REA Statement on COVID-19

We are hosting two escape room tours and a convention in 2020.

We feel it is our responsibility as event organizers to address concerns around COVID-19.

Last night we published the Reality Escape Convention’s Statement on COVID-19.

We realize that the tours are approaching more quickly than RECON. These are smaller events with less risk of exposure. That said, we are monitoring the situation closely and we will be sharing updates with our attendees as they become available.

In all cases, our sentiment and approach remains the same:

We’re going to do the research and hard work to take care of our attendees. If you were on our New Orleans Tour last year when a hurricane struck, you would have seen how tirelessly we worked to turn that event into a success through dedication, adaptability, and a near total lack of sleep.

We truly appreciate those who have purchased tickets to our 2020 events already. We want the rest of the community to purchase with confidence that those hosting them are attentive, responsive, and alert.

The Escape Room I Didn’t Know I Wanted – Part 3 – Community

Introduction

Lisa: This is the third piece in a three-part series by Diane Kobrynowicz and Sarah Mendez about taking risks and finding community through escape rooms.

In this – the final installment – Sarah and Diane both share thoughts on why this was “The Escape Room They Didn’t Know They Wanted” and what it ultimately gave them, which was far more than 60 minutes of gameplay. They also offer suggestions for anyone else who is looking to expand their community through escape rooms.

Brief Series Recap

Sarah, a fledgling escape room enthusiast, created an elaborate escape room in her garage just for the heck of it.

With the help of REA, Diane, a veteran escape room enthusiast, got to play the escape room and had an absolute blast doing so.

Sarah & Diane: We want to close this series by sharing what’s been possible for us as a result of taking chances. We hope to inspire you to take even more chances with fun, adventure, and creating community.

Diane and Sarah with their significant others.
Left to Right – Tony, Diane, Jonathan, Sarah

Previous Experience with the Escape Room Community

Sarah: Prior to this experience, my husband Jonathan and I lived in our personal escape room bubble. We had played most of our 38 games as a date activity, dragging friends along on less frequent occasions. Although I was eager to entertain our friends with my garage escape room, I didn’t realistically expect anyone to be nearly as excited about it as I was. In short, we were oblivious to the possibility that there might be a broader audience for my creation. By extension, we had no idea that there could be value to a broader audience.

Diane: Tony and I had become knitted into the escape room community, first by taking a recommendation from David for our first experience of an escape room in New York City about 4 years ago, and then by participating in 3 of REA’s Escape Immerse Explore Tours. We’ve had the pleasures of joining David and Lisa when they’ve come to the greater Austin area to play games, and of pointing newbies to the Room Escape Artist as a resource for orienting themselves to this new world. Indeed, it was an email from Lisa that connected us to Jonathan and Sarah.

The Community’s Role in This Story

Our connection wouldn’t have happened without the existence of a broader, accessible network of escape room enthusiasts. There were three elements to this connection:

Reaching Out

Sarah: My husband Jonathan, an Asker, tapped into REA’s treasure trove of knowledge by asking if they might happen to be in the area and interested in checking out the room. To any Guesser, like me, this immediately sounded like an outlandish question (“Hey, world-renowned escape room reviewers, do you want to fly to the far reaches of outer Austin to see our garage?”). Who would humor such a suggestion?

Getting Connected

Sarah: REA – Community Builder Extraordinaire – that’s who! They could have ignored this request. Instead, they responded in a wiser and more useful way by serving as a matchmaker. They shared some local contacts who might be interested in and could more practically pursue such an experience.

Completing the Handshake

Sarah: Local contacts doesn’t guarantee making a connection. We could extend our hand, but would anyone reach back? Fortunately, Diane and her fiancé Tony’s open, adventure-seeking personalities made them the perfect pioneers for the experience. They not only jumped on the opportunity, but they promoted it to the rest of the local group. Ultimately, through their enthusiasm and unsolicited advocacy – Diane said it was “not to be missed” and that comment was what made one local couple take the plunge – seven more deeply experienced players came over to play the game.

