Outside the Box – The Body Shop [Review]

Girls will be girls.

Location:  Webster, MA

Date Played: November 10, 2019

Team size: up to 10; we recommend 4-5

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: $27 per player

Ticketing: Public

Emergency Exit Rating: [A+] No Lock

Physical Restraints: [A+] No Physical Restraints

REA Reaction

The Body Shop was a fantastic example of the kind of greatness that is achievable on a modest budget when an escape room is imbued with skill, passion, and attention to detail.

Outside the Box did a lot of worldbuilding in The Body Shop. Some of it was overt; a lot of the detailing was subtle. Altogether, their game world was as creative as it was grimly hilarious.

In-game: An autoshop of a motorcycle in the middle covered with a tarp.

The set looked great; the puzzles solved cleanly. From our vantage point, the biggest opportunity for Outside the Box to elevate their style would be to integrate the puzzles not only into the set, but also into the story. As it was, the puzzle looked good within the environment, but didn’t usually carry much meaning. If Outside the Box can figure out how to do this, they will be a real force. As it is, The Body Shop was already fantastic.

If you’re in the Boston area Webster, Massachusetts is a bit of a drive… but it really is worth it, especially if you have a dark sense of humor.

Who is this for?

  • Adventure seekers
  • Story seekers
  • Puzzle lovers
  • Scenery snobs
  • People with a sense of humor
  • Players with at least some experience
  • Players who don’t need to be a part of every puzzle

Why play?

  • Hilarious and nuanced storytelling
  • A strong and unique set
  • Great tangible interactions

Story

It was late at night and someone had placed an order for immediate delivery from internet retail giant Conga. We were the closest delivery people, so off we went, package in hand, to a local body shop.

As we followed the owner’s instructions and delivered the package, the door locked behind us and the alarm triggered. The shop seemed pretty shady, so leaving was our only priority.

In-game: a bay door for the autoshop.

Setting

We arrived at The Body Shop with a package to deliver in hand, and explicit instructions of where to deposit it. As we entered the space, it was clearly an auto shop. It looked fantastic. The tools, the look, and the grit of the place all achieved that recognizable aesthetic.

In-game: A detailed, heavily worn brick, concrete, and steel wall.

The level of detail also exceeded the obvious. It took some time before we realized the lengths to which Outside the Box had gone when constructing The Body Shop.

One key detail that I’ll point out: the story details were embedded in a number of places around the set. Taking a moment here and there to internalize these added a lot to the experience.

Gameplay

Outside the Box’s The Body Shop was a standard escape room with a higher level of difficulty.

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

In-game: a rack of tires sitting beside a set of red lockers.

Analysis

➕ Outside the Box took risks with their story and interaction design. This paid off. The Body Shop was edgy, but also hilarious.

➕ Outside the Box crafted the world of The Body Shop. From the opening moments of the experience, we were learning about this world, its characters, and our place in it. Outside the Box created a solid base on which their story unfolded.

In-game: a workbench with wrenches hanging from a pegboard.

➕ The detailed set and props made The Body Shop an exciting space to explore. One reveal especially impressed us. Although this wasn’t a high-budget build, it was thoughtfully designed to deliver impactful moments.

➕ Outside the Box used light and sound to enhance the atmosphere and add drama.

➕/➖ The puzzles were thematic, tactile, and interactive. They were fun solves. That said, many of the puzzles were escape room-y, which is to say, they were built within the environment, but they weren’t carrying the story beats.

➖ A few too many puzzles required writing utensils. This became a bit tedious and distracted from the detailed environment.

➖ It wasn’t always apparent whether we had enough information to work on a puzzle. We spun our wheels a few times.

The Body Shop had a lot of content, both in terms of puzzles and story. It generally flowed clearly and logically. This story was also intelligently delivered. It wasn’t arduous to take it in.

In-game: closeup of a motorcycle wheel.

Tips For Visiting

  • The entrance is behind the building.
  • There is a parking lot behind the building and street parking out front.
  • The theme is playful and funny, but might be off-putting to some players. There is a light Halloween-horror feel.

Book your hour with Outside the Box’s The Body Shop, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.

