Escape Garden State – Boardwalk Blast [Review]

Skee ball’s revenge.

Location: Fairfield, NJ

Date Played: March 5, 2018

Team size: 1-10; we recommend 3-5

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: $30 per ticket

REA Reaction

Escape Garden State combined the childlike joy of playing in an arcade with escape room gameplay. While Boardwalk Blast had some pacing issues and the story didn’t matter, it caused us to emote in a way that most rooms don’t. We screamed a lot, in a good way.

In-game: The exterior of a boardwalk arcade.

Who is this for?

  • Families
  • Shore goers
  • Nostalgia nuts
  • Any experience level

Why play?

  • It’s joyful.
  • Light physicality
  • To scream like a kid

Story

A bomb threat had been called into an ocean-side boardwalk arcade and our team had been sent into investigate and neutralize the threat.

While the setup may have been a bit dire, this was a delightfully friendly escape room.

In-game: A Cruis' n USA arcade cabinet.

Setting

Boardwalk Blast set us on a bright, family-friendly adventure in a Jersey Shore boardwalk arcade. It was complete with arcade cabinets and vending machines to round out the vibe.

Gameplay

Boardwalk Blast balanced traditional escape room searching and puzzling with more physical interactions, some of which were as challenging as they were time consuming… but they all had us screaming like kids when we managed to succeed.

In-game: Large metal signs for an arcade mounted to a wall.

Standouts

Boardwalk Blast was well-themed, lighthearted, and nostalgic. It was also tangible. These qualities combined to make it a ton of fun to play through.

Family-friendly Boardwalk Blast offered lots of opportunities for kids to be involved in the puzzles and interactions. Many escape rooms are fine for kids, this one was perfect for them.

Escape Garden State merged a familiar arcade game with a popular escape room trope in such a way that it felt new and fun.

Our reactions to the boardwalk games were genuine. We screamed – at triumphs and near misses – just as we did as kids playing arcade games. Our excitement was real. Even when we were frustrated with some of the challenges, there was an element of nostalgic arcade fun to them.

Shortcomings

Boardwalk Blast included a few time sinks. We knew how to accomplish these solves, but it took us a while to manage it. Boardwalk Blast bottlenecked around these puzzles because there wasn’t enough additional gameplay open to us. We would have liked for some teammates to be able to turn their attention elsewhere so that we could feel like we were still making forward progress in the escape room, even while we struggled to accomplish these tasks.

In such a themed environment, a few items didn’t seem to fit.

Boardwalk Blast was an arcade-themed escape room with an evacuation mission tacked on. Escape Garden State could do more with the evacuation staging throughout the experience so that it didn’t feel like an afterthought.

Tips for Visiting

  • Bring kids to this one. It’s perfect for the late elementary school crowd.
  • To find Escape Garden State, go toward the back of the plaza. It’s in building 7, all the way at the end. Be sure to check the building numbers.
  • There is ample parking.
  • There are plenty of restaurants in the area.

Book your hour with Escape Garden State’s Boardwalk Blast, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you by using the coupon code ESCAPEROOMARTIST to receive 20% off.

Disclosure: Escape Garden State comped our tickets for this game.

 

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