No Physical Restraints

REA Reaction

As with Insomnia, Big Break Hamburg picked another brilliant theme in Time Travel. By having us traverse a broken space-time continuum, each new space was a completely different place, any of which could have been the setting for an entire escape room. (In fact, each setting in Time Travel was a theme for an escape room that we’ve played elsewhere).

Time Travel’s sets were solid. Its puzzles were strong. It played well from start to finish. This was a truly enjoyable escape room that just needed a memorable moment to pull the plot together and deliver something impactful.

In-game: The interior of a heavy metal vault door. Large gears and a locking bolt in view.

All-in-all, Big Break Hamburg is a company worth visiting if you’re in the region. I suggest playing both Time Travel and Insomnia. If you only have time for one, Time Travel played more cleanly, but Insomnia was a bit more memorable.

Who is this for?

  • Adventure seekers
  • Puzzle lovers
  • Scenery snobs
  • Sci-fi fans
  • Any experience level

Why play?

  • Diverse settings
  • Solid puzzling

Story

Many had attempted time travel, but no one had succeeded until Professor Emmerson did. Initially there were celebrations of the incredible accomplishment, until things started changing.

Emmerson had accidentally made minor changes to the timeline that reverberated throughout history. At first the timeline alterations were small. Then as the chaos spread, the changes to the timeline became catastrophic.

We had to repair the timeline before we all disappeared.

In-game: A wall of newspaper clippings, the NY Times piece about Apollo 11 in focus.

Setting

Time Travel opened up in a steampunk-esque time machine, which we used to travel through space and time. Each subsequent set took us to a different locale. Each location could have been its own escape room.

In-game: A strange metal device made from an assortment of objects.

Gameplay

Big Break Hamburg’s Time Travel was a standard escape room with a moderate level of difficulty.

Core gameplay revolved around searching, observing, making connections, and puzzling.

In-game: A wall of clocks.

Analysis

➕ The steampunk aesthetic of the first set was a strong opening location. There was a lot going on, but the set never felt red herring-y. Rather, it delivered the appropriate time-travel vibes.

➕ The sets each looked and felt distinct. For the most part, they were detailed and polished. Each was an unexpected and welcome next hop through time.

➖ The final set felt sparse. It was too large for the amount of interaction and not quite refined enough to pull off that look.

➕ We enjoyed a few key props, each in a different scene.

➕ Big Break used the layout of the gamespace to facilitate adventurous movement through space and time.

➕ Big Break Hamburg crafted substantial layered puzzles. These were well clued and fun to solve.

➖ While most of the puzzles worked well, there were a couple where the cluing could have used a touch of refinement.

Time Travel didn’t take itself too seriously. In the last scene, we got a laugh out of the goofy and political pop culture jokes.

➖ The “save the world” premise felt bolted onto a set-hopping puzzle game. Time Travel had a story, but it wasn’t a narrative-driven adventure. Although this worked from a gameplay standpoint, we felt it didn’t quite deliver on its ambitions.

➕ Big Break Hamburg hid Easter eggs in the escape room. Ask about these at the end of your play-through!

Tips For Visiting

  • This game involves some crawling and a little climbing.

Book your hour with Big Break Hamburg’s Time Travel, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.

Disclosure: Big Break Hamburg comped our tickets for this game.

EscapeDiem – JigSaw [Review]

An unpretentious yet quality SAW-inspired experience

Location:  Hamburg, Germany

Date Played: May 12, 2019

Team size: 2-6; we recommend 3-4

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: from 71 € per group for teams of 2 to 135 € per team for teams of 6

Ticketing: Private

Emergency Exit Rating: [A+] No Lock

Physical Restraints: [A+] No Physical Restraints

REA Reaction

EscapeDiem’s JigSaw was a solid SAW-inspired escape game in a sea of generally mediocre SAW-themed games.

In-game: Jigsaw behind chickenwire.

JigSaw was intense with some scary moments, but never overwhelming. It was far more puzzley than we typically expect from a game playing with horror tropes. It did a great job of throttling back the fear when we really needed to think.