So You Wanna Save the World – Episode 0 [Review]

Who wants to save the %#(@ world?

Location:  at home

Date Played: October 2019

Team size: Unlimited; we recommend 1-2

Duration: Variable; probably 2-3 hours

Price: Free

REA Reaction

So You Wanna Save the World is envisioned as a monthly puzzle subscription service intended to replicate the feel of playing an escape room. The monthly package hasn’t launched yet, but this free prequel episode offers a taste of what the creators have in mind.

Considering the online setting, Episode 0 felt a lot like a puzzle hunt, but with more of a story focus. The secret agency backstory provided a clever meta-explanation for the physical mailer format. Using websites, videos, and phone calls upped the fun factor.

The gameplay itself felt uneven at times, as some moments of insight came significantly more easily than others. Trial and error played a role as we determined which components fit together. The puzzles ranged from delightfully challenging to frustratingly opaque.

Logo with text reading "So You Wanna Save the World: An Online Escape Room Experience."

The tone of So You Wanna Save the World was edgy bordering on aggressive. Players who prefer a more welcoming, supportive atmosphere should probably look elsewhere.

So You Wanna Save the World made big promises of being cinematic and game-changing. Episode 0 delivered a slick and entertaining game, but with some rough edges. Producing fun, balanced content every month isn’t easy, but with lots of playtesting, future installments could live up to those promises.

Who is this for?

  • Story seekers
  • Puzzle lovers
  • Players with at least some experience

Why play?

  • The puzzles
  • The edgy, roguish vibe
  • To banter with a smart-mouthed AI

Story

We had been recruited by the Mail Marshals, a secret government agency embedded inside the post office. Two Mail Marshals agents, along with an experimental AI, provided evidence and secret messages for us to decipher in order to prove our worth and catch the bad guy.

Two agents sit at a desk labeled "Mail Marshals" in front of a giant screen showing a close-up of a globe.

Setup

So You Wanna Save the World used websites, phone numbers, and videos to present a series of puzzles enmeshed in a secret agent story. An online account saved our progress in a Case Notes section, complete with writeups of our progress so far. We could confer with other players via the Recruit Network (a Facebook group) if we needed help.

In future installments of So You Wanna Save the World, each episode will start with a physical mailing sent to players’ home addresses. This introductory episode began with a digital version of one of these mailers.

A mailer for Anderson and Sons Plumbing, with additional marketing text and a man in a jumpsuit giving a thumbs-up.

Gameplay

So You Wanna Save the World: Episode 0 was an online puzzle game with a high level of difficulty. Core gameplay revolved around observation and cracking codes.

The puzzles varied in difficulty and usually involved aha moments. This meant some puzzles took just a few moments to figure out and others took far longer.

The puzzles were presented in tandem with a story about the case we were working on. The tasks mostly emerged authentically from the story and the puzzle’s medium (video, audio, or graphic).

Analysis

So You Wanna Save the World integrated websites, phone calls, and physical mailings. The puzzles felt natural in all of these habitats.

➕/➖ The website, videos, and other materials went a long way towards making the experience immersive. The production value was slick and professional, but the characters lacked a sense of urgency. We found ourselves wishing the videos had expressed the intensity that saving the world would ostensibly require.

➖ Our interactions with Tachyon, our AI helper, were persnickety. We sometimes had to experiment to find the specific wording that would get her to react. When she didn’t understand, she berated us with insults that quickly became repetitive.

A chat window with a robot avatar saying "Oh look, it's Recruit Willson here to waste my time."

❓ Speaking of Tachyon…So You Wanna Save the World was explicitly not for children. The cursing was gratuitous and unabashed, and the story included descriptions of violence. This may limit the potential audience somewhat, particularly for families interested in puzzling together.

➕/➖ So You Wanna Save the World presented bonus evidence and Easter eggs concurrently with the main storyline. We enjoyed searching for the extra hidden content. At times the bonus puzzles stood out more than the ones on the main branch of gameplay, so we accidentally forked away without realizing. Further playtesting might help even out the difficulty of the branches.

