Dinner & puzzles
Location: Austin, Texas
Date Played: February 2, 2019
Team size: 2-4; we recommend 4
Duration: 60 minutes
Price: $45 per player for teams of 2 or $30 per player for teams of 3-4
Emergency Exit Rating: [A] Push To Exit
Physical Restraints: [B] Mechanical Release
The Shed was an intense escape room for a small, trusting, and communicative team. Chained to the walls (with safety releases) and each able to access only a corner of the small space, we had to work together to escape this serial killer’s lair.
The Shed lacked some essential clue structure. Maze Room knows this, and has worked to mitigate the issue, but they have a ways to go before the gameplay will truly flow.
These frustrations aside, The Shed was unique and exhilarating. If you’re looking for a dramatic and challenging small-team escape room in Austin, we recommend this dinner date.
Who is this for?
- Adventure seekers
- Story seekers
- Scenery snobs
- Players with at least some experience
- Players who don’t need to be a part of every puzzle
- People who are comfortable with physical restraints and a dark, unnerving environment
- Unique staging
- Intense environment
- Forced self-reliance
- Interesting puzzles
Good News: Our new friend had invited us over for dinner.
Bad News: We were unaware that our new friend was referred to as “Austin’s Cannibal” by local police.
The Shed fell comfortably into the category of escape rooms that we’ve taken to calling the “murder basement.” While it was physically small, it was convincing without being too gory.
Each of 4 players was shackled by the wrists (with a simple mechanical safety release) to a different corner of a small room with a central pillar. The environment was grim, detailed, and foreboding.
Maze Rooms Austin’s The Shed was an atypical escape room with a high level of difficulty.
It was atypical because each player was handcuffed to a different corner of the room for most of the experience. We had to solve the puzzles without moving around in the space.
Core gameplay revolved around observing, communicating, searching, making connections, and puzzling.
➕ We played most of The Shed with both wrists chained to the wall. These were the most comfortable handcuffs we’ve ever been strapped into. We were free to maneuver without causing any scraping or bruising to our wrists. Our handcuffs were attached to the walls by a length of chain and safety clips. The setup was great.
➕ The opening sequence of The Shed worked beautifully. It was hard to get started while chained to a wall and search capacity was limited, but The Shed had an onramp that taught us how to play within its confines.
➖ We had a lot of props in play at any given time. It could be overwhelming to ascertain what was immediately relevant and it was challenging to keep everything we might need in reach. It was also difficult to stay organized with all of the props while restrained.
➕ The Shed did a lot with a small gamespace. It looked great in a dark and creepy way. It hid its secrets well.
➖ When we triggered a solve, we rarely knew what we’d opened. Maze Rooms could add stronger lighting and sound clues to draw players’ attention to the reveals. Providing this immediate reward for any solves would have allowed us to focus on the puzzles rather than searching.
➖ The clue structure didn’t quite support the gameplay. Maze Rooms has mitigated this by adding a runbook. While we appreciated that additional cluing, it was annoying to spend most of the game with my head in a notebook. This was especially frustrating given the dim lighting and that both my hands and any flashlights were restricted by a length of chain.
➕ The gameplay emphasized communication. We couldn’t explore, or even see the entire game. We needed to communicate well and trust our teammates.
➕ Our favorite moments involved multiple players coordinating information and actions to solve puzzles.
➖ When we eventually freed ourselves from the restraints, we had access to new spaces… that our teammates knew intimately. We had to pause to share knowledge or waste time re-exploring known spaces.
➕ The penultimate sequence came together well with a surprising reveal and a plot twist.
➕/➖ The Shed required each player to rely on their teammates and hold their own. If one individual couldn’t find/ solve/ interact with an element, there was only so much the other teammates could do to help. We mostly found this exhilarating. Sometimes it made the game stall for a bit too long. Your choice of teammates will significantly impact your experience in The Shed.
Tips For Visiting
- There is a parking lot.
- Accessibility: Height Requirement of 55 inches (4’5”ft) or taller
- You can play this game with 2 – 4 people. You cannot add additional people. 4 people is the optimal number.
- Left-handed players may find this game more challenging than right-handed ones will.
Book your hour with Maze Rooms Austin’s The Shed, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.
Disclosure: Maze Rooms Austin comped our tickets for this game.