Upside Down Escape Games – The Arcade [Review]

Insert Coin

Location:  Taunton, Massachusetts

Date Played: December 12, 2019

Team size: 2-6; we recommend 3-4

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: $26 per player

Ticketing: Private

Emergency Exit Rating: [A+] No Lock

Physical Restraints: [A+] No Physical Restraints

REA Reaction

Few things make me as nostalgic as arcades. They remind me of my birthday as a kid, the birthdays that really meant something.

The Arcade packed a lot of great content into a small package. Upside Down Escape Games modified a lot of old equipment into fun and fair challenges. I think that there’s something beautiful about that because all of these classic video games were about making interesting and fun mechanics out of basic technology.

In-game: A few arcade cabinets, the closest one reads, "Nintendowl"

If I were to ask anything of this game, it would be for more of the kinds of interactions that made this game special. I’d love to see it lean a little harder into the gaminess of the setting.

Upside Down Escape Games did a great job of using their technical and artistic chops to pull together something entertaining and unique. If you’re in the area, I highly recommend checking out The Arcade, especially if this feels like the kind of nostalgia that will put a smile on your face.

Who is this for?

  • Puzzle lovers
  • Video gamers
  • Any experience level

Why play?

  • The Arcade pushes a lot of nostalgia buttons
  • A good mix of puzzles

Story

Our friend Darryl was hosting his birthday party at the local arcade – but the guy had just disappeared – from his own party. I just wanted to play some games, but the rest of the group figured we really should find him. After all, it was his party.

In-game: the inside of a claw machine, filled with stuffed animals.

Setting

The Arcade was a small arcade complete with a couple of video game cabinets, a claw machine, and skee ball.

It was a small approximation, but it felt accurate. I think what really sold it for me was the ridiculous carpet.

In-game: a skee ball machine in an arcade.

Gameplay

Upside Down Escape Games’ The Arcade was a standard escape room with a moderate level of difficulty and functional arcade games.

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

In-game: The Escape Block arcade cabinet.

Analysis

➕ The Arcade looked authentic. That carpet! Throwback.

➕ The arcade games were real and functional. We didn’t even need any coins to play them. If a player just wanted to play video games or Skee Ball for an hour, that’s kind of an option.

➕ Upside Down Escape Games worked the arcade games into the gameplay, which was tons of fun. They created fair challenges out of mechanics that could easily have been impossibly difficult. They balanced how much time we spent in front of each cabinet while solving the escape room.

➖ Although the arcade games delivered tangible gameplay, there was opportunity to take other puzzle elements off paper and make them more tangible. 

➕/➖ One great game stole the show. We enjoyed the thematic set pieces, and the different ways it was incorporated into puzzle design. That said, by the end, it felt over-used.

➖ Although Upside Down Escape Games built some surprises into The Arcade, they didn’t all pop. With additional sound and light cues, these reveals could become events.

➕ There are countless obscure and overt video game references in The Arcade… if that’s your sort of thing.

➖ Our exit lacked a boss fight. We wanted a more impactful finale.

➕ As we exited the game, there was a surprise waiting for us.

Tips For Visiting

  • There is a parking lot.

Book your hour with Upside Down Escape Games’ The Arcade and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.

Disclosure: Upside Down Escape Games comped our tickets for this game.

Upside Down Escape Games – The Gingerbread Cottage [Review]

Solve, solve as fast as you can

Location:  Taunton, Massachusetts

Date Played: December 12, 2019

Team size: 2-4; we recommend 1- a small family group

Duration: 45 minutes

Price: $18 per player

Ticketing: Private

Emergency Exit Rating: [A+] No Lock

Physical Restraints: [A+] No Physical Restraints

REA Reaction

The Gingerbread Cottage was an adorable, family- and newbie-friendly seasonal game. It was one of the nicer temporary games that we’ve encountered.

The story was cute, the hint system was clever, the puzzles were fair, the props were well-selected, and there was a tiny bit more tech than we’re accustomed to finding in a limited run escape game.

In-game: gingerbread house wall covered in gumdrops.

This game was meant for families and small groups of new players. The recipe included short and sweet puzzles and it was iced with a touch of humor.

If you’re a seasoned escape room player, this one isn’t really made for our kind, but we still enjoyed nibbling on it.

Who is this for?

  • Puzzle lovers
  • Christmas aficionados
  • Great for families
  • Any experience level

Why play?

  • Adorable premise
  • Solid puzzle game
  • Christmas cheer

Story

Peeled from a baking sheet, we had gained sentience as we were placed in our gingerbread home. From beyond the walls of our candy cottage we’d heard that Darryl was coming home in 45 minutes… and he was going to be hungry.

In-game: A fireplace decorated with stockings, a rocking chair, and a giant - partially decorated gingerbread cookie on the wall.

Setting

The Gingerbread Cottage was a small, humble, and adorable little popup Christmas game. Most of the props were artfully selected Christmas decorations meant to build the fiction of the inside of a gingerbread house.

The game itself was constructed around the decoy gingerbread man, a simple, but effective piece of tech.

In-game: A white christmas tree shelf covered in gingerbread cookie ornaments beside a fireplace decorated with stockings.

Gameplay

Upside Down Escape Games’ The Gingerbread Cottage was a standard escape room with a lower level of difficulty.

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

6 homemade gingerbread owls.

Analysis

➕ The Gingerbread Cottage had an adorable, playful premise.

➕ The gameplay was approachable and entirely non-linear. It was easy to dive in and clear how to play. The gameplay was smooth.

➖ Maybe we were seeing it in the wrong light, but one puzzle felt a little off to us.

➕ Although Upside Down Escape Games had a small footprint and low budget for this holiday popup escape game, they created a lot of cheer. It didn’t feel cheap or temporary.

➖ There was an opportunity to more evenly use the space. The majority of the puzzle elements were a bit on top of each other.

➖ The Gingerbread Cottage lacked a finale. With a final puzzle or some fanfare, the win would have felt like more of an event.

➕ The hint system was thematic and cute.

Tips For Visiting

  • There is a parking lot.

Book your hour with Upside Down Escape Games’ The Gingerbread Cottage, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.

Disclosure: Upside Down Escape Games comped our tickets for this game.