➕/➖ Solving puzzles and determining which components to combine often required trial and error. Many of the stand-alone puzzles provided satisfying moments of insight. When we needed to choose which clues fit together to make progress, the lack of structure made things more challenging, and occasionally frustrating.

➖ Because we didn’t know what style or caliber of puzzle to expect, we had trouble getting our bearings at first. We spent almost an hour on the first puzzle before the insight necessary to solve it dawned on us. An easier start or some form of onboarding would give players a better idea of what sort of challenge awaited.

➕ The Case Notes section of the website recorded our progress and included recaps of previous puzzles. This helped us keep our findings straight and reorient ourselves after stepping away from the game. The Case Notes also helped show how a puzzle was solved when we weren’t quite sure how we’d done it.

➖ The first-person format of the Case Notes became jarring when the notes expressed attitudes opposed to my own. Late in the game, Recruit Willson praised a character whose actions I would never support in real life. Seeing my actual name on this entry was unsettling. A more neutral stance in the notes would preserve immersion.

➕/➖ The Facebook group was a creative in-game way to get hints. It was tricky to describe where we were stuck, since the puzzles weren’t linear or explicitly named. The other recruits’ posts were helpful, though we had to dodge spoilers for puzzles we hadn’t reached yet. Also, the group could become more or less useful in the future as the community grows or shrinks.

➕ The Mail Marshals backstory explained the purpose of the physical mailer components cleverly. Episode 0 started online instead of via snail mail, but searching through actual junk mail for secret messages in future episodes sounds like fun.

Tips for Playing

So You Wanna Save the World: Episode 0 requires an internet connection and a US phone number. A pencil and paper will come in handy, but otherwise you don’t need any special equipment.

Playing alone or with one companion seems ideal, since the puzzles aren’t particularly collaborative. If you typically like approaching puzzle hunts and similar games solo, try this one by yourself.

And ignore Tachyon when she tells you you’re a useless $*@%. You’ll show her.

My Mechanics Machines a Bolt Into a Combination Lock

🤯 Here is an incredible mixture of the right tools, a ton of skill… and a lot of thought.

3 Thoughts

  • You can tell that this person is skilled, not just by the quality of the finished product, but also by the lack of hand damage.
  • I can’t tell if those divots were false gates machined onto each disk or if they are just there to make it click when twisted.
  • If I could add one more thing, it would be an indicator line for the code.
A beautiful hand machined steel and brass 5 disck combination lock.

This beauty really should find its way to the LockPickingLawyer for testing.

Epic Escape Game – Excalibur [Review]

Brave Sir Puzzles

Location:  Denver, CO

Date Played: September 7, 2019

Team size: up to 8; we recommend 3-4

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: $28 per player

Ticketing: Public

Emergency Exit Rating: [A+] No Lock

Physical Restraints: [A+] No Physical Restraints

REA Reaction

Excalibur was an uneven experience. This was consistent throughout the game.

If you looked in one direction you might see gorgeous set design, but turn 90 degrees and you’d probably look at something that felt pretty dated. The same was true of the puzzles. While some were thoughtful and fun, others felt half-baked.

The net effect was that the game felt average.

In-game: ruins of a castle wall.

Excalibur was a fine traditional escape room. If you’re in the area and have already played Epic Escape Game’s Wizard’s Academy (which was considerably more consistent), then it’s worth a play.

Who is this for?

  • Families
  • Aspiring royalty
  • Any experience level

Why play?

  • Solid gameplay
  • Some fun interactions
  • Pulling a sword from a stone is entertaining as hell

Story

With the death of the King, Merlin had traversed time and space seeking someone who might be worthy of the crown. He’d magicked us away to Camelot to see if we could pass the tests and pull the sword from the stone.

In-game: a large throne with a crown sitting on the seat.

Setting

Excalibur was primarily staged within a throne room. From a purely aesthetic standpoint, it felt uneven. Depending upon which direction we looked, the set was more or less convincing.

The last act had the most elegant staging, but this area was a bit cramped.

In-game: A small round table with two chairs beside it.

Gameplay

Epic Escape Game’s Excalibur was a standard escape room with a low level of difficulty.

