Escape Room Center – Tomb of the Red Queen [Review]

Not that Red Queen.

Location: Bridgewater, NJ

Date played: November 13, 2017

Team size: 3-8; we recommend 4-6

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: $200 per team

Story & setting

We were archeologists studying an ancient Central American temple when the spirit of an ancient ruler imprisoned us for trespassing in his Queen’s tomb.

Escape Room Center houses a collection of escape rooms of varying themes and difficulty levels. They are adjacent to one another with walls reaching most of the way to the ceiling.

The larger set pieces in Tomb of the Red Queen gave it an ancient temple-y vibe. Beyond that, it was a room that housed an assortment of vaguely ancient civilization-themed puzzles.

In-game: A Central American tomb set with a temple in the middle.

Puzzles

Tomb of the Red Queen contained a collection sustained challenges that worked best with teamwork. The majority were stand-alone puzzles that would be solved independently of one another.

Tomb of the Red Queen also included a communication-focused segment.

Standouts

The puzzles required enough investment to feel substantial, but not so much that they became monotonous, especially when we worked on them together. They were interesting – mostly incorporating the larger props – and different from one another.

Tomb of the Red Queen culminated in an exciting puzzle sequence, based around a intriguing set piece. It included some surprising effects and brought closure to the themed experience.

Shortcomings

The opening sequence fell a bit flat. We found that astute observation could work around the intended challenging element. Additionally, our gamemaster’s introduction as we entered the room, while intended as a clue for this segment, proved quite misleading.

For the majority of the escape room, the puzzles were only vaguely related to the ancient temple theme. While we enjoyed the culminating puzzle, the earlier ones were simply puzzles and the theming only sort of came through.

A few props notwithstanding, the set design wasn’t amazing. The set was clearly not the focus of Tomb of the Red Queen.

Additionally, the walls were entirely too glossy. Had they been matte finished, they wouldn’t have attracted as much attention.

Should I play Escape Room Center’s Tomb of the Red Queen?

Tomb of the Red Queen was a fun and difficult game.

Escape Room Center has a large facility with a number of escape rooms. In general, they are a great choice for newer players, families, and corporate bookings.

Tomb of the Red Queen is the most challenging escape room they offer. It’s puzzle-dense with substantial puzzles. We recommend Tomb of the Red Queen for more experienced teams.

If you are a newer player, start with one of their other games, such as Blackbeard’s BrigSimilarly, if you are organizing an event where the attendees might be puzzle-curious rather than puzzle-loving, don’t dive in with this one.

Tomb of the Red Queen is an entertaining, interactive, and harder than most escape rooms. If you’re ready for the challenge, you should accept it.

Book your hour with Escape Room Center’s Tomb of the Red Queen, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.

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

Escape Room Center – Blackbeard’s Brig [Review]

Battle the true enemy: scurvy

Location: Bridgewater, NJ

Date played: November 13, 2017

Team size: 3-8; we recommend 2-5

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: $200 per team

Story & setting

We had been taken captive and brought aboard the dread pirate Blackbeard’s ship. It was time to escape.

Escape Room Center’s spacious location inside a strip mall has a corporate and family-friendly aesthetic. Their 6 escape rooms are adjacent to one another, with walls reaching 3/4 of the way to the ceiling. This was a structure that we’ve seen before and hated… However, Escape Room Center makes it work.

Escape Room Center's facility. with 3/4 cubical wall structure.

Blackbeard’s Brig was a pirate ship-inspired, simply constructed and sparsely decorated gamespace. It was light and airy. It represented a pirate ship, but never pretended to be one.

Puzzles

Blackbeard’s Brig included a selection of nautical- and pirate-themed puzzles. They ranged in complexity and tangibility. There was a lot of puzzle variety.

In-game: A skeleton beside a chest leaning against a wall.

Standouts

Blackbeard’s Brig included a few satisfying layered puzzles. These complex interactions were a lot of fun to work through.

The set decor provided a little nudge toward one potentially more challenging solve. It was a subtle touch.

Later in the escape room, a few unexpected props facilitated more interactive puzzling.

Escape Room Center designed some funny puzzle solutions that nodded to our captivity aboard this brig.

The puzzles and props were all thematically connected to the pirate ship setting. Escape Room Center built a particular pirate ship aesthetic for this puzzle game and it worked.

Shortcomings

One early puzzle seemed unnecessary. It was likely meant to be an on-ramp for uninitiated room escapers, but it was uninteresting and entirely grounded in “escape room logic” where an item had meaning that was neither logical nor earned.

The wear on one puzzle added unnecessary confusion for a brief while.

Blackbeard’s Brig was a pirate ship-themed puzzle room. We enjoyed the thematic puzzles, but we never suspended our disbelief. While this was Escape Room Center’s deliberate design decision, Blackbeard’s Brig was still escape room first and pirate ship second.

The walls were far too glossy. Had they been matte finished, they wouldn’t have glistened and seemed so out of place.

Should I play Escape Room Center’s Blackbeard’s Brig?

Escape Room Center is a bright, open, and inviting escape room facility. Blackbeard’s Brig had approachable puzzles and unintimidating surroundings. It belonged here.

Blackbeard’s Brig was primarily about the puzzles. These varied in challenge level, puzzle type, and interactiveness, which made this escape room more interesting than it originally appeared.

At Escape Room Center, we weren’t meant to believe we were on a pirate ship. We were meant to share a collection of seafaring solves and a few chuckles. That’s exactly what we did.

Blackbeard’s Brig would be a great choice for new escape room players, families, and corporate groups. This is a wonderful place to learn the basics of escape room puzzling.

This would also be a fun playthrough for more experienced players who prefer puzzles to set design. It won’t be too challenging, but it will probably surprise you. Escape Room Center certainly surprised us a few times.

Book your hour with Escape Room Center’s Blackbeard’s Brig, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.

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