PuzzlEscape Hudson – Something Wicked! [Review]

Something Wicked! is one of the best games in Massachusetts. Here are our other recommendations for great escape rooms in Massachusetts.

A Bewitching Refuge

Location: Hudson, MA

Date Played: April 2, 2022

Team Size: 2-8; we recommend 4

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: $28-38 per player, depending on group size

Ticketing: Private

Accessibility Consideration: Some motion/ shaking is included; please advise your gamemaster if this is a concern.

Emergency Exit Rating: [A+] No Lock

Physical Restraints: [A+] No Physical Restraints

REA Reaction

PuzzlEscape Hudson’s Something Wicked! never ceased to surprise, embedding a number of fascinating discoveries as we uncovered that things weren’t always as they seemed deep in the woods. The props, the setting, and the entire production underlined these eye-opening elements, leading us through an adventure designed to keep us wondering what we would uncover next as the cauldron bubbled.

This experience was perfect for 4 people in a solid game flow experience that flew by as we uncovered the magical mysteries of an enchanting cabin. Of particular note was the ending, which built off of a multi-layered finale to ramp up in excitement and leave us speechless with the unexpected conclusion.

Closeup of a mailbox that looks like a bird house.

The only time that the suspense waned was in a particularly search-heavy portion of the experience, pairing ambiguous search targets with low lighting that resulted in multiple fails that swiftly brought down the enthusiasm of our group.

With accessible game design, PuzzlEscape Hudson’s approach would satisfy escape room newbies and more experienced players alike in this fast-paced adventure that left us spellbound.

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The Gate Escape – The Assistant 2.0 [Review]

The Assistant 2.0 is one of the best games in Massachusetts. Here are our other recommendations for great escape rooms in Massachusetts.

A second wormhole, a new experience

Location: Leominster, MA

Date Played: April 2, 2022

Team Size: Up to 6 players; we recommend 3-4

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: $28 per player

Ticketing: Private

Emergency Exit Rating: [A+] No Lock

Physical Restraints: [A+] No Physical Restraints

REA Reaction

A quick trip through all of time and space awaits players that tackle The Gate Escape’s The Assistant 2.0. In short, this escape room assembles a puzzling playground for those individuals willing to hop into a celestial adventure. Although experienced players will have a leg up in recognizing patterns in these puzzles, the smooth puzzle flow makes The Assistant 2.0 approachable for new players. If you’re new to escape rooms, start here before you tackle Gate Escape’s 90-minute The Observatory. If you’re traveling to the area to play rooms, plan on playing both this room and The Observatory.

The game simply and unapologetically challenges players by laying out puzzles in a straight-forward, non-search-centered manner. Upon entering the space, there are many immediate opportunities for players to dive in and engage in the wormhole world, both with the assistance of others and on solo ventures. Perhaps the most impressive and inherently satisfying aspect of the entire experience is the way that these solves layer together and build towards completion with the intelligent reuse of items found throughout the space.

A strange wall lit in blue and covered in colored dots.

The typically smooth gameplay was briefly interrupted mid-game when one puzzle didn’t come together as naturally as those throughout the rest of the experience. This left us with open questions on the potential solve, and when we were able to advance, credited it more to luck than to skill.

Ideal for a group of friends ready to puzzle, The Assistant 2.0 rewards a keen sense of attention to detail, with layered, multifaceted solves combining nicely with simple surprises to eclipse expectations.

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North Valley Escape Room – Big Top Circus [Review]

💪🤡🔮

Location: Anthem, AZ

Date Played: March 10, 2022

Team size: 4-8; we recommend 4-5

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: $24.95 per player (or $89 total for teams of 1-3 players)

Ticketing: Private

Accessibility Consideration: Slight steps and narrow walkways

Emergency Exit Rating: [A+] No Lock

Physical Restraints: [A+] No Physical Restraints

REA Reaction

Popcorn. The very first thing that hit me as we walked through the door was the inviting smell of this delightful treat pulling me into the space. This attention to detail was a telling indication of mysteries to follow, as we found ourselves being drawn further and further into an enchanting circus with each puzzle solved. Fortunately for us, no actual tightrope walking or fire breathing was required during our adventures.