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

In-game: A tall locked chest with a knight statue atop it.

Analysis

➕ Excalibur got rolling with a fun clue.

➕ Epic Escape Game created standard escape room-style puzzles with satisfying solves. These worked well and the game flowed from solve to solve.

➖ One puzzle was purposely designed to tangle people up. Players could solve it correctly and still wind up at the wrong solution. There would be more interesting ways to add challenge to this puzzle.

➖ There were a few too many lengthy process puzzles that were more tedious than interesting.

➕ / ➖ We encountered one tangible puzzle that was a bit too easy to bypass. Epic Escape Game didn’t mind when we bypassed, which we appreciated… but why build the puzzle without some structure to necessitate it being solved?

➕ / ➖ We have mixed feelings on the final puzzle. It relied on a type of gating that we really enjoy when puzzling at home, but don’t usually enjoy in escape rooms. While it felt ok in the context of this game, is was the type of individual solve that tends to create a bottleneck. It probably slows momentum for most teams right where you want momentum to pick up.

➕ As one would expect from a game named Excalibur, the culminating interaction delivered a strong sense of victory.

Tips For Visiting

  • There is a small parking lot behind the building.
  • Enter through the front of the building even if you park in the back. It’s worth it.

Book your hour with Epic Escape Game’s Excalibur, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.

Disclosure: Epic Escape Game comped our tickets for this game.

Disclosure: Our trip to Denver was sponsored by the Denver escape room community. Contributions were anonymous.

Conundrum Escape Rooms – Dead Man’s Secret [Review]

Au wow! My long-lost uncle had a lot of money.

Location:  Lakewood, CO

Date Played: September 8, 2019

Team size: 2-6; we recommend 4

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: from $80 per team for teams of 2 to $150 per team for teams of 6

Ticketing: Private

Emergency Exit Rating: [A+] No Lock [A]

Physical Restraints: [A+] No Physical Restraints

REA Reaction

Dead Man’s Secret was a strong execution of a traditional escape room.

From the setting, to the setup, to the puzzle types, to the level of difficulty, everything about this game felt like an old-school escape room… except for the generally refined execution.

In-game: Wide shot of a posh office.

While Dead Man’s Secret didn’t have any mind-blowing moments for an experienced player, it nailed and elevated traditional escape room gameplay. If that sounds like your idea of a good time, then you should book it.

Who is this for?

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

Why play?

  • Strong puzzle play
  • An elegant, yet basic set
  • A smart twist

Story

Reclusive billionaire Conan Drum had passed away with a strange will that made one simple statement: his fortune would belong to the person or people who could figure out how he’d made it.

In-game: A rolltop desk in a very luxurious leather walled office.

Setting

Dead Man’s Secret was set in a study. This set had a lot more personality than we’re accustomed to seeing in office-based escape games. It wasn’t a massively exciting environment, but it served the game well.

In-game: Closeup of leather adornments riveted to the wall.

Gameplay

Conundrum Escape Rooms’ Dead Man’s Secret was a standard escape room with a high level of difficulty.

Core gameplay revolved around searching and puzzling.

Analysis

➕ The set was artfully designed. Although it was basic, it was more interesting than many study-themed escape rooms. It looked good.

➕ The puzzles were challenging, satisfying solves. One in particular had us rolling the wrong direction for a bit before the exciting “aha.”

➖ Dead Man’s Secret felt crowded. The space was small and there was a lot to find and solve. We were continually moving puzzle pieces around the space, trying to figure out where to collect items and then solve things.

➖ One puzzle broke the illusion. If we misstepped, Conundrum Escape Rooms could step in – almost invisibly – and reset so that we could continue. Although the gameplay could continue uninterrupted, it didn’t make sense.

➕ The culminating sequence of puzzles was exciting to solve. We enjoyed interacting with the set and props. 

➕ We enjoyed Conundrum Escape Rooms’ twist on the “dead relative’s fortune” theme. It gave them an opportunity to take the second act of this escape room in another direction, which was surprising and enjoyable. The narrative made sense and the gameplay was justified.

Tips For Visiting

  • There is a parking lot.
  • This game is at the Lakewood location.

