Truth in advertising: It was honestly out of the box.
Location: Austin, TX
Date played: January 8, 2017
Team size: up to 8 for online booking; we recommend 2 – ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
Duration: 60 minutes
Price: $29 per ticket
There’s no shortage of escape room companies that claim that they are different. Usually, “we’re different, you’ve never seen anything like this,” means that it’s a standard escape room with a small twist.
Out of the Box was legitimately different.
On their website they claim, “The Seventh Room is the most unique escape room concept in Austin.” I’ll endorse that claim, and add that The Seventh Room as unique an escape room concept as I have encountered to date.
But was it fun?
Story & setting
Here’s how Out of the Box describes their own game:
“The Seventh Room mixes room escape games, choose-your-own-adventure stories and interactive theater to create a real-life puzzle solving experience for attendees. To make the experience even more memorable, a cast of improv-trained actors are armed with riddles, back-stories and cryptic clues to help guide participants through the puzzles. During the challenge, participants explore several theatrically-designed rooms to look for clues where they will encounter lock boxes, riddles, hidden compartments and colorful characters.”
I would describe it as an eclectic house of puzzles, curiosities, and intrigue.
The game began with a self-administered puzzle in the lobby. Upon completion, we were led into the first space where an actor in the character of a librarian explained the rules and structure for us.
Essentially, we experienced 4 quarter-hour segments in different rooms within Out of the Box’s facility. The librarian ushered us around, chose the rooms in which we would play, and provided a curated experience.
Whimsically designed, yet detailed, the various rooms were created to identify our comfort zones and then give us a gentle shove out of them.
If there was a story embedded in The Seventh Room, we never caught so much as a whiff of it, which was fine.
We saw a lot of the facility but played in only about half of the spaces. Each individual space had a distinctive look and feel. While each looked great, some were more compelling and polished than others.
Rather than escape or stop some calamity within 60 minutes, we aimed to maximize our points. In that regard The Seventh Room was like Epic Team Adventures’ Volcano God, but it didn’t take place in a single room or allow individual players to lean on their strengths to maximize the score, because at the end of a 15-minute segment our guide chose the next set of challenges.
The Seventh Room was a points-driven room escape with 5 very different games (counting the lobby), broken out into exceedingly different spaces, all guided by an actor.
Your experience will vary, but we enjoyed many tavern puzzles, riddles, and wordplay, as bit of well as some decipherment and problem solving.
We also had a few non-puzzley interpersonal challenges to tackle.
We succeeded in a big way in The Seventh Room. So much of this game and our success in it depended on collaboration, team dynamic, and a no-ego approach to the game. It was clear in each section which teammates had the right skills to thrive. Once that was established, the rest of the team shifted to support those players.
In our case, we experienced a high puzzle density game because we solved things so rapidly that our dear librarian was at times falling behind our solve rate. Note that we brought an incredibly puzzle-experienced team.
The adaptive experience worked well and kept us busy throughout our hour with Out of the Box.
Our guide/actor was exceptional. She was in character throughout our time in the facility and she was great fun to play with.
Each room had its own set of rules. Those rules were delivered upon entry to the space and without the clock running. It made it easy to take them in and abide by them.
There was continual mystery as we never knew where we were going next, or what would be demanded of us.
This led to some moments that really did force some of our teammates out of the comfort zone.
The Library set was awesome, brilliant, and so impressive.
The Seventh Room was honestly replayable, for at least a few playthroughs. When I am next in Austin, I will, without hesitation, return to play again.
Not all rooms within The Seventh Room were created equal. We found ourselves in one space that wasn’t particularly compelling. Once we had solved the puzzle in the room, we found ourselves stuck completing the same task over and over for additional points until the end of the segment.
More than with most escape rooms, I would not want to play The Seventh Room with strangers.
In the optimal presentation of The Seventh Room, each individual room has a different actor who presides over it. We had the librarian lead us through the entire hour on her own. She was superb, but a fraction of what we imagine Out of the Box could deliver under the best of circumstances. I imagine the full experience would be costly, but the website and marketing promised more than it delivered.
Should I play Out of the Box’s The Seventh Room?
If you’re a newbie, the actors can help make the experience more approachable.
If you’re a seasoned puzzler and escaper, Out of the Box is truly different and will fill your hour with puzzles. For those of us who are accustomed to playing through an average game in roughly half of the allotted time, that’s a pretty big deal.
If you’re a serious puzzler, give Out of the Box a heads up before you book and ask them to put together a tougher game for you. The librarian told us that they will accommodate that request.
The only folks who might not be keen on The Seventh Room are those who are seeking a cohesive narrative. If that’s the case, Out of the Box likely won’t be your thing.
Our team size recommendation was: ¯\_(ツ)_/¯. This is a first for us, but we’re fairly certain that the game would be adapted to accommodate as few as 2 and many more than 8 without sacrificing the experience in anyway. Out of the Box allows for custom bookings over the phone for parties larger than 8.
Out of the Box’s sets were great, the actor we saw was wonderful, and the puzzles were non-stop.
Book your hour with Out of the Box’s The Seventh Room, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.
Full disclosure: Out of the Box comped our tickets for this game.