Extreme Escape – The Lost Tomb [Review]

Monkey around

Location:  San Antonio, Texas

Date Played:  August 8, 2019

Team size: up to 8; we recommend 3

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: $30.99 per player

Ticketing: Public

Emergency Exit Rating: [A] Push To Exit

Physical Restraints: [A+] No Physical Restraints

REA Reaction

The biggest disappointments are aesthetically beautiful, high-budget games that do not play well. We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again.

The Lost Tomb was gorgeous and had some fantastic moments… but the puzzles and gameplay felt incomplete. This was made worse by wear that rendered some puzzles especially difficult to interpret.

After playing and loving Extreme Escape’s The Cursed, we went in fully prepared to be enamored with The Lost Tomb. It didn’t work out that way.

If you love a beautiful set, there’s still an adventure in The Lost Tomb. If you feel that a high-quality escape experience necessitates strong puzzles and gameplay, then your relic is in another tomb.

In-game: A human skeleton hanging from a wall between two panther sculptures.

Who is this for?

  • Adventure seekers
  • Scenery snobs
  • Players with at least some experience

Why play?

  • Cool effects
  • Nifty set design

Story

Our archeological dig had angered the ancient Mayan gods. We had to restore the artifacts to their rightful places or suffer the gods’ wrath.

In-game: A gold Mayan sculputre engraved and hanging from the wall of the tomb.

Setting

Extreme Escape’s The Lost Tomb was a good-looking game. There were loads of details that gave it that classic Indiana Jones vibe.

The lighting and effects helped to sell the setting.

With the exception of one small late-game space, the build quality was quite high.

In-game: A human skull on a spike in a tomb.

Gameplay

Extreme Escape’s The Lost Tomb was a standard escape room with a moderate level of difficulty.

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

In-game: A locked crate in a cave.

Analysis

➕ The set looked good and, at its best, the tech felt magical, in that cursed-tomb type of way. Together, the set and tech made a charming combination. 

➕ Extreme Escape added effects to The Lost Tomb that engaged multiple senses and enhanced the experience.

➖ Most of the puzzles were almost fully designed. A few too many of them required some amount of trial and error, given the possible different ways of interpreting the clues. In many instances the cluing wasn’t quite refined enough.

➖ One segment of the game required expert night vision. We had to discern detail in the dark without a portable light source. This whole segment felt like it was the result of a massive oversight. From set to interaction, it was amazing that this corner of the game existed at all.

➕ Extreme Escape is one of the few companies that doesn’t freak out about players using cameras in the games.

In-game: Lisa & David's selfie inside of the Lost Tomb.
We took a selfie inside of an escape game and we weren’t disintegrated with lasers!

➖ There was significant wear on crucial props and set pieces.

➕/➖ One set piece solved into an especially satisfying and surprising response. That said, the gamemaster had to give us specific instructions for how not to act with this set piece, putting a damper on the moment.

➕/➖ Another clever puzzle might have been a little too clever. It required us to act in a way that felt counter to the instructions given to us at the beginning of the game. This could have been mitigated with extra in-game cluing.

Tips For Visiting

  • There is a parking lot.
  • They are on the top floor of the plaza.

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

Disclosure: Extreme Escape comped our tickets for this game.

Extreme Escape – Trapped Below [Review]

The game that we won 3 times in 10 minutes

Location:  San Antonio, Texas

Date Played:  August 8, 2019

Team size: up to 8; we recommend 3

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: $30.99 per player

Ticketing: Public

Emergency Exit Rating: [A] Push To Exit

Physical Restraints: [A+] No Physical Restraints

REA Reaction

This is going to be a weird one.

Extreme Escape’s Trapped Below was a mess of contradictions. The near constant clash of high and low quality made this game especially difficult to review.

The set looked beautiful… but it was undermined by confusingly exposed technology and baffling sound design.

In-game: an assortment of mechaical controls mounted to the wall of a mine.
Image via Extreme Escape

The puzzles were well designed and fun to solve… but they were oddly retriggerable. It was a rough game to solve with only one flashlight.

We loved the opening sequence… but the end sequence was botched because multiple gamemasters kept telling us that we hadn’t finished everything when we most certainly had done so (and originally in record time… before we were sent back in to finish the game two more times.) There is truly nothing more confusing in an escape room than standing in a game once you’ve solved every single puzzle, while being told repeatedly that you aren’t finished.