Connections Matter

Ease of Connection

Sarah: We lived in a bubble, playing escape rooms ourselves. This experience showed us that escape rooms could actually connect us to other people. When each team of enthusiasts arrived, we immediately knew we had something to talk about – what rooms we had done, our puzzle preferences, our approaches to clues, etc. – and all these things helped us immediately connect with strangers. We had absolutely no idea that (1) we would be excited to talk about escape rooms for hours on end and that (2) other people would share that excitement.

Audience for Niche Creativity

Sarah: As I made my room, I felt more and more that designing an experience is an art form. I found myself wanting to share it with others who would appreciate it.

Future Collaboration

Sarah: Now that we have connections with people who share our love of escape rooms, we have all sorts of new possibilities ahead of us. Most obviously, we have new friends to play rooms with who are enthusiastic enough to potentially travel to do so! Beyond that, we’ve discussed opportunities to jointly create wider experiences beyond just my garage. I never would have even considered thinking about this as more than a hobby, and I still might not, but what a fun, unexpected result of exploring a hobby from another angle.

Support for the Industry

Diane: As our escape room experience deepened, we came to appreciate the uniqueness of and challenges with this form of entertainment.

We want to play more escape rooms! We want more escape room companies to exist and thrive! We share our love as self-defined “Escape Room Ambassadors” by introducing escape rooms to anyone and everyone. How else will this unique form of immersive entertainment continue to exist for all of us to enjoy, unless we all take on helping it grow?

Because most escape rooms aren’t replayable, it can be challenging for these businesses to establish a consistent customer base. Word-of-mouth advertising is the most persuasive kind, so we can all help the escape room world by recommending our favorites.

Integrating Newbies

Diane: Not everyone is enthusiastic about experiencing with a new type of entertainment, particularly one with a premium price. Escape rooms are so individual that it’s easy to imagine a newbie might have one bad experience and never go back. We provide context and encouragement to newbies to maximize the likelihood that they will have a good experience. That’s one reason we are so grateful to REA as a central hub of this mission.

How To Connect

It might seem that this just boils down to basic networking, but it is really so much more.

Maybe, like Sarah, you hadn’t realized the potential of applying networking skills to a hobby like this.

Maybe, like Diane, you find people fascinating and you find escape rooms fascinating, so combining the two make for more fun, more adventure, and more opportunities.

Here are some tried-and-true techniques for connecting with each other:

Be a Community Member

Diane: Be inspired by this 3-part guest article series to define yourself as an unofficial “Escape Room Ambassador.” Take on sharing the escape room experience in a way that works for you. In fact, consider taking more risks by reaching out to others, especially to escape room-loving strangers, and forming new connections.

Introduce the concept of escape rooms to your friends. Mix up your team sometimes to expose new people to the experience. The more people who discover and enjoy escape rooms, the broader the market, and the more fun we can all have together!

Research Resources

Sarah: Search online or ask at the escape rooms in your town if there are meetup groups, blogs, Facebook groups or relevant events that draw escape room enthusiasts. If there are none in your area, you could host your own.

Support Escape Room Businesses

Diane: Creating an escape room is often a labor of love, so the people behind a new escape room business are a part of the community and need your support. If you play the room and believe the business has potential, take the time to write them reviews. Spread the word to your friends. When a business has a quality product and customer experience, help to get it off the ground with word-of-mouth marketing so that it can deliver more fun experiences to you in the future.

Read REA’s FAQ

Diane: The REA FAQ is a good place to start, if you want to connect with their community.

Given REA’s mission, they have some fabulous ways to connect with others. These include:

Be an Asker

Diane: The crux of our experience rested on several sparks of connection, none of which would have happened if we’d all assumed that there was nothing to be gained. Be open to possibilities. Imagine best-case scenarios. Someone has to reach out their hand first, so make it you.

