Escape the Estate – The Gamble [Review]

Our night was on the house.

Location: Syracuse, NY

Date played: January 20, 2017

Team size: up to 10-12; we recommend 4-6

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: $23 per ticket

Story & setting

We arrived at Hotel Whitmore and stepped into the 1920s. Our bellhop led us to the manager’s private gaming parlor where we needed to escape with evidence of the sinister behavior taking place there.

Escape the Estate repurposed a former Petco in the Shoppingtown mall into its Hotel Whitmore attractions. Guests were greeted at reception and escorted back to the gaming parlor or any of the hotel’s other attractions.

The Hotel Whitmore’s gaming parlor brought us back in time with its wall-papered walls, framed artwork, and old furniture. While The Gamble’s staging – including walls reaching almost to the ceiling – did not quite remove us from 2017, the props and puzzles were captivating enough that we could suspend our disbelief for the hour of gameplay.

In-game: A scrabble board sitting on an animal pelt table cloth. A bellhop stands beside the mantle in the background, hands folded in front of him.

Puzzles

The Gamble offered a lot to puzzle through. These included words, numbers, ciphers, and perspectives, among other challenges.

While most puzzles led to a lock, some also included more tech-driven interactions.

Standouts

Our experience in the Hotel Whitemore began even before our time did.

Our bellhop greeted us in character and remained in character throughout our experience. When we rang for their services, the bellhop would appear and deliver appropriate hints without ever intruding on our game. The bellhop character was a wonderful and intriguing part of the The Gamble.

These gangsters had no shortage of secret hiding places. These were surprising and fit in the Prohibition-era setting.

Escape the Estate got their start in haunted houses. While The Gamble wasn’t scary, the designers found ways to lean on their haunt skills to add depth to the room escape without derailing the experience. It worked well.

There were some great puzzles and a memorable moment in two in The Gamble.

Shortcomings

Some of the puzzles overstayed their welcome.

There were too many boxes – even if most were luggage – and it quickly got old to check multiple possible inputs with similar digit structures each time we derived a solution. Furthermore, we would have loved to see more antique keys rather than modern combination locks.

One puzzle seemed riddled with red herrings. We spent a long time working through it, only to have the solution become clear immediately upon a late game reveal.

The ending didn’t live up to the drama of earlier parts of the experience.

Should I play Escape the Estate’s The Gamble?

The Gamble was Escape the Estate’s first room. They played to their strengths in experience design to build the world of The Hotel Whitmore that extended beyond the timer for any one game. The delightful and unobtrusive gamemaster navigated the intersection of theater, immersive experience, and puzzles.

The Gamble was a puzzler’s room escape, but an approachable one. There was a lot to unpack, but it flowed smoothly. Both new players and experienced players should find the puzzling enjoyable.

While much of this room escape was by the books, Escape the Estate brought their own point of view and charm to the overall experience. Check in to Hotel Whitmore and…

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

Full disclosure: Escape the Estate comped our tickets for this game.

The next Room Escape Conference is taking place in Niagara Falls, NY from May 1-3, 2017. The conference organizers sponsored our trip to Buffalo, New York, Niagara Falls, New York, and Niagara Falls, Ontario, to play this game and others in the region. We strive to help conference attendees visit the room escapes that are best for them.

15 Locks – Lab Rats [Review]

“Gee Brain, what do you want to do tonight?”

Location: Austin, TX

Date played: January 8, 2017

Team size: 8-18; we recommend 7-11

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: $25 per ticket

Story & setting

We were the subjects of a psychological study; solving puzzles would lead to our escape. While the final challenge alluded to rats trapped in a maze, there wasn’t any pretense of story. The excitement was in solving unusual challenges to earn our freedom.

In-game: The Yellow Room features a variety of interactions colored yellow. A blue locked box is mounted to the wall in the foreground. The Red Room is through a glowing doorway in the background.

