St. Louis Escape – Curse of the Mummy [Review]

“I don’t like sand. It’s coarse and rough and irritating and it gets everywhere.” -Anakin Skywalker

Location:  St. Louis, MO

Date Played: March 21, 2019

Team size: up to 10; we recommend 4-6

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: $25 per player

Ticketing: Public

Emergency Exit Rating: [A+] No Lock

Physical Restraints: [A+] No Physical Restraints

REA Reaction

St. Louis Escape makes great sets and Curse of the Mummy was no exception. That said, this escape game had some seriously annoying gameplay.

If things had been clued properly and the tech wasn’t finicky, it could have played pretty smoothly, but it didn’t do any of that. Instead, we were left with a needlessly difficult, albeit pretty, game… I can only recommend this if you want to see a really good Egyptian tomb set and you haven’t yet played Tomb of Anubis… which was on a whole different level.

In-game: A pyramid with glowing symbols in the middle of a tomb excavation site.

Who is this for?

  • Adventure seekers
  • Scenery snobs
  • Best for players with at least some experience

Why play?

  • Strong Egyptian tomb set

Story

While exploring an ancient Egyptian tomb, we’d happened upon a burial chamber and the obligatory curse.

In-game: A statue of a woman in an Egyptian tomb.

Setting

Curse of the Mummy had a strong Egyptian tomb set. It included a sand-covered floor, a cobwebbed ceiling, statues, ropes, and sandstone blocks. It had a strong, deliberate aesthetic contained within a relatively compact footprint.

In-game: A lantern and scale on a sandstone block that is tied with rope for hoisting.

Gameplay

St. Louis Escape’s Curse of the Mummy was a standard escape room with a high level of difficulty.

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

In-game: A treasure chest, and small locked wooden box sitting on top of sand with hieroglyphs adorning the wall behind them.

Analysis

➕ St. Louis Escape built an impressive Egyptian tomb set for Curse of the Mummy. From floor to ceiling, it was designed, detailed, and delightful.

In-game: Cobwebs hanging from the ceiling.

➖ Our introduction to Curse of the Mummy included how many rooms we’d traverse over the course of the game and information for how to solve some of the puzzles. It was a strange way to introduce the experience.

➖ Many of the puzzles in Curse of the Mummy lacked adequate clue structure. This is the reason we listed this escape room with a high level of difficulty and we recommend it for players with some experience.

➖ Curse of the Mummy relied heavily on a runbook. This was frustrating to use and detracted from our experience exploring the gorgeous set.

In-game: Footprints in the sand.

➖ There were a number of exceedingly frustrating puzzles. One search puzzle burned a lot of time and wasn’t fun to do. There was another riddle that was laughably clunky to resolve into a solution that would fit its corresponding lock.

➖The tolerances on some tech were unforgiving. We had to be incredibly precise to get opens to trigger. We burned a silly amount of time solving puzzles correctly… but not quite perfectly enough.

In-game: A glowing green scarab image in darkness.

➕ Our favorite puzzles were worked into some of the more impressive set pieces… again, spanning the breadth of the space from floor to ceiling. These were really fun, interactive solves.

➖ All of the games at St. Louis Escape were built into a warehouse space with open ceilings. While the ceilings were well designed as a part of the sets, we could hear the groups screaming in the neighboring horror game, Cellar Escape, while we played Curse of the Mummy It was difficult to buy into our Egyptian adventure when we could clearly hear a neighboring team.

In-game: A statue of a cobra's head protruding from the sandstone wall of a tomb.

Tips For Visiting

  • You can park for free on the street directly in front of the building or on the side of the building.
  • There are stairs up to the escape room lobby and the escape rooms.
  • Beware that St. Louis Escape has a habit for putting 4-digit solutions into 5-digit locks.
  • The floor of this game is covered in sand. Wear appropriate footwear.

Book your hour with St. Louis Escape’s Curse of the Mummy, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.