Book your hour with Conundrum Escape Rooms’ Dead Man’s Secret, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.

Disclosure: Conundrum Escape Rooms comped our tickets for this game.

Disclosure: Our trip to Denver was sponsored by the Denver escape room community. Contributions were anonymous.

Escape Virtuality – Ghost Collector [Review]

The many ghosts of Professor Pepper.

Location:  New York, NY

Date Played: October 29, 2019

Team size: 2-8; we recommend 2-4

Duration: 60 minutes

Price:  Starting at $39 per player

Ticketing: Public

Emergency Exit Rating: [A+] No Lock

Physical Restraints: [A+] No Physical Restraints

REA Reaction

Escape Virtuality opened in Manhattan earlier this year with a large, street-level storefront, offering a mix of virtual reality experiences and real-life escape games.

Ghost Collector was a (real-life) escape room with a solid set, interactive solves, and illusions. The opens were largely tech-driven, which worked well with the theme.

In-game: Closeup of a twistable Ouiji board with a bookcase in the background.

The puzzles lacked balance: either too easy, or challenging for the wrong reasons, and without appropriate feedback… and most of them felt more like tasks than puzzles.

The overall experience will likely impress newer players even if they struggle with the gameplay. For more experienced players, this is the type of escape room that some will solve too quickly and others will be haunted for most of the game by a single stumper. If you’re looking for your escape room fix in Manhattan, there certainly are some things to love in Ghost Collector… and it has a lot of unrealized potential.

It’s clear that the owners have put a lot of love into this business and we believe that they could do great things in our home market.

Who is this for?

  • Adventure seekers
  • Aspiring Ghostbusters
  • Any experience level
  • Players who don’t need to be a part of every puzzle

Why play?

  • A strong opening and closing
  • Some fun effects
  • One very elegant, clever puzzle

Story

A mysterious man had spent his life capturing the malevolent ghosts haunting New York City.

We had been given the opportunity to enter his containment chamber and view the entities. However, viewing them would set them free if we couldn’t complete a ritual to re-bind them within their eternal prison.

In-game: A wall with a glowing set of symbols set in a circle.

Setting

Ghost Collector’s set was fairly well designed, if a little uneven.

The big set pieces generally looked and felt good, especially in the opening and closing sequences.

The rest of the set wasn’t necessarily fantastic, but was painted and decorated so as to be innocuous. Honestly, that made it better than most sets. I thought it was a clever approach.

In-game: A Ouiji board-like device on a seance table.

Gameplay

Escape Virtuality’s Ghost Collector was a standard escape room with a moderate level of difficulty.

Core gameplay revolved around searching, following instructions, and puzzling.

In-game: A stacked, twistable Ouiji board.

Analysis

➕ The ghost collecting theme worked with Escape Virtuality’s style. Given the context of the game, we could interpret the technologically-triggered opens as magical or haunted. The gating style meshed well with the ghosty illusions.

➕ The set looked pretty good and felt solid. We especially enjoyed one large interactive set piece.

➖ As much as we enjoyed the main set piece, the interactions were entirely task based, and felt a bit neutered (one puzzle notwithstanding). This prop delivered the main events of the experience. There was an opportunity to do more with it.

➖ In many of the puzzles, Escape Virtuality struggled to balance difficulty. The puzzles were either straightforward tasks or challenging for the wrong reasons. A lack of feedback for certain solves magnified this imbalance.

➕ We loved the aha moment when we got a handle on one puzzle’s originally overlooked complexity. We loved this puzzle and wish that Escape Virtuality played more with concepts along these lines.

➖ Ghost Collector included a runbook. While we appreciated that we could separate the pages of the spiral-bound diary and rely on it for multiple puzzles at once, we wished that the cluing had been integrated into the world of the game instead.

➖ /➕ Ghost Collector was haunted by a soundtrack. While we appreciated the ambiance, we found it to be discordant with some of the room design.

Ghost Collector is expensive. This pricing is in line with some other local escape rooms. After all, entertainment in Manhattan is expensive. That said, Ghost Collector didn’t offer a ton of gameplay for that price. Experienced players could solve it quite quickly. Booking Ghost Collector is a value judgment.