Composed of three rooms, each in a different primary color, Lab Rats used big color blocks and toy-like interactions to create a children’s tube and ball pit aesthetic (without the tubes or the ball pit). These rooms were laid out such that players in any given room could interact with players in any other room. Most of the puzzles were constructed around the perimeter of a room, or at a station in the center, leaving plenty of space for maneuvering.

Lab Rats unfolded in three rounds of puzzling. While we remained divided throughout the hour, we weren’t necessarily trapped with the same few individuals or puzzles. 15 Locks included a mechanism for the transfer of players between rooms upon the completion of each stage (should they choose to transfer).

Puzzles

The puzzles in Lab Rats were largely themeless. They were simply fun challenges to conquer. This was a puzzler’s escape room.

Much of the puzzling was hands-on, constructed into the rooms. In this way, many of the challenges involved spatial reasoning. However, that was by no means the only type of puzzling available.

In-game: The Blue Room features a variety of interactions. Through a barred window, the Red Room is visible.

Lab Rats forced collaboration and teamwork both within and between the rooms. In fact, some of the puzzles were rendered difficult mostly by the need to properly communicate.

Many of the puzzles, as well as the game mechanics, were tech-driven. There was no shortage of ways to interact with this room escape.

Standouts

We loved the concept for Lab Rats: a puzzle-focused, collaborative experience for a large group in an abstract environment.

15 Locks steered into their color-block aesthetic. While Lab Rats didn’t look like something specific, or transport us to a fictional world, it did immerse us in a world unlike our own.

The combination of the almost child-like set design, continual puzzling, and collaboration across environmental barriers created this frenetic energy that lasted throughout the experience. We were excited and amped up.

In-game: The Red Room features a variety of interactions pained shades of red.

Lab Rats relied on technology-driven puzzles and game mechanics. We were “locked” in our rooms by an invisible barrier that sounded an alarm should anything pass through it incorrectly. Players could check in and out of the various rooms at specific times using an RFID bracelet. The game knew how many players were in each gamespace.

With players separated and so much action taking place all at once, our gamemaster had plenty to do. 15 Locks designed both audio and visual feeds, such that we could communicate with her from any of the three rooms and understand when she was preoccupied with our teammates. Gamemastering Lab Rats was a tall order, but the communication and hint system worked well.

Given the three-room structure, if a player chose to spend their entire game in only one room, they could pretty much replay Lab Rats 3 times and only have to hold back on a few puzzles.

Shortcomings

We didn’t fully understand the game mechanics at the onset of the game. This was particularly true of the room transfer check in/out mechanic.

The game was structured in 3 phases, but we didn’t realize this at first. Each room had to complete phase 1 before the game would move to phase 2. However, we couldn’t always understand when we had completed everything available to us at a given time, and kept checking back in with the gamemaster for clarification. There was a light system meant to alleviate this confusion, but since colored lights could mean multiple things, we weren’t all able to follow these indicators.

The three-phase structure provided order to what might otherwise have been chaotic puzzling and player transfer. However, when one room struggled and fell behind during a phase, the rest of us could only look on from behind a barrier as our teammates flailed. This occasionally became frustrating.

Similarly, the final challenge was exciting for those involved, but wasn’t inclusive enough for a game of this size that had generally succeeded at keeping everyone thoroughly involved throughout.

The technology seemed occasionally buggy. In one instance a broken light made a puzzle vastly more difficult than it ever should have been.

Regular alarm buzzing became irritating.

Additional thoughts about perception of color

In designing these large, color-blocked rooms, 15 Locks used shades of color – light blue, medium blue, and dark blue, for example – to keep it from feeling flat. While this worked well aesthetically, in a few instances, this actually confused our team.

