Portsmouth Escape Room – Westower’s Study [Review]

Antiquing in New England.

Location: Portsmouth, NH

Date Played: December 16, 2017

Team size: 2-10; we recommend 4-6

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: $28 per ticket

REA Reaction

This was an entry game.

Westower’s Study was a basic escape room of searching, locked compartments, and a few more layered puzzles. It worked well, but didn’t present anything novel or exciting for experienced players.

In-game: A red walled, and wood furnitured old study. The photo is taken just above a sticker-covered trunk.

Who is this for?

  • Beginners
  • People whose day won’t be ruined by a little math

Why play?

  • Cozy, classic escape room gameplay

Story

World traveler and antique dealer Ian Westower had been kidnapped on his latest journey. The kidnappers had demanded a one-of-a-kind necklace from the man’s collection. His family was willing to part with the necklace if only they could find where it was hidden.

Our team of investigators was offered a reward if we could search Westower’s study and find the necklace that could also be the key to its owner’s freedom.

In-game: A map mounted to the wall, a stack of books on a small table, and a arm chair with a locked box.

Setting

The large room contained antique furniture and a travel trunk. Art decorated the walls. The space embodied the classic escape room study aesthetic.

Gameplay

Westower’s Study was a beginner’s search-focused escape room.

Much of the clue structure was well hidden among Westower’s possessions. Everyone could get involved in searching and making connections between found objects. Most puzzles led to a lock with a few more innovative opens.

Standouts

We were shocked by one late-game moment that was as surprising as it was low-tech.

In-game: A broad shot of the whole study gamespace.

Later in Westower’s Study we uncovered more inventive and exciting puzzles.

The puzzles flowed logically to move the escape room forward.

Shortcomings

We spent a lot of time searching a rather large gamespace. When we stalled, we were failing to discover an item.

Search was complicated by the many items marked out of play… which could still have a game component tucked away inside them.

Westower’s Study included a few process puzzles: once we knew how to solve them, it still took a bit of time to work out the solution. One of the more involved process puzzles was a one-person task that felt like homework. It appeared late in the game when there wasn’t anything left for the rest of the team to work on. (At that point, everything had been found.)

Tips for Visiting

  • Don’t forget your order of operations.
  • Google Maps directed us to the entrance of a plaza… that we almost didn’t notice. Turn into the plaza and drive toward the back to find Portsmouth Escape Room. They have a big parking lot, so if you can’t see their door from where you parked, you’re in the wrong place.
  • MoJo’s BBQ Grill & Tavern in the same plaza was pretty good.

Book your hour with Portsmouth Escape Room’s Westower’s Study, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.

Disclosure: Portsmouth Escape Room comped our tickets for this game.

Portsmouth Escape Room – The Roswell Incident [Review]

“I think that there’s better evidence in this room than the documents.” -Lisa Spira

Location: Portsmouth, NH

Date Played: December 16, 2017

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

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: $28 per ticket

REA Reaction

The Roswell Incident was a fun puzzle game with a few too many (marked) red herrings. While it had a pretty typical beginning, it came into its own in the second act.

In-game: A red box mounted to the wall and locked shut. Above it a sign reads, "Danger: Laser radiation avoid eyes or skin."

Who is this for?

  • Puzzle lovers
  • Any experience level
  • Alien conspiracy fans

Why play?

  • The puzzles, interactions, and props of second act
  • The evidence

Story

It was July of 1947 and our crew of investigative journalists wasn’t buying the official “weather balloon” story being told by officials from Roswell Air Force Base. Fortunately we had a guy on the inside who had snuck us into the lab for an hour to uncover proof of what was really going down.

In-game: A stark white desk with a filing system and a skull resting upon it.

Setting

The set looked like a sterile white and steel lab that is fairly common among escape rooms. It was cleanly built with little drama. As the game progressed, things became more intense in terms of both set design and gameplay.

Gameplay

The Roswell Incident was a standard escape room game.

As alluded to in the setting section, The Roswell Incident began as a typical escape room. As the plot progressed, this escape room became quite a bit more interesting.

Play The Roswell Incident for the puzzling in its second act.

Standouts

I loved a few of the puzzles in this game. Portsmouth Escape Room put some bright twists on puzzle types and warmed our hearts.

In-game: A strange metal glass, and cork contraption.

The Roswell Incident’s larger props and set pieces contributed to tangible puzzling. These varied interactions stood out.

The puzzles flowed well throughout the entire experience. While the first half relied heavily on locks, Portsmouth Escape Room made it pretty clear which solutions should go into which locks. The escape room progressed smoothly.

Shortcomings

Portsmouth Escape Room marked “out of play” items so that they wouldn’t be misleading, but we spent most of the first half searching for the items that were actually part of puzzles.

The environment was bland and uninspiring, especially early on. This escape room needed an opening statement.

The Roswell Incident never conveyed adventure or intensity. There were no stakes other than winning or losing.

Tips for Visiting

  • Google Maps directed us to the entrance of a plaza… that we almost didn’t notice. Turn into the plaza and drive toward the back to find Portsmouth Escape Room. They have a big parking lot, so if you can’t see their door from where you parked, you’re in the wrong place.
  • MoJo’s BBQ Grill & Tavern in the same plaza was pretty good.

Book your hour with Portsmouth Escape Room’s The Roswell Incident, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.

Disclosure: Portsmouth Escape Room comped our tickets for this game.