Brainstorm Escape Games – Black & White [Review]

Black and white and gray.

Location: Norcross, GA

Date Played: March 23, 2018

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

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: $28 per ticket

Ticketing: Public

REA Reaction

Black & White was a neat concept. It didn’t need the extra hype of the storyline, which it didn’t deliver on. There were some good puzzle, but one was nonsensical and essentially broken.

If Brainstorm Escape Games cleaned up the nonsense, and dropped the over-the-top story that didn’t exist beyond the setup, this one could be worth a visit.

In-game: A black & white checker boarded room.

Who is this for?

  • Any experience level

Why play?

  • Some good puzzles
  • The look of the space

Story

We were sucked into an old black and white TV program. If we couldn’t escape before the end of the show, we’d never see color again.

In-game: A chess set with a black bishop and white queen affixed to the board.

Setting

Black & White was a giant checker board. The set and props were boldly painted to conform to this aesthetic. It was a cool aesthetic.

Upon closer inspection, a lot of the props looked like they could benefit from some refinement.

While everything was black and white, nothing else about the set gave us the sense that we were trapped in an old television show.

Gameplay

Brainstorm Escape Games’ Black & White was a standard escape room with a tough onramp that gave way to a generally low-difficulty game.

Core gameplay revolved around observing and puzzling.

Analysis

+ When our teammates heard the setup for this game, everyone wanted to play it. We were running ahead of schedule and we just couldn’t say no.

– The opening puzzle was staggeringly obtuse. It was needlessly difficult to get started, due to lack of in-room cluing and abundant ambiguity. This was the kind of puzzle that teaches new players to just guess at things in escape rooms.

– Much of the gameplay came from laminated sheets of paper rather than the interesting environment. This felt like a missed opportunity.

Black & White put a brilliant twist on a time-tested escape room standard puzzle.

– There was a frustrating search mechanic: a small tool, a large space, and no direction.

+ Black & White came round to a satisfying final solve. It tied back to the opening, albeit abstractly, and worked well.

– The mid-century TV story felt bolted on. While the black and white aesthetic was cool, it didn’t feel like a period television set. That plot had no obvious correlation to the puzzles. The plot could have just as easily not existed, and the escape room might have been better for it. We didn’t need to make sense of that wacky black and white world, we simply puzzled in it.

Tips for Visiting

  • Parking: There is parking out front.

Book your hour with Brainstorm Escape Games’ Black & White, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.

Disclosure: Brainstorm Escape Games provided media discounted tickets for this game.

Escape the Netherworld – Haunted [Review]

Puzzles, poltergeist, and a sassy gargoyle.

Location: Stone Mountain, GA

Date Played: March 23, 2018

Team size: up to 8; we recommend 4-6

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: $28 per ticket

Ticketing: Public or Private

REA Reaction

Haunted was exciting. The puzzles, set, and in-character avatar gamemaster delivered both intensity and humor. For a company as talented as Escape the Netherworld, it was disappointing to encounter standard purchased puzzles. Haunted was at its best when it was an original creation, which was most of the game.

If you’re anywhere in the Atlanta area, seek out this haunted escape game.

Haunted team post-game photo.

Who is this for?

  • Adventure seekers
  • Story seekers
  • Puzzle lovers
  • Scenery snobs
  • Any experience level

Why play?

  • Beautiful and imposing set
  • In character gamemastering
  • Finale

Story

After our uncle, a genius parapsychologist had passed away, we learned that he had trapped and almost subdued the horrific Night Hag, a beast who had haunted the family for centuries. Now it was up to us to vanquish the creature or suffer her vengeance.

In-game: A gargoyle with intense eyes.
Image via Escape The Netherworld.

Setting

Our uncle’s laboratory had his workspace in the middle, surrounded by various contraptions and large captive creatures in glass chambers. The whole place had a steampunk haunted house vibe. It looked great.

Portions of the game took place in low light.

