Clocked In Escape Room – Priceless Gift [Review]

Ma chérie

Location:  San Antonio, Texas

Date Played: February 3, 2019

Team size: up to 10; we recommend 2-4

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: $116 per team of 4 (minimum number), more for larger teams

Ticketing: Public

Emergency Exit Rating: [A+] No Lock

Physical Restraints: [A+] No Physical Restraints

REA Reaction

Priceless Gift asked us to find a treasured object in our grandmother’s home. This premise and the corresponding gamespace were oddly charming.
In-game: An antique white couch in a white room with paintings of France hanging on the walls.
Clocked In Escape Room built a search-and-puzzle escape room with standard puzzle types. Despite a few bumpy solutions, the puzzles generally made sense and the gameplay flowed well. If you’re in San Antonio and you’re looking for a gentler, puzzle-focused escape room – one that isn’t about saving the world or a fantastical situation – visit Priceless Gift. It won’t blow your mind, but it will deliver competent, classic escape room play.

Who is this for?

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

Why play?

  • A tender story
  • Fun puzzles

Story

Our grandmother had passed away. Her will clearly stated that she wanted us to have a diamond necklace that had been in the family since the 18th century. Unfortunately, when she wrote her will, she couldn’t remember where she put the priceless jewelry. The executor of the estate informed us that her house had been sold. We had only 60 minutes until the closing in which to find our inheritance.
In-game: a Singer sewing machine.

Setting

Priceless Gift was set in a bright, white room, with faux stained glass, and antique furniture. Clocked In Escape Room built a visually unusual environment that wasn’t fancy, but still was striking. The inclusion of a few select antiques like a Singer sewing machine added a bit of authenticity.

Gameplay

Clocked In Escape Room’s Priceless Gift was a standard escape room with a moderate level of difficulty. Core gameplay revolved around searching and puzzling.

Analysis

➕ Priceless Gift told a sweet story through escape room gameplay. We don’t see enough of this genre of escape room. It was refreshing. ➕ The puzzles were generally sound, satisfying solves that flowed logically. ➖ A few of the puzzles asked for a larger step in logic. ➖ Priceless Gift could have benefited from a little dusting and maybe a couple of lock replacements. ➕ /➖ Clocked In Escape Room attempted an artistic puzzle in this mostly lock-and-key escape room. We liked the concept, but it didn’t quite stick. ➕ I loved seeing the old Singer sewing machine. Personally, if I were associating a single object with my grandparents, that’s probably it.

Tips For Visiting

  • There is a parking lot.
Book your hour with Clocked In Escape Room’s Priceless Gift, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.
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Escape Room News: November 2018

Escape Room News: 
November 2018

This is our second escape room newsletter. We’re planning to make this a monthly feature. Please share your news with us.

Washington, DC / Northern Virginia (metro area)

  • Escape Room Woodbridge just opened their latest room, Speakeasy. Their next project, coming in Spring 2019, will be an arc story to their current game The Haunt. Stay tuned. 
  • Escape Room Herndon recently opened a new room: Maritime Mutiny. The pirate captain Ravensbeard has been cheating you and the crew out of your rightful share of plunder! Now that hornswoggling scoundrel has barricaded himself in his quarters. You and your mates must break in to reclaim what be rightfully yours and send that scurvy dog to Davey Jones’ Locker. If you’re crafty enough, mayhaps you’ll even commandeer the whole galleon.

San Diego, CA

  • Golden Lock-In recipient, Puzzalarium has a new game open… or maybe it’s opening soon… or maybe it’s a puzzle? Check out Boiler Room.
  • TV Host Julie Alexandria visited Steal and Escape and produced this great video.

Kauai, HI

  • Kauai Escape Room has opened a new game: Quest For the Lost Continent. Intrepid adventurers have been flocking to Tiki Island to search for the famed Lost Continent of Lemuria. Entrance for private groups is granted through Kauai Escape Room.

Hutchinson, KS

  • MetaCog Escape Games is now open in Hutchinson, KS!

