Escape Factor – The Timekeeper’s Trapped! [Updated Reaction]

Back in 2016, Lisa and David reviewed The Timekeeper’s Trapped! at Escape Factor.

Six years later, I (Matthew) had a chance to play an updated version of the game. Though I hadn’t myself played the original version, I was able to piece together a picture of what had changed from discussions both with Lisa and David and with Escape Factor’s owner. This is my updated reaction.

A steampunk-ish room with many clocks, gears, and a workbench.
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Escape Factor – Ghost in the Graveyard [Review]

Apparitional aspirations

Location: Forest Park, IL

Date Played: March 13, 2022

Team Size: 2-8; we recommend 2-4

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: $140 for the first 3 players, $30 for each additional player

Ticketing: Private

Accessibility Consideration: Slight crouching/ crawling required for at least some players

Emergency Exit Rating: [A+] No Lock

Physical Restraints: [A+] No Physical Restraints

REA Reaction

Ghost in the Graveyard presented a charming investigation at a quaint cemetery.

Keeping in the general style of Escape Factor’s earlier rooms, Ghost in the Graveyard presented creative puzzle-forward gameplay that led us to uncover various secrets subtly hidden throughout the details of the set. We encountered more varied and refined inputs than before, as Ghost in the Graveyard had more tech and was notably less combination lock-heavy.

A cemetery filled with headstones and lit by two hanging lanterns.

Yet while Escape Factor’s previous rooms thrived in their scrappy, quirky humor, Ghost in the Graveyard took on a generally more somber tone. From the tombstone epitaphs at the start to a somewhat dark narrative twist later on in the game, the seriousness of the environment never quite aligned with the light whimsy of the bulk of the gameplay.

Escape Factor tried to refine their craft with Ghost in the Graveyard. In some respects they succeeded — the set was lovely and clean, and the puzzles were enjoyable. Yet going forward, I hope the humor and energy that made some of their earlier rooms so memorable will persist more strongly in their future creations.

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Escape Factor – The Treehouse Raid at Fort Knocks [Review]

Unbeleafably intreeguing

Location: Forest Park, IL

Date Played: March 13, 2022

Team Size: 2-6; we recommend 2-4

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: $139 for three players, plus $30 for each additional player

Ticketing: Private

Accessibility Consideration: Some slight crawling/ crouching is required for at least one player

Emergency Exit Rating: [A+] No Lock

Physical Restraints: [A+] No Physical Restraints

REA Reaction

When I was a kid, I dreamed of building my ultimate treehouse. My friends and I would lug around random junk we found in town, and save it for our master plans. The Treehouse Raid at Fort Knocks transported me to my childhood; it was filled with objects and puzzles that seriously felt designed by my 12-year-old self. By no means is this game specifically for children, but the wonder, imagination, and joy this room filled me with was a lovely change from the serious and thrilling escape rooms we typically find ourselves in.

Considering how small the floorplan of The Treehouse Raid at Fort Knocks was, Escape Factor was able to jam-pack a ton of puzzles and content from floor to ceiling. The further we progressed, the more we found ourselves discovering layers of the space we hadn’t realized were there the whole time.

A wooden treehouse made from materials cobbled together including a bike, license plates, road signs, and hub caps.

The game’s difficulty came less with individual puzzles, and more in figuring out what in the space was used for each puzzle. Discerning which objects and locks went together was more time consuming than we expected, but felt satisfying once we made the connections.

Escape Factor is a fantastic location to check out if you’re interested in fun, original themes, and clever solves. While you’re here, be sure not to miss the Bonus Fun Time Gameshow as well!

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Escape Factor – Bonus Fun Time Game Show Challenge [Review]

<insert audience applause>

Location: Forest Park, IL

Date Played: March 13, 2022

Team Size: 3-9; we recommend 3-5

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: $140 for the first 3 players, $30 for each additional player

Ticketing: Private

Emergency Exit Rating: [A+] No Lock

Physical Restraints: [A+] No Physical Restraints

REA Reaction

In Bonus Fun Time Game Show Challenge, we played contestants in a vintage game show montage, in a delightful alternate reality where all classic game show challenges are actually cleverly designed puzzles.

Bonus Fun Time Game Show Challenge fully embodied the distinctive whimsy and humor that characterizes Escape Factor’s design style. This was an older room that had aged quite well. Every puzzle and door we opened provided a fun new game show reference, and our faces hurt by the end from nonstop smiling. With relatively little tech and a modestly sized space, the gameplay felt dynamic and engaging, reminding me how much I still love classic escape room gameplay when expressed through a nonstandard theme.

The Fun Time Game Show set is brightly colored and looks like a 1960s gameshow.

Escape Factor is one of the top companies in the Chicago area. Both Bonus Fun Time Game Show Challenge and The Treehouse Raid at Fort Knocks especially stand out for their unique theming and creative puzzles.

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Escape Factor – The Timekeeper’s Trap [Review]

Update August 5, 2022: See Matthew Stein’s updated Reaction here.

“You get a clock! And you get a clock! EVERYBODY GETS A CLOCK!”

Location: Oak Park, IL (metro Chicago)

Date played: August 11, 2016

Team size: up to 10; we recommend 4-6

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: $32 per ticket

Story & setting

We fell through a grandfather clock and became stuck in the trap of a crazy clockmaker… or something like that. There were a ton of clocks.

A bland wall with a number of differnt clocks hanging on it.

The story didn’t make a lot of sense, but it didn’t take itself too seriously, so it worked well enough as the setup for a room escape.

There were clocks everywhere. All shapes, sizes, and types of clocks. In fact, the game consisted entirely of clocks, except for the furniture and various containment objects.

Escape Factor turned an escape room cliche into the entire game, which made it not feel cliche in the slightest.

Puzzles

Not surprisingly, The Timekeeper’s Trap relied heavily on clock-based puzzles.

A wall mounted clock as art with large gears, a globe and other steam-punkish adornments.

Base 60 calculations can prove surprisingly challenging, especially to those of us who aren’t of the math-y persuasion.

This was a puzzle-heavy game.

Standouts

Escape Factor managed to fill the game entirely with clocks and avoid the standard cliche clock puzzle: “The clock is stopped on 9:15. Try ‘915’ on all of the three digit locks.”

They created impressive variety with the clock concept. This game was a lesson in creativity: The Timekeeper’s Trap was designed around something we see constantly and repetitively, but Escape Factor pulled new puzzle experiences out of it.

Shortcomings

The volume of clock math became tedious.

The room had plenty of clocks, but the scenery was weak. In fact, it was a bit of a clusterfuck to look at and sift through. There was a lot of stuff in this game… and the reset for our gamemasters seemed pretty hellish.

Should I play Escape Factor’s The Timekeeper’s Trap?

This room escape consisted of solid nuts and bolts. It was puzzle-focused and challenging.

In their first game, Escape Factor zeroed in on a concept that lent itself to puzzles. They worked it creatively into a complete, thematic game that sidestepped cliche clock usage. It’s rare to see a company keep to a theme and vision as closely as they did, especially on their first attempt.

The Timekeeper’s Trap wasn’t outstanding, but it was successful. We anticipate good things in their future.

This would be a challenging game for new players, but a good introduction to escape rooms. More experienced players will have fun tackling this theme. Bring a few people who love math.

If you’re visiting The Timekeepers Trap, stick around for the 20-minute game The Waiting Room of Dr. Awk C. Abmoor where you can let go of clock math.

Book your hour with Escape Factor’s The Timekeeper’s Trap, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.

Full disclosure: Escape Factor provided media discounted tickets for this game.