A few of our teammates couldn’t understand what pink meant. We owe our confusion about pink to the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis, which holds that the structure of a language affects its speakers’ perception of the world. Because we say “pink” rather than “light red” we perceive pink and red to have a different relationship than that of light blue and dark blue, even though both pink and light blue are composed of a primary color plus white. Our knowledge of the word “pink” caused us to continually ask “what does pink mean?!” 15 Locks isn’t to blame for the English language, but they might want to head off this confusion in their introduction to the use of color.

Additionally, the choice of lighting made orange particularly hard to differentiate from certain shades or red, yellow, and pink.

While the primary colors signaled the rooms, the use of purple, orange, and green signaled interaction between the rooms. This was clever, but sometimes confusing. It wasn’t necessarily clear whether a secondary color meant that we would be receiving or giving information. This became part of the puzzling.

In some tech-driven puzzles, a green light could indicate “correct” but players wondered whether that indicated a forthcoming inter-room interaction instead.

Lab Rats relied on our perceptions of colors for everything from aesthetic, to puzzle design, to game mechanics. In some ways, perception of color was an additional layer to puzzle through. It certainly made us think, long after we’d escaped the room.

Should I play 15 Locks’ Lab Rats?

You need at least 7 puzzle-lovers to play Lab Rats. Because of the game’s reliance on communication and collaboration across barriers, ideally, in order to succeed, you should collect a team of puzzle-lovers that are collaborative and cooperative.

That said, we haven’t seen many games that can entertain and excite a large team as well as Lab Rats did. Whether or not you escape, you will enjoy the fun set, tech-driven game design, and intense puzzling.

This would be an incredibly challenging game for newer players. We recommend that at least the majority of the team be versed in escape room puzzling so that they can help with the communication that is vital to a team’s success.

Note that given Lab Rats’ reliance on color for communication and collaboration, this game would be particularly challenging for colorblind individuals.

I’ve expounded upon many concepts in the shortcomings above, much of that is because Lab Rats explored so much exciting and new territory. While it wasn’t perfect and at times felt a little like a highly functional prototype, it managed to deliver an incredibly fun experience for all 10 of our teammates, new and more experienced alike. It was truly a joy to escape this room.

Book your hour with 15 Locks’ Lab Rats, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.

Full disclosure: 15 Locks provided media discounted tickets for this game.

The Crux Escape – The Night Before Cruxmas [Review]

A heartwarming tale of bureaucracy and Christmas cheer.

Location: Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada

Date played: January 22, 2017

Team size: up to 7; we recommend 2-5

Duration: 45 minutes

Price: 20 CAD per ticket

Story & setting

‘Twas the night before Christmas and all through… Santa’s office we searched for the correct clearance codes for the Big Guy to take off. An elf had given him the wrong code and Santa’s sleigh was on its launchpad waiting for a green light to liftoff. No clearance codes, no presents. Welcome to post-9/11 air traffic regulation.

Santa’s office felt appropriately like a holiday living room combined with a mailroom. Considering that the business concerns of his occupation are primarily correspondence, this felt like an apt representation. It was also the right amount of adorable coziness to put us in the holiday spirit.

In-game: A mantle with stockings, and gifts, a lit Christmas tree with presents beneath in the background.
Image via The Crux

Puzzles

Santa’s elves packed a lot of puzzles into a small space. There was a lot to do.

The puzzles involved organizing and ciphering, among other skills.

Standouts

We loved the premise of this Christmas mission, and the idea of government bureaucracy wrapping Saint Nick in red tape.

Although The Night Before Cruxmas was a temporary installation, it was designed with care and attention to detail. The space had a holiday cheer about it that set the appropriate mood. We also loved the mailroom interpretation of Santa’s Office.

The Night Before Cruxmas was an excellent example of room escape design and construction on a budget. The environment and puzzles came together delightfully without any bells and whistles… except for the bells on the tree.

One particular puzzle unfolded throughout the entire game. It was well designed so as not to be brute-forced too early, and its continual unraveling heightened our anticipation of a solution. Upon reception of the final components, the solution was satisfying and lots of fun.

