Escape Room Herndon – 8-Bit Escape [Review]

8-Bit Escape is one of the best games in the Metro DC area. Here are our other recommendations for great escape rooms around Washington DC.

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Location:  Herndon, VA

Date Played: October 2, 2021

Team size: 2-6; we recommend 2-4

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: scaled pricing from $39 per player for teams of 2 to $28 per player for teams of 5+

Ticketing: Private

Emergency Exit Rating: [A+] No Lock

Physical Restraints: [A+] No Physical Restraints

REA Reaction

I’m about to gush… a lot. The creators of 8-Bit Escape who watched me play know that I’m about to gush… a lot. They saw me play their game, and they witnessed me transform into a giddy child for the duration of my stay in their experience.

In a very personal way, 8-Bit Escape was one of my favorite escape room experiences ever. That doesn’t mean that this game was fancy or mind-blowing… it wasn’t. It was a fairly traditional escape room, executed well – and – the execution of the 80s gamer theme was so dead-on that I nearly ODed on nostalgia.

Typically 80s escape rooms feel like a pastiche of the 80s; 8-Bit Escape felt more like a time machine to a very particular late 80s experience that closely mimicked my own. The toys, music, video games, magazines… everything in this space felt like something that I owned (or more likely, played with at my friend Danny’s house. His parents bought him everything).

An old CRT television in a room with wood panel walls and shag carpet.
Image via Escape Room Herndon

There was a moment in 8-Bit Escape where I picked up an old copy of Nintendo Power Magazine, flipped to a random page, and found a map/ walkthrough of the infamously difficult dam level in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and I just sat on the floor between the couch and television looking it over. I legitimately felt like I was 4 again. I found dozens of other items throughout this space that resonated with me in the same way. Furthermore, there was an authentic way that these moments all came together into a cohesive experience.

Whether you’re playing 8-Bit Escape to remember, or to get a glimpse into a world that wasn’t yours, the love and care that went into this experience is something to behold. It’s not the greatest escape room in the world, but it’s a really good one… and for me, it’s a special one.

Who is this for?

  • 80s kids
  • Retro video game fans
  • David Spira
  • Scenery snobs
  • Any experience level

Why play?

  • Nostalgia… to relive your youth (or someone elseโ€™s)
  • The loving representation of a video game nerd’s life in the late 80s
  • Authentic props and music

Story

It was the late 80s and our friends had all come over to play a new video game… but our mom had locked our games up until we’d finished our stupid homework.

We had about an hour to get our hands on the game before everyone got bored and went to Wade’s house to play. We couldn’t have that. Wade sucks.

Setting

8-Bit Escape was set in a dead-on 80s basement. It wasn’t extravagant or over-the-top. However, the walls, carpet, props, toys, magazines, and everything else just felt right.

A very 80s basement with a faded couch, shag carpet, wood panel walls, and movie posters.
Image via Escape Room Herndon

Gameplay

Escape Room Herndon’s 8-Bit Escape was a standard escape room with a moderate level of difficulty.

Core gameplay revolved around searching, making connections, puzzling, and putting your old video-gaming skills to use.

Closeup of the glowing title on an arcade cabinet. It reads, "8-Bit Escape"
Image via Escape Room Herndon

Analysis

โž• 8-Bit Escape captured a specific character’s experience in the 1980s. While most 80s-themed games are parodies of an era, 8-Bit Escape represented the indoor kid experience, one similar to my own. Through a curated collection of props and interactions, this game delivered the most nostalgia I have ever felt playing an escape room.

โž• Everything about the set was right. From the carpet to the ceiling, and including the computer, the console, and even the folders, the game was set in the 1980s, my 1980s.

โž• The soundtrack was fantastic.

โž• Escape Room Herndon designed puzzles to be fair to all players, but give you an edge if you played video games in that era. That code you try on every directional lock for kicks… it worked. However, this outside knowledge wasn’t sequence breaking. All puzzles were fairly clued for the youngins.

โž• We especially loved taking aim at one puzzle.

โž• /โž– One interaction pulled me in, requiring me to think like I’d think to solve video games. This sequence added extra depth to the game. However, the controls for this interaction were clunky and intimidating.

โž•/โž– We loved where we ended up in the second act, but wanted a little more from the finale.

โž– 8-Bit Escape was lovingly maintained, but it still suffered from some wear on the props, both vintage and pseudo vintage.

โž•/โ“ While 8-Bit Escape would be accessible to players of all ages and backgrounds, if you don’t know the references, it will lose a lot of its magic. If you don’t “get it,” this would be a functional and fun escape room. If you do get it, or you play with teammates who are excited to bring you into their world, there will be a celebratory, energizing joy to playing 8-Bit Escape.

โž• The single bonus puzzle was thematically and mechanically appropriate. It was a step up in difficulty, but not insurmountably so. Plus, the time allotted for it was perfect.

Tips For Visiting

  • There is a parking lot.

Book your hour with Escape Room Herndon’s 8-Bit Escape, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.

Disclosure: Escape Room Herndon comped our tickets for this game.

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