The Puzzle Parlour – Alien Conspiracy [Review]

Hold onto your foil hat.

Location:  White Plains, NY

Date Played: June 22, 2019

Team size: up to 8; we recommend 4-5

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: from $44.99 per player for teams of 2 to $24.99 per player for teams of 8 with higher pricing at peak hours

Ticketing:  Private

Emergency Exit Rating: [A] Push To Exit

Physical Restraints: [A+] No Physical Restraints

REA Reaction

Alien Conspiracy was The Puzzle Parlour’s hardest game. It acted as a sort of final boss for their initial 4 games. It had a number of Easter eggs referencing their other games. It also operated under the assumption that you and your team have some idea of what you’re doing in an escape room.

In-game: a whiteboard covered in equations.

This wasn’t a bad game, but it was our least favorite of The Puzzle Parlour’s offerings. This had to do with some unusual bottlenecking and an unclued element here… and a slightly faulty puzzle there. This was nothing catastrophic, but parts of this game just felt harder than they should have been. The good news is that most of the issues with this game are fixable.

If you’ve played through the rest of The Puzzle Parlour’s suite of games, enjoyed yourself, and like a challenge, you should give Alien Conspiracy a try. It was more challenging than most of the escape rooms in the region. In its own way, that makes it standout.

Who is this for?

  • Puzzle lovers
  • Scientists
  • Players with some experience

Why play?

  • Challenging puzzles
  • The variation in decor

Story

A government crew was on their way to destroy decades of research on the existence of alien life. Our group of believers had stormed a remote home to preserve the data before the powers that be could destroy it all.

In-game: a dated, 70s living room with a flat screen TV.

Setting

We entered the home of an alien conspiracy theorist. It looked like a living room that hadn’t been significantly updated since the 1970s. While this wasn’t the most exciting of gamespaces, it did accomplish its goals.

In-game: a laptop on a very old desk.

Gameplay

The Puzzle Parlour’s Alien Conspiracy was a standard escape room with a higher level of difficulty.

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

In-game: a black computer screen with green writing that reads, "Unauthorized access self-destruct sequence activated"

Analysis

➕ Alien Conspiracy was a solid execution of a traditional puzzle-driven escape room. The puzzles were varied and flowed logically.

➖ While most of the puzzles worked well, we felt that the occasional detail was left unclued.

➕ The Puzzle Parlour included a nifty toy. This was a fun solve.

➖ In one late-game puzzle, players can derive a solution only by following the intended gameflow. We had enough information to solve this puzzle slightly earlier than intended, with just a molecule of outside knowledge. That attempt at solving seemed logical, and would have worked, except for one small error in the puzzle materials. With just a tweak, players would be able to approach this puzzle earlier than the game designer intended without it breaking.

➕ We could easily track our progress through the final puzzle sequence with visual cues. This set up for an intense final scene.

➖ The end fizzled. The combination of a lockout safe and an unclued element stalled our forward motion. This, along with linear puzzle flow that seemed like it could have been paralleled, but shouldn’t have been, slowed what otherwise should have been a dramatic conclusion.

➕ The different spaces in Alien Conspiracy felt distinctive but cohesive. The themed spaces were exciting to reveal.

Tips For Visiting

  • Puzzle Parlour has a lovely lobby.
  • Park in their lot and use the app ParkWhitePlains to refill your meter.
  • There is plenty to eat and do in the area.

Book your hour with The Puzzle Parlour’s Alien Conspiracy, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.

Disclosure: The Puzzle Parlour comped our tickets for this game.

The Puzzle Parlour – Vampire [Review]

Bram Stoker’s Puzzle Parlour

Location:  White Plains, NY

Date Played: June 22, 2019

Team size: up to 8; we recommend 3-4

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: from $44.99 per player for teams of 2 to $24.99 per player for teams of 8 with higher pricing at peak hours

Ticketing:  Private

Emergency Exit Rating: [A+] No Lock

Physical Restraints: [A+] No Physical Restraints

REA Reaction

The Puzzle Parlour has established itself as a strong escape room presence outside of New York City. Their elegant games balance set design and puzzle play without over-the-top effects or spectacle.

Vampire was one of their more beginner friendly games. It was, however, completely satisfying as an experienced escape room player.

In-game: a human skull with emeralds in its eye sockets resting on a doily.

