Scarab’s Curse is a web-based puzzle game created by Clue Chase in New York City.
Style of Play:
Online native experience (can NOT be played IRL)
Play on demand
Web-based puzzle game
Required Equipment: computer with internet connection, pen and paper, mobile device
One puzzle requires you to call a US phone number.
Recommended Team Size: 1-4
Play Time: 1-2 hours
Price: $20 per team
Booking: purchase and play at your leisure
This game takes place on a website where you get a bit of the plot, solve a puzzle, enter the solution and then get to the next page (and the process repeats). Sometimes you find clues for later puzzles that you need to write down because you can’t return to a page once you leave it. It does have a hint system, but no gamemaster. Be prepared to read a lot in this game.
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.
Who is this for?
Players with at least some experience
Players who don’t need to be a part of every puzzle
A strong set – and Clue Chase’s strongest to date
Solid puzzle play
Multiple tangible interactions
A fantastic scene transition
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.
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.
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.
➕ 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.
➖ 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.
Emergency Exit Rating: [A+] No Lock (there was no door)
Physical Restraints: [A+] No Physical Restraints
Sunken City was a free 20-minute escape room designed to promote climate-friendly behavior.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.