PanIQ Room – Pyramid Heist [Review]

Decipher like an Egyptian

Location:  New York, New York

Date Played: September 20, 2019

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

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: $28 per player for Public booking, $34 per player for Private booking

Ticketing: Public or Private

Emergency Exit Rating: [A+] No Lock

Physical Restraints: [A+] No Physical Restraints

REA Reaction

Pyramid Heist was one of PanIQ Room’s earlier escape rooms. The gameplay was heavily focused on searching, ciphering, and unlocking. That said, despite repetitive concepts, the gameplay moved pretty smoothly. Our teammates – a family of 4 including 2 teenagers – participated in everything and had a blast doing so. It was a traditional escape game in the style that stoked our early interest in escape rooms.

Although the initial office set wasn’t particularly exciting, Pyramid Heist offered more than initially met the eye and escalated dramatically in the second act.

In-game: A sarcophagus covered in sand.

If you are looking for a solid, classic escape room in New York City, Pyramid Heist has been our favorite game at PanIQ Room in NYC thus far. It didn’t offer anything novel to experienced players, but we enjoyed it nonetheless.

Who is this for?

  • Puzzle lovers
  • Any experience level

Why play?

  • An unexpected second act
  • Opportunities for collaborative solving

Story

We had broken into the Curator’s office at the Museum of Ancient and Historical Artifacts in order to steal the Golden Ankh of Ra. Although security had left a lot of locks to prevent this type of theft, our boss knew we were the team for this heist.

In-game: A desk with an old typewriter, a book, a phone, and an ancient egyptian artifact.

Setting

Pyramid Heist opened in a standard office space with a desk, bookshelf, and a few wall hangings.

In the second act, it opened up into a considerably more exciting gamespace.

In-game: A sketch of a sarcophagus.

Gameplay

PanIQ Room’s Pyramid Heist was a standard escape room with a moderate level of difficulty.

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

In-game: A bookshelf with a sarcophagus statue.

Analysis

➕ Although Pyramid Heist opened in a drab office setting, as our search intensified, we found ourselves in a more impressive and interesting setting. The second act exceeded expectations.

 Pyramid Heist had a lot of locks of similar types and similar digit structures. Whenever we found a key or solved a code, we’d have to try it all around the room. More variation would enhance momentum.

(Ok, we didn’t have to try all the keys in every lock because we used David’s superpower of recognizing which type of key goes to which lock – which left our teenage teammates awestruck – but most players can’t rely on this. I certainly can’t look at a key and know where to try it.)

➖ PanIQ crafted a cipher-centric escape room. While I enjoy ciphering, Pyramid Heist struggled for lack of puzzle variety. There were too many overlapping, but different ciphers, which came into play at different times. This could easily cause confusion, especially among newer players. Additionally, we continually needed to rely on the provided pens and paper to work out the ciphers.

➕ We appreciated some unorthodox opens. These segments were especially enjoyable.

➖ We fell victim, yet again, to playing too gently. In this search-heavy game, not all searching was properly clued. One search in particular desperately needed addition cluing.

Pyramid Heist had thematic puzzles that came together well. We were able to follow the gameplay from start to finish.

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 Pyramid Heist, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.

Disclosure: PanIQ Room comped our tickets for this game.

PanIQ Room – Jailbreak [Review]

Hard time.

Location: New York, New York

Date Played: January 7, 2019

Team size: 2-7; we recommend 4

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: $28 per player

Ticketing: Private

Emergency Exit Rating: [B] Emergency Key

Physical Restraints: [A+] No Physical Restraints

REA Reaction

Split-team and puzzle-focused, PanIQ Room’s Jailbreak was an old-school prison-break game. A few flow jolting moments notwithstanding, it was a clever, traditional, puzzle-focused escape room with plenty to enjoy.

Regardless of experience level, there’s something to enjoy in Jailbreak. If you’re an experienced player, this game won’t show you anything novel.

In-game: A bunk bed in a concrete prison cell.

Who is this for?

  • Puzzle lovers
  • Any experience level

Why play?

  • Designed around collaboration
  • Tangible puzzles

Story

Wrongfully accused and on death row, we had an hour to escape our cells before the warden and his guards showed up to escort us to a tragic end.

In-game: a metal toilet.

Setting

Jailbreak was a split-start prison game where we began split between two prison cells. The set itself was a drab, grey, concrete and metal jail.

The set was fairly small and didn’t have a ton of detail, but it certainly looked the part.

In-game: A cross hanging on a concrete wall.

Gameplay

PanIQ Room’s Jailbreak was a standard split-team escape room with a moderate level of difficulty.

Core gameplay revolved around searching, communicating, and puzzling.

In-game: flip flops on the floor beside a bench.

Analysis

➕ Jailbreak offered a lot of physically interactive puzzles. We liked the tangible nature of these solves. They were fun and satisfying.

➕ Jailbreak rewarded communication and collaboration. PanIQ Room even included a prop to help facilitate this. Many solves felt like a team victory.

➖ One cell was arranged such that the majority of the early gameplay was obscured by a tangible process puzzle that was accessible from the opening moments of play. By choosing to not interrupt this solve, we lost a lot of early momentum. With a tweak to the room’s layout, this cell would offer a lot more intrigue.

In-game: Close up of the steel bars and keyway on the cell door.

➖ Because one group was freed before the other, the later potion of this game could easily become uneven, with only half the group getting the opportunity to solve some of the more exciting puzzles. The addition of gating so as to more quickly free both cells of players would even out the experience.

➕/➖ Although the puzzles were fun, they didn’t make sense in the narrative. It felt like an escape room set in jail rather than a clandestine jailbreak.

➖ There was wear on a few props. One in particular showed its true colors too soon. With a bit of maintenance, this one would be safer from inconsiderate hulk-like players and more exciting for all teams.

➕ The setting worked well. It was minimal, but jail is minimal. The music created the right ambiance. The staging supported the gameplay.

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 Jailbreak, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.

Book Jailbreak

Disclosure: PanIQ Room comped our tickets for this game.

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.