JigSaw wasn’t a gamechanger, but it did a good job casting us into a freaky and eerie murder room and making us fight through puzzles while overcoming our nerves. If you’re in Hamburg and this sounds like your kind of fun, then you should absolutely book EscapeDiem’s JigSaw.

Who is this for?

  • Adventure seekers
  • Scenery snobs
  • SAW fans
  • Any experience level

Why play?

  • Compelling SAW-inspired gameplay
  • Some creative puzzle design

Story

We’d woken up blindfolded in an old bathroom and under the supervision of a serial killer. We had to play his game… or he would skip to the end.

In-game: "I want to play a game" painted in blood on a white tiled wall.

Setting

JigSaw was exactly what we expected from a SAW-inspired game. It began in a rundown, tiled bathroom-like environment with heavy weathering and a foreboding feel.

The escape game moved on to other dark and intimidating settings, continuing a sense of fear that was occasionally stoked by the gamemaster.

This was all tied together by an in-character hint system that was especially well-performed by our gamemaster.

In-game: An iron clawed bathtub in a rundown bathroom.

Gameplay

EscapeDiem’s JigSaw was a standard escape room with a moderate level of difficulty.

Core gameplay revolved around searching and puzzling.

In-game: Numbers scrawled in blood all over a white wall.

Analysis

❓ EscapeDiem’s take on a serial killer game was standard. This played out exactly as we would have expected.

➕ EscapeDiem used space well. Jigsaw felt bigger than it was.

➕ There was a standout lighting effect in JigSaw.

❓ The set and puzzle design felt a bit messy. Although the gameplay worked, the look at feel of the space, props, and puzzles was unrefined. That said, this was justified by the theme and set up.

➕ The gamemastering was phenomenal. Our gamemaster justified her existence in our experience. This was well-acted over a walky-talky. This wasn’t her only role.

➕ The puzzles were varied and flowed well, shifting from search-heavy in an uncomfortable environment to more substantial and challenging puzzles.

➕ EscapeDiem did a fantastic job of tuning the fear level of the room to the complexity of the challenges.

➖ The gameplay arc didn’t quite conclude. Because of the choice of final puzzle, our playthrough (and energy level) fizzled rather than rushing to a dramatic conclusion.

❓ We’ve played a number of serial killer-themed escape rooms. This one made no attempt to hide its inspiration. It was conceptually unambitious, but well executed.

Tips For Visiting

  • Minimum age is 16 years old
  • At least one person will have to crawl.

Book your hour with EscapeDiem’s JigSaw, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.

Disclosure: EscapeDiem comped our tickets for this game.

Adventure Team – Countdown to Meltdown [Review]

Send in the drones!

Location:  Hamburg, Germany

Date Played: May 11, 2019

Team size: 3-7; we recommend 3-4

Duration: 60 minutes

Price:  from € 99.00 for teams of 3 to € 154.00 for teams of 7

Ticketing: Private

Emergency Exit Rating: [A] Push To Exit

Physical Restraints: [A+] No Physical Restraints

REA Reaction

Countdown to Meltdown was a frenzied game with a Portal-esque vibe brought on by a talkative AI.

Atmospherically, Adventure Team did a great job in Countdown to Meltdown (one space that was too dark notwithstanding). The game space struck the right feel. There was a narrative arc and it all came together.

In-game: A white walled sci-fi laboratory.
Image via Adventure Team

From a gameplay standpoint, there were lots of great puzzles. For our team, Countdown to Meltdown evoked a chaotic feeling that made us feel stressed and at times as if we weren’t really contributing… even though in retrospect we each contributed quite a lot.

Who is this for?

  • Puzzle lovers
  • Sci-fi fans
  • Players with at least some experience
  • Players who don’t need to be a part of every puzzle

Why play?

