Lock & Key Escape Room – The Seance [Review]

Astral Abduction

Location: Buffalo, NY

Date Played: April 23, 2022

Team Size: 4-8; we recommend 3-5

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: $27 per player

Ticketing: Private

Emergency Exit Rating: [A+] No Lock

Physical Restraints: [A+] No Physical Restraints

REA Reaction

Lock & Key Escape Room delivered a well-orchestrated escape room with The Seance. It used a myriad of puzzle types to build towards an escape that was both satisfying to play through and built on a logical game flow.

We particularly enjoyed a puzzle with an artistic aspect that had us mixing and matching elements in unexpected ways midway into the experience. We paused to appreciate the detailed novelty of the interaction, which underlined how set pieces found right away may take on a different context with information found later.

A seance room with a strange symbol painted on the wall.

As a note, The Seance did lose a bit of its storyline later in the gameplay. While the puzzles were clearly laid out, it wasn’t always obvious how they were driving us towards the original objective of finding a silent film star. This certainly won’t heavily impact whether some people enjoy this room or not, but a stronger narrative backbone would help tie the individual moments together.

If you’re in the Buffalo area, The Seance is a perfect weekend activity to close out a day adventuring with your family or to kick off a night going out on Elmwood Avenue with friends.

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RECON Boston’s Guide to Boda Borg (August 2022)

As RECON approaches, the team is getting excited to show attendees what amazing things the greater Boston Area has to offer, including Boda Borg. While not a typical escape room experience, there are some important things to note before you go.

Boda Borg's logo beside some of the militaristic props from their game Platoon.
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Escape Artistry – Roaring Dan’s Pirate Dungeon [Review]

Seavey shanties

Location: Chicago, IL

Date Played: March 10, 2022

Team Size: 1-8; we recommend 3-5

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: $34 per player for 3+ players

Ticketing: Private

Emergency Exit Rating: [A] Push To Exit

Physical Restraints: [A+] No Physical Restraints

REA Reaction

Roaring Dan’s Pirate Dungeon was based around a truly fascinating bit of local Chicago history: the real-life tale of “Roaring” Dan Seavey, a pirate who frequented the Great Lakes. A well-acted intro video and a theatrical gamemaster helped open this historical portal, and while the room and gameplay were otherwise that of a generic pirate-themed escape room, this historical framing helped the room feel rooted in its location.

Escape Artistry’s rooms stand out for their sustainably built sets, and the masonry and woodwork in Roaring Dan’s Pirate Dungeon were solid and beautiful. Even many of the wooden crates strewn around the room were handbuilt, and some contained some neat handmade mechanical locks.

A pirate's den viewed through a cargo net.

That said, the set felt somewhat underutilized for the puzzles, with most puzzles involving standalone elements in the room. The puzzle flow was fair and contained some rather cute moments, but overall it felt quite dated. I’d love to have seen more Roaring Dan and other local Chicago history directly incorporated into the puzzles and props, and generally more of this story driving the gameplay.

Roaring Dan’s Pirate Dungeon‘s immersive set and smooth, accessible puzzle flow would be especially great for newer escape room players. For experienced players, Duck & Cover Classroom provides denser puzzle content and a few more twists and turns, but Roaring Dan’s Pirate Dungeon would also be an enjoyable appetizer if you have time to play both.

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60 to Escape – Mystery Manor [Review]

G-g-g-GHOST!

Location: Gurnee, IL

Date Played: March 13, 2022

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

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: $30 per player

Ticketing: Private

Accessibility Consideration: One player must be able to crawl

Emergency Exit Rating: [A+] No Lock

Physical Restraints: [A+] No Physical Restraints

REA Reaction

60 to Escape’s Mystery Manor was a goofy and spooky take on the haunted mansion theme, full of character and whimsy. With a clear yet easy puzzle flow and parallel paths to victory, this experience was on the easier end of 60 to Escape’s offerings. The build quality was on the same level as their other experiences, including fantastical lighting and audio cues. Atmospherically, 60 to Escape nailed the immersion of the space in every corner.

Compared to their other experiences at both locations, Mystery Manor’s ending was missing some of the charm we’ve come to love from 60 to Escape’s games.

An old, rundown victorian manor with an assortment of pictures, and items laying on and around a desk.

Mystery Manor is a fantastic game for newer players. It will be a great introduction to the wonderful world of escape rooms. If you’re choosing between 60 to Escape’s games, we recommend Hidden Temple for more experienced groups. However, if you have time in your day, Mystery Manor would be a delightful add on.

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60 to Escape – Hidden Temple [Review]

Hello, Mr. Big Stone Face

Location: Gurnee, IL

Date Played: March 13, 2022

Team Size: 2-8; we recommend 3-4

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: $90 for up to 3 players, $30 for each additional player

Ticketing: Private

Accessibility Consideration: Kneeling/ crouching required for at least some players

Emergency Exit Rating: [A+] No Lock

Physical Restraints: [A+] No Physical Restraints

REA Reaction

The set of Hidden Temple was stunning. Stepping from a bland and generic shopping mall hallway into a cinematically lit, vividly textured temple chamber, the contrast was instantaneous as we were immersed in a different world.

As the game progressed, the temple continued to open up in exciting ways. Hidden Temple was as much about exploration and ambience as it was about puzzle-solving, and the puzzles skewed more towards fun process, with the occasional aha in the mix.

A stone temple with a carved face illuminated by sconces.

While Hidden Temple at 60 to Escape’s Illinois location did nearly everything right, it felt like it was playing in much safer territory than 60 to Escape’s Wisconsin location, where the rooms had quirkier themes, endearing characters, and more nonstandard gameplay.

Both approaches are valid. Hidden Temple and the other offerings at the Illinois location would be phenomenal introductions to escape rooms for newer players or families. Enthusiasts would enjoy both locations but likely will especially appreciate the Wisconsin rooms for their showstopper finales and the risks they each take.

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