Shortcomings

While most of the puzzles came together clearly, we found one to be rather ambiguous, and therefore confusing.

Everything in Santa’s office was locked shut with similar locks. Similar digit structure inputs unnecessarily halted the game’s flow.

Should I play The Crux Escape’s The Night Before Cruxmas?

The Night Before Cruxmas was a puzzler’s Christmas adventure. The small space was jam-packed with puzzles that all came together in an adorable conclusion to the room escape’s original and delightful setup.

The temporary installation was perfectly decorated to set the mood and portray a vision of Santa’s office, which must be adjacent to that hectic workspace portrayed in all the movies.

We recommend The Night Before Cruxmas to both newer and more experienced players who are in the mood for the combination of puzzles and holiday cheer. This would be good family fun.

Book your game with The Crux Escape’s The Night Before Cruxmas, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.

Full disclosure: The Crux Escape comped our tickets for this game.

The next Room Escape Conference is taking place in Niagara Falls, NY from May 1-3, 2017. The conference organizers sponsored our trip to Buffalo, New York, Niagara Falls, New York, and Niagara Falls, Ontario, to play this game and others in the region. We strive to help conference attendees visit the room escapes that are best for them.

Room Escape Artist talks about hype on the REDivas Podcast!

REDivas (Room Escape Divas), hosted by Torontonian enthusiasts Mike, Ruby, Manda, and Errol, is a weekly escape room podcast.

Enthusiasts love to talk about escape rooms… and the more we talk about specific ones, the more we build up these games for each other. In this podcast episode, we chatted with the Divas about hyped games.

Room Escape Divas Logo, a cartoon representation of the four hosts.

Escape room hype

Our conversation covers both specific companies and general concepts.

Thank you

We thank the Divas for the opportunity to continue to converse on their podcast. It’s always a blast.

We also thank my aunt, Naomi Lewin, for her superb editing skills that make us sound so much better than we do in real life.

Give it a listen!

Puzzle Theory – The Missing Doctor [Review]

I see you’ve constructed a new lightsaber.

Location: South Windsor, CT

Date played: December 12, 2016

Team size: 3-8; we recommend 4-6

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: $30 per ticket

Story & setting

We were in the office of mad scientist Dr. X solving the mystery of his disappearance.

The Missing Doctor was composed of standard office furniture with a hint of laboratory. It wasn’t a particularly interesting space, but it was appropriately decorated, with just a bit of character, and inviting enough.

In game: A large wood desk with a light, and rotary phone.

Puzzles

The puzzles were the essence of The Missing Doctor. The room escape included extensive searching, as well as a large assortment of paper-based and fully interactive puzzling.

While the puzzles didn’t convey narrative, they were fun.

Standouts

We appreciated the humorous introductory and post-game videos.

Puzzle Theory thoughtfully designed the puzzle and game flow such that key late game puzzles couldn’t be easily bypassed or brute-forced.

The Missing Doctor surprised us with one particular simple, tech-driven interaction.

Shortcomings

Much as we loved the tech behind this particular puzzle, we recommend that Puzzle Theory subtly refine its implementation to avoid a potential safety risk.

Just a few too many interesting items proved unimportant. It can be disappointing when the best decor is nothing but a red herring.

The Missing Doctor fell into older escape room tropes such as too many locks of the same digital structure and broad searching.

Should I play Puzzle Theory’s The Missing Doctor?

The Missing Doctor was a well-designed introductory game. It relied heavily on common escape room tactics, but added a little bit of pizzazz.

The meat of the game was in the puzzles. There was just enough scenery and story to hold those together, but the gameplay carried this room escape.

If you are just starting to explore room escapes, this would be a good on-ramp with challenging puzzles. For more experienced players who prefer puzzling over set and story, give this one a go.

Book your hour with Puzzle Theory’s The Missing Doctor, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.

Full disclosure: Puzzle Theory provided media discounted tickets for this game.