Boston, MA (Metro Area)

  • On December 16, We will be hosting an Escape Room Fan Shindig in Boston, MA. This is a casual gathering for folks to meet each other and chat about escape rooms and other immersive entertainment. We’ll be giving a short talk as well. Meet us there!
  • Curious Escape Rooms announces We the Enthusiasts: Escape Room Enthusiast Passports: Collect a special stamp from every game you play at a participating Escape Room business! These durable leatherette bound and saddle stitched books with a gold foiled covers are the perfect memorabilia to fit in a purse or pocket. A list of participating businesses with unique stamps for each of their games is at WeTheEnthusiasts.com! Passports are currently for sale for $9.99 at Curious Escape Rooms in Fitchburg, MA with more locations coming soon.

Detroit, MI (Metro Area)

  • Decode Escape Rooms is opening their second location this week: Decode Ypsilanti. This new location will open for regular bookings in December.

New York, NY

  • Unreal Escapes in Staten Island has opened a new game: Disco 54 NYC. (After playing their first game Battleship earlier this summer, we are looking forward to visiting!)
  • Neil Patrick Harris visited Exit Escape Room NYC played High Speed NYC.  (This game has been one of our go-to recommendations for newbies and experienced players alike.)
Neil Patrick Harris and team's victorious post-game photo in front of a subway car at High Speed NYC.

Syracuse, NY

  • The Museum of Intrigue has added a new way to play — the Journal of Intrigue! Not only does it act as a stamp passport to track our catalogue of 30+ on and off-site games, but it holds another level of mystery. Each time a story is completed successfully in the Museum itself, the journal is updated with clues, photos, and more. Complete bonus puzzles and uncover the Museum’s past, and earn prizes for your troubles! Available for $30 at the front desk during your visit. (We have been waiting for this!)

Nashville, TN (metro area)

  • LiveMinds Adventure Escape in Franklin, TN is under new ownership. Two local escape room companies teamed up on this venture. They will reopen Treasure of Pacari in early December. (If you have played at LiveMinds before, the updated version will be about 50% different.) They will also reopen Knight Sky later in December, which will be redesigned with entirely new puzzles and a new story line. The new owners have plans for more rooms at LiveMinds Adventure Escape in the new year.

International

Created for & by Escape Room Enthusiasts

  • The Top Escape Rooms Project is an attempt to find the very best escape rooms in the world. Rich Bragg and Errol Elumir announced the winners on Facebook Live earlier this month. The list of 25 winning escape rooms and 10 winning companies is now published on the Top Escape Room Project website, along with a ton of other ranked escape rooms and additional data. Here is our write up.
  • Errol Elumir of The Room Escape Divas posted an escape room enthusiast survey, open during July – August 2018. The survey produced an incredibly interesting data set. This month, we dug into the data and published 7 Unexpected Tidbits from the 2018 Escape Room Enthusiast Survey.
  • Looking for holiday gifts for other escape room enthusiasts? Check our our Room Escape Lover’s 2018 Holiday Buyer’s Guide.

Online / On Paper

  • The Sunday New York Times crossword puzzle from November 11, 2018 was an escape room in crossword form. It was also a contest. Can you escape this crossword puzzle? Here is our write up.

How To Submit News

Share you own news here!

We haven’t visited many of the companies featured in this news bulletin, but they shared news with us and we’re excited to share it with you. Follow their lead and submit your news!

News items include:

  • Facility openings & closings
  • Game openings & closings
  • Special events
  • Escape room-related products
  • Escape room-related intrigue of all sorts
  • Celebrity visits (if you have a post-game photo that we can publish)

Send us your newsworthy information via our news submission form:

Escapades LA – Disrupted Decades [Review]

This game has re-opened under new ownership. We hear that the new version is substantially different from the version we reviewed below

Escape the shag carpet.

Location: North Hollywood, CA

Date Played: August 22, 2018

Team size: up to 6; we recommend 2-4

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: $35 per ticket

Ticketing: Private

REA Reaction

Disrupted Decades was a nostalgic journey through the 1970s, ’80s, and ’90s with a heavy emphasis on pop culture. It put an unusual twist on the flow of an escape room by having each room represent a decade and build to a meta puzzle.

We wanted to love this escape room as much as It’s A Doggy Dog World, but Disrupted Decades felt unfinished in comparison to Escapades LA’s other game. The story felt underdeveloped and the set was underwhelming. While we truly enjoyed the puzzles, it felt light on content.