Disclosure: St. Louis Escape provided media discounted tickets for this game.

St. Louis Escape – Pirate’s Curse [Review]

Blow the man down!

Location:  St. Louis, MO

Date Played: March 21, 2019

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

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: $25 per player

Ticketing: Public

Emergency Exit Rating: [A+] No Lock

Physical Restraints: [A+] No Physical Restraints

REA Reaction

Pirate’s Curse looked great and included some interesting puzzles.

Unfortunately, the great things about this escape game were undercut by a lack of feedback, finicky technology, and gamemastering that became condescending when we became confused by the lack of feedback and finicky technology.

The reason to play Pirate’s Curse is to see the set. If sets are your thing, then this is a must-play. Beyond set design, we found this experience lacking.

In-game: An open door with a coat of arms on it.

Who is this for?

  • Adventure seekers
  • Scenery snobs
  • Best for players with at least some experience

Why play?

  • A great pirate adventure set

Story

We’d boarded a cursed pirate galleon loaded with gold and treasure. In order to keep the gold and our lives, however, we would have to break the treasure’s curse.

In-game: A wrack filled with muskets and swords.

Setting

Pirate’s Curse was a compact game with an attractive pirate ship’s interior as the set.

It was deliberately designed from floor to ceiling and beautifully weathered. From a visual standpoint, there was a lot to enjoy in this game.

In-game: a dead and decaying pirate captain surrounded by treasure.

Gameplay

St. Louis Escape’s Pirate’s Curse was a standard escape room with a moderate level of difficulty.

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

In-game: Closeup of a shelf with a lantern and a ship in a bottle.

Analysis

➕ The pirate ship looked outstanding. We appreciated the rounded aesthetic that made it feel especially… ship-y.

➕/➖ Pirate’s Curse included some interesting and thematic layered puzzles. Unfortunately, many of these were not clearly clued. Additional playtesting would go a long way.

➖ Pirate’s Curse included a lot of different symbol systems. This started to feel repetitive.

In-game: A bright "we need a clue" sign beside a flashlight, an ornate skull, and many small treasure chests.

➖ We had some problems with triggered opens. In one instance, the open was substantially delayed. Additionally, if we closed anything that we had previously triggered to open, we had to resolve that puzzle to reopen that part of the game. This was tedious when we wanted to recheck our searching.

Pirate’s Curse lacked feedback. We were hardly ever sure when we’d solved something. Inclusion of sound and light cues, or even springs, so that opens would prominently pop, would have helped build forward momentum.

The barred off ceiling of the ship.

➕ The gold and jewels looked great. St. Louis Escape designed them in such a way that they were beautiful and touchable, but not distracting.

➕ We especially enjoyed one satisfying late-game search solve that didn’t flow as we’d expected.

➖ The final puzzle was incredibly finicky and lacked feedback. It took a hint and an unfortunately sassy conversation with our gamemaster to figure out that we had solved the puzzle minutes earlier. When the gamemaster came in, we asked for a demonstration of the final puzzle and it once again was finicky and slow to respond. We kind of enjoyed how this undercut the condescension that she’d flung our way.

Tips For Visiting

  • You can park for free on the street directly in front of the building or on the side of the building.
  • There are stairs up to the escape room lobby and the escape rooms.
  • Beware that St. Louis Escape has a habit for putting 4-digit solutions into 5-digit locks.

Book your hour with St. Louis Escape’s Pirate’s Curse, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.

Disclosure: St. Louis Escape provided media discounted tickets for this game.

St. Louis Escape – Haunted Hotel [Review]

Animatronic Hotel

Location:  St. Louis, MO

Date Played: March 21, 2019

Team size: up to 10; we recommend 3-5

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: $25 per player

Ticketing: Public

Emergency Exit Rating: [A+] No Lock

Physical Restraints: [A+] No Physical Restraints

REA Reaction

St. Louis Escape’s Haunted Hotel felt like an ode to Disney. Some of it was overt; some of it was in the subtle choices of props and effects.

