Escape Woods – The Shiners [Review]

Escape the trailer park.

Location: Powder Springs, GA

Date Played: March 24, 2018

Team size: up to 10; we recommend 4-8

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: $28 per ticket

Ticketing: Public or Private

REA Reaction

The Shiners was utterly unforgettable. We weren’t trapped anywhere. We were outdoors, invading a sprawling trailer park, breaking into the mobile homes, and salvaging materials to help our in-character gamemaster distill moonshine.

As with The Bunker at Escape Woods, I was unusually ok with generally poor game design choices that would typically drive me crazy.

Once again, this strange game was an argument for why we don’t give numeric ratings. If we were applying a rating, the high score for immersion would be offset by a low score for puzzle and game design. We’d have to give this game an average score that wouldn’t reflect reality. The Shiners was as much a masterpiece as it was a mess… but damn it, it was fun and memorable.

If this sounds incredibly exciting, it’s absolutely worth traveling far out of your way to experience The Shiners… and if this sounds like a disaster to you, then stay away.

In-game: An old trailer in the middle of the woods. It's lit with a long strand of light bulbs.

Who is this for?

  • Adventure seekers
  • Story seekers
  • Scenery snobs
  • Any experience level
  • People with at least basic agility
  • People who aren’t germophobic
  • Open-minded escape room players

Why play?

  • Detailed, raw, and real set
  • There’s nothing else like it, that we know of.
  • Unforgettable

Story

Master moonshiner Pops McCoy’s crew and facility had been busted by the ATF. McCoy had retreated to a remote trailer park in the middle of the woods and recruited us to help him scavenge for the ingredients and supplies he needed to whip up one final batch of his secret recipe.

We had to help McCoy complete one last batch of moonshine and get out of town before the ATF caught up with us.

The entry way to The Shiners. A broken archway reads, "Shady Acres." Beyond is a wooded trailer park.

Setting

I previously described the background of Escape Woods in our earlier review of The Bunker. It was a wild place.

A farm

Once again, a gamemaster took us for a little walk through the woods, this time to the Shady Acres trailer park. It was a trailer park complete with four trailers, a van, an outhouse, and all sorts of random details that made this game feel bizarrely authentic.

Unless we were inside of one of the trailers, the entire escape room took place outdoors.

In-game: A trailer with a few folding chairs around an extinguished fire pit.

Gameplay

Escape Woods’ The Shiners was an unusual escape room with a higher level of difficulty.

Core gameplay revolved around searching, making connections, parsing real clues from the numerous red herrings, and navigating the outdoor game environment.

The game was overseen by an in-character gamemaster, Pops McCoy. Whenever we retrieved a component for his recipe, we had to bring it to him.

In-game: A hand painted wooden sign leans against a tree. It reads, "Notis! Trespasser get shot."

Analysis

+ Entering this gamespace was surprising.

+ The trailer park set was unbelievable.

– In one trailer there was an oven, and oh boy did it smell foul when we opened it up. I don’t think this was an odor for-effect situation; I think something bad had happened in that oven.

? As with Escape Woods’ other game, the set had some dimly lit segments and we needed to bring our own flashlights (phones worked). On one hand, it was annoying that the game wasn’t self-contained. On the other hand, my phone is usually a better flashlight than the junk that most escape rooms provide. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

– It was difficult to tell where the set ended and what was out of play. We frequently did things that made our gamemaster/  Pops McCoy shout something at us like, “THERE AIN’T NOTHING IN THE SHITTER!.”

+ Our gamemaster was hilarious and even when he was telling us not to do something, he made it amusing.

+ The story was hilarious and generally well executed.

– We got a bit confused near the end of the story as we weren’t really sure how to proceed, and the instructions we had received had a strange technical inaccuracy.

+ Escape Woods laid out the game so that it had some flow and a natural progression.

– As with The Bunker, the puzzle design was the weak link. In one instance there was a puzzle that played more like a Rorschach test.

– There was an order preservation puzzle. We ended up having to guess our way through the order.

+ This was the craziest escape game that I’ve played to date.

Tips for Visiting

  • Bring your own flashlight. Flashlights will not be provided and you will need them.
  • You will drive down a dirt road to get to the parking lot.
  • Escape Woods’ facility is primarily outdoors, including their lobby. There is an indoor restroom available.
  • You must be comfortable walking on uneven surfaces and on paths through the woods.
  • Wear clothing that you don’t mind getting dirty. We recommend closed-toed shoes and long pants as well.

Book your hour with Escape Woods’ The Shiners, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.

Disclosure: Escape Woods provided media discounted tickets for this game.

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