Clue Chase – Pirates of the Bermuda Triangle [Review]

Bermuda Triangulation

Location:  New York, NY

Date Played: January 27, 2020

Team size: 2-10; we recommend 3-5

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: $29 per player

Ticketing: Public

Emergency Exit Rating: [A+] No Lock

Physical Restraints: [A+] No Physical Restraints

REA Reaction

We had a great time in Pirates of the Bermuda Triangle. The set looked great, the puzzles were satisfying, and there were some really amusing interactions.

Clue Chase now inhabits the space previously occupied by Escape Entertainment. Clue Chase’s older games were set in larger spaces. We really loved how they transformed the smaller space in this new venue.

It’s so good to see quality new games finding their way into New York City. If you’re in the Boroughs, put Pirates of the Bermuda Triangle on your playlist.

In-game: View of the pirate ship with a partial map in the foreground and art in the background.

Who is this for?

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

Why play?

  • A strong set – and Clue Chase’s strongest to date
  • Solid puzzle play
  • Multiple tangible interactions
  • A fantastic scene transition

Story

The time travel agency had dispatched us on a mission to acquire another artifact. This time we found ourselves aboard a pirate ship in 1715.

The ship’s crew had mutinied and locked the captain in his quarters, taking all of the valuables. Thankfully they hadn’t understood the power of the artifact and had left it behind.

In-game: A painting of a sea battle.

Setting

We stepped inside of a well-detailed pirate ship. The ceiling was draped in cargo nets and the walls were wood. The builders clearly put a lot of effort into obscuring their anachronisms, filing off paint and brand names from locks.

Clue Chase did a lot with this smaller space to make it feel exciting.

In-game: Wide view of the pirate ship set with cargo netting along the ceiling.

Gameplay

Clue Chase’s Pirates of the Bermuda Triangle was a standard escape room with a moderate level of difficulty.

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

In-game: closeup of a barrel labeled "xxx"

Analysis

➕ The set looked strong. From floor to ceiling its wooden walls and overhead netting conveyed sense of place. The props felt like they belonged.

➕ The sound effects in Pirates of the Bermuda Triangle added energy to the gameplay. They created ambiance and added excitement to interactions.

➕ We solved the puzzles by interacting with the items on the ship – touching, turning, tossing, and the like. The interactions were varied.

➖ There were multiple opportunities to brute-force the last bit of a solve in Pirates of the Bermuda Triangle. It would even by possible to brute-force the final solve of the game, which would be a shame, because it was a pretty cool puzzle.

➕ The puzzle flow was non-linear, but then brought us together for the most exciting moments of the game, without bottlenecking.

➖/➕ Although we found one group solve to be a bit too process-oriented, we found it entertaining to work through together from across the vessel.

In-game: closeup of two black pumps.

➖ Before we entered Pirates of the Bermuda Triangle our gamemaster gave us specific instructions that pertained to the win condition. We listened well, and when the time came, we knew what to do. That said, it would have been more engaging to uncover what to do with this sequence through gameplay. This was a missed opportunity to integrate the gameplay with the gamespace.

➖ The ending fizzled. We wanted more excitement from the acquisition of another artifact.

➕ In Pirates of the Bermuda Triangle Clue Chase created a scene transition that blew their previous games out of the water.

Tips For Visiting

  • Pirates of the Bermuda Triangle is located at Clue Chase’s Herald Square location. They have a different location at Bryant Park.
  • Clue Chase’s Herald Square location is located in Koreatown. On this block, we recommend Mandoo Bar for dumplings and Spot Dessert Bar for crazy and incredible desserts.
  • Take public transit; Clue Chase is half a block from many subway lines.
  • As with all Midtown Manhattan escape rooms, if you’re driving a car, prepare to pay dearly for parking.

Book your hour with Clue Chase’s Pirates of the Bermuda Triangle, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.

Disclosure: Clue Chase comped our tickets for this game.

Clue Chase – Sunken City [Reaction]

Magic Buttons

Location:  New York, New York

Date Played: September 29, 2019

Team size: 4-6; we recommend 4

Duration: 20 minutes

Price: free

Ticketing: Public or Private

Emergency Exit Rating: [A+] No Lock (there was no door)

Physical Restraints: [A+] No Physical Restraints

REA Reaction

Sunken City was a free 20-minute escape room designed to promote climate-friendly behavior.

In-game: A model of a city with solar panels laying about.

From a puzzle standpoint, the game played cleanly and had a lot of content for its length. A runbook notwithstanding, it was quick, smooth, and enjoyable.

In-game: A lab desk with many notes on it.

From a content standpoint, Sunken City was more thematic than it was persuasive. Sunken City was not about to change anyone’s mind or strike up a deep dialog about climate change or environmentalism in either direction.

In-game: "GET ON BIKE" is spray painted on an old plaster wall.