Tips For Visiting

  • Parking is a challenge in Manhattan. Take the subway (1 to 28th Street or the R/W to 28th Street.)
  • There are tons of restaurants in this neighborhood. We enjoy Hill Country Barbecue and Market.

Book your hour with Escape Virtuality’s Ghost Collector, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.

Disclosure: Escape Virtuality provided media discounted tickets for this game.

Mission Escapes – Treasure Hunt [Review]

It was better than it looked.

Location:  Aurora, CO

Date Played: September 7, 2019

Team size: 2-8; we recommend 3-4

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: from $76 per team for teams of 2 to $184 per team for teams of 8

Ticketing: Private

Emergency Exit Rating: [A+] No Lock

Physical Restraints: [A+] No Physical Restraints

REA Reaction

Stepping into Treasure Hunt felt like entering a time warp to the early days of escape rooms. The first act looked and played aggressively old-school.

In-game: An old and worn office setting with mang pictures hung on the walls.

As the second act unfolded, Mission Escapes presented something more dramatic and interesting.

Overall, Treasure Hunt was a standard, traditional escape room that played smoothly and had a couple of interesting moments. It was a solid game because it played well… and that’s still something. If you’re in the area and want to explore something a bit old-school, check out Treasure Hunt. That said, Lunar Mission was a considerably more intriguing game.

Who is this for?

  • Puzzle lovers
  • Any experience level
  • Newbies

Why play?

  • Solid yet traditional escape room gameplay
  • A strong reveal
  • A few novel puzzles
  • The treasure was well chosen

Story

The office of a deceased wealthy man seemed to contain a wide variety of puzzles hiding his most treasured item. His heirs couldn’t solve them, so we were brought in to figure out what was going on.

In-game: a cabinent locked with 6 differend padlocks.

Setting

At first glance, Treasure Hunt looked like escape rooms did in 2015. It was an office filled with used furniture and padlocks.

The second act put a different twist on this experience. In a lot of ways, it felt like Lunar Escape, Mission Escapes’ other game. This shorter segment was where Treasure Hunt shined and justified its existence.

In-game: A long wooden cabinet covered in black and white blocks of wood.

Gameplay

Mission Escapes’ Treasure Hunt was a standard escape room with a low level of difficulty.

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

Analysis

➕/➖ Treasure Hunt felt like the type of escape room that got us hooked on these things back in 2014/15. That also meant that it felt dated in many places.

➖ The first set didn’t look like much. It didn’t instill any energy or a sense of adventure.

➕ The puzzles flowed well from start to finish. They were well clued and resolved cleanly.

➕ Although the set and props were basic, Mission Escapes added some details, like using cloth instead of paper to deliver written clues.

➖ We encountered wear on a later puzzle that caused issues in both the cluing and the triggering of an otherwise solid puzzle.

➕ The second act felt so unlike the first. This was surprising and intriguing. Treasure Hunt shined most in this segment.

➖ Although the transition space looked neat, the construction was messy. Players will move through this space in the dark. It needed better padding and the ceiling height shouldn’t change; it was too easy to hit one’s head too hard. I know because I bashed my head pretty badly.

➕/➖ We liked how Mission Escapes added pressure to the final moments, whether or not a team had been racing the game clock. That said, the “puzzle” felt cheap and its resolution even less satisfying. This was a case of a great concept, but rough execution… although I imagine it might feel different to a newbie.

Tips For Visiting

  • There is a parking lot.
  • Mission Escape is on the third floor, Suite 390.
  • Players need to be able to crawl to play this game.

Book your hour with Mission Escapes’ Treasure Hunt, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.

Disclosure: Mission Escapes comped our tickets for this game.

Disclosure: Our trip to Denver was sponsored by the Denver escape room community. Contributions were anonymous.

Stream "Create The Escape" Today!

I finally got to watch Escape From Goopiter, the pilot episode of Create The Escape that I worked on. I’m so happy with how it came out. It’s adorable.

I feel really good about how it represents escape rooms.

