Escape Plan GA – Bank Heist [Review]

Puzzle withdrawal.

Location: Loganville, GA

Date Played: March 23, 2018

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

Duration: 60 minutes

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

Ticketing: Public

REA Reaction

Bank Heist was a challenging search-and-puzzle escape room. Play this one for the puzzles. It was uneven in set design and game flow. Not recommended for newbies.

If you’re nearby and want a challenge, go take it on.

In-game: A lectern that reads, "Next Teller Please."

Who is this for?

  • Puzzle lovers
  • Best for players who want a challenge
  • Best for players with at least some experience

Why play?

  • Some neat moments, especially in the last act
  • A stiff challenge

Story

We were robbing a bank to initiate ourselves into the mob, as one does.

In-game: A bank safe beside a paperwork table.

Setting

The gamespace was fairly tight and crammed a number of different bank-esque set pieces into the room.

Our robbery began in the office-like space in front of the bank vault door. The carpeted room consisted mainly of a large desk, lectern, some wall hangings, and of course, the entrance to the bank vault.

The set design was inconsistent with a few gems, particularly in the late-game, and a lot of stuff that just felt more or less recognizable as belonging in a bank.

In-game: A telephone and calculator on a desk.

Gameplay

Escape Plan GA’s Bank Heist was a standard escape room with a high level of difficulty.

Core gameplay revolved around searching and puzzling.

Analysis

Bank Heist was a difficult search-and-puzzle game, with satisfying finds and solves. It was a challenge, even for our experienced team. We comfortably escaped, but we had to work at it.

– This was a heavily adapted N.E.R.D. escape room. At times, it felt like the clue structure had been edited incompletely, with remnants of previous puzzles remaining in the props. In one case this really tipped the scales a bit too far towards confusion.

– Escape Plan GA didn’t “ask why” quite enough. One of the bigger moments in Bank Heist involved doing one of the few things that I know I would never do if I were attempting a bank robbery… And I don’t know a lot about robbing banks.

+ Escape Plan GA did a fantastic job of selecting some of their locks and staging a number of the later interactions.

– Some of our teammates missed the most visually impactful moments because the most cinematic part of the experience was too closed off for the entire team to view it.

? This was a difficult game (arguably the hardest we encountered in Atlanta). We enjoyed the challenge, your mileage may vary.

Tips for Visiting

  • Parking: There is parking out front.
  • Escape Plan GA has a comfortable lounge area.

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

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

Time to Escape – King Tut’s Tomb [Review]

Read like an Egyptian.

Location: Atlanta, GA

Date Played: March 24, 2018

Team size: 1-10; we recommend 3-4

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: $28 per ticket

Ticketing: Public or Private

REA Reaction

Time to Escape loves minding the little details of period accuracy when crafting their historical escape games; King Tut’s Tomb was no exception. While we enjoyed the details and overall concept, the gameplay was rocky. Some of the puzzles suffered from wear that muddied our ability to accurately perceive clues and we had to read a ton of material to make progress.

We left really wanting to like this escape room more than we did. It had a lot going for it, but it had too much unfulfilled potential. King Tut’s Tomb could be further refined into something great.

If you’re a local seeking an adventure through ancient Egypt, check this out. Ultimately I’m much more eager to recommend Time to Escape’s Al Capone’s Speakeasy.

In-game: A wall of hieroglyphs and a cartouche.

Who is this for?

  • Amateur Egyptologists
  • Any experience level

Why play?

  • Surprising reveals
  • Layered puzzles

Story

It was 1922 and we were part of Howard Carter’s crew searching for a burial chamber. We had received word that Egyptian authorities were on their way to shut us down. Time was of the essence.

In-game: a large wooden crate and a brush.

Setting

We entered a dark chamber in a tomb with one flashlight fewer than the number of people in the group. The set was fairly Spartan, with a few puzzle interactions. The walls were covered from floor to ceiling with accurate recreations of Egyptian tomb wall carvings and art.

As we explored the game further, we found light among other elegant props.

In-game: A mural on the wall of an Egyptian tomb.