This felt much more like Disney’s Haunted Mansion than what you’d expect from a game named Haunted Hotel built by a haunted house company. That is to say, it wasn’t scary.

In-game: a suit of armor in front of worn plaster walls, the insignia for Disney's "Haunted Mansion" hands proudly.

In St. Louis Escape’s collection of strong sets, this was my favorite, partially because it had some unusual elements… and because I’ve seen plenty of Egyptian tombs, pirate ships, and murder basements. A haunted hotel was a welcome change.

There was a ton to look at in this game… and looking at all of the stuff was usually more entertaining than solving the puzzles.

The puzzle and game design fell short with weak cluing, some damaged components, and a puzzle that was remarkably out of place… not just in this particular game, but in the St. Louis Escape facility.

If you’re going to play one game at St. Louis Escape, it should either be Haunted Hotel or Cellar Escape. For my money, Cellar Escape offered considerably better gameplay… but Haunted Hotel was a lot less scary and had much more charm and novelty.

Who is this for?

  • Adventure seekers
  • Scenery snobs
  • Best for players with at least some experience

Why play?

  • Beautiful and unusual set design

Story

Checking into this ghoulish hotel was easy. The question was, could we check out?

In-game: The hotel's decrepit front desk.

Setting

Haunted Hotel had a busy, heavily detailed set filled with quirky animatronics. It was pretty clear that the creators of this game were Disney fans.

St Louis Escape had deliberately designed everything in the space from the floor to the ceiling. Everything was beautifully weathered. There was so much to look at.

In-game: The ornate yet dusty tile floor.

Gameplay

St. Louis Escape’s Haunted Hotel was a standard escape room with a moderate level of difficulty.

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

In-game: a creepy portrait with its eyes cut out.

Analysis

➕ The detailed set of Haunted Hotel was a joy to explore. It was busy, but not distracting. We enjoyed the aesthetic.

➖ Intentional weathering aside, the set was heavily worn. One key prop was almost impossible to find due to wear.

➕ Our favorite puzzles resolved to tangible interactions with the set. These were the best parts of the playthrough.

➖After the opening scene, Haunted Hotel was almost entirely linear. We spent a lot of time waiting idly because we had too many teammates and too few open puzzles.

➖ Haunted Hotel included a laminated runbook. While it didn’t rely on this as heavily as in some of St. Louis Escape’s other games, it was frustrating to be concentrating on paper cluing instead of immersing ourselves in the set.

➕/➖ Haunted Hotel included a few strong layered puzzles. Unfortunately, each one had its own ambiguity issue. The clue structure wasn’t quite all in place.

➕ We enjoyed the presence of ghostly characters.

In-game: The ceiling adorned with art.

➖The audio was a persistent problem. The intro video lacked audio. We couldn’t hear the ghostly characters very well. At points we were confused whether audio was part of a puzzle, an indication of puzzle progress, background ambiance, or the screams of players in other games.

➖It was easy to accidentally re-trigger the animatronics. This proved confusing.

➕/➖ Bits of story were scattered about Haunted Hotel. The ghosts contributed to our understanding of the story. Ultimately, however, the experience fell short of succeeding as a story-driven adventure.

➖ As we played Haunted Hotel we continually felt that St. Louis Escape took shortcuts in design and maintenance. We encountered one entirely broken puzzle; we didn’t have to solve it to achieve the goal. We could shortcut another puzzle by finding one key piece. Additionally, one puzzle felt completely out of place – aesthetically and thematically – in the experience. We were baffled by its presence.

Tips For Visiting

  • You can park for free on the street directly in front of the building or on the side of the building.
  • There are stairs up to the escape room lobby and the escape rooms.
  • Beware that St. Louis Escape has a habit of putting 4-digit solutions into 5-digit locks.
  • This escape room was haunted, but not scary.

Book your hour with St. Louis Escape’s Haunted Hotel, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.

