Update 6/20/23: If you enjoy Pins & Needles Tattoo Parlor, we hope you’ll check out our interview with creators Taylor Pfyffer and Josh Skidmore on The Reality Escape Pod.
Skin in the Game
Location: Clearwater, FL
Date Played: February 26, 2023
Team size: 3-6; we recommend 3-5
Duration: 90 minutes
Price: $52 per player
Accessibility Consideration: The adventure is Rated R for explicit language.
Emergency Exit Rating: [A+] No Lock
Physical Restraints: [A+] No Physical Restraints
Pins & Needles Tattoo Parlor was the most hyped game we played this year… and it lived up to its reputation, which is no small feat.
The Exit Games FL took their time. They put us into a solid escape room, and let it blossom into something more. It was a slow burn, until the point where it ignited.
And to top it all off, they did this in an unusual setting. It felt fresh, even though it was composed for fairly typical escape room puzzles and narrative beats. It excelled in the execution, which counted for a lot.
We traveled twice to play this game: first to Orlando, and then on to Clearwater. And I’m glad we did. You can all stop asking us when we’re going to play Pins & Needles Tattoo Parlor.
Who is this for?
- Adventure seekers
- Story seekers
- Puzzle lovers
- Scenery snobs
- Fans of Ink Master
- Best for players with at least some experience
- Players who don’t need to be a part of every puzzle
- Well crafted gameplay
- Compelling story
- The escalation
- An unforgettable scene transition
We were about to begin apprenticing for Skinz, a renowned tattoo artist. The thing is, in this shop, most apprentices don’t last. We would need to do our job and be on our best behavior. We certainly didn’t want to upset the boss.
We were led into the storefront of a tattoo parlor. To the best of our limited knowledge, it looked the part. The vibe felt right.
The Exit Games FL’s Pins & Needles Tattoo Parlor was a standard escape room with a moderate level of difficulty.
Core gameplay revolved around observing, making connections, solving puzzles, and being able to think on your feet.
➕ In over 1000 escape rooms, we’ve never visited a tattoo parlor. The theme was legit. Our teammate who is a huge Ink Master fan concurred. Also, he was beyond thrilled.
➖ The introduction was harsh and demanding. We struggled with it. My inclination was to take actions that might not have been acceptable, and I didn’t want to push boundaries without a better understanding of the game world.
➕ The puzzles were fun. There were layered puzzles, funny thematic ones, and a puzzle that had one of the most elegant extractions we’ve seen to date. Throughout the experience, Exit Games FL used the environments adeptly for clue structure. They created many wonderful ahas without any tech.
➕ We enjoyed how the space transformed in unexpected ways, sometimes with scene transitions, and sometimes over the course of in-game interactions. One space in particular had just the coolest aesthetic, and the more time we spent there, the more it impressed us.
➕ The Exit Games FL did the tattoo parlor theming justice. We inked one scene, in particular, into our memories.
➖ It was too bad that one pivotal interaction wrapped up without an iconic prop. Yes, this is an extreme nitpick.
➕ There was an intensity to Pins & Needles Tattoo Parlor, born from the theme, sets, and characters. Still, there was levity. The jokes piled up.
➕ The late-game reveal. Holy smoke. This transition scene stood out for the dramatic flair and intensity of the moment, maybe even more than the plot twist. Furthermore, it was thoughtfully crafted to be safe, and always feel safe for everyone involved.
➕ As we played Pins & Needles Tattoo Parlor, we played out a complete story, in a few acts. It had structure. It had characters, and motives. And we were characters inside of it. This escape room accomplished all of this without any reading or exposition, but rather, through interactions, tasks, puzzles, and decor.
➖ Pins & Needles Tattoo Parlor never delivered on one refrain that seemed consequential to the story. Perhaps it was just an in-world rules delivery, but we wanted a punch line.
➕ The Exit Game FL tied the plot off well, using lighting and sound to bring closure to the experience. Furthermore, they punctuated the ending with a finale interactions that wasn’t needed, but added a lot.
Tips For Visiting
- There is a parking lot.
Book your session with The Exit Games FL’s Pins & Needles Tattoo Parlor, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.
Disclosure: The Exit Games FL comped our tickets for this game.