Escape Artists – Baldwin Manor [Review]

Another day, another curse

Location:  Orlando, FL

Date Played: November 17, 2019

Team size: 2-6; we recommend 3-4

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: $32 per player

Ticketing: Private

Emergency Exit Rating: [A+] No Lock

Physical Restraints: [A+] No Physical Restraints

REA Reaction

There’s a good game in Baldwin Manor, but it was hidden by a lot of sloppiness:

  • It was too dark and our team was only given 1 flashlight.
  • The tech was far too finicky to be trusted.
  • There was so much wear and tear on a game that frankly wasn’t that old.

Escape Artist was playing with some fun concepts, and had they all worked as planned, this game would have had some great moments, but I felt like it undercut itself at every conceivable turn.

In some parts of the world, Baldwin Manor could stand out. In a fairly strong Orlando market, this game feels like it’s a few steps behind the upper crust. If you’re in the area and looking for an escape room fix, it will do the job… but I suspect that you’ll leave wondering why the execution wasn’t cleaner.

In-game: A strange chair with a very tall back at an old desk.

Who is this for?

  • Adventure seekers
  • Puzzle lovers
  • Any experience level

Why play?

  • Some great moments
  • An atmospheric environment

Story

Our family had suffered from a century of bad luck. Legend had it that our poor luck was the result of our great great great aunt’s attempt at black magic. She had been trying to bestow herself with great luck… but had cursed herself instead.

We had recently inherited the family estate, the very property where the curse had originated. By chance or destiny, we’d arrived at the home on the exact anniversary of the spell. According to legend, this anniversary would be the one chance that we’d have to break the curse.

In-game: Portait of a dog dressed as a human beside an old grandfather clock.

Setting

Baldwin Manor was a dimly lit, stately manor with odd dogs-dressed-as-humans art on the walls.

As the game progressed, it shifted from oddly cute to slightly grim and menacing. It never crossed into horror territory.

From a construction standpoint, the set was showing a lot more wear and tear than we’d expect from a fairly new game.

Gameplay

Escape Artists’ Baldwin Manor was a standard escape room with a moderate level of difficulty.

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

Analysis

➕ Baldwin Manor was a puzzle-focused escape game with a lot of nifty solves that revolved around typical escape room props. We especially liked the layered puzzles.

 We played Baldwin Manor in low light, with only one small flashlight for the group. This made gameplay more frustrating than it needed to be.

➖ The tolerance on the tech was too tight. All too often, we’d take the correct action, but fail to trigger the solve or the open. This made a lot of the gameplay feel untrustworthy.

➕ Escape Artists used misdirection well to set up a reveal.

➕/➖ In Baldwin Manor, it was too easy to leave the group out of any given moment. One crucial prop could only communicate with one individual at a time. Additionally, with the gameplay spread out in the late game, 75% of our team missed a shining moment.

➕ Escape Artists crafted one particularly exciting, memorable moment that was a true bright spot in Baldwin Manor.

➖This set was heavily worn. While the dark atmosphere obscured this somewhat, it was still apparent that Baldwin Manor had seen a lot of aspiring curse breakers.

Tips For Visiting

  • There is street parking nearby.
  • Baldwin Manor is located at Escape Artists’ Orlando location, not their Sanford location.
  • Note that Baldwin Manor takes place in low light.

Book your hour with Escape Artists’ Baldwin Manor, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.

Disclosure: Escape Artists comped our tickets for this game.

Escape Artists – NINJA [Review]

Asian Fusion

Location:  Orlando, FL

Date Played: November 17, 2019

Team size: 2-6; we recommend 3-5

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: $32 per player

Ticketing: Private

Emergency Exit Rating: [A+] No Lock

Physical Restraints: [A+] No Physical Restraints

REA Reaction

Escape Artist’s NINJA was a bit of a roller coaster. Some portions were attractive, engaging, and funny. Others were finicky, underdeveloped, and tedious. It could change from one moment to the next.

Overall, it was pleasant to experience an atypical escape room scenario, but the great parts left us really wishing that everything was more cleanly executed.

If you’re in the area and are looking for a mixture of puzzles, pop culture references, and an assortment of pan-Asian concepts, NINJA is anything but expected.

In-game: a japanese building with a cherry blossom out front.

Who is this for?

  • Nerds – so many references – so many
  • Puzzle lovers
  • Players with at least some experience
  • Players who don’t need to be a part of every puzzle

Why play?

  • It’s really different in look and play
  • Some of the set pieces are beautiful
  • The references were as outlandish as they were funny

Story

An evil ninja had been hired to assassinate and sabotage our town. We needed to defeat this ninja and bring proof of our victory to our Shogun.

In-game: a large black and white symbol hung from a wall of bamboo and spotlit in the darkness.

Setting

NINJA had a mostly Japanese – and occasionally pan-Asian – aesthetic. The Japanese architecture and faux cherry blossoms were quite striking.

Every room of NINJA was loaded with nerdy sight gags, some subtle, some overt. These were the highlight of the game for half of our team.

In-game: a lantern hung outside of a japanese building.

Over the course of the game, it became clear that the set design was incredibly uneven with some sections clearly receiving a lot of love and investment. Other sections felt like an afterthought.

Gameplay

Escape Artists’ NINJA 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 puzzle with slots for many disks arranged in a circle.

Analysis

➕ NINJA was goofy. It pulled from all different “ninja” associations, creating an amalgamation of loosely associated themes. The tone was lighthearted and some of the props were especially amusing to read or interact with.

➖ Some of these NINJA associations seemed only vaguely relevant. It was almost as if anything Asian was also somehow “ninja.”

➕ There was a lot of puzzle content, in different styles, which we enjoyed.

➖ Some of the more traditional escape room-style puzzles lacked clarity. There were opportunities to refine the cluing, which was at times ambiguous.

➕ NINJA shined in its physical interactions. We tackled many unusual dexterity challenges. We enjoyed being the ninjas – shooting, punching, tossing, and throwing our way to puzzle solves.

➖ The engineering in NINJA was sloppy. The tolerances on the tech were too tight, which made everything feel finicky. We frequently solved puzzles correctly, but did not receive feedback from the solve.

➕/➖ Parts of the set looked great. In these places, Escape Artists minded the details and added finish. Parts of the set looked hacked together, messy, and unrefined. Even in the low lighting, we could see the seams.

➖ The last gamespace felt especially underdesigned, as if Escape Artists had run out of time or budget.

➕ Escape Artists crafted some most excellent doors within NINJA. We’re always fans of unusual doors; we greatly enjoyed this reveal.

➕ There was one written passage that when read out loud made our jaws drop… before the laughter set in.

Tips For Visiting

  • There is street parking nearby.
  • NINJA is located at Escape Artists’ Orlando location, not their Sanford location.
  • Be advised that NINJA takes place in low light.

Book your hour with Escape Artists’ NINJA, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.

Disclosure: Escape Artists comped our tickets for this game.