Gameplay

Time to Escape’s King Tut’s Tomb was a standard escape room with a moderate level of difficulty.

Core gameplay revolved around observing and puzzling.

Analysis

+ This game was well researched. It accurately depicted tomb art.

+ There were some interesting puzzles.

– A lot of those puzzles, however, were really best for a solo solver, maybe two people together.

– Puzzle solving required a lot of reading, much of this in low light.

– Portions of the set and props needed some touch-up paint. The problems caused by the worn paint were amplified by the dim lighting.

– I had an encounter with a reasonably potent laser at eye level.

+ The conclusion and the corresponding props were solid.

Tips for Visiting

  • Parking: There is parking in their lot.
  • Time to Escape is located on the second floor behind the building. There is an elevator in the middle of the building and stairwells on the sides.
  • This game does require a little bit of crawling or crouching. I suspect that if you have accessibility needs, Time to Escape would be able to accommodate them.

Book your hour with Time to Escape’s King Tut’s Tomb, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.

Disclosure: Time to Escape provided media discounted tickets for this game.

 

Project Escape – Saw [Review]

How did one team win by 6 seconds?! Read the epic tale.

Location: Marietta, GA

Date Played: March 24, 2018

Team size: up to 6 per room; we recommend 3-5 per room (book both copies and put even teams in each room)

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: $28 per ticket

Ticketing: Public or Private

REA Reaction

Project Escape’s Saw looked as good as it played. This team vs team competitive game wasn’t particularly challenging, but the intensity of the competition amped up the excitement of the experience.

Lisa and I once again played against one another and my team won by 6 seconds. For those keeping score at home, we are now 2 & 2 against one another.

If you’re anywhere nearby and have enough people to play Saw competitively, I’d encourage you to do so.

In-game: A rundown white tiled room with a big slop sink and a toilet.

Who is this for?

  • Adventure seekers
  • Puzzle lovers
  • Scenery snobs
  • Any experience level
  • Competitive escape room players

Why play?

  • Competitive gameplay
  • Great set design
  • Strong puzzles

Story

We woke up handcuffed to our friends in a strange room. In the next room, another group of victims were locked up in the same manner.

Only the first group to escape would emerge unharmed.

It was Saw staged as a team vs team battle… and without all of the blood, screaming, death, and dismemberment.

In-game: A rundown white tiled room with lockers and a maze along the back wall.

Setting

Project Escape did a great job of capturing the dirty white-tiled aesthetic of the original Saw film. The gamespace was detailed and eerie, without instilling terror. It was well lit and easy to focus on gameplay.

In-game: An exit door with 5 glowing lights above it.

Gameplay

Project Escape’s Saw was a standard escape room with a low level of difficulty and a team vs team twist.

Competitive play was handled Race To Escape style. Two teams competed in mirror image rooms. Each room had five different paths of puzzles that resolved linearly. At the conclusion of each puzzle path, we earned a key that would turn on a light. Both teams could see their own lights as well as the opposing team’s lights. The first team to trigger all five of their own lights won.

When a team requested a hint, both teams received the same hint.

Core gameplay revolved around observing and puzzling.

Analysis

+ The competitive gameplay was exciting. This was especially true given the two overpowered teams we fielded. We created our own pressure to succeed. It was real and exhilarating.

– When the opposing team triggered a light, it was too subtle. We frequently didn’t realize it had happened until quite a bit later. Project Escape missed this opportunity to add drama to the experience.

+ The puzzles were well executed. Some offered unique challenges; others allowed us to build skill and mastery.

– One team (the winning team) had some seriously weak batteries in a handheld light. This was a significant annoyance and could have turned into a game-breaking barrier.

+ The handcuffed opening limited our access to the scope of the room until we had earned our freedom. This provided a good on-ramp for teams to learn the basics.

+ The set looked great and was easy to operate within. We weren’t straining for light and even our most nervous players were unaffected by fear. This was a concern for some going into a Saw-themed game.

– If you’re expecting horror from a Saw-themed game, your undead princess is in another castle.

