Amazing Escape Room – The Hemingway Room [Review]

The Hemingway Room needs an editor.

Location: Freehold, New Jersey

Date played: September 19, 2015

Team size: up to 8; we recommend 4-6

Price: $28 per ticket

Theme and Story

This room was themed on the life on Ernest Hemingway. Ironically, it doesn’t have a story.

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Traditional First Room

The Hemingway Room fit a mold: Some of the puzzles fit the theme of the decor. It had a lot of locks.

Set Design

The space was pleasant to inhabit. It looked nice. Amazing Escape Room used solid set pieces that harkened back to a different era. We weren’t about the break this room.

Obtuse Logic

There is a fine line between challenging and annoying:

It was challenging to complete a puzzle that relied on extended concentration and dexterity. It was annoying to find halfway through that there was a hidden trick forcing us to start solving the puzzle again.

It was challenging to complete strange math. It was annoying that the clues didn’t use the correct operators… And why was there math in a room themed on a writer?

Outside Knowledge

You don’t need to know anything about Hemingway to solve this room, but the more you know about him, the faster you’ll solve some of these puzzles.

Escape rooms should be self-contained experiences. You don’t use your phone, and you don’t use outside facts. They pit your brain against a setting and what you can derive from it in the moment. Everyone is on even footing. And it’s worth noting that Amazing Escape Rooms made a big deal about not using your phone in The Hemingway Room.

Amazing Room Escape - Hemingway Room

Should I Play Amazing Escape Room’s The Hemingway Room?

This room had some good puzzles, but they were overshadowed by the obtuse, annoying ones.

This theme will probably resonate well with some people, but the way it’s executed will inhibit the fun for others. I would rather have had the room show me Hemingway’s life or stories.

We didn’t win this one, and thus we didn’t get to experience what was probably the most exciting part of the game.

The staff at Amazing Escape Room will point you toward this room over their others, but of the two we’ve tried, we recommend The Black & White Room.

The Black & White Room didn’t have a story either, but it didn’t feel like a story was missing the way it did in The Hemingway Room. Furthermore, The Black & White Room is designed such that random puzzles are less likely to feel out of place and a logic flow is less important.

Amazing Escape Room – The Black & White Room

The Black & White Room looks like a chess board, and for the first time ever, I felt like we were playing against the room escape company.

Location: Freehold, New Jersey

Date played: September 19, 2015

Team size: up to 6; we recommend 5-6

Price: $28 per ticket

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Theme & story

Nearly everything in the Black & White Room was black and white. The look was striking, and interesting.

It had a bit of an M.C. Escher feel, but never came close to achieving that level of beauty, detail, or intrigue that Escher’s work conjures.

There was no story in the Black & White Room. Nothing alluded to an alternate reality, or a reason why this space exists.

There were black objects.

There were white objects.

And there were puzzles.

Puzzles

The Black & White Room has a variety of puzzles that are interesting and challenging.

There were a few things in this room that we hadn’t seen before. None of it was mind-blowing, however it was fun and mentally engaging.

Faulty hardware

When we entered the room, the monitor that was supposed to display the clock and hints was broken. We had no clock throughout the game.

One of the three digit locks in the room held a closed white box mounted to the wall closed. The box on the wall was in rough shape, so I was being as gentle as I could with it because the lock didn’t seem like it should require heavy force (and I didn’t want to further damage the box). It turned out that the lock was heavily worn. It need a solid yanking to open… So I was pretty miffed when a gamemaster came in and “helped” us derive an answer that we already had. We burned at least 10 minutes because that lock was in rough shape.

And the final puzzle was supposed to drop a key… But it didn’t. We needed to give the thing a shake to make it work. It was anti-climactic (and yet another time killer).

Accusations & suspicion

In spite of losing a ton of time on that lock, we got out of this room in approximately 45 minutes. Immediately after we escaped, our gamemaster ran up the stairs and accused us of cheating… This was a first for us (and we’ve played a lot of these games).

She then inspected the room to make sure that we had opened everything, which assumed that it’s the players’ fault if puzzles can be circumvented. If we had managed to circumvent something, would she have sent us back in? Would she have told us that we stole fizzy lifting drinks and we lose?

This room has a 5% escape rate, and the staff seemed annoyed that we got out as quickly as we did. The whole interaction was strange and deflating.

Amazing Escape Room - Black & White Room

Should I play Amazing Escape Room’s The Black & White Room?

The tragedy of our experience in the Black & White Room was that it was fun right up until the moment that we were accused of cheating.

The room was solid, but the room didn’t live up to how interesting the concept was. Additionally the room could have greatly benefited from more careful maintenance.

I left with an overwhelming feeling that the Amazing Escape Rooms team needs to relax. I’ve never felt so distrusted by an escape company.

Amazing Escape Rooms has some interesting ideas, and I think they have a lot to offer, but they have to put fun first.

The Black & White Room was also the first game we every played with other room escape reviewers. Our new friends over at Escape Clues did their own writeup.

Book your hour with Amazing Escape Room’s The Black & White Room, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.