  • Frenzied gameplay
  • Interesting puzzles
  • Creative repurposing of tech

Story

It was our first day on the job at the most high-tech nuclear power plant in the country. We were greeted by a workflow and security artificial intelligence named AMEE (Artificial Mission Emergency Entity)…

The entry to the game, a steel door labeled 42 with a red wheel.

Setting

Adventure Team’s Countdown to Meltdown had a futuristic, sci-fi aesthetic with an AI voice-over. It was clearly paying homage to Portal and generally did a good job of it.

The thing that really set Countdown to Meltdown apart was its use of sound and light effects to create a frenzied environment.

In-game: a black circular door labeled, "Nucleus Industries"
Image via Adventure Team

Gameplay

Adventure Team’s Countdown to Meltdown was a standard escape room with a moderate level of difficulty.

Core gameplay revolved around observing, making connections, and puzzling.

In-game: a padlock on a piece of worn machinery labeled "Emergency Shut Down" in a dark room.
Image via Adventure Team

Analysis

Countdown to Meltdown was a solid puzzle game in a futuristic staging. It played well and looked cool.

➖ While the sets looked good, the final set was unnecessarily dim, which hampered both the gameplay and our appreciation of the space.

➕ There were some great layered puzzles. Adventure Team did some clever things with mastery-building.

➕ Adventure Team made use of some adorable tech. We enjoyed discovering and working with each one, each more complex than the last.

In-game: A computer console labeled "A.M.E.E."
Image via Adventure Team

Countdown to Meltdown relied on a runbook. It wasn’t necessary for every puzzle, but stayed relevant throughout the entire experience. It had small transparent pages, which made it especially challenging to read, even more so under dim lighting.

➕/❓The escape room’s soundtrack felt frantic. This helped foster a chaotic vibe in Countdown to Meltdown. On one hand, it really did a great job of setting tone. On the other hand, it was agitating and remained so for the duration of the game.

➖ The gameplay felt non-linear, but in retrospect, it was largely linear. This led to substantial downtime for individual players. We each left feeling that we were non-essential to the escape, but upon further reflection determined that we’d each solved quite a bit.

➕ /➖ Countdown to Meltdown had a lengthy introduction. Through it we met the AI character overseeing our experience. While it did built character and set the playful tone for the escape room, we found it overstayed its welcome.

➖ Although adorable, the AI fell short of the charm and wit of GLaDOS, but spoke in the same voice.

Countdown to Meltdown didn’t take itself too seriously. It was refreshing to play lighthearted sci-fi in the face of nuclear disaster.

Tips For Visiting

  • Minimum age is 16
  • Available in German or English
  • Knowledge of a German keyboard layout will be helpful.

Book your hour with Adventure Team’s Countdown to Meltdown, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.

Disclosure: Adventure Team comped our tickets for this game.

Call for REA Escape Room Directory Updates

Have new escape room companies opened in your area?

Have companies closed, moved, or changed their names in your area?

Local and traveling escape room players want to know!

Updates Wanted

Please take a look at our escape room directory and send us any updates.

We will make your updates as quickly as possible so that they will be part of our 2019 report on the industry, to be published in August.

Stylized photo of a map of the north eastern quarter of the United States

New Directory Infrastructure Coming Soon

We know that we have long outgrown the Google Sheet / Google Map format that made sense when this directory launched in 2014. Stay tuned for a new interface, coming soon!

Buy Eliza’s Discounted Escape, Immerse, Explore NOLA Ticket!

Escape, Immerse, Explore New Orleans starts this Friday. It is sold out!

However, one of our Explorers, Eliza, had some plans suddenly change on her. She now has an extra ticket that none of us want to see go to waste.

The purple, gold, and blue Escape Immerse Explore New Orleans Logo

Act Now

She’s offering this ticket at a 20% discount. For $640, you can join us this weekend in New Orleans and help out a fellow escape room player.

For more tour details, you can read up on EIE NOLA 2019.

If you’re interested in snagging this ticket, contact us immediately and we’ll help facilitate the transaction.

We’d love to meet you just as much as we want to help Eliza out.