? There were no opportunities to interact with the opposing team during gameplay. The effects of this were mixed. On one hand, it was a clean race. On the other hand, this limited the tension, strategy, and tactics available.

+ Hints were fair and designed to prevent blowouts by helping keep a team from falling too far behind.

– The light indicators were laid out in a peculiar and confusing manner. The teams were labeled “Team A” & “Team B.” One would assume that Team A’s lights would be on top, and Team B’s the bottom. Strangely each room had the same layout of “us” on top and “them” on the bottom. Clue indicators, however, followed the more comfortable A on the top, B on the bottom layout. This was all especially annoying for Team B. Consistency and better labeling would have helped.

+ Each room had its own gamemaster overseeing the experience.

– The system didn’t know which team had won. In the case of our game, the 6 second difference in escape times meant that both teams were initially told that they had won. I suspect that Escape Room Master doesn’t have proper functionality for managing these aspects of competitive gameplay.

+ Both teams are allowed the full hour of gameplay. When one team wins, the other team is still allowed to play out the experience.

Tips for Visiting

  • Parking: There is parking out front.
  • Note that if you book multiple games at Project Escape, you might have to drive/walk around the building complex between games because they aren’t all located at the same entrance.
  • Food: We enjoyed the Marietta Diner.

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

Disclosure: Project Escape comped our tickets for this game.

 

Brainstorm Escape Games – Catacombs [Review]

Circular logic.

Location: Norcross, GA

Date Played: March 23, 2018

Team size: up to 8; we recommend 2-4

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: $28 per ticket

Ticketing: Public

REA Reaction

From the opening moments, Catacombs was unusual. While the overall design and cohesion could have been stronger, this unique approach to escape rooms was exciting.

If you’re in the area, this one is worth seeing. It’s flawed, but interesting.

In-game: A gold candelabra with a skull motif and red candles.

Who is this for?

  • Adventure seekers
  • Any experience level
  • Players who want to see something unusual

Why play?

  • The atypical layout
  • A few interesting puzzles
  • It’s different

Story

Our archeological dig site had crumbled beneath our feet, dropping us into the ancient catacombs below. We’d rather this not be our final resting place.

In-game: a long narrow hallway covered with cotton spider webs.

Setting

The set was an interesting shape. I wouldn’t call it an “escape room,” exactly, more like “escape hallways.” The narrow spaces and high ceilings made it just a little imposing, which was exciting.

Brainstorm Escape Games had outfitted the space with varied decor, a few props, and some locked spaces. None of these items added ambiance or really had anything to do with catacombs. In the end it still felt like were were surrounded by drywall, albeit imposing drywall.

Gameplay

Brainstorm Escape Games’ Catacombs was a standard escape room in an unconventional set and a moderate level of difficulty.

Core gameplay revolved around observing and puzzling. It was pretty linear.

Analysis

+ The overall concept underlying this game was genius.

+ We were energized upon entering this room, simply because of its strange footprint. As we began to explore, were all in the same space, but also in different spaces, which was exciting.

– While we enjoyed the layout of the space, the scenery left something to be desired.

– Although the space was large enough for everyone to explore and observe, the gameplay was largely linear which meant that we frequently bunched up on one another and watched someone else solve a puzzle.

+ One critical layered puzzle was a ray of light in these cavernous depths. It worked well as a team challenge and was a lot of fun to solve.

– Not all of the puzzles had as strong connections. In one instance we suffered a mis-correlation. In another, we nearly overlooked an item that seemed far too tiny and inconsequential. A few tweaks for stronger connections and more cohesion would make this strange space and bit more approachable.

Tips for Visiting

  • Parking: There is parking out front.

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

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

 

Amazing Escape – The Virus [Review]

Scope out this lab.

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 Virus augmented typical escape room gameplay with some nifty gadgets. While the gamespace wasn’t particularly inspired, the puzzle flow worked well. We recommend this escape room for beginners.

If you’re a local looking to get into escape rooms, try this one out.

In-game: A lab environment with lockers and lights glowing red and blue.

Who is this for?