This could and should be a fantastic game. Escapades LA has a solid foundation to build on. In its current form, however, we only recommend this to puzzle lovers who want to see a new take on escape room structure and players who want a taste of nostalgia.

In-game: a 1970s living room with shag carpet,.

Who is this for?

  • Puzzle lovers
  • Nostalgic nerds
  • Any experience level

Why play?

  • Nostalgic props
  • An interesting approach to escape game design
  • Some clever and unique puzzles

Story

Someone screwed with the space-time continuum and we had to traverse the 1970s, ’80s, and ’90s hunting down anachronisms and setting things right.

In-game: a wall of CDs.

Setting

Disrupted Decades was a 3-room game where each room represented a different decade. Each individual space had props, furniture, and in some cases, carpeting that was emblematic of the decade we were visiting.

The props were generally authentic.

None of the sets were particularly eye-catching or immersive.

In-game: a 1970s living room with a small TV and Polaroid camera.

Gameplay

Escapades LA’s Disrupted Decades was a standard escape room with a low level of difficulty.

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

Analysis

+ Escapades LA produced an interesting escape room in Disrupted Decades. They emphasized exploring the props to determine which were out of place and how they worked together to solve a larger meta puzzle for each room.

– In practice, once we got the hang of how this game worked, it felt light on content.

+ It was enjoyable to take a journey back through the nostalgic items. Some of them stretched the limits of the props to deliver interesting interactions.

+ The ’80s had some high points when it came to puzzling.

– The set was subpar. It didn’t go far enough to convey the time periods. Each era would have benefitted from more details. There were a lot of small props, but the sets felt too bare. A few large and tangible set pieces would go a long way.

– The story felt underdeveloped. There wasn’t much of a beginning, ending, or feeling of consequence. It was just a scenario.

In-game: a franklin electronic dictionary and thesaurus.

+ In the ’90s room they had a Franklin Bookman electronic dictionary & thesaurus. I admit that this is insanely personal and nearly no one will appreciate this prop… but I used to lay in bed with a flashlight every night looking up words and synonyms, and playing word games on one of these things. Seeing one for the first time in over 20 years filled me with joy. Your mileage may vary.

Tips for Visiting

Book your hour with Escapades LA’s Disrupted Decades, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.

Disclosure: Escapades LA comped our tickets for this game.

Escape Chronicles – Testing Facility [Review]

Office Space meets Portal, with a hint of Tiny Toons

Location: North Hollywood, CA

Date Played: August 26, 2018

Team size: 2-8; we recommend 4-5

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: $27 per ticket

Ticketing: Public

REA Reaction

Testing Facility was a puzzle-focused escape room that justified the puzzling with a humorous spin. Although the gamespace was not inherently exciting and it lacked adventure, Testing Facility was a phenomenally strong puzzle game with character.

If you’re in Los Angeles and you play escape rooms for the puzzles, we strongly encourage you to test yourself against Testing Facility.

In-game: breakroom with a table, breaker boxes, and a Pepsi machine.

Who is this for?

  • Story seekers
  • Puzzle lovers
  • People who think that an Office Space-meets-Portal mashup is a good idea
  • Any experience level
  • Players who don’t need to be a part of every puzzle

Why play?

  • Humorous AI
  • Many interesting puzzles

Story

We had eagerly accepted Professor Bentham’s experiment and his challenge to outwit his humorously psychotic AI, PAL, and its desire to make us its best friend forever and ever.

PAL’s personality could best be described as Portal’s GLaDOS with the motivation of Tiny Toon’s Elmyra.

In-game: a close up of a CRT monitor with a DOS prompt reading, "breakroom terminal."

Setting

The tests took place in an office-meets-lab environment complete with Despair Demotivation posters. Furniture included a table, a couple of desks, and not much else. The most eye-catching set piece was an old soda vending machine.

Most of the character for Testing Facility came from the voice of the AI, PAL.

In-game: a collection of lockers with a line pattern painted on them and a desk with a CRT monitor.

Gameplay

Escape Chronicles’ Testing Facility was a standard escape room with a moderate level of difficulty.

Core gameplay revolved around puzzling.

In-game: a wide shot of the the break room.

Analysis

Testing Facility was funny. The AI taunted us throughout the escape room. It added depth and humor to the bland office setting. This was a perfect example of a game that mixed an office environment with something unexpected and turned a tired escape room theme into something entertaining.

