Cincinnati Escape Room – The Upside Down [Review]

Home of Will the Wise.

Location:  Cincinnati, Ohio

Date Played:  December 30, 2018

Team size: 2-8; we recommend 4-5

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: $28 per player

Ticketing: Public

Emergency Exit: Yes

REA Reaction

The Upside Down was an unapologetic and loving homage to Stranger Things. With a bit of set dressing and a strong emphasis on puzzles, this played as a well-executed traditional escape room.

It had some tech. It had some set embellishments. This was, however, primarily a puzzle game and we enjoyed it.

Regardless of experience level, if you find yourself in Cincinnati, and you’re looking for a traditional puzzle-driven escape room, this is a game to play, especially if you’re a fan of Stranger Things.

In-game: Christmas lights strung with the numbers 2 & 6 hanging from them. Below it, a door with wood panels that have the words, "Home of Will The Wise" and "Castle Byers," painted on them.

Who is this for?

  • Puzzle lovers
  • Fans of Stranger Things
  • Any experience level

Why play?

  • Faithful theming
  • Fun puzzles

Story

The Seven Forces was an organization dedicated to capturing powerful artifacts hidden throughout time and space.

We had to visit a small town in Indiana during the 1980s and contend with a mystical evil in possession of an artifact.

In-game: The letters A-Z painted on the wall, each has a single Christmas light lit above it.

Setting

Within the wood-paneled walls of a 1980s basement, we found lots of puzzles and Stranger Things references.

While the set had charming details and sufficiently conveyed where we were, it wasn’t the focus of the game. Cincinnati Escape Room emphasized the puzzles.

In-game: Closeup of an Atari and it's joysticks.

Gameplay

Cincinnati Escape Room’s The Upside Down was a standard escape room with a moderate level of difficulty.

Core gameplay revolved around observing, making connections, and puzzling.

In-game: The word "Start" above the beginning of some sort of maze.

Analysis

➕ The Upside Down was well themed. It felt true to its inspiration without being frightening.

➕/➖ Although the theming was clear, and generally on point, a few puzzles seemed strangely unrelated.

➕ We enjoyed the puzzles in The Upside Down. There was a lot of solve. We liked that keen observation, rather than sustained searching, yielded a large volume of puzzles.

➕ Many of the puzzles required teamwork. We appreciated this facet of Cincinnati Escape Room’s design.

➖ We entered the space with headlamp flashlights, supposedly as a thematic choice to embellish the experience. As we played the opening moments, however, these felt more like an afterthought. One didn’t work; another was weak. This sequence made it hard to pick up momentum at the onset of the experience.

In-game: A small makeshift bed in a sheet tent with a box of eggo waffles sitting on it.

➖ One precise puzzle was a bit out of sync. The concept was clever, but it seemed like the tech may need more regular maintenance.

➕ Cincinnati Escape Room implemented a pair of key moments exceptionally well. It wasn’t at all finicky. We’ve knocked a lot of companies in the past for getting this kind of thing wrong.

Tips For Visiting

  • There is a parking lot.
  • We enjoyed a post-game stop at Urban Artifact.
  • Cincinnati Escape Room is part of The Seven Forces family. See our review of The Summons to see what else The Seven Forces is up to.

Book your hour with Cincinnati Escape Room’s The Upside Down, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.

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