Duration: 60 minutes (can be extended for small groups)
Price: $29 per ticket
Story & setting.
We embarked on a treasure hunt for pirate gold. We entered a local cabin where we hoped former treasure hunters had left behind enough clues that we would strike it rich.
Raiders of the Lost Room was based on the true story of Pirate David Marteen who, according to legend, buried treasure nearby in East Granby, Connecticut. The folks from AdventurEscape told us that they had been kicked out of the local historical society for asking questions about the legend. (It seems the historical society gets a lot of wannabe treasure hunters.)
The large gamespace felt vaguely like a cabin with old eclectic furniture and a fireplace.
Raiders of the Lost Room was an old-school escape room. There was a lot to puzzle through. In this non-linear room escape, there was a lot available to work through at any given time.
These puzzles involved search, observation, spatial reasoning, riddling, ciphering, and dexterity.
Raiders of the Lost Room was inspired by local Connecticut lore. AdventurEscape built their escape room on top of an existing treasure hunting legend. This was a great idea.
The puzzles in Raiders of the Lost Room would keep a larger team entertained. For the majority of the game, there were plenty of different puzzles to work on, many of which could engage a couple of people working together.
We enjoyed AdventurEscape’s implementations of more common escape room puzzle types. They added intrigue without tedium.
There were some unusual puzzles in here too; they were generally a good time.
We appreciated one late-game puzzle that relied on different skills and contrasted with the earlier puzzling. It was refreshing and exciting.
While we enjoyed the interaction in this puzzle, it lacked in-game feedback. We continued trying to solve it long after we’d succeeded.
In one instance, Raiders of the Lost Room suffered from a gating problem. One puzzle was open from the first moments of the game and we spent a lot of time approaching it incorrectly before we received enough information to tackle it appropriately.
Raiders of the Lost Room needed polish. AdventurEscape could make interactions more precise, clean up wear, and add more aesthetic flair to the cabin.
Should I play AdventurEscape’s Raiders of the Lost Room?
Raiders of the Lost Room was packed full of fun and challenging puzzles. These were enticing and approachable.
AdventurEscape has continued to iterate and refine Raiders of the Lost Room. While at times this leads to choppiness, it generally means that the clue structure exists if you persist in finding it.
There is a lot of find, as is the nature of most large-team games.
Players of all experience levels can enjoy Raiders of the Lost Room. We recommend that newer players especially bring a larger group and communicate well. For more experienced players who won’t be overwhelmed by the volume of challenges to approach, Raiders of the Lost Room would be a lot to tackle as a small group, but doable.
If you have a large group looking for adventure, we recommend this search for pirate gold.
Team size: A 4-ounce package contains 54 bears. Recommended team size… depends on how much you like gummy bears.
Story & setting
Haribo has 5 mystery flavors in their limited edition Gold-Bears Mystery Flavors package.
We love food and we love mysteries… so for better or worse, we’re doing this.
Could we guess the flavors for the following 5 bears: yellow, blue, pink, red, and orange?
With each correct guess, we were entered to win a mystery box of HARIBO® swag and treats. The more correct guesses, the more contest entries. And with stakes like that, who could possibly say no to this challenge?
The packaging and bears looked pretty normal.
The mystery bears looks like regular gummy bears, but in slightly different colors. They had the same feel and consistency. The puzzle was in the flavor.
There was an extra puzzle to tell the difference between the yellow and orange bears.
There are 5 mystery flavors in one package. It’s a fun group solving activity.
If you like gummy bears, you’re going to like these. While these aren’t typical gummy candy flavors, they aren’t the types of flavors that you’d want to keep far from gummy candy.
Once you submit your answers on the Haribo website (given multiple choice options), you’ll receive immediate feedback whether you guessed correctly. This isn’t a brain buster.
The maroon bears were especially enjoyable.
The yellow bear and the orange bear look remarkably similar, but are distinct flavors. If you don’t set up your tasting session under a light source, you’ll be at risk of mixing up the colors.
David and I aren’t huge gummy bear fans. Our candy of choice is always chocolate. However, friends who like gummy bears think that these are pretty delicious.
Back in 2013, I made a gummy bear birthday cake. I dissolved the gummy bears and turned them into frosting. I added gummy bear flavors into the cake batter. This cake was overwhelmingly one flavor. It was a huge hit with the birthday girl, but to me, it just tasted like artificial lime. This is all to say that more variety is a good thing.
