Team vs Time – Cure of the Alchemist [Review]

Turning puzzles into a cure.

Location: Berlin, Connecticut

Date played: July 8, 2017

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

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: $30 per ticket

Story & setting

Infected with the Black Death and seeking a cure, we approached the home of a mysterious alchemist. The rumor was that he had the ability to cure the disease, but he would only share this knowledge with those who could prove their wits and worth.

Staged in an ancient cabin in the woods, the set was compelling. It started off strong and the aesthetics only improved with each progression in the escape room.

In game - A strange wooden contraption beside a bench made of vines.

Puzzles

Cure of the Alchemist contained tangible puzzles that generally required manipulation of the set pieces and props.

The puzzles escalated in difficulty and complexity over the course of the room escape culminating in a serious deductive challenge.

Unlike Team vs Time’s other escape rooms, they offer no hints in Cure of the Alchemist. We had to prove ourselves to the alchemist or die trying.

Standouts

When we walked into Cure of the Alchemist, we felt like we were in a different world from the lobby at Team vs Time. The set was captivating.

In game - a series of vines in the foreground, the moon shines in the background.

Many of the puzzles felt on theme, as if they belonged in that environment.

We enjoyed a variety of puzzles, both simple and complex. We experienced quite a few fun moments of satisfying realization.

Shortcomings

At one point, Cure of the Alchemist bottlenecked both in gameplay and physical layout. This stoppage of play was frustrating for the players who were boxed out.

Cure of the Alchemist was set up as a medieval escape room and the set supported that feeling… except that some of the locks were decidedly modern. The addition of a few older-looking lever locks would have eliminated some of the anachronisms.

Team vs Time set up a rather complex backstory, but it was ultimately irrelevant to the gameplay. Throughout our quest for the cure, we never felt the dramatic stakes of our mission. The completion of our quest was anticlimactic.

Should I play Team vs Time’s Cure of the Alchemist?

Cure of the Alchemist was a puzzle-driven escape room in an impressive medieval staging. The puzzles relied on the set pieces and the set was augmented by the puzzle components.

While not as suspenseful or dramatic Gangster’s GambleCure of the Alchemist delivered more cohesive puzzle and set integration.

While Cure of the Alchemist was not as challenging as some of Team vs Time’s other escape rooms, we do not recommend it for brand-new players. Since players are proving themselves to the alchemist, Team vs Time does not give any hints. To that end, we recommend that you play at least a few other escape rooms before attempting this one. You should also probably play Team vs Time’s other games to get a feel for their unique style of gameplay prior to taking on the alchemist’s challenge.

Book your hour with Team vs Time’s Cure of the Alchemist, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.

Full disclosure: Team vs Time provided media discounted tickets for this game.

 

Team vs Time – Save the Queen [Review]

God speed.

Location: Berlin, CT

Date played: April 8, 2017

Team size: 2-8; we recommend 3-5

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: $30 per ticket

Story & setting

In 14th century England, we discovered a plot to unseat our beloved Queen. We infiltrated the castle to uncover information and thwart the overthrow.

Team vs Time constructed a space that brought us back in time. From the woodwork to the real church stained glass windows installed in this castle, their attention to detail brought the set to life.

In-game: A beautiful chapel set with incredible stained glass windows.

Puzzles

While the initial puzzles weren’t particularly interesting, as the game progressed, the puzzles became increasingly dynamic.

For most of Save the Queen, we worked through large tangible puzzles that interacted with built-in set pieces.

Standouts

Team vs Time constructed a castle into their run-of-the-mill building. The walls, windows, furniture, and smaller details brought the space to life.

In-game: A closeup of a wooden statue of a king backlit by beautiful orange stained glass windows.

Many of the puzzles made use of the castle decor. We manipulated “ancient” tools and investigated substantial props and set pieces.

A tiny gamemastering detail added a great dramatic moment to Save the Queen.

With Save the Queen, Team vs Time constructed an interactive, engaging, logical, and fun puzzle game.

Shortcomings

The narrative of Save the Queen didn’t carry our experience. In the end, we searched for specific information, as instructed by the game, but without any story-driven understanding of why.

In one late-game puzzle, the input mechanism seemed out of place. Given the historical setting, any modern interaction broke the fiction created by the set design. All tech should to be well hidden and seemingly magical.

Occasional double cluing proved more confusing than helpful.

One set puzzle was completely useless and threw us off track.

While the set looked great, it (and by it, I mean we) suffered from a significant splinter problem. We both picked up wood splinters from the game, and other players whom we have spoken with have as well.

Should I play Team vs Time’s Save the Queen?

Team vs Time creates impressive escape room sets. Save the Queen is no exception. We enjoyed our hour in a 14th century castle.

With Save the Queen, Team vs Time has improved their puzzle chops, designing interactive, challenging, and interesting puzzles into the set pieces. There is room for refinement, but the underlying structure and construction is solid.

As much as we loved puzzling through the castle, we didn’t feel like the hero and heroine of a narrative-driven adventure in the same way as we did in Gangster’s Gamble.

Save the Queen would be an exciting escape room at any level. Newer players will find it challenging, but not unmanageable. More seasoned players will be able to appreciate the experience that much more. If you’re traveling through Connecticut, this one is a must visit.

Book your hour with Team vs Time’s Save the Queen, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.

Full disclosure: Team vs Time provided media discounted tickets for this game.

Team vs Time – The Lost Book of Spells [Review]

The wicked witch of central Connecticut.