Epilogue

Sarah & Diane: The coda to our story is that as a result of this pop-up-escape-room-in-a-garage experience, we two couples went on a destination escape room trip weekend to Houston that was anchored by Strange Bird Immersive, voted the top escape room company in the North America. We followed that up with an escape room triple date adding the couple who “took the plunge” to experience Sarah’s escape room. Our continuing adventures are just beginning!

Escape room post-game photo - Diane & Sarah with their significant others and friends

In a world of disconnection or virtual connections, there is something uniquely meaningful about real-life escape game experiences, real-life friendships, and community.

Reader Stories

Lisa: “Reader Stories” is a series we started back in 2016. Included in REAs mission statement is “we strive to grow the community of amazing people who love solving the puzzles together.” We think sharing stories in one avenue for growth.

If you feel inspired by Diane and Sarah’s story, we hope you’ll create new adventures of your own around your love for escape rooms.

Do you have an escape room-inspired personal story? We’d love to hear from you.

Great Scott Mystery Rooms at The Storyteller’s Cottage – The Dame Disappears [Review]

Where in the world is Agatha Christie?

Location:  Simsbury, Connecticut

Date Played: January 20, 2020

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

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: $30 per player

Ticketing: Private

Emergency Exit Rating: [A+] No Lock

Physical Restraints: [A+] No Physical Restraints

REA Reaction

The Dame Disappears was a lovely, beginner-friendly escape game in The Storyteller’s Cottage, a Victorian mansion turned escape room/ writers’ workshop/ event space.

Located in a charming small town, we absolutely adored The Storyteller’s Cottage, its programs, and its goals. We wish there was something like this near us.

As an escape room, The Dame Disappears was a strong game for newer players. It was elegant, engaging, and told a story.

In-game: closeup of a nightstand with a book, a lamp, a tea pot and a tea cup.

Who is this for?

  • Story seekers
  • Puzzle lovers
  • Any experience level

Why play?

  • Solid, beginner-friendly puzzling
  • The Storyteller’s Cottage is a wonderful place to visit
  • The Victorian charm of the set and setting

Story

Agatha Christie had gone missing and Scotland Yard had sent us to her home to inspect her belongings. Could we solve the case of the missing mystery novelist?

In-game: Wide view of a bed room with large dressers and a makeup vanity.

Setting

We entered a gorgeous historical home that has been repurposed as an escape room/ writers’ workshop/ whatever other crazy and fun ideas the owners and patrons dream up. It was a wonderful place.

The individual escape rooms were set in rooms within this house. In the case of The Dame Disappears, the room was Agatha Christie’s bedroom. The space was simple, yet lovingly built with clear and consistent art direction.

The use of technology was limited, yet imaginative.

In-game: an open trunk with a dress hanging inside beside a fireplace.

Gameplay

Great Scott Mystery Rooms’ The Dame Disappears was a standard escape room with an easy level of difficulty.

Core gameplay revolved around searching, observing, making connections, and puzzling.

In-game: Wide view of an old bedroom centered on the bed.

Analysis

➕ Great Scott Mystery Rooms was built into the beautiful Victorian mansion that is The Storyteller’s Cottage. The Dame Disappears took place on the second floor, in a bedroom that hearkened back to the era of the house with its bold wallpaper and antique furniture. The adorable set felt at home in The Storyteller’s Cottage.

➕ The puzzles were well clued. Although the gameplay was search-heavy, we never found ourselves ransacking a bedroom blindly. While at times there was a higher volume of text, we never found ourselves pulling random words or numbers from documents.

➖ Much of the clue structure was on laminated sheets of paper. We’d love to see Great Scott Mystery Rooms pull more of the clue structure into the set and props and find less anachronistic methods of delivering written materials.

➖ The puzzle gating included a number of locked boxes. Locked trunks belonged in The Dame Disappears. Other locked items felt out of place. There was an opportunity to vary the puzzle gating and build it into more set pieces and props, rather than place it atop these items.

