Great Escape of Central Texas – Back to the Fourth Grade [Review]

It’s elementary…and that’s okay!

Location:  Killeen, TX

Date Played: August 31, 2022

Team Size: 2-7; we recommend 2-4

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: $25 per player

Ticketing: Private

Emergency Exit Rating: [A+] No Lock

Physical Restraints: [A+] No Physical Restraints

REA Reaction

As a former elementary school teacher, Back to the Fourth Grade felt like a homecoming of sorts. I recognized the floor tiles, the desks, the posters… heck, I probably even bought some of those posters once in my life. In both its decor and activities, the room captured the core essence of a classroom. It successfully made a school-day fun.

This was also the sparsest of the three rooms we played at Great Escape of Central Texas and showed a bit more wear than the others. Here, the minimalism hid some clever mechanics in plain sight, making their discovery that much more exciting. However, players looking for a richer environment should play Mobfather or Lost Tomb of Anubis.

Puzzle-wise, the room offered a good balance between straightforward activities for younger or newer players and a few trickier challenges. One puzzle suggested more patience than it ultimately deserved, but otherwise everything was well-clued and fair. Experienced players will likely fly through much of this experience but may still enjoy the nostalgic interactions here. I did.

After lamenting the scarcity of good family games in the Austin area, I brought my kids (ages 6 and 9) back to play this room with a couple of their friends. They loooooved it. They were able to make most of the puzzle connections without too much help, and they were delighted by the set interactions and surprises. I had already enjoyed this room with my enthusiast crew, but seeing it from my kids’ perspective made me appreciate its extra charm for fresh eyes.

Back to the Fourth Grade was an endearing room that is highly approachable for families, including a couple of clever ahas to delight enthusiast chaperones. Families in the Austin or Killeen area should definitely check it out.

Wide view of a 4th grade classroom.
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Great Escape of Central Texas – Lost Tomb of Anubis [Review]

Sand, sarcophagi, and more!

Location: Killeen, TX

Date Played: August 31, 2022

Team Size: 2-8; we recommend 2-6

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: $25 per player

Ticketing: Private

Emergency Exit Rating: [A+] No Lock

Physical Restraints: [A+] No Physical Restraints

REA Reaction

The Lost Tomb of Anubis was an absolutely beautiful room with fair, interactive puzzles and fun reveals. Although a couple aspects suffered from tedium, the general feel was adventurous and lavish. We were active, we explored the space, and we earned our escape.

Like many tomb games, we had to overlook the dim lighting. It was haunting and lovely, but also frustrating to navigate when deciphering ancient symbols whose details mattered. As always, more flashlights or at least one well-lit spot would have gone a long way.

The puzzles were generally tactile and satisfying, allowing us to interact with every set piece of interest. The room made good use of a large space and benefited from teamwork. However, the game lost some momentum near the end when a few puzzles felt a bit too similar.

Ultimately, though, this was a solid puzzling experience within a believable environment that we didn’t want to leave. Along with The Mobfather, it’s another reason that Great Escape of Central Texas is worth a short side trip for Austinite enthusiasts.

An ancient Egyptian tomb with elaborate hieroglyphics carved onto the walls, and a sarcophagus and an elaborate pull system of some sort.
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Great Escape of Central Texas – Mobfather – “Brains” Path [Review]

Brains, brawn, or both?

Location:  Killeen, TX

Date Played: August 31, 2022

Team Size: 2-9; we recommend 2-4

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: $25 per player

Ticketing: Private

Emergency Exit Rating: [A+] No Lock

Physical Restraints: [A+] No Physical

REA Reaction

The Mobfather was defined by an unusual “Choose Your Own Adventure” mechanic that I hadn’t seen elsewhere in central Texas. At several times during the game, we were asked to choose between the “Brains” path and the “Muscles” path. Our combination of choices determined what puzzles we played and ultimately what ending we earned. With that description, we were prepared for some level of FOMO.

Remarkably, the FOMO didn’t bother us as much as we expected. It was indeed hard to bypass many set pieces knowing that we might not get to play with them. At the same time, knowing that everything in the room had SOME purpose in SOME timeline gave a feeling of depth to the room. We enjoyed the puzzles we did get to play along the “Brains” path, and just seeing many of the untouched items was enough to imagine what some of their purposes might have been. I left feeling like I had experienced enough of the world to be satisfied.

That said, the design wasn’t a complete win for players. Less experienced groups might have a harder time following the clue trail between puzzles, making the set pieces from alternate paths more of a red herring risk for them. Also, the game offered no information with which to weigh our adventure choices. The room was advertised as having three specific endings. However, the in-game choices bore little connection to those destinies, making the overall outcome feel random. Lastly, some puzzles repeat among paths, which is somewhat of a deterrent to playing again.

Generally speaking, though, we were surprised at how well this design walked the line between giving us a substantial experience without frustrating us too much at the roads not taken. For me, the room was definitely worth playing once, but that was probably enough. Great Escape of Central Texas has enough quality games to justify a short trip from Austin to Killeen. Include The Mobfather on that list.

A restaurant and deli with a counter filled with meat and a soda fountain.
Image via Great Escape of Central Texas
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