All in all, I’m glad that we were able to experience Sunken City. We were the final team through, so it’s no longer playable unless it gets remounted in the future.

In-game: flower pots in a makeshift greenhouse

Tips For Visiting

  • This was a limited-run escape game produced by Clue Chase.
  • It took place on in Nolan Park on Governor’s Island, which is accessible by ferry from Manhattan and Brooklyn.
  • It is not currently available for booking.
  • Visit Clue Chase in Manhattan to play their other games.

If Clue Chase remounts Sunken City, book your session and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.

Clue Chase – Ultimate Heist [Review]

You’re going to want to fence that Beany Baby quickly.

Location: New York, NY

Date played: September 14, 2017

Team size: up to 10; we recommend 5 to 7

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: $29 per ticket

Story & setting

It was 1998 and we were burglars attempting to rob a notorious thief and steal the final piece of an artifact. Throughout Clue Chase’s 4 games, we’d been looking for pieces of this precious artifact. Of course, while thieving, we were aiming to rob this guy blind. Because money.

In-game: A locked box featuring Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's smoking pipe.

Our goal was to escape with as much money, in the form of valuable items, as possible. At the end of the game, we received a score based on our plundering.

Ultimate Heist took place in a study/ trophy room: dark walls, heavy wooden furniture, and valuables in glass cases.

Puzzles

Ultimate Heist was packed full of puzzles to solve. The majority were standalone challenges that unlocked stealable valuables.

There was also a series of interconnected puzzles that led to our escape route.

Standouts

The setting worked well. It was just stuffy enough in how it merged “office” and “museum.”

It was 1998 and Ultimate Heist was packed with amusing 90s pop culture references.

Clue Chase structured Ultimate Heist such that it offered an on-ramp to puzzling and then a free-for-all. There was a lot to unlock.

There were a ton of puzzles in this escape room. Our group of experienced escape room players solved most – but not all – of them before we made our escape. We were puzzling the entire hour.

Shortcomings

With a large team doing so many things all at one time, the entire experience was chaotic and hard to manage.

Not all of the clues connected back to the valuables adequately. We burned time trying solutions in multiple locks of the same digit structure. This made portions of Ultimate Heist frustrating.

Our gamemaster was a character in the game. He would appear when we shouted for him… or a couple minutes later. Although he entered the gamespace, he made us ask questions, which meant that if we didn’t ask the right questions, we didn’t receive any guidance from him. He then left us more frustrated than he found us.

The hardest puzzle in Ultimate Heist suffered from a gating issue. One component was available from the initial moments of the escape room, but it wasn’t solvable until later in the experience. When we didn’t make progress with this item, we asked for hints on it, and each time, our gamemaster told us he couldn’t tell us anything about it. This proved incredibly frustrating and burned a lot of our time.

We experienced one broken clue and two reset mistakes. Because of the lack of connections between puzzle components and locks, these had significant impact on gameplay. We only unraveled what had gone wrong post-game.

Should I play Clue Chase’s Ultimate Heist?

The Ultimate Heist had a unique structure as a score-based puzzling theft. In this way, both new and experienced players can get a lot of out of it. If you love to solve puzzles, it’s jam packed.

That said, it didn’t quite come together for us. The lack of connections and subsequent hinting style added a lot of unnecessary frustration.

Clue Chase thinks up interesting concepts and continues to iterate on their experiences. Although they have great ideas, thus far they haven’t quite been able to execute on each concept in a way that we’ve found satisfying.

A dark wood contraption with a ring of metal buttons in the middle.
The final boss.

Since we first visited in January 2016, Clue Chase has added an overarching narrative that ties their 4 escape rooms together. There is even a bonus puzzle after you play all four games. This innovation definitely ups the excitement in their games. We loved the concept, but we didn’t get much satisfaction from the bonus.

We want to love Clue Chase’s games. They have an amazing location next to Bryant Park. They’re accessible to corporate clients and tourists. They have a lot to offer.

We feel, however, that Clue Chase is still iterating. They have lots of ideas and they haven’t quite managed to bring them all together.

While it’s frustrating at times, the Ultimate Heist offers something different. If you want to solve a lot of puzzles, enjoy 1990s pop culture, and try for a high score, give Ultimate Heist a shot.

Book your hour with Clue Chase’s Ultimate Heist, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.

 

Clue Chase – Alien Encounter [Review]

The power of an endearing hint system.

Location: New York City, New York

Date played: August 2, 2017 (David) & September 14, 2017 (Lisa)

Team size: 6-12; we recommend 4-6

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: $29 per ticket

Story & setting

It was the year 2053 and we were making first contact with alien life. They had beamed us aboard a ship and had presented us with a series of challenges to prove humanity’s worth.

In-game: A glowing purple tube of light, in the background is a glowing skeleton.