➕ We enjoyed stepping upon a nifty reveal.

➕ The hint system was part of the game world. It was helpful and responsive.

➖ The final puzzles lacked excitement. Although they involved fun mechanisms, they were single player solves, and located in a corner such that they wouldn’t really be available for onlooker participation. For a group of more than 2 people, we expect that much of the team would disengage right as they reached the finale.

➕ The narrative had a fun twist for the final act. This added intrigue.

➕ The escape rooms at Great Scott Mystery Rooms are inspired by literature. They incorporated Easter eggs for the Agatha Christie fans.

Tips For Visiting

  • Great Scott Mystery Rooms is located within The Storyteller’s Cottage, an adorable vintage Victorian home that hosts literary events, literary societies, writers’ workshops and retreats, storytelling events, author salons, literary-themed mystery rooms, and much more.
  • You can park on the street directly in front of the house, or anywhere on Hopmeadow Street (on-street parking is free). Additional free parking is available behind the Fiddler’s Green building (where Joe Pizza is located).
  • The Dame Disappears is on the second floor of the house, up a flight of stairs. There is another escape room on the first floor of the house, which is wheelchair accessible.

Book your hour with Great Scott Mystery Rooms’ The Dame Disappears, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.

Disclosure: Great Scott Mystery Rooms comped our tickets for this game.

Boxed Escape Rooms at NY Toy Fair

We have some great news from New York Toy Fair!

This is a strange event: it’s a massive convention center full of toys… and no children anywhere in sight!

At New York Toy Fair, retailers and distributors promote all their latest products and those soon to be released. This is an industry-only event, held in the New York Javits Center, with booths spanning two floors.

Exit The Game's new 2020 products.

Toy Fair 2020

This year – our fourth year attending New York Toy Fair – we were excited by the variety of offerings coming soon to the play-at-home escape room market. Moreover, in our conversations with the vendors, we were impressed by a dedication to quality products.

ravensburger's new escape puzzles.

We learned what’s new on the market and coming soon in 2020 from many of our favorite tabletop escape room brands:

… and many more.

A life sized Dog Crimes from Thinkfun.

Learn the Details

If you’re interested in what’s coming soon in tabletop escape games, we shared more details with our Patreon backers in our Toy Fair Video Hot Take.

2020 Events

We’re looking forward to the escape room and immersive industry events of 2020. We’ll be sharing our reports, reactions, and analyses of these events – written and video – with our Patreon backers.

HERE

Next up: We’ll be attending HERE Summit & Festival in Pasadena, CA, where we will be moderating a panel of escape room creators.

HERE is a 3-day event bringing together the trades of embodied experience design, weaving together practices and creators working in immersive theater, mixed reality, game design, theme parks, and escape rooms.

When you support us through Patreon at $5 per month or more, you’ll receive a peek at HERE from the Room Escape Artist perspective.

Support Room Escape Artist’s Mission

There are lots of ways to support Room Escape Artist, like buying from Amazon after clicking into the links included in this post or backing us on Patreon.

The money that we make from these helps us to grow the site and continue to add more value to the community that we love so much.

Upside Down Escape Games – The Theater [Review]

Master of Puppets

Location:  Taunton, Massachusetts

Date Played: December 12, 2019

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

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: $26 per player

Ticketing: Private

Emergency Exit Rating: [A+] No Lock

Physical Restraints: [A+] No Physical Restraints

REA Reaction

Upside Down Escape Games caught us off guard with The Theater because it packed some technology that you don’t expect to see in a small-town escape room.

In-game: a boxoffice stand with an owl dressed in fancy clothes sitting within.

When we played, The Theater it felt like it was brimming with potential… but also unfinished. This was confirmed for us after we played. Nevertheless, there was a lot to enjoy here. The things that worked well worked really well and looked great.

The aspects that felt like they needed more work came in 2 varieties: those in need of fairly minor tweaks, and tech that just needs more time and iteration.

