Escape Artistry – Duck & Cover Classroom [Review]

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Location: Chicago, IL

Date Played: March 10, 2022

Team Size: 2-8; we recommend 3-5

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: $34 per player for 3+ players

Ticketing: Private

Emergency Exit Rating: [A] Push To Exit

Physical Restraints: [A+] No Physical Restraints

REA Reaction

Duck & Cover Classroom demonstrated an alternative model for how to build escape rooms. Nearly every element in the room was recycled or sustainably sourced. Especially for the 1950s classroom theme, this set design aesthetic looked fantastic. And while this game was built a good few years ago, it had visually aged quite well.

At a time when the budgets to build escape rooms continue to rise rapidly and most rooms use new materials and props shipped from far-off places, Escape Artistry has shown that sets can be both lower budget and more environmentally sustainable without necessarily sacrificing on appearance.

An old classroom, with desks lined up and tall blue lockers.

The gameplay in Duck & Cover Classroom felt similarly creative and appropriate for the theme, with many puzzles that naturally emerged from the items one would find in a primary school classroom. Most props were decently maintained, with the exception of two interactions that were in need of a significant face lift and required gamemaster assistance to function.

Escape Artistry got their start with The Railcar, and continuing in a recognizably theatric style, Duck & Cover Classroom was an admirable step up in terms of scenery cohesion and streamlined puzzle design. If you are in the Chicago area, Duck & Cover Classroom would make an enjoyable addition to your itinerary.

Who is this for?

  • Puzzle lovers
  • Scenery snobs
  • Any experience level

Why play?

  • The sustainably built set
  • Nonstop nostalgia

Story

We were sent back to a classic 1954 classroom to search for some radioactive materials that had been “misplaced” by the Manhattan Project. We had to recover the radioactive materials before all of Chicago would experience a nuclear event and have to “duck and cover.”

A trophy case in an old high school. There are team photos hung behind it.

Setting

Duck & Cover Classroom took place in a 1950s school classroom that had been authentically assembled from vintage desks, books, lockers, and photos.

Gameplay

Escape Artistry’s Duck & Cover Classroom was a standard escape room with a moderate level of difficulty.

Core gameplay revolved around puzzling and searching.

Analysis

โž• The intro video to Duck & Cover Classroom was clearly produced by folks with a strong theater background and an active imagination. As an additional bonus, our gamemaster interacted with the video in a way that further brought us into the world.

โž• The set of Duck & Cover Classroom truly looked like a 1950s classroom. Everything felt real and authentic… because it all was.

โž• A transition between spaces was very smoothly disguised.

โž• Duck & Cover Classroom contained many delightfully thematic interactions. While I was in elementary school many decades after the 1950s, these interactions still reminded me of my childhood.

โž– There were lots of “do not touch” stickers in the room, often somewhat hidden in places that we didn’t see until we’d already touched the thing we weren’t supposed to touch.

โž•/โž– There were many locks in Duck & Cover Classroom, but there was never any ambiguity as to which puzzle went with which lock. A sort of “lock handbook” describing how each lock worked felt unnecessary, especially since almost all locks in the room were of the standard variety. This also led to every single lock being labeled with a number, which felt even worse than “do not touch” stickers. I see how this approach might have emerged from catering to novice players, but it made the space feel more visually cluttered than needed, especially on one particularly lock-dense cabinet.

โž– A math puzzle felt like homework. It certainly fit the theme but may not be fun for many players (though I like math and personally didn’t mind it.)

โž•/โž– An interaction involving an interesting machine fit the narrative, but didn’t function quite as intuitively as we’d have expected, requiring gamemaster instructions for something that should have been included in the in-room instructions for this device.

Tips For Visiting

  • Street parking was available nearby.
  • We enjoyed debriefing and snacking at Native Foods, just up the street.

Book your hour with Escape Artistry’s Duck & Cover Classroom, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.

Disclosure: Escape Artistry comped our tickets for this game.

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