Location: West Chester, Pennsylvania
Date played: June 24, 2017
Team size: 2-10; we recommend 4-6
Duration: 60 minutes
Price: $29.95 per ticket
Story & setting
Our team of accomplished thieves was executing a heist of the wealthy Mr. Bates’ estate. Our goal was to make our way to his office and liberate his cash and gold.
Bates Manor was a staggeringly compelling Victorian home set overflowing with detailed set design. It was dimly lit and highly believable.
The puzzling in Bates Manor was inconsistent. It had a strong start and a brilliant run of puzzle interactions in the middle of the game, but far too many puzzles required trial and error or significant logic leaps.
The detailed set design was exquisite. Bates Motel Escape Rooms constructed interesting and surprising spaces into this heist. They minded so many little details that we actually stopped playing for a moment to admire and discuss how nuanced the set was.
We loved the puzzles that made Bates Manor feel like a heist. These puzzles were issues we’d have to solve if we’d been breaking in. They were born of the environment.
Bates Motel Escape Rooms built one particularly impressive tech-driven piece of set decor. It stole the show and I wish they’d used it a little more.
Bates Manor was a dark set and Bates Motel Escape Rooms did not include enough light sources for each individual to carry one, nor were we allowed to use our own phones/ flashlights. That meant that at any given moment, a couple of people were unable to fully participate. This was compounded by one of the flashlights that we had being weak and underpowered. (Update: A commenter reports that this is no longer an issue.)
Despite a beautiful set, Bates Manor suffered from poor upkeep. One lock was so worn that we could not see all the letters on it, not even with all the lights in the room pointed in that direction. We solved the puzzle, but David had to use a lock picking technique to input 2 of the digits. (Update: A commenter reports that this is no longer an issue.)
Two late-game input mechanisms were a frustrating struggle: one because it required precision interpretation of the instructions and execution, the other because it was so unclear that we could think of a half dozen ways to interpret it.
A few puzzles relied only on trial and error or reading an enormous amount of written material, in low light, much of which was irrelevant… or maybe it was the narrative, if there was any, beyond a heist mission. We never invested the time to know.
This was all made more frustrating by Bates Motel Escape Rooms’ use of the Escape Room Boss automated hint system, which felt like it was engineered in a lab specifically to instill shame and despair.
Should I play Bates Motel Escape Rooms’ Bates Manor?
While The Tomb is Bates Motel Escape Rooms’ more visually impressive escape room, Bates Manor had stronger gameplay.
Bates Manor had a more down-to-earth set, but it was just as exquisitely detailed and really instilled the adventurous feel of a heist.
There was a fun escape game here for players of all experience levels. It will likely be challenging, but puzzle through it as if it were a heist, not necessarily a beautifully structured escape room, and the solves will likely be invigorating.
Many of the issues that made it most frustrating could be fixed. We hope that Bates Motel Escape Rooms will invest in the iteration and upkeep needed to make this escape room play as impressively as it looks.
While we had to contend with lack of upkeep, some obtuse puzzle designs, and clueing structures, overall, there was a solid heist adventure in Bates Manor.
Book your hour with Bates Motel Escape Rooms’s Bates Manor, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.
Full disclosure: Bates Motel Escape Rooms provided media discounted tickets for this game.