The Theater has the potential to put on a hell of a show, and we have a lot of confidence in Upside Down Escape Games’ ability to get it there. Either way, we think this one is well worth seeing, and we’re glad that we did. We hope to revisit this game down the line.

Who is this for?

  • Puzzle lovers
  • Technophiles
  • Fright fans
  • Players with at least some experience
  • Players who don’t need to be a part of every puzzle

Why play?

  • Surprising technology that you really wouldn’t expect from a small-town escape room company
  • The puppet theater did some really unexpected stuff

Story

Once more, our friend Darryl had dragged us to a strange place for his birthday – and disappeared. This time we entered a horrifying puppet theater with a countdown clock. What was with this guy?

In-game: ominous masks of comedy and tragedy painted in red on a box office.

Setting

Upside Down Escape Games split us into 2 groups. 1 person was brought into the theater; the rest were let in through the box office.

The small theater had all of the right components (but not quite enough seating to feel completely right).

The box office was small, and again, had most of the right components, but this space felt a little unfinished.

The coolest parts of this game weren’t immediately evident. I’ll leave it at that.

In-game: a theater conscession stand.

Gameplay

Upside Down Escape Games’ The Theater was a standard escape room with a moderate level of difficulty.

It has a split-team start, with 1 person separated from the rest of the group.

You can choose to play this game on scary mode, which adds jump scares. (They are worth it.)

Core gameplay revolved around observing, making connections, and puzzling.

In-game: an "Admit One Ticket" sign flanked by freaky baby doll parts pained black and red.

Analysis

➕ Upside Down Escape Games leaned in to the creepy puppet vibe with this unusual escape room concept and it worked.

➕ We played on scary mode. The jump scares were well timed and delivered great moments. Play it on scary mode. You know you want to.

➕/➖ The construction of this game was uneven. It was a case of extremes, and it was kind of understandable. Some aspects of this game received an incredible amount of creative attention… and other parts were painted black. Upside Down Escape Games made good choices about where to focus their resources, but the disparity was noticeable.

➕Upside Down Escape Games dealt with a malfunction so well that we weren’t confident that something was ever wrong.

➕/➖ We loved an unusual and silly puzzle, with clean execution, but the sticking point was a lack of cluing that yes, we should interact in a way that felt unnatural.

➖ The Theater included some incredibly delicate props that seemed out of place and will surely break. They were more eye-catching than they were relevant.

➖ In one instance, The Theater suffered from a common upside down trap: when a clue is reversed or flipped, do you also reverse the solution?

➕ The hint system was more than a hint system. It was a part of this creepy theater.

➕ Upside Down Escape Games built an extraordinary set piece that eyed the game space from the opening moments, building up dramatic intensity. Then it delivered.

➖ The end fizzled. The show needed a finale.

➕ Upside Down Escape Games truly surprised us with the unique tech that they built into The Theater.

Tips For Visiting

  • There is a parking lot.

Book your hour with Upside Down Escape Games’ The Theater, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.

Disclosure: Upside Down Escape Games comped our tickets for this game.

Sold Out Tour & Extension Open

Sold Out

The original set of tickets to Escape Immerse Explore: The Hayden Farm is SOLD OUT.

This tour was so popular that it sold out in 6 weeks.

Tour Extension

But there is good news! We worked with 13th Hour Escape Rooms to open up a few more spots on this tour. These extra tickets are now available for purchase.

These are the final tickets available for this tour. It is not feasible to add another extension.

We hope that you’ll join us on this adventure.

Details

  • Sunday, April 5, 2020
  • 13th Hour Escape Rooms in Wharton, New Jersey

Tour Includes

  • 4 escape rooms
  • Bus transportation to 13th Hour Escape Rooms from Manhattan, NY
  • A day with Lisa and David as escape room guides
  • A talk by Lisa and David
  • A catered meal
  • Networking with other Explorers
  • Event t-shirt
  • Teammates who are as excited about this trip as you are!
  • … and surprises! Always surprises.