Gameplay

Escape the Netherworld’s Haunted was a standard escape room with a compelling set and a higher level of difficulty.

Core gameplay revolved around searching and puzzling.

Analysis

+ The steampunkish set was captivating. Escape the Netherworld built some incredibly detailed set pieces. Some of these only delivered ambiance and did so without misleading us. The gamespace was a fully designed environment and visually interesting.

Haunted felt big. From the set and tangible interactions to the reactions of the space, this escape room had scale.

+ Our gamemaster was a character in our adventure. His avatar chatted with us throughout the game. By this, our third game at Escape the Netherworld, the staff knew our team, and knew how to sass us. And at 11pm, in the 10th game of the day, this was exactly what we needed. It was a riot.

– While the story worked well, it was less innovative than Escape the Netherworld’s other two escape rooms, Sasquatch and Nosferatu.

Haunted included a few purchased puzzles that felt out of place in our uncle’s haunted steampunk lab. Some of these purchased puzzles appeared many times in various Atlanta area escape rooms.

+ The puzzles flowed well in Haunted. They were accessible, non-linear, tangible, and fun.

+ The dramatic ending sequence punctuated the victory. It was memorable and engaged the entire team in the win.

Tips for Visiting

  • Parking: There is parking out front.
  • Food: We enjoyed the nearby Metro Cafe Diner.

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

Disclosure: Escape the Netherworld comped our tickets for this game.

Odyssey Escape Game – Titanic [Review]

…   _ _ _   …

Location: Alpharetta, GA

Date Played: March 25, 2018

Team size: up to 10; we recommend 3-5

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: $28 per ticket

Ticketing: Public

REA Reaction

Titanic shared a sweet story through escape room gameplay. While the sets had some interesting features, they felt largely empty. The puzzle design was uneven, with some puzzles more successfully executed than others. It was a good escape room, but it wasn’t as epic as the subject matter demanded.

If you’re in the area, you might want to check this one out.

In-game: The helm of the ship with a large wheel.
Image via Odyssey Escape Game.

Who is this for?

  • Story seekers
  • Any experience level
  • People who will never let go

Why play?

  • A sweet story
  • The final set

Story

We were crew aboard the Titanic when it collided with the iceberg. We had to send a distress signal, retrieve the Captain’s personal effects, escape to a lifeboat with them, and return them to his wife.

Setting

The deck of Titanic was spacious with a bit of nautical equipment. It was also dark, given that it was night at sea.

Throughout Titanic, parts of the set looked fantastic, but the space between those great props often felt overly large and empty.

Gameplay

Odyssey Escape Game’s Titanic was a standard escape room with a moderate level of difficulty.

Core gameplay revolved around observing and puzzling.

Analysis

+ The setup for the game was intriguing and justified the tasks that we were presented with.

– The most interesting props on the deck of Titanic weren’t part of the game. They were only decor, yet they looked intriguing and interactive. As our gamemaster explained, Odyssey Escape Game wanted to preserve these props and asked us not to play with them. It was disappointing because these things were begging to be part of a puzzle.

– The earlier puzzles asked us to follow a series of instructions. We found ourselves with overlapping instruction lists, which became confusing, and led to puzzle flow problems. Additionally, in one instance a solution required us to disregard order where order was explicitly indicated.

+ One thematically relevant puzzle had a nifty user interface that worked better than most escape room implementations of this type of puzzle. It was satisfying and fun to solve.

– The narrative of Titanic was too level. Although the story was sweet and the puzzles worked pretty well, it felt like it was relying on the game clock to provide drama, because the story itself never really escalated.

+ The final set was a fun location.

Tips for Visiting

Book your hour with Odyssey Escape Game’s Titanic, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.

Disclosure: Odyssey Escape Game provided media discounted tickets for this game.

Amazing Escape – The Cabin [Review]

“I will murder you with stories of my childhood.”