Disclosure: St. Louis Escape provided media discounted tickets for this game.

St. Louis Escape – Cellar Escape [Review]

High-end murder basement

Location:  St. Louis, MO

Date Played: March 21, 2019

Team size: up to 10; we recommend 3-5

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: $25 per player

Ticketing: Public

Emergency Exit Rating: [A+] No Lock

Physical Restraints:  [B] Mechanical Release

REA Reaction

Cellar Escape was comfortably our group’s favorite game at St. Louis Escape.

While its gameplay was a little more search-centric than we typically go for, the game’s runbook was onerous, and the story was underdeveloped… the set design was top-notch and the game played fairly cleanly.

If you’re visiting St. Louis Escape and you’re comfortable with a horror experience, Cellar Escape is our recommendation. If you’d like something a little less intense, we suggest attempting Haunted Hotel (review coming soon) instead.

In-game: A dead man sitting at a desk with a typewriter in betwen two jail cells.

Who is this for?

  • Adventure seekers
  • Scenery snobs
  • Players interested in moderate horror
  • Any experience level

Why play?

  • Great set design
  • Intense moments

Story

We were trapped in a serial killer’s lair and had to find a out way out before he returned.

In-game: An electrical box labeled "Danger Live Wires."

Setting

Cellar Escape was St. Louis Escape’s take on a murder basement. From a set design standpoint, it delivered everything that you’d want out of a murder basement. It was dark, grim, gritty, intimidating, and bloody.

As with all of St. Louis Escape’s sets, it was thoroughly designed from floor to ceiling.

In-game: A meat-grinder oozing large amounts of ground, bloody flesh.

Gameplay

St. Louis Escape’s Cellar Escape was a standard escape room with a moderate level of difficulty and a split-team beginning.

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

In-game: A red we need a clue sign sitting beside a laminated and spiral-bound book labeled "CELLAR ESCAPE." All surrounded by a beautiful set.

Analysis

Cellar Escape looked murder basement-y. It was dark and foreboding, but also detailed and thoughtfully designed.

➕ The split beginning worked well to encourage teamwork early on and didn’t overstay its welcome.

➕ We especially enjoyed the puzzles that felt authentic to the scenario. The escape room was at its best when we were deriving solutions that seemed plausible for escaping a killer’s lair.

In-game: A dead man sitting at a desk.

Cellar Escape relied heavily on a runbook. This was frustrating to use and detracted from our experience in the gamespace. Furthermore, it seemed to not be quite up to date with the current gameplay of the escape room. We encountered runbook ghost puzzles.

➕ St. Louis Escape seems to have a penchant for breaker boxes in their escape room design; it worked well in this room.

➖ Some of the tech in Cellar Escape had especially tight tolerances. If our hands were just slightly off they wouldn’t trigger, even though we’d correctly solved the puzzle. This put gameplay on ice for a little longer than it should have.

➖ Unclued trick locks are problematic in escape rooms. If you don’t know how to solve them, you will burn far too much of your game clock trying. If you basically know how to open all of the common trick locks on the market like David does… then they’re kind of boring. Either way, they’re suboptimal.

In-game: The cobweb covered ceiling of the Cellar Escape.

➕ Cellar Escape ground to a good jump-scare.

➖ Cellar Escape could fit a lot of people. St. Louis Escape will sell up to 12 tickets to it. The gameplay, however, had choke points. If you play with a large team, there would be a lot of down time for individual players.

Cellar Escape was a search-heavy escape room. In some instances, this worked well with the theme. In other instances, we found this tedious. Your mileage will vary.

Tips For Visiting

  • You can park for free on the street directly in front of the building or on the side of the building.
  • There are stairs up to the escape room lobby and the escape rooms.
  • Beware that St. Louis Escape has a habit for putting 4-digit solutions into 5-digit locks.

Book your hour with St. Louis Escape’s Cellar Escape, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.

Disclosure: St. Louis Escape provided media discounted tickets for this game.