  • Puzzle lovers
  • Kids at heart (lots of fun toys)
  • Best for beginners

Why play?

  • Fun toys

Story

Deep in this underground laboratory we needed to find an anti-virus and save the world.

In-game: Lab coats hanging on a wall beside a digital keypad and a world map.

Setting

The set mainly consisted of low lighting and built-in furniture of the counter-and-cabinets variety. It was pretty standard lab escape room.

Gameplay

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

Core gameplay revolved around searching and applying different tools to solve puzzles.

Analysis

+ The Virus was at its best when we were manipulating different gadgets to further the gameplay.

– The more cerebral puzzles were pretty basic, though frequently unintuitive.

– In one section of The Virus, we were surprised and confused by a rather eye-catching red herring.

+ The antidote was beckoning to us. It was the most aesthetically pleasing prop in the gamespace. That added a bit of excitement to the culmination of our mission.

Tips for Visiting

  • Parking: There is parking out front.

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

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

 

Escape Woods – The Shiners [Review]

Escape the trailer park.

Location: Powder Springs, GA

Date Played: March 24, 2018

Team size: up to 10; we recommend 4-8

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: $28 per ticket

Ticketing: Public or Private

REA Reaction

The Shiners was utterly unforgettable. We weren’t trapped anywhere. We were outdoors, invading a sprawling trailer park, breaking into the mobile homes, and salvaging materials to help our in-character gamemaster distill moonshine.

As with The Bunker at Escape Woods, I was unusually ok with generally poor game design choices that would typically drive me crazy.

Once again, this strange game was an argument for why we don’t give numeric ratings. If we were applying a rating, the high score for immersion would be offset by a low score for puzzle and game design. We’d have to give this game an average score that wouldn’t reflect reality. The Shiners was as much a masterpiece as it was a mess… but damn it, it was fun and memorable.

If this sounds incredibly exciting, it’s absolutely worth traveling far out of your way to experience The Shiners… and if this sounds like a disaster to you, then stay away.

In-game: An old trailer in the middle of the woods. It's lit with a long strand of light bulbs.

Who is this for?

  • Adventure seekers
  • Story seekers
  • Scenery snobs
  • Any experience level
  • People with at least basic agility
  • People who aren’t germophobic
  • Open-minded escape room players

Why play?

  • Detailed, raw, and real set
  • There’s nothing else like it, that we know of.
  • Unforgettable

Story

Master moonshiner Pops McCoy’s crew and facility had been busted by the ATF. McCoy had retreated to a remote trailer park in the middle of the woods and recruited us to help him scavenge for the ingredients and supplies he needed to whip up one final batch of his secret recipe.

We had to help McCoy complete one last batch of moonshine and get out of town before the ATF caught up with us.

The entry way to The Shiners. A broken archway reads, "Shady Acres." Beyond is a wooded trailer park.

Setting

I previously described the background of Escape Woods in our earlier review of The Bunker. It was a wild place.

A farm

Once again, a gamemaster took us for a little walk through the woods, this time to the Shady Acres trailer park. It was a trailer park complete with four trailers, a van, an outhouse, and all sorts of random details that made this game feel bizarrely authentic.

Unless we were inside of one of the trailers, the entire escape room took place outdoors.

In-game: A trailer with a few folding chairs around an extinguished fire pit.

Gameplay

Escape Woods’ The Shiners was an unusual escape room with a higher level of difficulty.

Core gameplay revolved around searching, making connections, parsing real clues from the numerous red herrings, and navigating the outdoor game environment.

The game was overseen by an in-character gamemaster, Pops McCoy. Whenever we retrieved a component for his recipe, we had to bring it to him.

In-game: A hand painted wooden sign leans against a tree. It reads, "Notis! Trespasser get shot."

Analysis

+ Entering this gamespace was surprising.

+ The trailer park set was unbelievable.

– In one trailer there was an oven, and oh boy did it smell foul when we opened it up. I don’t think this was an odor for-effect situation; I think something bad had happened in that oven.