Location: Norcross, GA

Date Played: March 23, 2018

Team size: up to 8; we recommend 2-4

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: from $25 per ticket

Ticketing: Public

REA Reaction

The Cabin was a standard escape room in a dark, creepy setting. The darkness was the most challenging aspect of the game. While the story didn’t quite work, the vibe came through strongly.

If you’re a local and excited to play in the dark, check this one out.

In-game: A typewriter beside an exposed glowing lightbulb in an otherwise dim room.

Who is this for?

  • Best for beginners
  • People who like a little bit of creep factor

Why play?

  • The intro video
  • A fun teamwork sequence

Story

We’d gotten lost in the woods and stumbled upon a cabin. Once trapped inside, we realized the proprietor might not be such a kind soul, and should he return… we’d rather he didn’t.

In-game: Ceramic bottles and a fish in a dim room.

Setting

The Cabin was dark. There were a few pieces of furniture and some props to make it vaguely like a study. Mostly, I remember that it was dark.

Gameplay

Amazing Escape’s The Cabin was a standard escape room with a low level of difficulty.

Core gameplay revolved around searching and making connections.

Analysis

+? Amazing Escape opened The Cabin with a humorous intro video that was remarkably similar to the one at THE BASEMENT in Los Angeles.

– The Cabin required a lot of searching in barely any light. We found plenty of flashlights, but this was more annoying than entertaining.

– The early puzzles emerged by way of some childhood stories. This attempt at narrative didn’t quite work.

+ We might have been lost in the woods, but one fun puzzle series gave us some direction.

– The Cabin ended abruptly. We were surprised when we realized we were finished.

Tips for Visiting

  • Parking: There is parking out front.

Book your hour with Amazing Escape’s The Cabin, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.

Disclosure: Amazing Escape provided media discounted tickets for this game.

Escape Plan GA – Beach Escape [Review]

Breezy.

Location: Loganville, GA

Date Played: March 23, 2018

Team size: up to 10; we recommend 3-4

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: $25 per adult ticket, $22 per military/police/fire/teacher tickets, $20 per child ticket

Ticketing: Public

REA Reaction

Beach Escape was a standard escape room. It had good puzzles, but didn’t quite flow smoothly. Through the game, the vibe shifted from calm and relaxing to very light horror. We recommend Beach Escape for beginners.

If you’re a local looking to check out an introductory escape room, give this one a try.

In-game: A beach house living room.

Who is this for?

  • Best for beginners
  • Players who like the idea of very light horror

Why play?

  • For a basic escape room experience

Story

We’d booked a vacation rental by the beach. Once we found ourselves locked in, we realized that the property owner probably didn’t intend for us to get out.

In-game: the cover for the book, "The Beach Kill."

Setting

Our vacation rental had a locked door, but a window to the outside. It had basic furniture and white walls adorned with a wall hangings. It felt homey.

Gameplay

Escape Plan GA’s Beach Escape was a standard escape room with a moderate level of difficulty.

Core gameplay revolved around searching and puzzling.

Analysis

+ The initial space felt cute and cozy.

– Escape Plan GA painted a window into the wall of their locked vacation home. Why wouldn’t we escape through the window? It would seem pretty viable if our lives were in danger.

+ As we explored our rental property, we opened up more space with an interesting trick we don’t often see.

– The puzzle progression felt helter-skelter. Our access to various puzzle components and inputs felt out of whack. Puzzle to lock relation wasn’t well clued. This was further exacerbated by the threat of a lockout safe.

– We were too gentle with the gamespace. It wasn’t clear from the initial instructions that we should be manipulating items that most definitely needed prodding.

– As the story escalated, the set and puzzle design became hokey, which didn’t support the narrative or create a sense of urgency.

Tips for Visiting

  • Parking: There is parking out front.

Book your hour with Escape Plan GA’s Beach Escape, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.

Disclosure: Escape Plan GA provided media discounted tickets for this game.