Escape City Buffalo – The Hangover [Review]

The Hangover is one of the best escape rooms in the Niagara / Buffalo area. Here are our recommendations for other great escape rooms around Niagara Falls / Buffalo, NY.

Assemble your Wolfpack

Location: Tonawanda, New York

Date Played: April 30, 2022

Team size: 4-10; we recommend 4-5

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: $30 per player

Ticketing: Private

Accessibility Consideration: ages 18 & up; let your gamemaster know if you are uncomfortable with motion

Emergency Exit Rating: For most of the game, and most players, this is [A+] No Lock. However, for a portion of the game, some players experience [F] No Emergency Exit

Physical Restraints: For one player, a portion of the game is [F] No Emergency Release

REA Reaction

The Hangover wasn’t shy. It was an openly juvenile and utterly ridiculous experience.

A tower of empty beer bottles with a bra hanging from it.

The set was a gorgeous mess. Any direction we looked had multiple things going on that would make us chuckle. Through extensive and artful application of epoxy, Escape City Buffalo pulled off the miraculous feat of producing a cluttered and chaotic set that didn’t feel like a nightmare to puzzle in.

It felt like Escape City Buffalo built this nutty and amazing set before they’d figure out all of the gameplay. Maybe they had the main ideas, but not the details. The majority of the gameplay seemed bolted on top of the set and held together by weak clue structure, aided by hints. It was a fun game, but it did feel like there were lots of opportunities to better integrate the environment into the gameplay.

And when Escape City Buffalo did blend the set with the puzzles, tasks, and challenges… they did some incredible things. This was especially evident in some genius late-game scenes.

Escape City Buffalo has long been the place to play in Western New York, and The Hangover lived up to this company’s past games, and in some ways exceeded them. If you’re in the region, be sure to check this one out.

Who is this for?

  • Fans of The Hangover trilogy
  • Scenery snobs
  • Best for players with at least some experience
  • Players who don’t need to be a part of every puzzle

Why play?

  • Ridiculous and fun environment
  • Delightfully silly interactions
  • Clever climax

Story

After a wild night in Las Vegas, we’d woken up in a wrecked hotel room with no memory of the previous night and a significant debt to the Russian Mafia that we had an hour to repay.

A fancy tile and marble bath that is a mess from a party, liquor and beer bottles, a bra, anda. statue of Caesar with lipstick and mask are strewn about.
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Niagara Escapement – Easy Bake Coven [Review]

Easy Bake Coven is one of the best escape rooms in the Niagara / Buffalo area. Here are our recommendations for other great escape rooms around Niagara Falls / Buffalo, NY.

Double double players in trouble

Location: Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada

Date Played: May 1, 2022

Team Size: 2-4; we recommend 2-3

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: $26.55 CAD per player

Ticketing: Private

Emergency Exit Rating: [A+] No Lock

Physical Restraints: [A+] No Physical Restraints

REA Reaction

When I first heard we were about to be captured by a witch and thrown into an oven, à la Grimm’s fairytale Hansel & Gretel, I thought the experience might be dark and somewhat scary. Instead, from the very first moments, we were immersed in a delightful storybook world, complete with a cute audio introduction that captured our imaginations and set the stage for a fun adventure. Even the name, Easy Bake Coven, sets a clever, light-hearted tone, which is carried throughout the escape game. 

The space was simple and uncluttered, almost sparse, with little to detract from the actual puzzles; some additional design details here and there would have enhanced the overall immersion even more. And yet, the game kept us fully engaged as we progressed from playful, tactical interactions early on to more nuanced, layered puzzles later in the experience. With smooth game flow and unique, creative puzzles that just “clicked” when you solved them, Easy Bake Coven was a delight.

A witch's cauldron on a fire with green liquid boiling in it.

There really is something for players of all ages and skill levels, a rarity in a family-friendly game. If you’re in the Niagara Falls area, you should absolutely stop by Niagara Escapement and play Easy Bake Coven.

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Niagara Escapement – End of the *Bleeping* World [Review]

End of the Bleeping World is one of the best escape rooms in the Niagara / Buffalo area. Here are our recommendations for other great escape rooms around Niagara Falls / Buffalo, NY.

Puzzle Preppers

Location: Niagara Falls, Ontario Canada

Date Played: May 1, 2022

Team Size: 3-6; we recommend 3-4

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: $25 CAD per player

Ticketing: Private

Emergency Exit Rating: [A+] No Lock

Physical Restraints: [A+] No Physical Restraints

REA Reaction

The word that came to mind when I walked out of End of the Bleeping World was just… classic. Most refreshing was the momentum that carried us through the plot, lining up opportunities for players to score successes in frequent and approachable intervals as we sought solace from catastrophe.