Escape From Goopitor logo has planets and tenticles.

There are more details about this in my post from the other day, but the most important thing to know is that you can stream it from Universal Kids.

Please do watch it and share it far and wide.

A spaceship interior with windows peering out at a planet's surface.

The Puzzle Effect – Curse on the Emerald Seas [Review]

“It’s just a flesh wound.”

Location:  Northglenn, CO

Date Played: September 8, 2019

Team size: up to 6; we recommend 4-6

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: $29 per player

Ticketing: Private

Emergency Exit Rating: [A+] No Lock

Physical Restraints: [A+] No Physical Restraints

REA Reaction

Curse on the Emerald Seas was a particularly difficult, yet fair escape game… and we don’t make that statement lightly. Every single puzzle was clued well and resolved cleanly, but, oh boy, did The Puzzle Effect make us work for the win.

The game itself looked good. Elegant set embellishments really sold the space.

In-game:

If you aren’t a strong puzzler, winning this game without a heap of hints will be a tall order. Respect Curse on the Emerald Seas, matey, and play it if you know the ropes.

For those who know their way around escape rooms, there were some exhilarating solves in this one.

Who is this for?

  • Puzzle lovers
  • Cursed pirates – arrrrgh
  • Players with at least some experience

Why play?

  • Brilliant and dastardly puzzles
  • Some beautiful and well-used set pieces

Story

After enduring a storm, our crew had discovered the legendary pirate ship the Emerald Seas. The story went that the ship’s crew had cursed themselves by trading their captain’s heart for treasure. Locals told of the ship rising from the depths for one hour every 20 years. That was all the time that we had to break the curse and seize the treasure for ourselves.

In-game:

Setting

Curse on the Emerald Seas was staged within a pirate ship. From floor to ceiling, the game was paneled in weathered wood. It generally looked sharp.

The puzzles stood out as looking especially escape room-y, but that didn’t take away from the experience.

In-game:

Gameplay

The Puzzle Effect’s Curse on the Emerald Seas was a standard escape room with a high level of difficulty.

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

In-game:

Analysis

➕ Curse on the Emerald Seas looked pirate ship-y. It wasn’t all wooden planks either. The back deck looked out into the bright night.

➕ The gameplay flowed well from one puzzle to the next, one open to the next.

➕ Curse on the Emerald Seas was a challenging escape room with some complex, layered puzzles. These were well-clued, and especially satisfying solves with multiple “aha” moments.

➖ While some of the cluing was integrated into the world, much of it was on laminated pieces of paper.

➖ Curse on the Emerald Seas needed better lighting for one complex puzzle with small visual cluing.

➕ The difficulty curve worked well. Curse on the Emerald Seas built up to the challenging puzzles. Then we rode that wave back down to the game’s conclusion.

Tips For Visiting

  • There is a parking lot.
  • The Puzzle Effect offers this game in other cities as well, including San Luis Obispo and Phoenix.

Book your hour with The Puzzle Effect’s Curse on the Emerald Seas, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.

Disclosure: The Puzzle Effect comped our tickets for this game.

Disclosure: Our trip to Denver was sponsored by the Denver escape room community. Contributions were anonymous.

St. Louis, Missouri: Escape Room Recommendations

Latest update: November 30, 2019

I’m not going to lie. St. Louis isn’t an escape room destination. There are pretty games and there are fun games… but we couldn’t find anything that was the total package.

However, what you will find in St. Louis is the City Museum, a gem of another kind.

Stylized image of the Arch in St. Louis.

Market Standouts

City Museum is not an escape room, but it is absolutely the market standout. Wear knee pads.

Set & Scenery Driven

Puzzle Centric

Newbie Friendly

Spooky & Scary

Something Else

City Museum is not an escape room. However, it was finest immersive experience that we encountered in St. Louis. We highly recommend this adventure playground for all ages.

Puzzle Warehouse is also not an escape room, but if you happen to also be a jigsaw puzzle fan, it’s a place worth checking out. It claims to be the largest jigsaw puzzle store in the United States, and we believe it.

You are always welcome to contact us if this recommendation list doesn’t answer your specific questions.