Murfreesboro Escape Rooms – Skinner’s Box [Review]

Conditioning

Location: Murfreesboro, TN

Date Played: July 26, 2018

Team size: 4-12; we recommend 6-8

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: $26 per ticket

Ticketing: Public

REA Reaction

Skinner’s Box’s split-team design was conceptually brilliant and superbly zany. The whimsical and weirdly interconnected rat sets delighted us.

The design introduced gameflow problems as the team congregated in the mundane scientist sets for the majority of the puzzle solving, and the game petered out.

Skinner’s Box was certainly outside of the box, as far as escape rooms go.

The physical challenges were nifty, but not comfortable. Your enjoyment of Skinner’s Box will vary heavily based on your physical limitations and the role you choose to play.

If you’re looking for a split-team, physically interactive, communication-focused escape room that’s unlike any other, it’s worth stopping in for Skinner’s Box.

In-game: a bright and happy rat cage with rubes, ladders and a rat toy.

Who is this for?

  • Adventure seekers
  • Puzzle lovers
  • Players with at least some experience
  • Players who don’t need to be a part of every puzzle

Why play?

  • A unique approach to split-team gameplay
  • Pure puzzle-based play for some
  • Physical challenge-based play for others

Story

Behavioral psychologist B.F. Skinner had split us up and placed us his operant conditioning chamber, also known as a Skinner Box. Through reward and punishment we had to learn how to free ourselves.

In-game: a rundown laboratory with a glowing box for handing hazardous materials and a periodic table of elements.

Setting

Although we were split into four groups, there were three distinctive sets. (Two of the sets where quite similar.)

The scientists entered white-walled lab environments that any escape room player would instantaneously recognize as a lab-themed game.

The happy rats and sad rats inhabited the most unusual and intriguing portion of the game. Each group was locked in an oversized rat cage, but with decidedly different aesthetics.

In-game: a dark rat cage with a large throw switch, a number pad, and an oversized caricature of a rat.

Gameplay

Murfreesboro Escape Rooms’ Skinner’s Box was an unusual, split-team escape room with a high level of difficulty.

The scientist rooms were typical escape rooms. The scientists’ core gameplay revolved around observing, making connections, communication, and puzzling.

The rat rooms relied heavily on crawling and physicality. The rats’ core gameplay revolved around searching, making connections, communication, and dexterity.

In-game: a rundown lab with a letter/number grid along with a variety of locked compartments and cabinets.

Analysis

+ For the rats, Skinner’s Box was ridiculous and exhilarating. We’d never played anything like it.

? For the scientists, Skinner’s Box played like a fairly traditional split-team escape game.

+ The Skinner’s Box theme was inspired.

– We wished Murfreesboro Escape Rooms had leaned into the theme more heavily, creating more conditioning loops between the rats and the scientists.

+ The rats were crawling through the walls; the scientists could hear rats in the walls. This was an incredible, interactive spatial design.

+ The rat sets were great. They were thematically sound, rat-inspired, and ludicrously fun to explore.

– The set had a few logistics issues. The crawling surface wasn’t padded. It worked aesthetically, but it wasn’t comfortable. There was a door that doubled as a key game component, which meant bumping the door into someone solving a puzzle as another person tried to push it open or closed.

Skinner’s Box offered substantial puzzle variety and challenge.

– The puzzle distribution was uneven. Most of the puzzle-solving took place in the scientist rooms, which were the less dynamic sets.

Skinner’s Box leaned heavily on communication puzzles, which worked well with the split-team dynamic.

– Because of the uneven puzzle distribution, the rats (and anyone who wished) had free rein of the set pretty early on. We would have liked more forced communication between the different roles. This also would have reduced the crowding on the scientists and the yet unsolved puzzles.

– Skinner’s Box struggled with the reconvening conundrum. The rats ultimately emerged in the scientist rooms where they wanted to help solve puzzles. This frustrated the scientists who knew what was solved and what was in play. It was hard to effectively work together in the scientists’ space.

– We struggled with one misleading search puzzle in challenging lighting. It took a lot of time and sapped the energy from the group.

– The finale was lackluster. We escaped, but that didn’t do the game justice. Skinner’s Box demanded a dramatic conclusion to the rat conditioning.

Skinner’s Box was insane and zany. With the right people in the rat and scientist rooms, the madness was a lot of fun.

Tips for Visiting

  • There is parking out front.
  • We enjoyed the muffins (and other delicacies) at Mimi’s Cafe.
  • There are 4 distinct gamespaces. You cannot complete this room with fewer than 4 players.
  • At least 2 players need to be comfortable crawling quite a bit in relatively tight spaces. They will play as rats.
  • Note that less mobile players can play comfortably as scientists.

Book your hour with Murfreesboro Escape Rooms’ Skinner’s Box, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.

Disclosure: Murfreesboro Escape Rooms comped our tickets for this game.

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