St. Louis Escape – Cellar Escape [Review]

High-end murder basement

Location:  St. Louis, MO

Date Played: March 21, 2019

Team size: up to 10; we recommend 3-5

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: $25 per player

Ticketing: Public

Emergency Exit Rating: [A+] No Lock

Physical Restraints:  [B] Mechanical Release

REA Reaction

Cellar Escape was comfortably our group’s favorite game at St. Louis Escape.

While its gameplay was a little more search-centric than we typically go for, the game’s runbook was onerous, and the story was underdeveloped… the set design was top-notch and the game played fairly cleanly.

If you’re visiting St. Louis Escape and you’re comfortable with a horror experience, Cellar Escape is our recommendation. If you’d like something a little less intense, we suggest attempting Haunted Hotel (review coming soon) instead.

In-game: A dead man sitting at a desk with a typewriter in betwen two jail cells.

Who is this for?

  • Adventure seekers
  • Scenery snobs
  • Players interested in moderate horror
  • Any experience level

Why play?

  • Great set design
  • Intense moments

Story

We were trapped in a serial killer’s lair and had to find a out way out before he returned.

In-game: An electrical box labeled "Danger Live Wires."

Setting

Cellar Escape was St. Louis Escape’s take on a murder basement. From a set design standpoint, it delivered everything that you’d want out of a murder basement. It was dark, grim, gritty, intimidating, and bloody.

As with all of St. Louis Escape’s sets, it was thoroughly designed from floor to ceiling.

In-game: A meat-grinder oozing large amounts of ground, bloody flesh.

Gameplay

St. Louis Escape’s Cellar Escape was a standard escape room with a moderate level of difficulty and a split-team beginning.

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

In-game: A red we need a clue sign sitting beside a laminated and spiral-bound book labeled "CELLAR ESCAPE." All surrounded by a beautiful set.

Analysis

Cellar Escape looked murder basement-y. It was dark and foreboding, but also detailed and thoughtfully designed.

➕ The split beginning worked well to encourage teamwork early on and didn’t overstay its welcome.

➕ We especially enjoyed the puzzles that felt authentic to the scenario. The escape room was at its best when we were deriving solutions that seemed plausible for escaping a killer’s lair.

In-game: A dead man sitting at a desk.

Cellar Escape relied heavily on a runbook. This was frustrating to use and detracted from our experience in the gamespace. Furthermore, it seemed to not be quite up to date with the current gameplay of the escape room. We encountered runbook ghost puzzles.

➕ St. Louis Escape seems to have a penchant for breaker boxes in their escape room design; it worked well in this room.

➖ Some of the tech in Cellar Escape had especially tight tolerances. If our hands were just slightly off they wouldn’t trigger, even though we’d correctly solved the puzzle. This put gameplay on ice for a little longer than it should have.

➖ Unclued trick locks are problematic in escape rooms. If you don’t know how to solve them, you will burn far too much of your game clock trying. If you basically know how to open all of the common trick locks on the market like David does… then they’re kind of boring. Either way, they’re suboptimal.

In-game: The cobweb covered ceiling of the Cellar Escape.

➕ Cellar Escape ground to a good jump-scare.

➖ Cellar Escape could fit a lot of people. St. Louis Escape will sell up to 12 tickets to it. The gameplay, however, had choke points. If you play with a large team, there would be a lot of down time for individual players.

Cellar Escape was a search-heavy escape room. In some instances, this worked well with the theme. In other instances, we found this tedious. Your mileage will vary.

Tips For Visiting

  • You can park for free on the street directly in front of the building or on the side of the building.
  • There are stairs up to the escape room lobby and the escape rooms.
  • Beware that St. Louis Escape has a habit for putting 4-digit solutions into 5-digit locks.

Book your hour with St. Louis Escape’s Cellar Escape, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.

Disclosure: St. Louis Escape provided media discounted tickets for this game.

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