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]

Saw is one of the best games in the Atlanta area. Here are our other recommendations for great escape rooms around Atlanta.

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.

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

Disclosure: Project Escape comped our tickets for this game.

Impossible Escape – Catacombs [Review]

[At the time of this review, Impossible Escape was called Brainstorm Escape Games.]

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.

РIn 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]

The Shiners is one of the best games in the Atlanta area. Here are our other recommendations for great escape rooms around Atlanta.

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.¬†¬Į\_(„ÉĄ)_/¬Į

– 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.

РAs 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.