I commend Haribo for making palatable and guessable mystery flavors. We didn’t love them all, but they worked.
It’s pretty fun mystery game for a small group and it provides immediate feedback.
We had been taken captive and brought aboard the dread pirate Blackbeard’s ship. It was time to escape.
Escape Room Center’s spacious location inside a strip mall has a corporate and family-friendly aesthetic. Their 6 escape rooms are adjacent to one another, with walls reaching 3/4 of the way to the ceiling. This was a structure that we’ve seen before and hated… However, Escape Room Center makes it work.
Blackbeard’sBrig was a pirate ship-inspired, simply constructed and sparsely decorated gamespace. It was light and airy. It represented a pirate ship, but never pretended to be one.
Blackbeard’sBrig included a selection of nautical- and pirate-themed puzzles. They ranged in complexity and tangibility. There was a lot of puzzle variety.
Blackbeard’sBrig included a few satisfying layered puzzles. These complex interactions were a lot of fun to work through.
The set decor provided a little nudge toward one potentially more challenging solve. It was a subtle touch.
Later in the escape room, a few unexpected props facilitated more interactive puzzling.
Escape Room Center designed some funny puzzle solutions that nodded to our captivity aboard this brig.
The puzzles and props were all thematically connected to the pirate ship setting. Escape Room Center built a particular pirate ship aesthetic for this puzzle game and it worked.
One early puzzle seemed unnecessary. It was likely meant to be an on-ramp for uninitiated room escapers, but it was uninteresting and entirely grounded in “escape room logic” where an item had meaning that was neither logical nor earned.
The wear on one puzzle added unnecessary confusion for a brief while.
Blackbeard’sBrig was a pirate ship-themed puzzle room. We enjoyed the thematic puzzles, but we never suspended our disbelief. While this was Escape Room Center’s deliberate design decision, Blackbeard’sBrig was still escape room first and pirate ship second.
The walls were far too glossy. Had they been matte finished, they wouldn’t have glistened and seemed so out of place.
Should I play Escape Room Center’s Blackbeard’s Brig?
Escape Room Center is a bright, open, and inviting escape room facility. Blackbeard’sBrig had approachable puzzles and unintimidating surroundings. It belonged here.
Blackbeard’sBrig was primarily about the puzzles. These varied in challenge level, puzzle type, and interactiveness, which made this escape room more interesting than it originally appeared.
At Escape Room Center, we weren’t meant to believe we were on a pirate ship. We were meant to share a collection of seafaring solves and a few chuckles. That’s exactly what we did.
Blackbeard’sBrig would be a great choice for new escape room players, families, and corporate groups. This is a wonderful place to learn the basics of escape room puzzling.
This would also be a fun playthrough for more experienced players who prefer puzzles to set design. It won’t be too challenging, but it will probably surprise you. Escape Room Center certainly surprised us a few times.
Winston Breen is a teenager who loves puzzles. When he inadvertently gives his sister a birthday gift containing a mysterious puzzle, Winston, his family, and his friends find themselves in the middle of a treasure hunt.
The Puzzling World of Winston Breen is written at a middle school reading level.
The Puzzling World of Winston Breen is full of puzzles. These are mostly word, number, or spatial puzzles. They are presented on paper and solvable without any additional tools. (At times, however, a writing implement is helpful.)
Some of the puzzles support the narrative. I could solve them alongside Winston and the other characters or continue reading to learn the solutions.
Other standalone puzzles are peppered throughout the book. I could stop and solve them if I felt inclined.
Winston is a likable and relatable character. I was immediately drawn to this puzzle-loving kid. His adventure is fun and entertaining.
The main narrative revolves around solving a puzzle. This puzzle is challenging and engaging. I wanted to solve it almost as much as Winston and the other characters did. In the end, the solution was satisfying.
Berlin interjects standalone puzzles throughout the book. Because they are presented by Winston and the other characters to each other, they feel like they belong. These puzzles are strategically presented at breaks in the action. I never felt that I was creating my own cliff hanger by stopping to solve something,
Some of the standalone puzzles feel like homework. Winston likes any sort of puzzle. I’m a bit more discerning. Sometimes I could see how to solve a puzzle, but I wasn’t interested in going through the motions.
Should I read The Puzzling World of Winston Breen?
The Puzzling World of Winston Breen is a fun read.
I particularly recommend it for preteens or teenagers who enjoy puzzles. They will enjoy Winston and solving along with him.