There was a lot to love in Trapped Below… and there were some regrettable oversights (most of which were completely fixable). If you’re looking for a solid adventure and puzzle game, and you’re ok with low lighting and some sloppiness, there’s plenty to enjoy in Trapped Below.

That said, I know that Extreme Escape is capable of making this one great and I hope that they do.

Who is this for?

  • Adventure seekers
  • Scenery snobs
  • Players with at least some experience

Why play?

  • A cool set
  • Fun interactions

Story

We entered an abandoned mine in search of a lost treasure. We had to find the treasure and plot a path out of the mine.

In-game: the approach to a mine shaft, the floor has trunks filled with mining gear.
Image via Extreme Escape

Setting

We entered a mine shaft and stepped into an old elevator to descend into the unknown.

Armed with a single flashlight, we explored a thoroughly designed mine shaft set. Low light frequently hides weak set design. In this case, most of it was beautiful.

The only glaring flaw with the set design was some exposed technology.

In-game: a wood walled mine with a TNT detinator.
Image via Extreme Escape

Gameplay

Extreme Escape’s Trapped Below was a standard escape room with a low level of difficulty.

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

In-game: A wood walled mine with assorted mechanical interactions on the walls.
Image via Extreme Escape

Analysis

➕ Trapped Below started off in a pretty convincing elevator. It then opened up into a mine with a detailed set to explore. It was a fun gamespace and it looked great.

➖ The experience would have been far better with a few more flashlights.

➕ The gamespace was beautifully constructed.

➖ The tech wasn’t embedded well enough. There were exposed wires, which looked sloppy and also a little confusing.

➖ One early design decision made us cranky. It was a frustrating mechanic that wasn’t adequate for the puzzle gating at that juncture.

➖ The sounds design was unbalanced. The prop that should have made the loudest noise was quiet compared to other triggers.

➖ It was possible to re-trigger puzzles we’d already solved, which was surprising and confusing.

➖ As noted in the reaction, we won this game 3 times in 10 minutes. In each of the first 2 wins, the hints directed us back into the game upon our exit, telling us we’d left a puzzle unsolved.

When we couldn’t determine what we’d possibly skipped, we solved the game again. After we triggered the ending a third time, we had the opportunity to speak with the staff. At that point, everyone came to understand that after we’d revealed and solved a specific puzzle, we’d moved it back to its starting position because it was in our way. This entire sequence of events deflated the experience.

➕ Although Trapped Below had a rough start, and our playthrough had a less-than-explosive conclusion, the majority of the game played smoothly. The puzzles generally flowed well.

Tips For Visiting

  • There are plenty of food options in Extreme Escape’s plaza.
  • There is a parking lot.

Book your hour with Extreme Escape’s Trapped Below, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.

Disclosure: Extreme Escape comped our tickets for this game.

Extreme Escape – Master of Illusions [Review]

Is this your card?

Location:  San Antonio, Texas

Date Played: February 3, 2019

Team size: up to 10; we recommend 2-5

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: $30.99 per player

Ticketing: Public

Emergency Exit Rating: [A+] No Lock

Physical Restraints: [A+] No Physical Restraints

REA Reaction

Master of Illusions was a beautiful escape room. It combined ambiance with puzzling. It all came together like magic.

Master of Illusions played well, but it didn’t rock the boat.

If you’re looking for a straightforward, puzzle-focused escape room with thematic decor and a few little tricks up its sleeve, this would be a great choice. Extreme Escape’s newer and more epic games were at their other location; The Cursed was a must-play.

We recommend Master of Illusions for anyone visiting San Antonio, regardless of experience level.

In-game: A magic prop with the image of a queen on it beside a gold art deco statue of a nude woman and the stage door.

Who is this for?

  • Puzzle lovers
  • Scenery snobs
  • Any experience level

Why play?

  • Elegant environment
  • Fun puzzles 
  • Opening and closing moments

Story

It was 1929 and the greatest illusionist since Houdini was suspected of sabotaging and murdering one of his rivals. We had to investigate the magician and learn the truth.

In-game: A locked trunk and milk can in a room surrounded by other magical props.

Setting

Wide open with selective spotlighting and lightning effects, Extreme Escape’s Master of Illusions embodied the golden age of magic.