Join the Group

13th Hour Escape Rooms is consistently a favorite among locals and visitors who can make the journey to Wharton, New Jersey. We’ve loved their games and awarded them multiple Golden Lock Awards: The Great Room (2017) & The Grand Parlor (2018).

Many folks in NYC (locals & visitors) can’t figure out how to make a trip to 13th Hour logistically viable. We figured we’d solve this problem by throwing a bus at it.

The tour group includes locals from New York and New Jersey as well as escape room players who are traveling across the country for this event. It’s going to be a wonderful group of players.

We hope you’ll join us!

Our goal with this tour is to make these outstanding games accessible to players who will love them. Don’t hesitate to contact us if you’re considering grabbing one of these last few tickets, but have questions or concerns.

Clue Chase – Pirates of the Bermuda Triangle [Review]

Bermuda Triangulation

Location:  New York, NY

Date Played: January 27, 2020

Team size: 2-10; we recommend 3-5

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: $29 per player

Ticketing: Public

Emergency Exit Rating: [A+] No Lock

Physical Restraints: [A+] No Physical Restraints

REA Reaction

We had a great time in Pirates of the Bermuda Triangle. The set looked great, the puzzles were satisfying, and there were some really amusing interactions.

Clue Chase now inhabits the space previously occupied by Escape Entertainment. Clue Chase’s older games were set in larger spaces. We really loved how they transformed the smaller space in this new venue.

It’s so good to see quality new games finding their way into New York City. If you’re in the Boroughs, put Pirates of the Bermuda Triangle on your playlist.

In-game: View of the pirate ship with a partial map in the foreground and art in the background.

Who is this for?

  • Adventure seekers
  • Puzzle lovers
  • Scenery snobs
  • Players with at least some experience
  • Players who don’t need to be a part of every puzzle

Why play?

  • A strong set – and Clue Chase’s strongest to date
  • Solid puzzle play
  • Multiple tangible interactions
  • A fantastic scene transition

Story

The time travel agency had dispatched us on a mission to acquire another artifact. This time we found ourselves aboard a pirate ship in 1715.

The ship’s crew had mutinied and locked the captain in his quarters, taking all of the valuables. Thankfully they hadn’t understood the power of the artifact and had left it behind.

In-game: A painting of a sea battle.

Setting

We stepped inside of a well-detailed pirate ship. The ceiling was draped in cargo nets and the walls were wood. The builders clearly put a lot of effort into obscuring their anachronisms, filing off paint and brand names from locks.

Clue Chase did a lot with this smaller space to make it feel exciting.

In-game: Wide view of the pirate ship set with cargo netting along the ceiling.

Gameplay

Clue Chase’s Pirates of the Bermuda Triangle was a standard escape room with a moderate level of difficulty.

Core gameplay revolved around searching, observing, making connections, and puzzling.

In-game: closeup of a barrel labeled "xxx"

Analysis

➕ The set looked strong. From floor to ceiling its wooden walls and overhead netting conveyed sense of place. The props felt like they belonged.

➕ The sound effects in Pirates of the Bermuda Triangle added energy to the gameplay. They created ambiance and added excitement to interactions.

➕ We solved the puzzles by interacting with the items on the ship – touching, turning, tossing, and the like. The interactions were varied.

➖ There were multiple opportunities to brute-force the last bit of a solve in Pirates of the Bermuda Triangle. It would even by possible to brute-force the final solve of the game, which would be a shame, because it was a pretty cool puzzle.

➕ The puzzle flow was non-linear, but then brought us together for the most exciting moments of the game, without bottlenecking.

➖/➕ Although we found one group solve to be a bit too process-oriented, we found it entertaining to work through together from across the vessel.

In-game: closeup of two black pumps.

➖ Before we entered Pirates of the Bermuda Triangle our gamemaster gave us specific instructions that pertained to the win condition. We listened well, and when the time came, we knew what to do. That said, it would have been more engaging to uncover what to do with this sequence through gameplay. This was a missed opportunity to integrate the gameplay with the gamespace.

