“Screws fall out all the time, the world is an imperfect place.”—Bender, The Breakfast Club
Location: West Chester, Pennsylvania
Date played: June 24, 2017
Team size: 2-10; we recommend 4-6
Duration: 60 minutes
Price: $26 per ticket
Story & setting
We were held in detention for an hour in Escape West Chester’s Breakfast Club-inspired 1980s classroom.
Detention had the look of a classroom complete with lockers, fliptop desks, and a chalkboard.
Detention’s puzzling was chaotic; it was difficult to find the thread of gameplay. Whenever we thought we had a handle on which components connected or the order in which we should attempt to solve something, we were generally incorrect.
There were some fun puzzles for logophiles (word lovers, but you probably already know this if you are one).
Detention was an ode to The Breakfast Club. It was a cute theme that felt right in the space.
The set looked like a classroom.
A straight classroom without a twist wasn’t an environment that instilled a sense of adventure.
While Detention felt inspired by The Breakfast Club, that source material was nodded to in staging, but didn’t drive the puzzles. This created a lot of red herrings that we continually stumbled upon: details in the props that seemed important, but turned to out to be nothing.
Detention had a lot of gating problems: we regularly had access to portions of many puzzles without any indication of what we ought to work on.
This issue was compounded by seemingly arbitrary connections – ones that existed and ones that didn’t – and occasionally receiving clues to puzzles we’d already solved.
Should I play Escape West Chester’s Detention?
Detention was a lighthearted staging of that room in the school where nobody wants to go. The nods to The Breakfast Club added a bit of intrigue to an otherwise bland environment.
In some ways, this was an escape room for beginners. It lacked the set design or theme and puzzle integration that more experienced players have come to expect.
That said, this escape room would be especially frustrating for beginners because much of the challenge stems from tenuous connections rather than difficult puzzling. I cannot imagine most teams making it through without a lot of hint assistance.
As a result of all of this, I don’t really know who Detention is for. Experienced players could handle the level of challenge, but won’t love this room escape. Inexperienced players are likely to be playing this room escape, but it must be a bumpy experience for them.
I hope that Escape West Chester can continue to improve their games and integrate their inspirations into the puzzles to build a local attraction that is entertaining and sustainably competitive.
Full disclosure: Escape West Chester provided media discounted tickets for this game.