North Shore Escape – Mystery at the Art Gallery [Review]

An art gallery with original pieces.

Location: Woburn, MA

Date played: December 10, 2016

Team size: up to 10; we recommend 5-7

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: $27 per ticket

Story & setting

After the disappearance of the art dealer, we entered his gallery to determine what secrets might be hidden within.

The walls of Mystery at the Art Gallery were decorated largely with original artwork created by the game designer. While there were many pieces to take in, the large uncluttered space remained true to the gallery aesthetic.

In-game: a pair of gargoyles, a wall of paintings in the back.

Puzzles

Mystery at the Art Gallery included puzzles that solved quickly and those that unfolded over the course of the experience. While some puzzle threads moved forward, there was always something else to unravel that would be important later on.

The puzzles were varied, entertaining, and of mixed difficulty.

Standouts

The artwork in this game, truly part of the experience, set the tone and feel of the game. The deliberate choices – whether original creations or purchased pieces – made this gallery that much more interesting to explore. This wasn’t another art gallery game with a print of the Mona Lisa next to a dozen others from European art history’s greatest hits.

North Shore Escape created a particular ambiance for this room escape. As the mystery unfolded, they dialed up the intensity without abandoning the original feel of the game. Everything felt like it was part of a larger whole.

Shortcomings

As an individual player, it was possible to puzzle out of Mystery at the Art Gallery while ignoring much of the mystery. While some of the interactions furthered the story, others were simply puzzles in a gallery setting. With smaller or more cohesive teams, it’s likely that everyone will participate in the story experience. However, in our larger group, different players came away with more or less of an understanding of the overarching narrative.

While the art set the tone for the game, the quality of set design was a little more shaky. It did, however, improve over the course of the game.

Most of the puzzling was well thought out, but one in particular jumped out as halfheartedly implemented.

Should I play North Shore Escape’s Mystery at the Art Gallery?

Mystery at the Art Gallery would be a solid introductory game with just a little added flair. The puzzles were standard in style, but also varied and approachable. The art, ambiance, and mystery give the space some intrigue.

Experienced teams will find a fun, yet standard game that is worth the price of admission. We recommend that you bring fewer people, slow down, and cooperate, so as not to skip over the story as it unfolds.

Book your hour with North Shore Escape’s Mystery at the Art Gallery, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.

Full disclosure: North Shore Escape comped our tickets for this game.

 

Complexity – The Pirate Ship [Review]

Raid thee galleon and plunder thee swag!

Location: Farmington, CT

Date played: December 12, 2016

Team size: 2-8; we recommend 3-5

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: $30 per ticket

Story & setting

With the crew ashore for the evening, celebrating the commandeering of a new ship, we  snuck back aboard to search for any treasure left by the previous captain.

The Pirate Ship took place aboard the deck of a ship, under the cover of nighttime. The ship itself was a handcrafted, wooden-planked “vessel” built into a room at Complexity. It looked great and felt like a pirate playground.

In-game: The side of the deck of a pirate ship. Large ropes weave through the posts.

Puzzles

The puzzles were thematically sound, designed around items that belonged aboard a ship, and included lots of locked loot boxes. They didn’t convey a story arc, but they felt at home in the environment.

Complexity made great use of their space by custom building large-scale puzzle interactions into their set pieces.

Standouts

There were a few interactive pirate ship components that solved in incredibly satisfying ways. We appreciated when the set and the puzzles came together.

The Pirate Ship was clearly handcrafted with care, love, and attention to detail. It was a fun place to inhabit.

Shortcomings

Despite the details, the room escape sometimes felt rough around the edges.

Late in The Pirate Ship, we encountered a section that wasn’t up to the production level we’d come to expect from the experience. It felt like Complexity ran out of steam.

We opened a lot of locked boxes aboard The Pirate Ship. This felt like a missed opportunity to unlock the ship itself, perhaps by way of compartments constructed into the deck rather than an assortment of boxes.