? As with Escape Woods’ other game, the set had some dimly lit segments and we needed to bring our own flashlights (phones worked). On one hand, it was annoying that the game wasn’t self-contained. On the other hand, my phone is usually a better flashlight than the junk that most escape rooms provide. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

– It was difficult to tell where the set ended and what was out of play. We frequently did things that made our gamemaster/  Pops McCoy shout something at us like, “THERE AIN’T NOTHING IN THE SHITTER!.”

+ Our gamemaster was hilarious and even when he was telling us not to do something, he made it amusing.

+ The story was hilarious and generally well executed.

– We got a bit confused near the end of the story as we weren’t really sure how to proceed, and the instructions we had received had a strange technical inaccuracy.

+ Escape Woods laid out the game so that it had some flow and a natural progression.

– As with The Bunker, the puzzle design was the weak link. In one instance there was a puzzle that played more like a Rorschach test.

– There was an order preservation puzzle. We ended up having to guess our way through the order.

+ This was the craziest escape game that I’ve played to date.

Tips for Visiting

  • Bring your own flashlight. Flashlights will not be provided and you will need them.
  • You will drive down a dirt road to get to the parking lot.
  • Escape Woods’ facility is primarily outdoors, including their lobby. There is an indoor restroom available.
  • You must be comfortable walking on uneven surfaces and on paths through the woods.
  • Wear clothing that you don’t mind getting dirty. We recommend closed-toed shoes and long pants as well.

Book your hour with Escape Woods’ The Shiners, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.

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

Escape the Netherworld – Sasquatch [Review]

A big hairy good time.

Location: Stone Mountain, GA

Date Played: March 23, 2018

Team size: up to 8; we recommend 3-5

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: $28 per ticket

Ticketing: Public or Private

REA Reaction

Sasquatch. It was a playful, interesting, and energetic adventure. We never knew what would happen next.

If you’re anywhere nearby, it’s worth visiting.

Sasquatch team post-game photo.

Who is this for?

  • Adventure seekers
  • Story seekers
  • Puzzle lovers
  • Scenery snobs
  • Players of any experience level

Why play?

  • Beautiful set
  • Remarkably interesting story
  • In character gamemastering
  • Exciting moments

Story

With our car out of commission on a remote camping trip, a ranger had directed us to a nearby cabin in the woods. Since the door was open and the lights were on, we had made our way inside… to discover the unfortunate series of events that had transpired prior our arrival.

In-game: A wood door chained shut.
Image via Escape The Netherworld.

Setting

Sasquatch took place in a small cabin built of wooden 2x4s. The rustic decor and handmade furniture gave it a genuine and homey aesthetic. It looked fantastic.

I wish that I could show you a bit more of this game; it looked great.

Gameplay

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

Core gameplay revolved around searching and puzzling.

Analysis

+ As we played through Sasquatch we learned the backstory of the cabin’s owner and the events that had occurred therein before we’d arrived. The story justified the cabin’s decor and existence. It made sense and it was unexpected.

+ Our gamemaster was an off-stage character in our adventure. Her insertions – be they hints, jibes, or safety warnings – were humorous and entertaining.

– Our gamemaster needed to keep us away from certain set components. With a large team in the space, it felt like she was continually telling someone to move away from something. Escape the Netherworld could refactor the set just a bit to keep players away from certain areas and cut down on the player admonishment.

Sasquatch built tension. As we progressed through the set and story, the gamespace reacted to us. It was dramatic.

+ The puzzles flowed well and worked with the story. There were fun surprises to find and interesting puzzles to work through. The puzzle difficulty varied throughout the experience.

– Escape the Netherworld included a few purchased, laser-cut puzzles that frequently felt out of place.

+ The finale was phenomenal.

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 Sasquatch, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.

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

 

Escape Woods – The Bunker: Strange Things at Hawkins Lab [Review]

Stranger Things was filmed here.

Location: Powder Springs, GA

Date Played: March 24, 2018

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

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: $28 per ticket

Ticketing: Public or Private

REA Reaction

The Bunker: Strange Things at Hawkins Lab was an atypical, endlessly interesting, and deeply flawed escape room that I will never forget. The untamed environment was beautiful and gross. The game design needed a lot of work. As frustrating as it was at times, it was exhilarating.

