River City Escape Room – Manhattan [Review]

Grandma’s pie never tasted so good

Location:  Richmond, VA

Date Played: July 10, 2021

Team Size: 2-7; we recommend 3-4

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: $25 per player, with a minimum of $75

Ticketing: Private

Accessibility Consideration: There are many physically demanding portions of this game including crawling and climbing. Only one player has to crawl, but all players have to climb.

Emergency Exit Rating: [A+] No Lock

Physical Restraints: [A+] No Physical Restraints

REA Reaction


River City Escape Room created such a beautifully intricate experience based around the Manhattan Project, taking immersion to another level. The set was breathtaking from the moment we stepped into our grandmother’s house to the moment we escaped, further driving the thematic story elements. The narrative was woven through every detail of the story, including the recipes our grandmother had left, the nuclear survival manuals, and the time-period specific set pieces.

While the puzzle elements could have been slightly more robust, the overall gameplay was implemented from the floor to the ceiling. Our team struggled a bit with late-game sequence breaking, yet we were swiftly ushered back in the right direction by our gamemaster.

Foreshadowing played an important role in the game, reflecting small details and past events during the experience. This game was unique, no doubt about it. River City Escape Room’s designer put their heart into this game, and it truly shows. The attention to detail was immaculate in every little nook and cranny, and we loved each moment of the discovery.  

A 2 story set with an old kitchen.

Who is this for?

  • Adventure seekers
  • Story seekers
  • Puzzle lovers
  • Scenery snobs
  • Best for players with at least some experience

Story

It was 1940 and your grandmother had always warned you of the bombs dropping, yet this time wasn’t a false alarm. You decided to go check on her, only to find an empty house and a suspicious pie recipe.

Setting

Manhattan was a two-story, beautifully designed cottage with a considerable amount of detail. This level of detail followed throughout the game, leaving our team breathless as we traversed deeper.

Close up of a display with books, a clock, and other trinkets behind glass.

Gameplay

River City Escape Room’s Manhattan was a standard escape room with a moderate level of difficulty.

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

Analysis

➕ As hard as it is to shock our team, we were surprised by the way the space was utilized and further opened up for exploration. The vertical space was used brilliantly, allowing players to truly explore the set. The space felt even larger with the use of mirrors and doors, giving the illusion of a much larger floor plan.

➕ The story was unique, executed well, and flowed through the entire game, really bringing players into the game world. We absolutely felt like this was our grandmother’s house, and the sense of urgency to find her and figure out what was going on was prominent throughout.

➖ A section of the game was triggered without any clear feedback as to why. This seemed to have been caused by a set piece. This may have been complete luck, but some more gating to remove the ability to break sequence or better cluing to this particular set piece would have been beneficial.

➕ Some mid-game clue delivery was in-character and immersive. This interaction led to quite the aha moment, further honing in on the overarching theme.

➕/➖ Impressive time-period specific set pieces we assumed were decorative were actually used for answer verification. We loved how interactive these objects were, but wished some other parts of the machine were glued in place to help the puzzle become less convoluted.  

➖ The puzzles in the later half of the game lacked a clear path forward. While the puzzles, if isolated, would be clear and concise, the presentation of all elements simultaneously was overwhelming and lacked clarity.

➕/➖  What could have been an incredibly interesting twist on gameplay was under-developed and under-utilized. With some tweaks to this mechanic, the game element would be amazing.  

Tips For Visiting

  • Parking: There is ample parking outside.
  • River City Escape Room offers chips and water to players, because “hungry players take it out on each other.”
  • River City Escape Room also offers a local emotional support animal, Mister Snowflake, to players who may feel claustrophobic, anxious, or scared during the experience. He can be requested beforehand!
  • This room can be tailored to special events, including engagements and birthdays.
  • Food: While it’s quite a bit of a drive, Secret Sandwich Society is a must-visit while in Richmond for funky cocktails and fantastic sandwiches!

Book your hour with River City Escape’s Manhattan, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.

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