PanIQ Room – The Cage, the Cards, and the Cash [Review]

Pour me a shot of puzzles.

Location: New York, NY

Date Played: September 17, 2018

Team size: 2-7 ; we recommend 3-4

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: from $22 per ticket to $24 per ticket depending on team size and day of the week

Ticketing: Private

REA Reaction

The Cage, the Cards, and the Cash set us as wily criminals of the Wild West in a standard search-and-puzzle escape room. While the puzzle flow occasionally stalled, it offered satisfying moments that combined searching with interactive puzzle solves.

If you’re looking for a traditional, beginner-friendly escape room with a solid set in Manhattan, try your hand at this jailbreak-heist.

In-game: wanted posters viewed through a keyhole.

Who is this for?

  • Puzzle lovers
  • Searchers and scavengers
  • Any experience level

Why play?

  • Fun premise and theme
  • Surprising discoveries

Story

A large sum of cash sat in the saloon awaiting the winner of a high stakes poker game. Instead of trying our hands at cards, however, we were taking a backdoor approach: we’d gotten ourselves arrested. Now we were locked in a cell in the sheriff’s office, next door to the saloon. We needed to break out and get to the cash before the sheriff returned or the poker game began.

In-game: jail cell bars.

Setting

We were locked in a small, barred, and dimly lit cell in the corner of the sheriff’s office. His office had a few pieces of furniture and a wall of wanted posters.

In-game: a wall of wanted posters.

Gameplay

PanIQ Room’s The Cage, the Cards, and the Cash was a standard escape room with a moderate level of difficulty.

Core gameplay revolved around searching and puzzling.

In-game: the sheriff's office with a desk, his jacket, and a gun rack with two rifles on it.

Analysis

+ The staging of The Cage, the Cards, and the Cash as a jailbreak heist was an amusing premise that, odd as it seemed, justified the gameplay.

The Cage, the Cards, and the Cash was well themed from floor to ceiling. Although the opening set was sparsely decorated, the second act included more detailing. The set design was solid… not amazing, but strong.

– The Cage, the Cards, and the Cash had a few substantial red herrings including one that we suspect will pull in most players and one that will likely only distract experienced escape room players.

? One early puzzle created a bottleneck that could last quite some time and quickly become quite frustrating, especially for a larger team. We didn’t struggle with it at all. In fact, it was David’s favorite part… but that’s probably because he nailed it on his first try.

– One interaction made it all too easy to accidentally inhale particles… I can tell you first hand that this was uncomfortable. Depending upon the player’s lungs, this could be a hazard. This entire interaction should be reworked; it wouldn’t be a big challenge.

Particle Spoiler

The particles were sawdust.

Sawdust is a carcinogen in large doses, which isn’t the concern for this puzzle.

My concern is for people who are allergic to it or suffer from asthma or other respiratory illnesses. The amount that I inhaled gave me discomfort for a few days.

[collapse]

+ PanIQ Room lit up their mid- and late-game opens. This touch added excitement to small reveals and made the clues easier to read.

– We encountered some wear on various set pieces and props.

The Cage, the Cards, and the Cash included multiple rewarding mechanical search puzzles. We enjoyed these moments.

– The Cage, the Cards, and the Cash lacked a finale. Because the final sequence didn’t engage or excite the entire group, it didn’t build energy towards a reveal or memorable moment.

Tips for Visiting

  • There is street parking in this neighborhood.
  • If you’re coming by subway, take the B/D to Grand St, the F to Delancey, or the J/Z to Bowery.
  • We recommend Vanessa’s Dumpling House for a quick meal or Lena for wine and tapas.

Book your hour with PanIQ Room’s The Cage, the Cards, and the Cash, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.

Disclosure: PanIQ Room comped our tickets for this game.

PanIQ Room – Primal Quest [Review]

Grunt loudly and carry a bigger stick.

Location: Washington, DC

Date Played: April 22, 2018

Team size: 2-6; we recommend 3-5

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: ranging from $24 – $36 per ticket depending on weekday/weekend and team size

Ticketing: Private

REA Reaction

Primal Quest was our first prehistoric escape room. It was a puzzle-focused game with enjoyable puzzles, set against a fun theme. The setting and the gameplay felt split from one another, as the set was prehistoric and the puzzles were modern. Pulling the puzzles and environment into a more cohesive unit could make this interesting game great.

If you’re in the neighborhood, it a fun playthrough.

In-game: A fire on the other side of a wooden cage.

Who is this for?

  • Puzzle lovers
  • Any experience level

Why play?

  • Interesting puzzles
  • Some good moments

Story

We were hostages of cannibal cavemen. Before they returned from hunting, we needed to escape or we’d be the meal in our last supper.

Setting

The cave was dimly lit and dusty. PanIQ Room had treated the walls to give them a more cave-like vibe. Some rooms had been heavily augmented to create a cave feel while others remained fairly modern. The cave was decorated primarily with animal hides, bones, and a glowing fire pit.

In-game: The walls of the cave with a pelt on the wall, and light shining in from above.

Gameplay

PanIQ Room’s Primal Quest was a standard escape room with a moderate level of difficulty.

Core gameplay revolved around searching, observing, and puzzling.

Analysis

+/- Primal Quest was our first prehistoric escape room. It was thoughtfully but unevenly themed in terms of set decor and props. Some portions of the game felt like they had received a lot of attention, while others strongly resembled the office building that housed the game.

– Some of the decor needed maintenance; it looked worn.

– A few modern details remained exposed. The escape room would have been better had these details had been hidden away.

– The set was dusty. After crawling through one low doorway, our pants were covered in grit. Especially considering PanIQ Room’s location in Georgetown, we recommend a cave aesthetic that looks and feels dirty without the actual dirt.

Primal Quest started off in a limited space with only a few challenges available. This offered an on-ramp for newer players.

Primal Quest escalated in difficulty and intrigue.

Primal Quest contained interesting, satisfying puzzles of varied types. We generally knew how to approach them, but to solve them, we had to think a little differently than we had upon initial glance. The puzzles resolved cleanly.

– The puzzles were escape room-y and generally felt modern, even though we were in a prehistoric setting. This created a schism between the setting and the gameplay.

– One heavy prop may stall a team of younger or smaller people for substantial time on a puzzle where hints won’t be any help.

+ We particularly enjoyed the late-game puzzle embedded in an early set piece.

Tips for Visiting

  • There is a parking garage few blocks down at M and Wisconsin. Street parking is a challenge in this neighborhood.
  • There are lots of restaurant options in Georgetown.
  • For baked goods, we recommend Baked & Wired. Be prepared to stand in line on the weekend.
  • This cave is dusty.
  • At least 2 players will need to crawl or otherwise get through a low doorway.

Book your hour with PanIQ Room’s Primal Quest and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.

Disclosure: PanIQ Room comped our tickets for this game.