➖ The ending fizzled. We wanted more excitement from the acquisition of another artifact.

➕ In Pirates of the Bermuda Triangle Clue Chase created a scene transition that blew their previous games out of the water.

Tips For Visiting

  • Pirates of the Bermuda Triangle is located at Clue Chase’s Herald Square location. They have a different location at Bryant Park.
  • Clue Chase’s Herald Square location is located in Koreatown. On this block, we recommend Mandoo Bar for dumplings and Spot Dessert Bar for crazy and incredible desserts.
  • Take public transit; Clue Chase is half a block from many subway lines.
  • As with all Midtown Manhattan escape rooms, if you’re driving a car, prepare to pay dearly for parking.

Book your hour with Clue Chase’s Pirates of the Bermuda Triangle, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.

Disclosure: Clue Chase comped our tickets for this game.

Orlando, Florida: Escape Room Recommendations

Latest update: February 17, 2020

In Orlando, escape rooms are competing with the biggest names in entertainment for a share of your time and your money. While it might be hard to pry yourself away from the parks, it will be worth it. There are some outstanding escape rooms in Orlando.

Stylized image of Cinderella's Castle at Disney Orlando.

Market Standouts

  1. Captain Spoopy Bones, Doldrick’s Escape Room
  2. Super Bomb Squad, Doldrick’s Escape Room
  3. The Quest, Escape Goat
  4. Special Ops & Playground at The Escape Game (or just about anything at The Escape Game)

Since we visited in November 2019, Doldrick’s Escape Room has opened Spoopy’s Ghoulish Graveyard Gameshow, which we’ve heard is outstanding as well.

Set & Scenery Driven

Puzzle Centric

Tech Heavy

Newbie Friendly

Next on the RECON Stage: Strange Bird Immersive

We are thrilled to announce that Haley and Cameron Cooper from Strange Bird Immersive in Houston, Texas, are speaking at RECON, our upcoming escape room convention.

The Duo

Haley and Cameron are kindred spirits. Like us, they are two sides of one… everything. They are partners in life, and also in the creative and business aspects of experience design.

Many times, people have told me how beautiful it is to see David and me together on the stage, presenting one message together. Haley and Cameron will bring that same complementary energy to the RECON stage.

Haley Cooper on the left and Cameron Cooper on the right, both in costume as actors in Strange Bird Immersive's The Man from Beyond

Haley

Haley is the voice of Strange Bird Immersive through her blog Immersology, which chronicles the unique challenges of storytelling through gameplay, and Strange Bird’s discoveries and approaches to tackling this.

Fun Fact: The first email we ever received from Haley was titled “April Fool’s: Escape the Cat Café.” She is David’s kindred spirit for sure… cough Escape Room Random Player Theory cough.

Cameron

Cameron is the magic behind the scenes at Strange Bird Immersive. He uses light, sound, and video to bring memorable moments to life. His work affects the players in ways they may not notice, but brings Strange Bird Immersive’s storytelling to a level that few can rival.

Fun Fact: When I first spoke to Cameron, I was calling Strange Bird Immersive from the porch of a crowded restaurant in Baton Rouge, trying to determine whether it would be feasible to drive 5 hours to play The Man From Beyond the next day. I was confused because I didn’t know Cameron. He hadn’t sent us email about April Fool’s cats and we didn’t read his blog. But Cameron – my kindred spirit for sure – made our impromptu visit happen.

The Dramatic Twist

… is the topic of their talk. It’s a storytelling technique that is underused in escape rooms. They’ll talk about the impact of this moment in experience design. Furthermore, they’ll give you actionable insights – from their different vantage points – as to how you can shape your stories.

The Man From Beyond

Haley and Cameron Cooper have a stellar resume. Their first escape room, The Man from Beyond, won a 2017 Golden Lock Award and is currently ranked as the #1 game in North America by Top Escape Rooms Project (TERPECA).