There was an opportunity to further refine elements of the set and props, but those quibbles aside, this was a strong showing and probably our favorite game of their initial four.

Regardless of your experience level, if you find yourself near White Plains, NY, you should check out Vampire.

Who is this for?

  • Adventure seekers
  • Story seekers
  • Puzzle lovers
  • Any experience level
  • Players who don’t need to be a part of every puzzle

Why play?

  • Really nifty, tangible puzzles
  • A cool hint mechanism
  • A great vibe

Story

Our friend had been bitten by a vampire and we had until midnight to figure out a cure!

In-game: A pair of old, worn coffins leaning against the wall.

Setting

The Puzzle Parlour’s Vampire had a grim, Gothic look with large chandeliers, coffins, and stone.

The set was well themed within a sane budget. It pulled us into the fiction and kept us there.

While the light was a bit low, we always had enough spotlight to accomplish whatever task was at hand.

In-game: a spooky mirror flanked candles above a dresser.

Gameplay

The Puzzle Parlour’s Vampire was a standard escape room with a moderate level of difficulty.

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

In-game: Closeup of a broken piece of wood in an old coffin.

Analysis

Vampire was well themed. We appreciated the choice of flooring and the cobweb detailing.

➕ The theme extended to the game clock and the hint system. Both were a part of the experience. There was no TV monitor in this ancient castle; it made a huge difference. The Puzzle Parlour justified the existence of a time-keeping mechanism and hint system.

In-game: a dimly lit room lit by over a dozen candles.

➖ While most of the decor and props made sense in the space, The Puzzle Parlour overlooked a few details that didn’t quite fit in. Also… why was there a small hole in the floor?

➖ Modern 4-digit locks felt out of place in this scenario. Weathered or old-timey key locks would have blended into the environment better. Magical opens would have also felt justified.

➕ Upon reflection, Vampire had a lot of varied, satisfying puzzle solves. One prop revealed some of our favorite cluing. We also enjoyed our vantage point beneath the night sky. Overall, we enjoyed the puzzle play.

➖ There was a low chandelier in the middle of the set. It looked great, but it hung way too low.

➕ One beautiful prop fit well in the castle set and had an unusual and fun input mechanism.

Tips For Visiting

  • Puzzle Parlour has a lovely lobby.
  • Park in their lot and use the app ParkWhitePlains to refill your meter.
  • There is plenty to eat and do in the area.

Book your hour with The Puzzle Parlour’s Vampire, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.

Disclosure: The Puzzle Parlour comped our tickets for this game.

Puzzle Parlour – The Surgery [Review]

Prep the patient for puzzles.

Location: White Plains, NY

Date Played: February 24, 2018

Team size: 2-8; we recommend 3-6

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: from $24.99 per ticket

REA Reaction

Surgery was a strong introductory escape room. The puzzles made sense. The space looked good and a bit imposing. It played well. If you’re new to escape rooms, start here. If you’re really experienced, play Puzzle Parlour’s The Heist instead.

Who is this for?

  • Puzzle lovers
  • Group solvers
  • Best for newer players

Why play?

  • Collaborative solves
  • Puzzle flow
  • Solid set
  • Clean execution

Story

Tea time hadn’t gone as planned. Someone had spiked our cups and we had awoken in the office of a serial-killing surgeon. We had to escape before he came back to harvest us.

In-game: A foggy and dramatically lit surgery room.

Setting

Surgery put us in a detailed medical facility. The set looked authentic and a bit ominous without ever turning frightening.

We knocked Puzzle Parlour’s The Heist for the set feeling a little bland. Aesthetically, Surgery was a cut above.

Gameplay

Surgery was a straight escape room experience with equal parts searching and puzzling.

The puzzles all resolved cleanly.

At Puzzle Parlour’s discretion, they add an extra puzzle for experienced escape room players. This puzzle adds some extra challenge by tweaking the gameflow and increasing the volume of puzzles in the escape room. We appreciated the extra challenge, but if you’re a newbie, you will not be missing out on anything mind-blowing if Puzzle Parlour doesn’t include it during your playthrough.

In-game: a cart with surgical instruments on it.

Standouts

Puzzle Parlour provided quality puzzles in Surgery. They flowed well and resolved cleanly.

Surgery facilitated teamwork. Multiple puzzles required communication. These group solves upped the energy level of the group.

In one instance, what had appeared decorative throughout much of the game suddenly illuminated a puzzle. This was a lot of fun.