Location: Berlin, CT

Date played: December 12, 2016

Team size: up to 6; we recommend 3-5

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: $30 per ticket

Story & setting

The Lost Book of Spells cast us as adventuring thieves in the late 1600s during the Connecticut Witch Trials (the lesser-known prequel to the considerably more popular Salem Witch Trials). We had spent the better part of a decade tracking a suspected witch of great power. She left her home and we had a brief window of time to break into her home and attempt to steal her spellbook.

In-game, a glimpse into the witch's home through a window. It's dark, creepy, and lit red.

The set was impressive. It was dark, dramatic, and detailed. Much like Team vs Time’s Gangster’s Gamble, The Lost Book of Spells leaned heavily on beautiful set design to build a fiction. However, unlike the more subtle Gangster’s Gamble, The Lost Book of Spells was incredibly flashy.

The story was straightforward: break in and steal the book.

Puzzles

Similar to Gangster’s Gamble, The Lost Book of Spells was not a puzzle-centric game. There were puzzles and these were fun to solve, but they weren’t overwhelmingly challenging or exceptional. They were, however, fairly well clued.

Standouts

The set was incredible. From the moment the game began through the very end, it felt like we were inhabiting another world. Highly fictionalized as it was, it felt surprisingly real.

In-game: A spherical chandelier with candle-like light bulbs.

The start of The Lost Book of Spells was exciting. We were led to the beginning of the experience as opposed to being ushered into the game, as in most room escapes. This was a surprisingly subtle but impactful difference.

Shortcomings

The set was so striking that any props that didn’t quite fit really stood out. The modern combination locks and door locks in particular screamed, “I don’t belong here!” A few of the puzzle components themselves felt too modern and utterly out of place in the environment.

While the set imbued The Lost Book of Spells with a lot of life, it didn’t pack the same urgency and drama of Gangster’s Gamble.

Should I play Team vs Time’s The Lost Book of Spells?

The Lost Book of Spells was a powerful adventure. The set was so strong that it carried the experience on that alone.

The puzzling had its ups and downs, but the game kept moving along because the environment was so believable. Those elements that felt out of place could be easily improved upon. Rare is the game whose least believable components are the locks.

The Lost Book of Spells is spooky, but not scary. So long as you don’t bring nightmare-prone children, everyone should comfortably be able to deal with the intensity.

The Lost Book of Spells is a solid choice for all skill-levels. It’s approachable, fun, and intense. Experienced players should sail through most of the puzzles, but there’s plenty of nuance to enjoy throughout.

Book your hour with Team vs Time’s The Lost Book of Spells, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.

Full disclosure: Team vs Time provided media discounted tickets for this game.

Team vs Time – Gangster’s Gamble [Review]

Losers swim with the fishes.

Location: Berlin, CT

Date played: December 12, 2016

Team size: up to 6; we recommend 3-5

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: $30 per ticket

2016 RoomEscapeArtist.com Golden Lock-In Award - golden ring around the REA logo turned into a lock.
2016 Golden Lock-In Winner

Story & setting

In Gangster’s Gamble, our team of undercover investigators was digging up evidence on a mob boss in the 1950s.

The setting felt pretty real. The folks from Team vs Time told us that they had brought in someone from the local historical society to make sure that all of their props and furnishings were of the era, and most of it was, with the exception of locking mechanisms. This rang true to us. Gangster’s Gamble wasn’t flashy; it simply felt right.

In-game: A large red leather chair in a 1950s livingroom. A rotary phone sits on an endtable beside it.

While there weren’t actors in the game, there was a strong presence of other people outside of the room. This ongoing presence served to ramp up the intensity of the situation.

Puzzles

The puzzles and interactions made great use of the historically accurate props, mixing them with clearly modern tech and locks to produce some magical effects.

The puzzles didn’t really carry the narrative, but they were fun nonetheless.

Standouts

The look, feel, and intensity of Gangster’s Gamble caught us by surprise. From the moment we were led into the gamespace, we were immersed, to an almost surprising degree. It felt like there were stakes, like getting caught or messing up could get us into trouble. I found myself cleaning up the room after we solved puzzles to cover our tracks.

There was no clock and we lost all sense of time. This didn’t bother us at all.

The attention to historical detail throughout the design was refreshing.

The intensity remained through the Gangster’s Gamble‘s conclusion.

Shortcomings

While most of the props felt of the era, the interactions frequently did not.

The puzzles could have better carried the narrative and upped the immersion and intensity further.

There were a number of nit-picky ways that things could have been hidden a little bit more, or the set might have crafted just a little bit better to really sell the fiction.

Should I play Team vs Time’s Gangster’s Gamble?

People often ask us if we get tired of playing so many room escapes, but it’s the hidden gems like Gangster’s Gamble that make it so interesting. We literally never know when a company is going to come along and shock us. In this particular instance, it was a company that nearly no one had recommended in the middle of Connecticut.

In Gangster’s Gamble, Team vs Time set out to build a historical puzzle adventure and they succeeded. We bought their fiction and we couldn’t recommend it more.

If you’re a newbie, do know that Team vs Time’s approach is a little atypical, but it will still be fun and approachable.

If you’re an experienced player, go in knowing that the puzzles are a little light, but the adventure is strong. Suspend your disbelief and enjoy.

Book your hour with Team vs Time’s Gangster’s Gamble, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.

Full disclosure: Team vs Time provided media discounted tickets for this game.