The initial big top set the stage for what was to come, providing an authentic exploration experience and satisfyingly tangible props to interact with along the way. We particularly enjoyed one interaction in the first half that pulled our entire team into an energetic carnival atmosphere, rewarding an intriguing mix of skill and approachable math to advance.

Wide angle view of the inside of a red and white circus tent. A popcorn machine sits beside a stage with props for a magic act.

Of all of the dynamic and intriguing interactions that we encountered under the big top, the one that was by far the most frustrating was the very first. This experience would have benefited from gentle onboarding at the start to point our circus-heroes in the right direction and avoid an introductory dip in enthusiasm.

North Valley Escape Room’s Big Top Circus is definitely worth checking out if you are in the greater Phoenix region, optimally with a group of friends (who aren’t afraid of clowns) ready to punch their ticket to the greatest show on earth!

Who is this for?

  • Circus enthusiasts
  • Puzzle lovers
  • Scenery snobs

Why play?

  • Thematic puzzles working within circus subject matter
  • Novel interactions with the space

Story

The show must go on! We were on the hunt for Frederick the Great’s magic wand that had somehow been misplaced. We couldn’t have a circus without a magic show, after all.

A ticket booth in a carnival, the sign reads, "5 cents."
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Nut House Escape Rooms – The Hacker W.I.T.C.H. [Review]

You Have Mail

Location:  Rochester, New York

Date Played: February 19, 2022

Team Size: 4-10; we recommend 4-5

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: $32.99 per player

Ticketing: Private

Emergency Exit Rating: [A+] No Lock

Physical Restraints: [A+] No Physical Restraints

REA Reaction

Nut House Escape Rooms’ The Hacker W.I.T.C.H. was a solidly assembled room that highlighted an array of tech elements within a realistic space. The feedback was consistently on-point, with color effects and satisfying pops to draw your attention to a successful solve.

Server racks producing a laser maze of green beams.

One of the notable draws of this room is for groups that enjoy a robust, non-linear experience. With several paths to work towards, there were a fair amount of challenges for multiple, independent players to puzzle through at any one time.

On a related note, the amount of content available at the beginning made for a rather abrupt start and may be overwhelming for non-experienced teams. Similarly, the prevalence of incredibly similar alphanumeric locks and minimal mapping between puzzles and their associated locks provided for a bustling number of lock attempts throughout the hour.

The Hacker W.I.T.C.H. is one of the strongest escape games in the Rochester, New York region and is worth your time to play if you’re in the area.

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Puzzle Theory – P.T. Railways: Spectral Rift [Review]

Like a Ghost Rider

Location:  South Windsor, CT

Date Played: October 1, 2021

Team Size: 4-10; we recommend 4-5

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: $30 per player

Ticketing: Private

Accessibility Consideration: Most players must duck through an opening repeatedly

Emergency Exit Rating: [A+] No Lock

Physical Restraints: [A+] No Physical Restraints

REA Reaction

Puzzle Theory’s P.T. Railways: Spectral Rift was a storyline-driven experience that paired well with the immersive, appropriately designed space. 

The same set was utilized for this escape room and another (P.T. Railways: Rebel Run), which allowed for a unique way to look at the same space through a different lens, but removed many of the surprises on the second adventure through the space. There were a fair amount of items marked in red to delineate which props went to which escape room.

If playing these experiences back to back, be especially alert to fastidiously check items in the second room. It was easy to think that we checked something, only to find that we had actually cleared it in the first room instead. That being said, the set was really impressive and this dual-use certainly made for an uncommon team experience.

A large and dramatically lit lock in a metal structure.

Ultimately, this had the potential to be a standout experience if technology and memorization aspects were adjusted to build up momentum rather than detract from it. One puzzle in particular was incredibly time-intensive due to the designed digital experience.

P.T. Railways: Spectral Rift was worth the play-through for the wide variety of puzzle types found in the space and the focus on teamwork. We hope that they make some adjustments to give it an even broader appeal.

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