3600 Escape – Mineshaft [Review]

Digging for puzzles.

Location: Buffalo, NY

Date played: April 30, 2017

Team size: 4-8; we recommend 3-5

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: $25 per ticket

Story & setting

Legend said that an expensive diamond had been hidden in a mine in central Pennsylvania. We donned our hard hats and puzzled our way towards the treasure.

From the floor, to the walls, to the lack of space, Mindshaft was a compelling stage for this excavation.

In-game: A wooden mine shaft with a coal-filled mining cart.
Believe the gamemaster when you’re told, “You don’t have to touch the coal.”

Puzzles

Mineshaft was a puzzle-driven escape room in a particularly cool environment. It included an eclectic mix of typical escape room-style puzzles. Most of the puzzles made use of props that we uncovered in the gamespace.

Standouts

Beyond the entrance to Mineshaft we entered a world so unlike the lobby of 3600 Escape. The wood planks, scattered stones, and pieces of coal brought the little mine to life.

The best puzzles were the ones that tied directly into the set.

It was fun to extract clues from within the mine itself.

The puzzling started with the set and props working in tandem to engage the entire team as we got our bearings in the mine.

Shortcomings

While in theory we liked this opening, it focused everyone on the same task, which, coupled with unclear cluing and lack of direction, created a bottleneck right off the bat.

In a few instances, the cluing – and even some puzzle solutions – seemed rather ambiguous. We resorted to hacking our way through parts of this experience with trial and error.

3600 Escape built an outstanding set, but didn’t elevate the puzzling to match. This left us wanting something more.

Should I play 3600 Escape’s Mineshaft?

The most exciting element of Mineshaft was its set, which demonstrated 3600 Escape’s attention to detail in building the staging for this escape room. In this regard, Mineshaft was a leap forward for 3600 Escape.

Despite appearances, Mineshaft was actually a puzzler’s escape room: it was packed with very standard, escape room-style puzzles.

That’s also how it fell short. The game looked so good that we yearned for more integrated and experiential puzzling. We wanted the puzzle design to leap forward with that set. It felt like a missed opportunity.

If you enjoy room escapes for new and exciting environments, you’ll enjoy Mineshaft. If you enjoy escape room-style puzzles, you could also find a lot of like here. If, however, you really want to experience puzzle and set integration, you may not quite be satisfied by this escape room.

Regardless of experience level, there will likely be both moments of thrill and frustration in Mineshaft. 

We hope the 3600 Escape continues to work their puzzle design into the world of this delightfully compelling little mine. There is gold in this game if they dig just a little deeper.

Book your hour with 3600 Escape’s Mineshaft, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.

Full disclosure: 3600 Escape comped our tickets for this game.

 

3600 Escape Room – Conspiracy Theory [Review]

Connect the dots.

Location: Buffalo, NY

Date played: January 21, 2017

Team size: 4-8; we recommend 4-5

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: $25 per ticket

Story & setting

In Conspiracy Theory, we were investigating the apartment of a conspiracy theorist friend who had gone missing.

Our friend’s studio apartment had pretty standard furnishing and decor.

It also included a non-standard escape room countdown clock; 3600 Escape Room counted our time down from 3600 seconds.

Puzzles

3600 Escape Room hid puzzles throughout the apartment, making use of standard home goods. They also snuck in a few unexpected objects for more interesting puzzling interactions.

The puzzles were well-structured with generally clear cluing and elegant solutions.

Standouts

Our gamemaster delivered written hints through a mail slot in the wall. This was on-theme and creative. It was also multi-purpose. She paid close attention to us as we puzzled along and even delivered a Capri Sun in answer to a joke one of us made about the Kool-Aid man. We all had a good laugh… and David drank it.

A CapriSun with a post it that reads, "It's no Kool-Aid but I can send it through the wall :)

Conspiracy Theory included a few standout puzzles. We particularly liked one input device and another “destructible” clue. These were both creative and unexpected.

3600 Escape Room made use of some standard escape room puzzle types. They thought outside the box to successfully deliver one of the clearest solutions to something we often see poorly executed.

In-game: A wall of newspaper clippings with circles and strings connecting them.
Image provided by 3600 Escape Room

Shortcomings

In another standard puzzle type, 3600 Escape Room delivered a rather weak tool and a lack of adequate cluing. Fresh batteries matter.

As with most studio apartments, the layout was not spacious. One corner in particular was relatively inaccessible and certainly not accessible for multiple people at one time. This created minor bottlenecking.

There was a hole in the bottom of a set piece that was easily accessible and sharp. It should be permanently plugged for safety.

The apartment was just an apartment and the setting never did anything to up the level of excitement.

Should I play 3600 Escape Room’s Conspiracy Theory?

Conspiracy Theory was a fun play through. While it was a simple apartment and aesthetically not much to behold, the puzzle resolutions were elegant and satisfying. This creativity in puzzle design – along with an attentive and playful gamemaster – made for a great time.

In this game, 3600 Escape Room demonstrated creative design ability and solid puzzle flow. During our visit, we peeked into their next game, still under construction, and we look forward to them incorporating more exciting aesthetics and world building into their next room escape.

They have a beautiful lobby, and a family / corporate friendly approach to the escape room business. I would absolutely recommend Conspiracy Theory to beginner players. This would make for a great first game. Experienced players may want to scope out their upcoming game, which we are looking forward to playing on our return visit.

Book your hour with 3600 Escape Room’s Conspiracy Theory, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.

Full disclosure: 3600 Escape Room 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.