The puzzles can be easily enjoyed as a family. As they popped up, I would occasionally offer them to David too. He could engage in the puzzling with me even though he wasn’t reading the story.
If you just want to solve puzzles, this won’t be for you.
If you’re intrigued by puzzles, but you find that a book of them lacks the context and meaning you need to want to solve them, then The Puzzling World of Winston Breen might be just the story you need to get puzzling.
Order your copy of Eric Berlin’s The Puzzling World of Winston Breen from Amazon using this link, and a small percentage of your purchase will go towards supporting Room Escape Artist.
Do you want to play a game? No… Seriously, we have casino games.
Location: Tickfaw, LA
Date played: October 6, 2017
Team size: 6-8; we recommend 4-6
Duration: 60 minutes
Price: $28 per ticket
Story & setting
A troublemaking friend talked us into visiting an underground casino. After a night of losing, we finally struck it big, but the bookie overseeing the joint stole our money and sent us packing. The following day we returned with only one thing on our mind: stealing every penny that thieving bookie had to his name.
While I can’t say that I’ve visited one, The Bookie looked the part of a small underground casino, complete with a bar and all of the major gaming tables, each one converted into a puzzling station.
The Bookie was built for puzzlers.
The Bookie included both obvious and subtle puzzles. Some puzzles beckoned to us in the form of large casino games. We found others hidden within our surroundings. The Bookie included both sustained, overt puzzling and one-off, observational solves.
While many of the puzzles were themed on casino games, no prior knowledge was necessary to resolve these puzzles. You can solve these puzzles even if you don’t know poker from blackjack.
RISE Escape Rooms wrapped the casino set in a larger story, which added a layer of excitement and unexpected set exploration.
The Bookie included strong beginning and ending puzzle sequences, with substantial puzzles to chew on in the middle. In this way, the escape room flowed well and created emotional tension.
We interacted with the casino set and props through the puzzles. These tangible, involved puzzles would entertain a larger team without feeling like busywork.
The Bookie could easily be overwhelming. Casino games themselves are puzzle-y. Escape room puzzles staged on top of blackjack or roulette can be paralyzing, as players need to ascertain how much to involve the games in the puzzles at hand. When some of the puzzling is more complex, as it was in The Bookie, it can be easy for a team to go off the rails. The key to remember going in: the puzzles were not built within the games that they look like. Anyone can solve any of these puzzles.
The Bookie included one arbitrary connection mixed in with these more involved puzzles. It seemed out of place in the experience.
It was possible to solve a little too much of the final puzzle sequence out of phase. This caused us a little bit of confusion.
Should I play RISE Escape Rooms’ The Bookie?
The Bookie was a puzzler’s escape room, set in a gorgeous casino and staged as a heist. It included a number of serious puzzles and this set up added a layer of complexity.
Because of this, The Bookie would be an intimidating challenge for newer players. We recommend that you play a few other escape rooms before taking on The Bookie.
Note that you do not need to know casino games to enjoy The Bookie. You can solve every one of these puzzles even if you’ve never handled dice, cards, or poker chips.
In The Bookie, RISE Escape Rooms wrapped challenging puzzles in a clandestine adventure, which upped our adrenaline level and delivered a seriously fun escape room.
Brace yourself, on January 2nd, we’ll announce our 2017 Golden Lock-In award winners. In the meantime, look back at the escape rooms that won in 2016 and 2015.
Featured escape rooms
In Hijacked, RISE Escape Rooms has constructed a truly impressive environment that delivers a dramatic airborne exploit.
Here’s a fun collection of classic puzzles that we’ve seen show up in many different real life escape rooms. Play them for fun, or play them to level up your puzzling skill.
This review took us almost a year to create:
We spent most of 2017 receiving boxes from season one of the subscription game Hunt a Killer. If you’re thinking about playing this, this week we published an in-depth review of this intriguing but largely flawed product.
Inspired by the events of the Apollo 13 malfunction and rescue, Houston, We’ve had a Problem split the team into two groups:
Up to three players put on the orange jumpsuits of Apollo astronauts and played in the capsule.
The rest of the team worked from Houston’s famed NASA Mission Control. Within the Mission Control group, one player wore the white vest of Gene Kranz and played Flight Director, another player was cast as CAP-COM and held sole responsibility for communication with the astronauts.
The Mission Control set looked Mission Control-y. With large banks of computers and stacks of binders, it had that functional-yet-space-age-made-for-TV aesthetic that still defines NASA Mission Control’s look.
