Backstage Escape Games – The Haunting of Hyde House [Review]

Hyde and Seek

Location:  Myrtle Beach, SC

Date Played:  September 28, 2021

Team size: 2-8; we recommend 3-4

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: $36 per player

Ticketing: Public

Accessibility Consideration: at least one player has to crawl

Emergency Exit Rating: [A] Push To Exit

Physical Restraints: [A+] No Physical Restraints

REA Reaction

The Haunting of Hyde House was a thoroughly enjoyable experience. The setting was well-crafted to suit the story and the gameplay did a stellar job of reinforcing the themes of the game.

The experience’s introduction and justification were the standouts, and there was a late-game puzzle sequence that felt perfect.

Interior hallways blocked by a red velvet rope.

At different points, The Haunting of Hyde House showed its age as we encountered some props that needed some refinishing or replacing, and sensors that needed a tuneup. Additionally, there was a persistent runbook throughout The Haunting of Hyde House that, while fairly well executed, continued to distract from the game environment, which was considerably more engaging than the laminated pages of a journal.

On our trip to Myrtle Beach, The Haunting of Hyde House was without a doubt the standout escape room in the region. If you’re nearby, I strongly recommend checking it out.

Who is this for?

  • Adventure seekers
  • Puzzle lovers
  • Scenery snobs
  • Horror movie fans
  • Best for players with at least some experience

Why play?

  • Strong set
  • Fantastic final act

Story

After years of neglect, Hyde Mansion had been turned into a museum by the Hyde House Historical Foundation. Tours were available to learn the history of the building as well as explore the tragic story of the family who had previously owned it.

Some superstitious guests claimed that Isabella, the youngest daughter of the Hyde family haunted this beautiful old home… we decided to investigate.

Closeup of a boarded up door labeled Isabella in child-like handwriting and decorated with hand drawn flowers.
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Riddles Escape Room – Mystery Mansion [Review]

Southern Steampunk

Location:  Myrtle Beach, South Carolina

Date Played: September 27, 2021

Team size: 2-6; we recommend 3-4

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: $27 per player

Ticketing: Private

Emergency Exit Rating: [A+] No Lock

Physical Restraints: [A+] No Physical Restraints

REA Reaction

Riddles Escape Room is an unusual company, and the best way that I can describe them is: commitment to their vision.

They’ve been in the industry for a long while. Their game design was rooted in traditional escape room puzzle play, but everything in Mystery Mansion was just a little different. Their approach to introducing their games, set design, puzzle design, and hinting was traditional, with a Riddles Escape Rooms twist.

Purple wood paneling with an intricate antique wooden shelf adorned with swords, a clock, and torch-like sculpture.

Their pronounced style felt great in the game’s introduction as well as the way the they hid their game’s secrets. In other places, like puzzle design, it felt like commitment to the purity of their vision was getting in the way of game flow.

Throughout the experience, the gamemaster actively hinted to keep the game on the rails, but we regularly found ourselves wishing that solves had clearer cause and effect, and that some of the hints that I assume must be delivered with great regularity were elegantly baked into the fabric of the game.

I love finding companies that have a unique style, and Riddles Escape Room was certainly unique. If you’re in Myrtle Beach and looking for a traditional escape room with a high level of difficulty and a unique flavor, check out Mystery Mansion.

Who is this for?

  • Puzzle lovers
  • Best for players with at least some experience

Why play?

  • Unusual props and interactions
  • Strong performative gamemastering
  • Classic search-and-puzzle escape room with its own flare

Story

We set off to explore the mansion of a deceased relative: an eccentric inventor. Our goal was to learn of his greatest creation, thus earning our fictional share of the estate.

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Escape Room Herndon – 8-Bit Escape [Review]

❤️❤️❤️

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 else’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.

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Cyber Raccoon – Train Robbery [Review]

Wild Wild West Saloon

Location:  Falls Church, VA

Date Played: October 3, 2021

Team size: 2-8; we recommend 3-6

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: scaled pricing from $50 per player for teams of 2 to $26 per player for groups of 10

Ticketing: Private

Emergency Exit Rating: [A+] No Lock

Physical Restraints: [A+] No Physical Restraints

REA Reaction

For a few years we’ve heard from DC-area locals something along the lines of, “Next time you’re in DC, you should check out Cyber Raccoon… they’re good.” At the risk of overhyping this company, our DC-area friends were seriously underselling the Train Robbery.

We had a blast in Train Robbery. The set was joyous, the puzzles were challenging yet fair, the interactions were well crafted, and the story came to a remarkably satisfying conclusion.

The puzzle difficulty was elegantly leveled out by a delightful hint system. (I only wish we had engaged it during the game, instead of finding out about it after we had finished.)

View from the saloon's bar of a beer keg, a golden cash register, and a stage with a piano beside it.

On top of it all, Train Robbery had one of the best subtle bits of game design/ narrative foreshadowing that I’ve ever seen. It’s easy to miss, and even if you catch it, it might not register, but if we meet in person, ask us about it. I’ll probably be talking about it until the end of time.

Suburban Washington, DC has a handful of great companies, but if you’re only playing one game in the region (though you should play more), it has to be Train Robbery. This game needs a bigger reputation than it has.

Who is this for?

  • Adventure seekers
  • Story seekers
  • Puzzle lovers
  • Scenery snobs
  • Any experience level
  • Players who don’t need to be a part of every puzzle

Why play?

  • Integrated story, set, and puzzles
  • Amazing hint system
  • Plot twist… and so well executed within the gameplay.

Story

$6 million dollars had been robbed from a train in the mountains of Nevada. The heist had been well organized and it appeared that the robbers had used a powerful weapon of unknown origin.

To get to the bottom of this, Pinkerton National Detective Agency had been hired to solve the crime, and they’d sent us to find and follow the clues. The trail led to a saloon in Virginia City, and that is where our game began.

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Enigma-tic – Missing [Review]

M1ss1ng

Location:  Blainville, QC, Canada

Date Played: October 13, 2021

Team size: 3-5; we recommend 3-4

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: $28.99 CAD per player

Ticketing: Private

Accessibility Consideration: one player needs to be able to crouch in a small space, and all players need to step over/ through an obstacle

Emergency Exit Rating: [A+] No Lock

Physical Restraints: [A+] No Physical Restraints

REA Reaction

Missing was unapologetically styled after Stranger Things. Whether we’re talking about the aesthetics, gameplay, or the story beats, it truly did that world justice.

A wall with the alphabet pained on it, and a string of christmas lights over them, a la Stranger Things.

Enigma-tic told their own story within the look, vibe, and structure of Stranger Things. In doing so, it delivered a couple of the most memorable sequences that I’ve seen in an escape room. These were truly special moments that were wrapped in well-executed traditional escape room gameplay.

Enigma-tic wasn’t on our radar when we went up to Montreal for this year’s escape room tour. The folks on our tour told us we needed to play it, and they were right. This is a company that needs to be on your playlist if you’re in Montreal.

Who is this for?

  • Adventure seekers
  • Puzzle lovers
  • Scenery snobs
  • Stranger Things fans
  • Any experience level
  • Players who don’t need to be a part of every puzzle

Why play?

  • Great solo moment
  • Pays homage to Stranger Things really well
  • Multiplayer challenges
  • A surprising sequence

Story

Our dear friend had disappeared; no one had seen her for more than a week. The town seemed to agree that she’d run away, but those of us who were her friends knew that the truth would be much darker than that.

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