The main set of Surgery looked really good.

Shortcomings

Although the puzzles worked well, they didn’t develop the narrative any further over the course of the Surgery. This was something that Puzzle Parlour absolutely nailed in The Heist.

While we enjoyed the set, it was uneven, and there were some little details begging for refinement.

Surgery lacked a climactic and memorable moment. While we enjoyed many of the puzzles, including the final one,  there wasn’t a puzzle or interaction that will really stick with us.

Tips for Visiting

  • Solo players cannot complete the Surgery. There are multiple puzzles that physically require at least 2 players.
  • Puzzle Parlour has a lovely lobby.
  • Park in their lot and use the app ParkWhitePlains to refill your meter.
  • There is plenty to eat and do in the area. Take advantage of the Puzzle Parlour discount and the large tap list at Lazy Boy Saloon.

Book your hour with Puzzle Parlour’s The Surgery, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.

Disclosure: Puzzle Parlour comped our tickets for this game.

 

The Puzzle Parlour – The Heist Part 1 [Review]

Don’t piss off the Chief.

Location: White Plains, NY

Date Played: December 18, 2017

Team size: 2-8; we recommend 3-5

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: from $90 for teams of 2 up to $199 for teams of 8

REA Reaction

Puzzle Parlour made subtle changes to a popular escape room theme to deliver more drama, adventure, hidden technology, and consequences than most. While we wished Puzzle Parlour had built a more captivating environment, they justified the setting and scenario through gameplay. The brilliance of The Heist Part 1 will be lost on most players, but maybe this doesn’t matter.

Who is this for?

  • Puzzle lovers
  • Adventure seekers
  • People who like to banter in a bad British accent
  • Any experience level

Why play?

  • Interactive gamemaster
  • Great puzzle flow
  • Gameplay shifts based on player action (or inaction)
  • Silky smooth, practically invisible tech

Story

We were robbing a crooked cop who had stashed a whole lot of loot in his locker at the London Police Station. We had to break in, cut the power, and steal our prize without getting caught by the Chief.

In-game: A pair of handcuffs beside a keyboard, dramatically lit with computer monitor lighting.

Setting

As explained in our pre-game briefing, we targeted the Chief’s office and the adjacent locker room.

The office set was largely as expected… but a bit more realistic than typical escape room offices. It looked office-bland, but not like a lock-riddled escape room-y office.

While the locker room wasn’t a heart-poundingly adventurous environment, it justified the existence of the locks and it offered up a few creative puzzles that we never saw coming.

Gameplay

Puzzle Parlour presented us with a cleanly executed, well-thought-out standard escape room with a break-in twist.

Puzzle Parlour designed subtle, yet impactful game mechanics: We had a job to do. Our proficiency (or lack thereof) resulted in 1 or 2 meaningful differences in gameplay.

Depending upon how you play, there are at least 3 different paths in The Heist Part 1 and 3 different outcomes. The crazy thing is that most players will likely never even know about the variance. 

In-game: a police hat and attaché case on a desk.

Standouts

Puzzle Parlour created an energy that lasted the entirety of The Heist Part 1. This was a lot of fun.

Our gamemaster was a character in this clandestine mission. His interactions – a combination of hints and narrative progression – kept us on edge, in a good way.

Our actions in The Heist Part 1 had consequences that changed the nature, tone, and challenges within the escape room.

The Heist Part 1 included fun puzzles, a few of which solved in exciting, atypical ways.

Puzzle Parlour’s technology was subtle, smart, and stable.

The office looked like the creator had seen a real-life office before.

Shortcomings

While realistic, the office didn’t instill drama. We would have liked the set to work in tandem with the gamemastering and game mechanics to up the excitement.

While some of the puzzles worked through the environment, others were more escape room-y and disconnected from the mission.

Near the end of The Heist Part 1 we were able to solve a puzzle before we had an input for the solution, which confused us and screwed with the pacing.

The win was anticlimactic. Especially with our gamemaster as a character, we would have liked a more dramatic ending as a culmination of our covert operation.

Tips for Visiting

  • Puzzle Parlour has a lovely lobby.
  • Park in their lot and use the app ParkWhitePlains to refill your meter.
  • There is plenty to eat and do in the area.

Book your hour with Puzzle Parlour’s The Heist Part 1, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.

Disclosure: Puzzle Parlour comped our tickets for this game.