Location: Texas City, TX
Date Played: March 7, 2023
Team Size: 4-10; we recommend 3-4
Duration: 60 minutes
Price: $35 per player
Accessibility Consideration: None
Emergency Exit Rating: [A+] No Lock
Physical Restraints: [A+] No Physical Restraints
In the nail-biting finale of Terror Isle’s multi-part saga, we’d been imprisoned in the evil pirate captain’s dungeon. With the water levels quickly rising, we’d surely drown if we didn’t escape our cells and shut off the water in time. And once we accomplished that, it’d be no fun to escape without helping ourselves to a bit of the pirate’s treasure stash…
Terror Isle excelled in set design throughout their entire facility, and Dungeon of the Drowned was especially a tour de force in the effective use of height, scale, lighting, texture, and perspective. Two contrasting spaces — the dungeon and the pirate captain’s treasure room — both provided an impressive visual conclusion to Terror Isle’s clear environmental storytelling.
In my review of Terror Isle’s first chapter, Mystic Voyage, I remarked that the space felt alive with lights, sound, and motion, and furthermore that the puzzles filled and felt rooted in the space.
Unfortunately, this was not as much the case in Dungeon of the Drowned. Though the set was still oozing with character, it felt more like a haunt in the off-season. The space largely felt still and static. By the time we solved an uninspired final puzzle in a rather dark corner and opened a mundane door to exit the space, we remained delighted and elated by our overall adventure, in spite of — not because of — the gameplay we’d experienced in this final chapter. And seeing as we’d experienced some neat effects prior, the lack of an extra special moment to mark our ultimate sendoff was a missed opportunity.
Put otherwise, it seemed like Terror Isle designed 2/3 of a decent game, realized they needed more content, and added in some time filler to split the difference. These extra puzzles and interactions were less rooted in the set or story. They felt extraneous to the overall game and repeatedly killed the flow, even if just in small ways.
To be clear, Dungeon of the Drowned is absolutely still worth playing, especially if you’re playing the full suite of Terror Isle games back-to-back. Yet it didn’t fully deliver on its experiential potential, as set up by the prior chapters, given how beautiful of a set they’ve built for this finale.
If you are visiting Houston, I strongly recommend making the detour to Terror Isle. Terror Isle is still a fairly new company, and it’s mind boggling what they’ve already pulled off in just a couple short years across three massive games. This is in no small part due to their demonstrated ability to rapidly build and iterate on ambitious new ideas and player feedback. Much like a pirate’s fine whiskey, I have no doubt that Dungeon of the Drowned will continue to evolve and mature with time.
Who is this for?
- Adventure seekers
- Scenery snobs
- Any experience level
- All the beautiful haunt scenery with none of the scary parts
We’d been caught! Prisoners in the pirate king’s dungeon, we needed to escape quickly as the water levels were quickly rising.
We found ourselves locked in the cramped cells of the pirate king’s dungeon. Every surface was intricately textured, vividly evoking lichen-covered stone walls, imposing wrought iron doors, and various creepy creatures.
Terror Isle’s Dungeon of the Drowned was a standard escape room with a moderate level of difficulty.
Core gameplay revolved around solving puzzles, searching, and making connections. Players are split between two prison cells for the first segment of the game.
➕ The use of height, perspective, and unnecessary levels of detail brought a major wow factor. Terror Isle’s strengths as a haunt company were on full display.
➕ Dungeon of the Drowned provided an ending to Terror Isle’s overarching saga while also functioning well as a standalone game. The environmental storytelling was strong: the physical spaces we visited clearly mapped onto the story.
➖ The gameplay in Dungeon of the Drowned dropped somewhat in quality and cohesion from the previous chapters, and the ending of the game fizzled out unremarkably. Certain standalone puzzles felt like random filler and weren’t integrated into the set or story.
➕ A split start was simple and effective. It didn’t overstay its welcome, nor did it provide an imbalance between which players were in which cell.
➖ Our initial stakes — that we were going to drown if we didn’t escape the dungeon in time — never truly felt urgent or real. The main puzzle related to this plot point lacked sufficient audio feedback to drive up the intensity.
➕/➖ The treasure chamber reminded me of the swanky whiskey bar I’d visited the night before. It was beautiful. A game-like interaction further enhanced the vibe, though we found it to be too easy — it was over before it really got started.
➖ All the elements needed for a delightful party moment were there, but lacking accompanying lighting and sound, the moment fell flat.
Tips For Visiting
- The escape rooms at Terror Isle are available from November 13 through September 30. From October 20-31, the puzzles are removed and Terror Isle functions just as a haunted house. The exact dates may vary by year.
- Dungeon of the Drowned is lightly spooky in atmosphere, but not scary.
- Free street parking is available nearby.
Book your hour with Terror Isle’s Dungeon of the Drowned, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.
Disclosure: Terror Isle comped our tickets for this game.