During this escape room, I was strangely ok with stuff that would normally drive me nuts. Buyer beware.

This adventure argues for why we don’t give number ratings. If we had to rate this game, we’d have to average a lot of emotions and give it a 3. But that number doesn’t capture this game. For some folks, it will be a 5. For others, it will be a 1. It was magnificently good… and bad. If this sounds super exciting, it’s absolutely worth traveling far out of your way for. If this sounds like a nightmare, stay away.

In-game: An interior of the bunker. A wallhanging holds paperwork, the bunker looks rundown.

Who is this for?

  • Adventure seekers
  • Scenery snobs
  • Stranger Things fans
  • Any experience level
  • People with at least basic agility
  • People who aren’t germophobic
  • Open-minded escape room players

Why play?

  • Detailed, raw, and real set
  • There’s nothing else like it, that we know of.
  • Unforgettable

Story

In this Stranger Things-themed game (created with permission) we had to sneak into a secret subterranean bunker under Hawkins Lab and retrieve a creature from the Upside Down, then escape.

In-game: An old broken typewriter on a desk beside a Brownie camera, and rotary phone.

Setting

Escape Woods was the escape game corner of Sleepy Hollow Farm, which operates as a real farm, corn maze, farm zoo, and playground, among other things. It also happens to be the real life set of Bob Merril’s pumpkin patch as well as Hopper’s cabin from Stranger Things Season 2.

A sign pointing in many directions towards escape woods, parking, a corn maze, and the exit.

We drove onto the farm, past the farm zoo, beyond the ‘Merril’s’ pumpkin patch and arrived at a makeshift office. We also took a few trips down the slides on their playground. (The long one doesn’t let you build up momentum and the short one is fast; land with caution.)

The rusty hand painted Escape Woods sign.

From there, we took a brief hike out into the woods and approached The Bunker.

The exterior of the Bunker. It looks incredibly detailed, rundown, and militaristic.

Then we descended into The Bunker.

The stairway down into the bunker. It's made of assorted metal components.

It was a mixture of wood, metal, and according to our game master, cannibalized portions of the Hunger Games movie set.

The set was a massive series of chambers and long corridors. There were a lot of things to step over and low ceilings to duck under (if you’re tall). This labyrinth just kept going.

When the floor was made from metal, it felt strong. When the floor was made from wood, it usually sagged a little underfoot. The Bunker was damp (it had rained the week preceding our arrival), dingy, contained insects, and almost certainly contained some mold.

The Bunker was quite literally wild. It captured the abandoned underground lab vibe with a level of authenticity that exceeded any expectations that we could have had.

Gameplay

Escape Woods’ The Bunker was an unusual escape room with a higher level of difficulty.

Core gameplay revolved around searching, making connections, parsing real clues from the numerous red herrings, and navigating the game environment.

Analysis

+ The set was insane. It was massive, sprawling, detailed, and it looked and felt real.

? While we found this wild and untamed set exhilarating, some of our teammates were very uncomfortable in it.

? The set was dimly lit and we needed to bring our own flashlights (phones worked). On the one hand, it was annoying that the game wasn’t self-contained. On the other hand, my phone is usually a better flashlight than the junk that most escape rooms provide. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

+ There were absolutely no “do not touch” flags in this game.

– There were far too many exposed nails. Parts of the set looked like The Pit in Mortal Kombat.

– The clue-to-red herring ratio was staggeringly in favor of red herrings. There were tons of things to look at and turn over (and what you’d find underneath wasn’t always pretty).

– The puzzle design and gameflow were subpar and at times felt downright broken. Throughout this game we had to search, take a guess at what was relevant, and then pull some strange detail out to derive an otherwise unclued solution.

+ There was a strange purity in having to go in and figure stuff out for ourselves.

– One sequence required the team to recall something from Stranger Things Season 2 and make a strange logic leap or take a hint.