The Apollo 13 capsule set ranged heavily in quality and realism depending upon which direction you were looking. Parts of it captured the cramped and complex feel of the spacecraft. Others, like the floor and ceiling, felt like office space.
The puzzling varied dramatically based on role.
The players in Mission Control solved more cerebral puzzles that varied in complexity. These were mainly paper-based and only occasionally tangible. We then needed to communicate these puzzle solutions.
The astronauts recreated these solves onboard the ship through set interaction. Their gameplay was more task oriented. It required calmness under pressure, coordination, and communication.
CAP-COM’s puzzle was 100% communication.
What could be more “Houston” than Apollo 13? Escape Hunt simulated that historical moment through gameplay. It was an ambitious undertaking that added layers of complication beyond the typical escape room. It was impressive.
We appreciated the split-team design. Since any given teammate played either at Mission Control or aboard the capsule, we relied heavily on impeccable communication through the entirety of the escape room. This was an added challenge around which we had to strategize.
The set looked great. Mission control had stations with button and lights. Parts of the spaceship felt cramped and realistic. This added a little bit of intensity and intimidation that escape rooms frequently don’t offer (and I mean that in a good way).
Houston, We’ve had a Problem instilled emotion. We were frantic and at times frustrated with the limitations of our ability to communicate. This felt like an accurate simulation of a historical event. It made us reflect.
Due to the split design of the game, it was possible to play this escape room twice. Two of our teammates had played before and barely had to hold back in order to participate a second time. I wouldn’t replay it immediately, but if you wait a couple of months and swap roles, it works well.
The gameplay was uneven. Some players were busy every second. Others felt useless much of the time.
The set was intricate and captivating, but it didn’t factor much into the gameplay. The majority of the puzzle solving took place on laminated sheets of paper rather than through the buttons and dials on the consoles. This was disappointing.
Parts of the capsule’s set looked unfinished. There remains a lot of opportunity for small improvements that would have a big impact.
Furthermore, Houston, We’ve had a Problem followed a run book. This made sense, given the scenario. That said, it too was laminated paper rather than integrated into the set. In the end, at Mission Control, we spent more time poring over laminated sheets than interacting with the space… or the people in space.
Fun level correlated to engagement level, which was dictated by roles. Those of us at Mission Control who solved a few paper puzzles, but largely felt useless, didn’t have that much fun.
In the capsule, the astronauts had been granted access to one set of game components far too early. This caused them to circumvent a puzzle and damage the flow of the game.
One particular puzzle went on forever. We had to communicate and repeat the same series of actions in three places. It was a serious time burner. It seemed unnecessary and diminished the excitement of players in both gamespaces.
Another puzzle did not solve according to the puzzle documentation. In fact, the way it ultimately worked rendered Mission Control, and all the time we had spent determining how we intended to solve and communicate it, utterly worthless.
Communication was an important puzzle, but it was hindered by headset difficulties and background noise. We had to open a channel to communicate, but we could hear each other in the background anyway. There was a lot of shouting in additional to regular communication channels.
Should I play Escape Hunt’s Houston, We’ve had a Problem?
Houston, We’ve had a Problem was a challenging game. We won with a mere 17 seconds on the clock. It was also a test of communication and calmness under pressure.
The overall concept was awesome. The game’s structure made puzzles that would be simple in many escape rooms far more challenging due to the strained flow of communication.
The execution was good. It’s tough to create a fully split escape game and keep it entertaining and balanced. Escape Hunt didn’t quite achieve that. The escape game just wasn’t that fun from Mission Control because most of the action was happening next door.
Note that success hinges on role assignments. The people you put in the capsule should be calm, able to communicate well, and willing to take direction. They must be prepared to crawl and get a little physically involved with the set.
Additionally, the entire game hinged on the player in the role of CAP-COM. This individual spent the entire game as the only conduit for communication for all of the players in the game. Make sure your CAP-COM player can communicate effectively, even when frustrated or stressed. If you cannot tell the difference between giving orders and effective communication… this job isn’t for you.
I don’t think that Houston, We’ve had a Problem is for everyone. The divide has less to do with escape room experience than it does temperament. If pressure really gets to you, or you struggle to communicate, this escape game will quickly spiral out of control. It’s amazing how impactful a minor miscommunication could be. You have to be cool.
Houston, We’ve had a Problem was different from other escape rooms we’ve played in that it created new challenges and different types of pressure. While it didn’t nail every aspect of the gameplay, it certainly delivered a memorable experience unlike any other.