Alcatraz Escape Games – Zombie Apocalypse Escape [Review]

Unchained zombie.

Location: Draper, UT

Date Played: January 7, 2018

Team size: 4-14; we recommend 4-8

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: $28 per ticket

REA Reaction

We were locked up with a zombie, but Zombie Apocalypse Escape was not Trapped In A Room with a Zombie. This was a different take on the zombie escape room format that focused more on creating tension and bursts of excitement between puzzling challenges. You’ll need at least a few brave players with decent cardio to make it through this zombie apocalypse.

Who is this for?

  • Adventure seekers
  • Agile people (not all need to be)
  • Nerf marksmen
  • Any experience level

Why play?

  • Fleeing from a zombie
  • Zombie hunting
  • Thrills and tension with horror overtones

Story

With the zombie outbreak running rampant, we entered a survival bunker looking for another group of survivors we had heard on the radio. Unfortunately, there was something else in there with us… and it was hungry.

In-game: the number 05 painted to the wall and covered in bloody handprints.

Setting

We were initially released into a quiet and dim storage room. Zombie Apocalypse Escape began there as a typical escape room. If our group had been larger, we might have found ourselves in a split room scenario. With our smaller team, our gamemaster played the part of the other survivors.

In-game: Shot through a gate, behind the wire is warehouse shelving with a variety of supplies.

The early game built tension. At some point – I won’t say when – the zombie emerged.

Gameplay

The first half of the game was a standard escape room with a lot of added tension because we didn’t know when or how the zombie would reveal itself.

In-game: a dark room's wall covered in small, red, glowing lights.

The second half of the game split our attention between puzzling our way to freedom and not getting eaten. In order to keep the zombie at bay (as our gamemaster explained in advance of the game), we would shoot it in a bullseye on its shoulder with a remarkably well-maintained Nerf gun. Shooting the zombie would incapacitate it for a little while, allowing us some puzzling time.

When the zombie wasn’t subdued, we could only focus on not getting tagged by the zombie as it had no chain. This zombie was more like Zombieland than Walking Dead… By that I mean that cardio is necessary for wrangling the zombie.

If running from the undead doesn’t sound like your speed, there was a safe zone where the zombie would not enter, but participation options from that space were limited.

Standouts

From its opening moments, Zombie Apocalypse Escape built tension. The premise worked. We were on edge, in a good way, as we uncovered new gamespace, anticipating what else we might find there. Anything new was inherently scary because we didn’t know when or how the zombie would enter the game.

The early sets felt appropriately apocalyptic and intense.

Unlike other zombie escape rooms, at any given moment in Zombie Apocalypse Escape we were either solving puzzles or escaping a rampant zombie. Alcatraz Escape Games introduced a game mechanic that allowed us to separate these two challenges. This didn’t mean, however, that we could relax; the zombie could easily wake up and attack. We aren’t endorsing any one particular style of zombie play, but we did enjoy seeing something wholly different that required us to strategize in new ways.

The zombie actor had a lot of control of the team’s experience. He read the team well and made Zombie Apocalypse Escape exciting and challenging, but winnable.

The best challenges were life-sized. Or maybe, dead-sized.

Shortcomings

While the earlier sets felt ominously apocalyptic, the final set was escape room-y. It was a room with puzzles… and a zombie. We would have preferred the survival bunker aesthetic to dial up over the course of the experience, rather than evaporate into a game room.

We found the initial staging confusing: we were searching for another group of survivors, but our gamemaster was “playing” as the other survivors. Alcatraz Escape Games does not split smaller groups. The staging wasn’t adequately explained at the onset and we were pretty confused by our gamemaster for quite some time.

We received one misleading pregame instruction that caused us to be far too gentle with an important set piece. We recommend rephrasing to avoid confusion.

Given the in-game exhilaration of a hungry zombie, the escape was anticlimactic. The game ended abruptly.

Tips for Visiting

Book your hour with Alcatraz Escape Games’ Zombie Apocalypse Escape and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.

Disclosure: Alcatraz Escape Games provided media discounted tickets for this game.

 

Alcatraz Escape Games – Prison Bus Escape [Review]

Please take a seat and fasten your handcuffs.

Location: Draper, UT

Date Played: January 7, 2018

Team size: 2-10; we recommend 3-5

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: $28 per ticket

REA Reaction

Prison Bus Escape put a refreshing twist on the prison escape theme by setting it on a bus. While this was an old school game with a lot of recognizable tropes, it still felt exciting because of the actor / gamemaster, strong puzzle flow, and entertaining environment.

Who is this for?

  • Adventure seekers
  • People who are mobile
  • Best for any experience level

Why play?

  • It was on a bus
  • The actor / gamemaster
  • Gameflow

Story

Our crew and some other notorious gangsters were being transferred to another prison. With the bus disabled, we had a brief opportunity to free ourselves.

The Alcatraz Escape Bus. An old Blue Bird school bus pained black.

Setting

Alcatraz Escape Games had a bus parked beside their building. This was Prison Bus Escape. It was an old school bus turned into an escape room. The concept was clever and the space was fun.

In-game: Bus interior, school bus seats, but in the middle of the bus, there's a large metal door mounted in place and locked.

Gameplay

Prison Bus Escape was a fairly standard escape room with solid puzzles and good flow. The key twist (in addition to the setting) was an in-room actor gamemaster who added a lot of flavor.

In-game: David's hand cuffed to the wall of the bus.

Standouts

Prison Bus Escape took place on an actual school bus. This setting enhanced the story. It came together nicely.

The bus was partitioned such that even on this confined set, the escape room had different scenes. This built dramatic tension.

We weren’t alone on the bus. Our prisoner-gamemaster was helpful and amusing.

In-game: Overhead of the driver's seat. There is a rifle mounted to the wall, and a lot of extra wiring.

The majority of the gameplay took place in a heated area of the bus. Given that we visited Alcatraz Escape Games in January, this was really important.

We moved through the puzzles and the bus with ease, not because they were easy, but because Alcatraz Escape Games built clue structure into the bus. It played well, progressed the story, and delivered a finale.

The finale.

Shortcomings

We were confused how to approach the prisoner on the bus. In the introduction, we were told that if anyone touched the prisoner, our game would end. In a tight space, we exerted a lot of energy trying to avoid any contact with him. In truth, this rule only meant that we shouldn’t harm the actor… or his stuff… which was in an area that was in play… and not marked as out of play… This was also confusing.

Prison Bus Escape suffered from expansive search combined with weak search tools. In two instances, the tool we received could barely uncover the information or trigger the response.

Prison Bus Escape included a serious red herring. While likely not intended as such, the puzzle affixed to this prop didn’t look intentional enough to usurp the distraction of the item. This prop will likely be a time sink for many less experienced teams.

There were some exposed wires and out-of-game components that should have been hidden away.

Tips for Visiting

  • There is an actor on the bus: 6 Rules For Playing Room Escapes with Live Actors.
  • Players need to climb stairs (onto the bus) and be mobile enough to move around on a school bus.
  • The bus is parked outside Alcatraz Escape Games. You will have to go outside to start and end this escape room.

Book your hour with Alcatraz Escape Games’ Prison Bus Escape, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.

Disclosure: Alcatraz Escape Games provided media discounted tickets for this game.