They believe in the ability of escape rooms to transform audiences in a personal and lasting manner. They have already done so. The Man From Beyond is the only escape room to date that has brought tears to our eyes. I can assure you that you don’t want to miss their talk at RECON.

Who Else?

If you want to be the first to know, follow RECON on Facebook or Instagram or Twitter.

RECON eye & penrose triangle logo.

Attend RECON

  • Date: August 23-24, 2020
  • Location: Boston, MA

Your ticket to RECON reserves your space at these talks. You’ll have a chance to learn from Haley and Cameron – as well as Nick Moran and Errol Elumir – and join their conversations. Furthermore, you’ll have the opportunity to discuss their talks with others, as you help each other determine what these insights will mean to your businesses.

Tickets are on sale now at the early bird price!

Mass Escape – 44 Winterwood Lane [Review]

A broken seal

Location:  New Bedford, Massachusetts

Date Played: December 12, 2019

Team size: 4-8; we recommend 3-5

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: $28 per player

Ticketing: Public

Emergency Exit Rating: [A+] No Lock

Physical Restraints: [A+] No Physical Restraints

REA Reaction

44 Winterwood Lane had strong worldbuilding. A great introduction, a beautiful candle-lit representation of the game clock, and a brilliant scene helped pull it all together.

In-game:

Mass Escape packed quite a few challenging puzzles into this bewitching experience. 44 Winterwood Lane could be improved by pulling those late-game challenges deeper into the story, and using them to tie off the narrative as thoroughly as the beginning opened it up.

Overall, Mass Escape is a fantastic company making unique and flavorful escape games. They have a style unlike anything else we’ve encountered and it’s a style that we truly enjoyed. 44 Winterwood Lane was our least favorite of the 3 games that we played at Mass Escape… and we still liked it a lot.

Who is this for?

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

Why play?

  • A few great set pieces
  • An illuminating game timer
  • Memorable, haunting moments

Story

Our estranged aunt had recently passed away. We didn’t know much about her beyond the fact that her daughter had mysteriously died many years ago. Nevertheless, we had an appointment with her estate’s caretaker to claim our inheritance.

In-game:

Setting

We stepped through the doors of an old rundown estate, a shadow of its former glory. It had a high ceiling and imposing antique furniture. An assortment of candles lined the ceiling; every few minutes one would extinguish.

The set looked good and well weathered. However, some portions of the set looked considerably more lived-in and finished than others.

In-game:

Gameplay

Mass Escape’s 44 Winterwood Lane was a standard escape room with a moderate level of difficulty.

Core gameplay revolved around searching, observing, making connections, and puzzling.

Analysis

➕ Mass Escape set the tone of the experience from the opening moments of the escape room. They minded the details, sealing our fate as we tried to claim our inheritance.

➕/➖ Although we’d come for the money, as the story of this place unfolded, that turned out to be a side quest. Predictable as it was, the twist added intrigue to 44 Winterwood Lane. However, the plot got a bit murky.

➕ Mass Escape integrated an unorthodox gameclock into the set. It felt native to the world. This was set dressing, ambiance, and time keeping all in one.

➖ The scale felt off in one room. Some of the set pieces lacked the estate’s majestic allure. Portions of the game felt empty, but at the same time full of potential red herrings.

➖ We encountered extremely well camouflaged, unclued searching in 44 Winterwood Lane. Granted, this was for a bonus puzzle. In a game where searching was generally well clued, however, this seemed challenging for the wrong reasons.

44 Winterwood Lane hid its mysteries well… and revealed them in turn. We especially enjoyed when an object magically appeared.

Tips For Visiting

  • There is metered street parking.
  • Mass Escape’s escape rooms all have a main quest and bonus quests. You can choose whether or not to spend your time on the bonus quests; they are clearly delineated as such.

Book your hour with Mass Escape’s 44 Winterwood Lane, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.