Escape Hour – The Crypt [Review]

The dead don’t talk…usually…

Location:  Austin, TX

Date Played: September 1, 2022

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

Duration: 70 minutes

Price: $40 per player

Ticketing: Private

Accessibility Consideration: At least one player must climb and crawl

Emergency Exit Rating: [A+] No Lock

Physical Restraints: [A+] No Physical Restraints

REA Reaction

At its heart, The Crypt was an adventure game. It’s big, it’s bold, and it’s intense. As such, it wanted us to feel its urgency, and it wanted to keep us moving. With that in mind, it’s fitting that its puzzles weren’t complex and were often explicitly telegraphed. This wasn’t a game of many ahas. It was a game of action…working quickly to move the quest forward.

We had a ton of fun with the whole thing. An exciting use of space, a creative take on gamemastering, and varied physical interactions made this game quite different from most in the Austin market. We finished with a fair amount of time to spare, but in the context of a dense 70 minute room, we still got a lot more gameplay than in most standard experiences.

Our quibbles with the game were minor. Most notably, a mid-game sequence could become a bottleneck even for smaller teams, and it wasn’t entirely clear how we were allowed to interact with each other during that time. However, in the grand scheme of things, these were minor.

This was a riveting room with rare features for central Texas. If you’re in the area, go play it.

An assortment of bones and a full skeleton.

Who is this for?

  • Adventure seekers
  • Scenery snobs
  • Indiana Jones wannabes
  • Best for players with at least some experience

Why play?

  • To explore an incredible use of space
  • To experience the thrill of a rapid-paced, dense adventure

Story

We discovered an explorer’s base camp outside a mystical and menacing crypt. We didn’t know exactly what secrets it might hide, but we knew many before us had cared enough to plumb its depths. In fact, one of them greeted us at the door, missing most of his flesh but retaining a foreboding sense of humor. Could we find the treasure and unearth the heart of the crypt before we, too, were consumed by its dreadful magic?

A makeshift wooden desk with a computer setup atop.

Setting

Our journey began in a high-tech base camp abutting the presumed exterior of the legendary crypt. This area, and those that followed, were creepy and bone-filled.

Walls made of bone and stone in a crypt.

Every space in this room was fully decked out with rich textures, varied lighting, interactive solution mechanisms, and a sometimes jarring array of technology for an ancient space. We felt enveloped in this rich environment.

In this standout set, the most standout aspect was its riveting use of space. The Crypt advertises itself as the biggest room in Austin, and yet it still surprised me in the ways it lived up to that claim. The unfolding nature of the room carried the adventure in large part. Once we were inside, we could sense where it was going, and we wanted to go with it.

A hut with a passage into a temple.

Gameplay

Escape Hour’s The Crypt was a standard escape room with a moderate level of difficulty.

Gameplay included making connections, following instructions, and completing tasks.

Analysis

➕ The experience started even before we entered the room. This is what everyone sees from the lobby. Players receive a thematic story explanation amidst this setup, foreshadowing things to come.

A metal door with warning signs on it in the middle of an ancient stone wall lit by a torch.

➕ The set was lush and extravagant. It was a thrill to explore.

A stone wall in a crypt.

➕/➖ This was an unusually physical room, which was appropriate for its theme and rewarding to execute. That said, this defining feature makes it inaccessible to some. People who are unable to crawl or climb will miss out on the essence of this experience.

❓ Many puzzles were straightforward and bluntly explained, making them more process than aha. The room’s difficulty came from its sheer number of tasks and the skill involved in deciding how to cooperate.

➕ The room employed a thematic, interactive, and sometimes comedic narrative feature that was available to us on most of our quest. It was a highlight of the experience.

➖ One puzzle sequence might easily become a bottleneck. There was a lot to do for one person and not as much for everyone else.

➕ The six gold bars that we collected throughout the game served as a thematic and well-paced progress indicator. This made it easy to judge our pace.

➖ The room had only a very subtle game “clock.” In a room with so much to do, it needed to be clearer how much time was left.

➕ There were several puzzles that required intentional collaboration. Yay teamwork!

➖ One persistent puzzle mechanic overstayed its welcome. It was clever and fun to execute at first, but after repeating it many times, the margin of error outweighed the delight factor.

➖ Although the room had an unquestionably high production quality, it had a few anachronistic input mechanisms that didn’t fit the overall aesthetic of the experience. They were also of high quality; they just didn’t make sense in the environment.

➕ This room involved an exhilarating use of space that left us wondering how far it would go. In this regard, it was unlike anything else in the Austin market.

Tips For Visiting

  • There is plenty of parking in front of Escape Hour.
  • For food, visit El Huarache right around the corner, and order sopes. We’re sope connoisseurs, and these are our favorites in Texas.

Book your hour with Escape Hour’s The Crypt, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.

Disclosure: Escape Hour comped our tickets for this game.

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