Should I play Complexity’s The Pirate Ship?

The Pirate Ship was more than a puzzle room; it was a treasure heist aboard the deck of a pirate ship. The puzzles and the environment worked in tandem to deliver a strong experience.

Although it had some rough edges, it was clearly constructed with passion and skill.

Our experienced team blew through this room escape. We would have loved a little bit longer aboard. However, newer players and smaller teams will find quite a bit here to sink their anchor into.

Book your hour with Complexity’s The Pirate Ship, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.

Full disclosure: Complexity provided media discounted tickets for this game.

The Escape Game Orlando – The Heist [Review]

The art of the steal.

Location: Orlando, FL

Date played: November 11, 2016

Team size: 2-7; we recommend 4-6

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: $32 per ticket

Story & setting

In this counter-heist, we were stealing back a stolen painting.

Of the four games we played at The Escape Game Orlando, The Heist had the least exciting setting. It looked like an art gallery and a gallery doesn’t have the same dramatic allure as a spaceship, gold mine, or prison. That said, this was one of the more compelling art galleries we’ve seen. By that I mean that it actually looked like an art gallery.

In-game: It looks like an art gallery. White walls with cleanly framed paintings. A velvet rope sits in front of the painting at the end of the room.

While there was a hint of story, The Heist was mission-centric and straightforward.

Puzzles

The Heist was a puzzle lover’s room escape. There was a lot to find and a lot of solve.

The puzzles were primarily of an older design style. To that end, we saw some common tropes, but each was well executed.

Standouts

The Heist surprised us. We weren’t anticipating one particularly neat early-game interaction.

There were cleverly hidden moments of escalation and The Heist managed to steer far from our early game expectations.

Shortcomings

Some of the search-heavy early puzzles became tedious, which may have been amplified in this particular case because we were only two players at the tail end of a escape room marathon.

The lock variety and cluing led to a fair amount of trying combinations in many different locks before the right one released.

We encountered a group of puzzle components that had become rather smelly over time. These were not fun to handle.

Should I play The Escape Game Orlando’s Heist?

The Heist was designed for puzzlers. There was a lot to do.

The set didn’t hold the same allure as some of The Escape Game Orlando’s other offerings. Because of this, The Heist didn’t feel as exciting as the others, but eventually escalated to a more dramatic conclusion.

After playing four games back-to-back with The Escape Game Orlando, we’d noticed some trends in the puzzles and interaction design. While many of these patterns differentiated them from others in the industry, unless they innovate, over time their repeat customers will be able to read their designs.

While The Heist followed common themes, it still managed to defy our expectations.

Book your hour with The Escape Game Orlando’s Heist, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.

Note that we played the original version of this game, but The Escape Game Orlando is updating it in each of their locations in early 2017.

Full disclosure: The Escape Game Orlando comped our tickets for this game.

The Escape Game Orlando – Prison Break [Review]

A prison game without a Rita Hayworth poster!

Location: Orlando, FL

Date played: November 11, 2016

Team size: 2-6; we recommend 4

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: $32 per ticket

Story & setting

In Prison Break, we found ourselves locked up. The cell’s previous occupant had disappeared, leaving a few clues for how we might follow suit. He may have escaped; we certainly intended to.

While there was a backstory, this was essentially a prison break mission.

This was one of the most visually compelling prisons we’ve been locked in. Cells are cells, but Prison Break presented an exciting adventure between the cells and the exit door.

In-game: A hallway in a prison. It looks intense and heavily weathered.

Puzzles

The puzzles were on theme, but didn’t necessarily build to a compelling narrative.

While the earlier puzzles were more task-based, the late game involved more serious puzzling.

Standouts

The triumph of Prison Break was the progression from bleak prison cells to a compelling adventure. The Escape Game Orlando figured out how to make an exciting and visually appealing prison space. It worked.

Through deliberate design, The Escape Game Orlando took us on a journey and delivered a few wow moments.

