Escape Room Live DC -Back to the 80s! [Review]

Hints? Where we’re going, we don’t need hints (unless something breaks).

Location: Washington, DC

Date played: January 8, 2016

Team size: 8-12; we recommend 6-8

Price: $28

Theme & story

Back to the 80s! is like totally 80s!

We were sent back in time to find the greatest mix tape ever made. Every prop was an 80s pop culture reference and the soundtrack was also incredibly 80s (in a good way).

A boom box cassette player/radio

The storyline was paper thin, but it didn’t matter. Back to the 80s! is a walk down nostalgia drive… Or a trip to “the olden days” depending upon your perspective.

What if I wasn’t alive or don’t remember the 80s?

Escape Room Live DC’s website states:

“Knowledge of 1980s trivia is not necessary to escape the room (but it sure may make it easier!). All information needed is inside the room.”

I’ll second this statement. Observant players will be able to get out without hints or knowledge of the 1980s.

If you’re going in without knowledge, don’t be afraid to ask for a hint here and there. Some elements of the game are incredibly intuitive if you’re in on the jokes.

While I got all but one reference (that I was aware of), I left the room feeling like I would have been baffled by some of the puzzles if it weren’t for my understanding of the references.

That said, the New Kids On The Block reference was hilarious… Escape Room Live has mastered puzzle puns.

Three shelves with a variety of toys, clothing and movies from the 1980s
Even the Care Bears were invited to the party.

Playful puzzles

The overall mix and quality of puzzles in Back to the 80s! was stellar.

There was something for everyone and the playfulness of the puzzles themselves was the standout quality of the game. Escape Room Live DC did a wonderful job of turning the toys, music, and references into a string of delightfully campy games.

Watercolor painting of an unsolved 3x3 Rubix Cube
I am happy to report that we did NOT have to solve a Rubik’s Cube… But we brought someone who could have if we needed to.

Groundhog Day

Thus far I’ve played four games with Escape Room Live and I was surprised to see a couple of puzzles that were effectively repackaged from some of their other games.

They were cool puzzles and one of them was executed better in Back to the 80s! than it was in the game where I first saw it, but it was disappointing to know the solution to a puzzle because I had already seen it before.

And yeah… Groundhog Day came out in 1993. Close enough?

Bad setup

Like Oliver North… We had a bad setup, and it cost us our game.

We were rocking the 80s when our game came to a screeching halt. One of the critical props in the room had two tiny pieces missing that cost us somewhere in the realm of 7-10 minutes, which is very significant in a 45 minute game.

Our puzzlemaster wasn’t aware of our struggles because when we asked for help, he hadn’t realized how deep into the game we were.

The two missing pieces (which were probably stolen by the previous team) burned down so much time that the clock was expiring as I accessed the final puzzle. I knew what I had to do to win, but didn’t have the time to execute.

Like the sudden demise of Atari, it was disappointing.

Escape Room Live DC - Back to the 80's! Team Shot
Tragically, Lisa’s giant cell phone was cropped out. We were calling each other.

Should I play Escape Room Live DC’s Back to the 80s!?

Yeah… Back to the 80s! is a rad game.

The setting was a blast, the puzzles were fun, and the overall experience was about as playful as escape rooms get.

The self-plagiarism of puzzle design in Back to the 80s! was a disappointment, and the bad setup that we experienced really put a damper on our night (bad setups are a very rough way to go down), but we had fun nonetheless.

Whether a room full of 80s props and references is a museum or a memory, Back to the 80s! is a game worth playing.

Book your hour with Escape Room Live DC’s Back to the 80s!, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.

I’ll be back.

Full disclosure: Escape Room Live DC comped our tickets for this game.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.