– When we needed a hint, we needed to ask a specific question as there was no mechanism for our gamemaster to watch us or have any idea where we were or what we were stuck on.

+ The final exit was cool.

+ This was one of the most incredible adventures that I’ve had in my escape room playing career. I felt like a kid in this alien environment. I will never forget this escape room.

Tips for Visiting

  • Bring your own flashlight. Flashlights will not be provided and you will need them.
  • You will drive down a dirt road to get to the parking lot.
  • Escape Woods’ facility is primarily outdoors, including their lobby. There is an indoor restroom available.
  • You must be comfortable walking on uneven surfaces and on paths through the woods.
  • Wear clothing that you don’t mind getting dirty. We recommend closed-toed shoes and long pants as well.

Book your hour with Escape Woods’ The Bunker, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.

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

 

Atlanta, GA: Room Escape Recommendations

Atlanta, the great Delta hub, is home to a handful of interesting escape rooms.

These were our favorite games in Atlanta, GA. The list isn’t long, but we still broke them out into categories to help you find the ones that best suite you.

The highways of Atlanta in a time-lapse photo at night. Car lights looks like lasers.

Market standouts

If you only have time for a few games, play these:

  1. Al Capone’s Speakeasy, Time to Escape
  2. The Hotel, Mission: Escape Atlanta

Set & scenery-driven adventures

Puzzle-centric

Newbie-friendly

Games with actors

You are always welcome to contact us if this recommendation list doesn’t answer your specific questions.

Mastermind – Bank Heist [Review]

A puzzling withdrawal.

Location: Atlanta, GA

Date played: April 2, 2017

Team size: up to 10; we recommend 5-7

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: $28 per ticket

Story & setting

Our notorious crime syndicate was robbing another bepuzzled bank.

Our goals were to steal as much money as we could within an hour and escape.

The set looked like a bank: a bland lobby and teller counter, along with a vault, which was absolutely the highlight of the set.

In-game: a closeup of a bank teller's window with the FDIC insurance sticker in the foreground.
Nothing says “cool” quite like an FDIC sticker.

Puzzles

The Bank Heist was tangled with puzzles and locks. There were plenty of puzzles to solve, but it wasn’t always clear what was a puzzle.

Additionally, once a puzzle had been solved, it wasn’t easy to determine where to input the solution as there were many similar input mechanisms.

Standouts

There was one well designed, dramatic moment.

One repeated interaction was lifted straight from banking hardware and protocol. This was a clever puzzle-esque design.

Something that originally seemed trivial, even out-of-place, turned out to be useful in a particularly satisfying way.

Shortcomings

There were a lot of numbers and all numbers led back to a lock. These locks were almost all identical. It was a lot of similar information to keep track of.

Much of the puzzling in Bank Heist was accessible before we’d derived all of the necessary cluing or components. Strategic puzzle-gating would save teams from spinning their wheels attempting to solve without complete information.

In one area, the puzzles weren’t well distributed across the space. We spent a lot of time tripping over each other in one small corner of a rather large set.

One critical piece of tech was worn and badly beat up. It needed refurbishment.

Bank Heist had a self-service, QR code-based hinting system that was immersion-breaking. Because the QR codes were beside input mechanisms, not puzzles, we had no idea which puzzle a clue would hint at.

We never understood whether it mattered how much money we stole in our heist.

Should I play Mastermind’s Bank Heist?

Bank Heist had a number of great and satisfying moments. It also had a lot of damaged props and weak use of space. It made nearly no effort to help clue players towards the correct input mechanism for solved puzzles.

This was a game that had promise, but was ultimately too choppy.

While there are a number of moments to enjoy, I think that beginners would find themselves pretty lost in Bank Heist and experienced players will be frustrated by its seemingly incomplete execution.

As I reflect back on the game, parts of it make me smile. Other aspects make me wish that Mastermind had seen this design all the way through to something special. It has the potential and I hope that they get there.

Book your hour with Mastermind’s Bank Heist, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.

Full disclosure: Mastermind provided media discounted tickets for this game.