Bane Escape – Captive [Review]

Captured by a serial killer. Again. Why does this keep happening to us?

Location: Livingston, NJ

Date played: April 23, 2017

Team size: up to 8; we recommend 4-6

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: from $30 per ticket

Story & setting

We were locked away by a serial killer and made to play his game in order to survive.

Although Bane is one of New Jersey’s most well-known haunted houses, Captive was not a horror experience. The setting was dark and creepy in that polished way that haunts so often achieve. In spite of Bane’s primary business, however, this escape room did not instill terror.

In-game: Closeup of tally marks scrawled on a concrete wall.

Puzzles

Captive had a large number of challenges to complete. The vast majority of these required us to make connections between props and set pieces rather than puzzle our way through them.

Standouts

The set looked great. It especially stood out within the New Jersey market, which doesn’t have many escape rooms that are aesthetically impressive.

Bane used the space cleverly.

The puzzling, while not particularly complex, flowed well.

Shortcomings

So much of Captive bunched up in one in one segment of the experience. I would have loved it if Bane wove the puzzling and interactions throughout the escape room a little more.

Bane’s website sets up some expectations that they do not meet: ”Welcome to Bane Escape, the largest most immersive Escape Games on the East Coast.” If one were to include the massive square footage of their entire haunt facility, it very well might be the largest business with an escape room. However, I don’t think that Captive is even the largest game in the state of New Jersey. Yes, Bane did a great job of creating a thrilling ambiance, but was it the “most immersive escape game on the East Coast?” I can comfortably dispute that claim as well. These boasts led me into the escape room with false expectations. For me, Captive would have been more enjoyable if I wasn’t expecting something gigantic and over-the-top.

Should I play Bane Escape’s Captive?

Captive is an approachable but difficult room escape for less experienced players looking for a thrill without terror.

Experienced players should go for the atmosphere and set design, but not if you’re  seeking a puzzley game. There was no shortage of things to do, and there were a couple of brilliant moments, but at its core, Captive was about the feeling.

On the drive home, I found myself wishing that Bane had made Captive into a true horror game. I understand the drive for haunts to produce escape rooms with mass market appeal, and Captive was absolutely that… but it left me feeling like it was incomplete and missing the thing that makes Bane special: fear.

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

Bane Escape – Maritime Grave [Review]

This may shock you, but the room only has 60 minutes of oxygen.

Location: Livingston, NJ

Date played: April 23, 2017

Team size: up to 8; we recommend 5-6

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: from $30 per ticket

Story & setting

While we were aboard a submarine-turned-military museum, the vessel experienced a systemwide malfunction. If we couldn’t right the systems, we would sink to an ocean grave.

Maritime Grave looked part submarine, part museum. Bane Escape constructed a set that felt like an imaginative naval vessel and used the museum-ification of the old boat as pretense to incorporate puzzle-laden displays and plaques. The execution was artfully done.

In game: The ornate interior of the vessel has a large bench in the middle and large copper doors with green walls covered in large rivets.

Puzzles

The puzzling took place largely through keen observation, which then translated into tactile inputs. The challenge was primarily in locating information and making the right connections. That shouldn’t give you the impression that Maritime Grave was an easy escape room.

There was ample room for parallel puzzling.

Standouts

Bane Escape committed to this quirky scenario and delivered. The set struck the right balance between naval vessel and museum. Its unified and polished aesthetic was both impressive and fun.

In-game: A glass display with an bronze octopus inside. Beyond the glass, a porthole is illuminated blue.

So much of this game was custom construction. It looked great and functioned well.

The information-meets-input design unfolded across the large gamespace. This facilitated teamwork well.

Shortcomings

At times, the gamespace felt empty, despite ample puzzles. Large spaces held few interactions.

One area of the submarine remained poorly lit throughout the experience. We were expecting some dramatic lighting to turn on when the area became relevant, but it remained dimly lit.

There were a few instances where the removal of clue ambiguity could dramatically elevate the experience.

Should I play Bane Escape’s Maritime Grave?

Bane Escape is a spinoff of Bane Haunted House. Although the designers have a haunt background, Maritime Grave was not a frightening game. It is approachable for a general audience. Furthermore, Bane Escape’s experience building haunts shines in the artistic and durable set of Maritime Grave. 

This would be a fun, but challenging escape room for new players. There are a lot of dots to connect. Teamwork and parallel puzzling are crucial.

Experienced players will find this a worthy opponent and likely appreciate this unorthodox rendering of a sinking submarine scenario.

Book your hour with Bane Escape’s Maritime Grave, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.