The early puzzles made use of some fun and truly funny prop interactions. These props even triggered a more technologically advanced interactions that we wouldn’t have expected in prison.

Shortcomings

Prison Break rewarded observant inmates. Missing just one small detail – of which there were many – could completely stall out the game.

The puzzle structure of Prison Break was uneven and with more than 4 people, it would likely bottleneck.

Occasionally this game was painfully linear. While extra eyes might be handy, adding more teammates could lead to stoppages in game flow.

Should I play The Escape Game Orlando’s Prison Break?

If you want to break out of prison, we recommend this particular prison. Far too many prison escape rooms cannot figure out what to do with the players once they have broken out of the cells. Prison Break knew what came next and that’s what made it stand out.

It was a cleverly designed adventure with some fun and funny moments.

Be observant and expect the unexpected.

Both new players and experienced players will find something to enjoy here.

While it is prison, it’s not at all scary or dangerous.

Book your hour with The Escape Game Orlando’s Prison Break, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.

Full disclosure: The Escape Game Orlando comped our tickets for this game… and gave me a sweatshirt because prisons are cold. (Thank you!)

 

Trap’t – Abducted: Escape from the Madman [Review]

Lighthearted conglomerated horror flick.

Location: Stamford, CT

Date played: December 3, 2016

Team size: 2-10; we recommend 3-5

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: $30 per ticket

Story & setting

We were abducted by a murderous madman and shut into his closet. The only thing to do was escape.

Although we were escaping our own demise, this wasn’t a scary game. Anything “gory” in this murderer’s home was campy enough to be neither scary nor unsettling. The setting was bright and a few cotton cobwebs away from being a haunted house for children.

In-game: Closeup of a clean work bench with three jars on it. One with plastic spiders, a second with yellow stones, and a third with something that looks a little gross.

Instead of scaring players, Trap’t made nods at horror, adding little Easter eggs that referenced famous movies.

Puzzles

Abducted: Escape from the Madman included many puzzles that flowed logically, one to the next.

The room escape front-loaded the more intense puzzling. While unusual, this worked well.

Standouts

Trap’t designed a game that flowed artfully through a massive set. In this way, Abducted: Escape from the Madman intensified the experience through sheer depth and size without instilling fear.

We really enjoyed a few of the more technologically-triggered interactions and their construction around horror film props. The best parts of this game leaned into horror cliches.

The Easter eggs were a cute touch.

Shortcomings

Some of the cluing was incomplete and demanded a logic leap or two.

While expansive, the set was ultimately bland. The closet gave way to a scarcely furnished house with little ambiance. Trap’t missed an opportunity to instill emotion.

With the name Abducted: Escape from the Madman, it would be easy to make incorrect assumptions about this game. It danced around horror-y themes, but it was never scary nor emotional; it wasn’t the thrill one would expect. Abducted: Escape from the Madman didn’t really know what it was trying to be or how to market itself to the right audience.

Should I play Trap’t’s Abducted: Escape from the Madman?

This was a room escape in the style of elementary school horror. It was a nod to the concept, but it wasn’t actually an embodiment of the genre. It was a game for those who don’t like to be scared, but those folks won’t get the jokes. Ultimately, this escape room was all chuckles and no adrenaline.

Although the set wasn’t much to behold, Trap’t designed the puzzles that kept us racing through to the end. The puzzles truly carried this game. Genre sentiments and expectations notwithstanding, this was a game for people who like to solve puzzles.

The problem is, how do the players understand what this game really is? It seems like those who go in expecting horror will leave disappointed, while those who want to play a solid puzzle game but aren’t keen on frights will outright disregard a game named “Abducted: Escape from the Madman.”

There were some good interactions and puzzles, but this was a game with an identity crisis.

Book your hour with Trap’t’s Abducted: Escape from the Madman, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.

Full disclosure: Trap’t provided media discounted tickets for this game.