The set was detailed without being extravagant or massive. Simply put: it felt right and got the job done.

In-game: An ornate chandelier with magical props illuminated in the background.

Gameplay

Extreme Escape’s Master of Illusions was a standard escape room with a moderate level of difficulty.

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

Analysis

➕ Master of Illusions began and concluded with a clever and elegant trick. It was a nice touch and set the tone for the game.

➕ The gamespace felt comfortable and believable. It was beautiful and thematic. The lighting and music added ambiance. It was a fun space in which to solve puzzles.

➖ Extreme Escape presented us with a discard box, specifically for used puzzle elements. Then they reused a key component. Clue reuse is fine, as are discard boxes… but they don’t mix well. This felt needlessly deceptive.

➕ The puzzles were on-theme and solved cleanly.

➖ Many of the props were secured with multiple locks. This meant that opens would frequently yield nothing new. It was frustrating to repeatedly reap no reward from a solve.

➕Extreme Escape encouraged us to Instagram our experience! Master of Illusions was a beautiful room and highly Instagrammable. It’s smart marketing! We didn’t actually Instagram during gameplay – we were too focused on playing – but we did shoot a little video for our Patreon supporters from the room at the end of the game.

Tips For Visiting

  • There are plenty of food options in Extreme Escape’s plaza.
  • There is a parking lot.

Book your hour with Extreme Escape’s Master of Illusions, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.

Disclosure: Extreme Escape comped our tickets for this game.

Extreme Escape – The Cursed [Review]

Voodoo so well.

Location:  San Antonio, Texas

Date Played: February 3, 2019

Team size: up to 8; we recommend 3-5

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: $30.99 per player

Ticketing: Public

Emergency Exit Rating: [A+] No Lock

Physical Restraints: [A+] No Physical Restraints

REA Reaction

The Cursed impressed us with a detailed environment, a solid puzzle game, and one hell of a moment. Extreme Escape sold us on the place, the story, and our role within it.

Although they could tweak some aspects of this escape room to improve the puzzle flow, we throughly enjoyed solving our way through this dramatic adventure.

If you’re anywhere near San Antonio, The Cursed is a must play.

In-game: A series of wooden doors linked by a heavy steel chain.

Who is this for?

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

Why play?

  • Cinematic moments
  • Gorgeous set
  • Interactive puzzles
  • Memorable moments

Story

We were trapped in a witch’s cabin. We had to break her curse before she stole our souls.

In-game: closeup of a human skull.

Setting

The Cursed had us venture into a witch’s cabin. It really sold the illusion. From the dramatic lighting to the wooden construction and the mystical props, Extreme Escape built a believable world.

As the experience progressed, audio and visual effects served to create an epic moment.

In-game: A shelf with a human skull and other idols.

Gameplay

Extreme Escape’s The Cursed was a standard escape room with a moderate level of difficulty.

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

In-game: small alligator heads and candles arranged in a shrine.

Analysis

➕ The set was gorgeous. The wood-paneled cabin was dramatically lit with voodoo-esque decor. It felt magical.

➖ The Cursed was dimly lit. Our team of 5 was only provided with 1 hand-cranked flashlight. Although Extreme Escape nailed the ambiance, the gameplay suffered for it. Strategically lit work spaces would help the puzzle flow.

➕ The puzzles generally involved large, tangible prop interactions. These were a lot of fun.

➖ Secondary spaces felt underused. The decor was less detailed and the they were light on gameplay. These spaces were fun to open, but felt like missed opportunities.

➕ Extreme Escape seized their window of opportunity for a dramatic and memorable moment.

➖ One interaction wasn’t firmly secured. It would be easy for one player, taking a specific and well-intended action, to inadvertently injure another unsuspecting player who happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. (Yes, this happened. Extreme Escape was quick to provide a Band Aid.)

➖ We spent a long time on just a few puzzles. Additional cluing or intermediary confirmation would help the gameplay flow more smoothly

The Cursed told a story through the set and many of the puzzles. It was a ton of fun to puzzle our way through this tale, which culminated beautifully.

Tips For Visiting

  • There is a parking lot.
  • They are on the top floor of the plaza.

Book your hour with Extreme Escape’s Cursed, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.

Disclosure: Extreme Escape comped our tickets for this game.