The set of Alien Encounter was interesting. Designed as a spaceship, it was large by Midtown Manhattan standards. Upon initial reveal it looked impressive, but with up-close interaction, many of the set pieces looked cobbled together and unrefined.

Puzzles

Clue Chase creates puzzle-dense escape rooms and Alien Encounter was no exception. There were a lot of puzzles and many of them had a few layers of complexity. Each puzzle was connected to an early pivotal puzzle.

Standouts

Clue Chase created a really smart hint system for Alien Encounter. It brought personality to the gameplay. It also enabled the gamemaster to subtly focus us on critical steps, which was important in the large gamespace.

I truly enjoyed the way that Clue Chase tied nearly all of their puzzles together. The room may have been a collection of largely unrelated puzzles, but this one act made them feel cohesive.

The finale was fun.

The initial feeling that I had when stepping onto the set was otherworldly.

Shortcomings

I wish that the otherworldly feeling that the set instilled had continued throughout the escape room. It fell apart when I started to touch things and could easily identify the hacked together hardware that Clue Chase used to built the set.

While many of the puzzles played well, one of them could easily be interpreted in multiple different ways. We found ourselves having to systematically yet blindly try different approaches… and when we stumbled upon the correct solution we weren’t even sure why it worked. The explanation that we received post-game was that we had to use “non-human logic.” This could have been ok with adequate clue structure. Plus, there were plenty of puzzles that did use typical human logic.

Alien Encounter cannot accommodate 12 people. While there was physical space for 12 and then some, there wasn’t enough gameplay. At multiple points, Alien Encounter was entirely linear. The hint system exacerbated this design decision. While newer teams will likely want a larger group, 12 is a few too many.

Should I play Clue Chase’s Alien Encounter?

Of the 4 escape rooms currently available at Clue Chase, Alien Encounter was the most interesting. It had personality and fun game mechanics that I haven’t seen before… and they worked.

It was not a perfect game, but with some set design improvements as well as refinements in puzzle flow, this could be a truly fantastic game.

Experienced puzzlers will find Alien Encounter a challenging opponent. Regardless of your level of experience, don’t be afraid to experiment or take a hint. Not everything was thoroughly clued.

One last note on team size and booking: You physically need 4 people at one point in the game and Clue Chase advertises the minimum at 6 people. I call this out because a few people have written in mentioning that Clue Chase cancelled their reservations near the last minute. This happened to us twice when booking Alien Encounter, even though we always met the minimum number of people. In over 400 games, this is the only company that has ever canceled on us multiple times.

If you’re looking for a challenging game with interesting design decisions, Alien Encounter is a solid choice. I hope that if you choose to book with Clue Chase, they will choose to honor your booking.

Book your hour with Clue Chase’s Alien Encounter, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.

 

Clue Chase – Egyptian Tomb [Review]

Pharaoh! Let my teammates go!

Location: New York, NY

Date played: August 15, 2016

Team size: 4-8; we recommend 4-6

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: $29 per ticket

Story & setting

In the Egyptian Tomb, we found ourselves trapped inside the puzzle chamber of a dead pharaoh. Beyond the staging and setup, the story didn’t factor heavily into the game.

The set, however, contributed a lot. Clue Chase constructed a beautiful, detailed, and solid tomb environment for this room escape.

A wall-mounted sandstone sarcophagus surrounded by hieroglyphs

Puzzles

This was a puzzler’s escape room.

Clue Chase has whittled away a lot of the frustrations from The Lost Spy  and zeroed in on a clear thread of gameplay composed of puzzles that count.

Be prepared for puzzles that layer as you work your way through this archeological exploration.

Standouts

The puzzles in the The Egyptian Tomb presented a fair, fun challenge.

The set included some incredible props and excellent, original construction. Clue Chase’s hard work delivered some great moments.

Our gamemaster delivered a light-hearted introduction about not “angering the gods” by destroying game elements and the like.

The ancient Egyptians created the first locks and Clue Chase built a brilliant homage to this.

Shortcomings

There were many locks in this tomb with similar digit structures. At times, there were a lot of possible places to input a potentially correct answer.

In some ways, the Egyptian Tomb felt uneven. While much of the design and decor created the stellar atmosphere, other locks and props didn’t seem to belong in the space. Some of the environment and game components could use additional refinement to bring them to the level of the rest of the experience.

Should I play Clue Chase’s The Egyptian Tomb?

In the months since we last visited Clue Chase, they’ve come a long way. They removed the tedium and extraneous material and refined their game mechanics.

We brought a highly experienced team to this game and powered through in record time, while still enjoying ourselves. That said, this isn’t an easy game. The puzzles will present a challenging obstacle to newer players.

As Clue Chase continues to refine their designs, we hope to feel more of a narrative from their future puzzle adventures.

Clue Chase is learning and iterating rapidly and we’re excited to see what they produce next.

Book your hour with Clue Chase’s The Egyptian Tomb, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.