– Humor aside, Testing Facility wasn’t an exciting space to occupy. The blandness of an office didn’t energize our group.

+ Escape Chronicles built a lot of puzzle play into minimal props, and in one instance, into one small item. It was impressive.

+ Escape Chronicles printed custom props for one puzzle. This detail created smooth (red herring free!) entertaining gameplay. Many lesser companies would have just made small modifications to existing materials.

+ Escape Chronicles minded the details, delivering interesting and fun puzzles.

In-game: a desk with a National Geographic magazine beside a coffee mug that reads, "World's Okayest Employee."

+ We enjoyed Escape Chronicles’ approach to reuse. We reused knowledge that we had accumulated over the course of gameplay.

– Testing Facility lacked an impactful finale. We would have liked to see or feel a response to besting the AI. Given the character Escape Chronicles had crafted into the experience, there was opportunity to deliver a more exciting or dramatic conclusion.

Tips for Visiting

Book your hour with Escape Chronicles’ Testing Facility, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.

Disclosure: Escape Chronicles provided media discounted tickets for this game.

LA Dragon Studios – Knights of the Round Table [Review]

The Sword in the Puzzle

Location: Van Nuys, CA

Date Played: August 22, 2018

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

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: from $90 for teams of 2 to $280 for teams of 8, 15% discount for Monday – Thursday bookings

Ticketing: Private

REA Reaction

Knights of the Round Table was a family-friendly adventure. Although the gameplay and the set design were uneven, the more tangible interactions delivered fun solves.

If you’re looking for a solid, traditional, family-friendly puzzle game near Los Angeles, check out Knights of the Round Table.

In-game: the entrance to Camelot.

Who is this for?

  • Adventure seekers
  • Any experience level

Why play?

  • Family-friendly adventure
  • The final interaction

Story

A darkness had fallen over Camelot. We took on the roles of Knights of the Round Table to save the kingdom.

In-game: a bridge over a moat.

Setting

We started our quest outside the castle: a facade crafted to look like the exterior wall of a medieval fortress. There were stone walls, a wooden door, and a drawbridge over a glowing moat. On the other side was the forest, largely represented by wallpaper, some cut wood, and fake hay.

Inside the castle, the sets looked less dramatic as we explored the rooms.

In-game: a sword, axe, shield, and wood.

Gameplay

LA Dragon Studios’ Knights of the Round Table was a standard escape room with a moderate level of difficulty.

Core gameplay revolved around searching and puzzling.

Analysis

+ The intro video to Knights of the Round Table foreshadowed some of the more exciting set pieces in the experience. Because it was filmed in the gamespace, the video added intrigue before we entered the escape room. We were excited when we encountered these set pieces in the experience.

– The beginning sequence didn’t instill energy in the group. Although we enjoyed exploring the initial set, the gameplay was too slow paced, especially as an opening.

+ LA Dragon Studios crafted some more hefty, tangible interactions that felt satisfying to engage with.

– The set design was uneven. LA Dragon Studios made some enticing details, but left other areas of the gamespace underdesigned.

– While some decor was simply decor, much of it functioned as red herrings. It was frequently hard to differentiate set dressing from puzzle components.

+ We enjoyed finding a path through one substantial, late-game puzzle. It was challenging and fun.

– Two of the main puzzles in Knights of the Round Table were brute-forceable. It was too easy to bypass much of the gameplay, either on purpose or accidentally.

– Knights of the Round Table would benefit from additional clue structure and tighter puzzle design.

Knights of the Round Table delivered a satisfying finale. It was an entertaining culminating action, even if it was primarily enjoyed by one player.

+ LA Dragon Studios markets Knights of the Round Table as a family-friendly adventure. From the props, to the interactions, to reveals, it delivered on that marketing. Families will find a lot to enjoy here.

+ Yes, Knights of the Round Table made some of the Monty Python jokes you’d expect.

Tips for Visiting

  • There is a parking lot behind the building.
  • LA Dragon Studios is in a medical facility. So don’t be baffled by that… you’re in the right place.
  • LA Dragon Studios also has a small arcade with some classic cabinets.

Book your hour with LA Dragon Studios’ Knights of the Round Table, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.

Disclosure: LA Dragon Studios comped our tickets for this game.