Designed by the same individual who was the mastermind behind Dead Air (a now-closed hallmark of escape rooms in the northeast), End of the Bleeping World was another example of rock-solid game design. This serious scenario with a lighthearted tone was a joy to work through. The puzzles were incredibly fair, the aha moments were particularly delightful, and the non-linear space itself was set up in such a way that enabled players to have their own range of motion, both physically and in discovery moments.

Inside of a brick and metal bunker with a pneumatic tube system.

If you are playing in the Buffalo/ Niagara/ Southern Ontario region and you don’t play this game (alongside the 2-person Easy Bake Coven), you are doing yourself a disservice. Suitable for beginners and entertaining for enthusiasts, End of the Bleeping World was a great example of intelligent, approachable gameplay really hitting a home run.

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Lock & Key Escape Room – The Seance [Review]

Astral Abduction

Location: Buffalo, NY

Date Played: April 23, 2022

Team Size: 4-8; we recommend 3-5

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: $27 per player

Ticketing: Private

Emergency Exit Rating: [A+] No Lock

Physical Restraints: [A+] No Physical Restraints

REA Reaction

Lock & Key Escape Room delivered a well-orchestrated escape room with The Seance. It used a myriad of puzzle types to build towards an escape that was both satisfying to play through and built on a logical game flow.

We particularly enjoyed a puzzle with an artistic aspect that had us mixing and matching elements in unexpected ways midway into the experience. We paused to appreciate the detailed novelty of the interaction, which underlined how set pieces found right away may take on a different context with information found later.

A seance room with a strange symbol painted on the wall.

As a note, The Seance did lose a bit of its storyline later in the gameplay. While the puzzles were clearly laid out, it wasn’t always obvious how they were driving us towards the original objective of finding a silent film star. This certainly won’t heavily impact whether some people enjoy this room or not, but a stronger narrative backbone would help tie the individual moments together.

If you’re in the Buffalo area, The Seance is a perfect weekend activity to close out a day adventuring with your family or to kick off a night going out on Elmwood Avenue with friends.

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The Crux Escape Rooms – Saboteur [Review]

I spy.

Location: Niagara Falls, Ontario

Date Played: September 2, 2018

Team size: 6-12; we recommend 4 or 6

Duration: 50 minutes

Price: $25 per ticket

Ticketing: Private

REA Reaction

The Crux Escape Rooms in Niagara Falls understands puzzle-focused gameplay.

Saboteur nailed split-team escape room design. When the group was split, it asked us to observe, solve, and communicate. Then the group game together to solve new challenges without stepping all over each other and the gamespace. Aesthetically speaking, however, Saboteur left a lot to be desired.

We recommend all the games at The Crux Escape Rooms. While Dead Air is still our favorite, and we also loved The Clinic, if you’re looking for additional fun puzzle games in the Niagara Falls area, definitely check out Saboteur. We’re thrilled that we did.

Who is this for?

  • Puzzle lovers
  • Team players
  • Any experience level

Why play?

  • Successful split-team game design
  • Strong and creative puzzles

Story

We had reached our final test as special agents when we learned that our group of budding agents had been infiltrated. We needed to pass the test and stop the saboteur.

Setting

Our group of special agents was split between 2 symmetrical, adjacent rooms. These were unthemed spaces with white walls – one with red trim, the other blue – adorned with puzzle components.

Gameplay

The Crux Escape Rooms’ Saboteur was a split-team escape room with a moderate level of difficulty.

The group spent the first act of the escape room in separate rooms before coming together for the second act. We needed to work together from different gamespaces.

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

Analysis

+ Each puzzle gave us a sense of accomplishment upon completion. Saboteur didn’t use gimme puzzles as filler.

+ We especially enjoyed one puzzle that REDACTED.

– We found that one puzzle seemed to rely on some obscure knowledge or finding a needle in a haystack. While it was absolutely solvable without that knowledge, in the moment it felt unfair.

+ The puzzles flowed clearly from one to the next. The locks were well labeled and mapped to their corresponding puzzles. The challenge was always in the puzzles rather than in popping the lock or following the thread of gameplay.

+ The Crux Escape Rooms in Niagara Falls has been one of our go-to examples of how to design an elegant escape game on a tight budget. From a gameplay standpoint, they succeeded again with Saboteur.

– The set, however, didn’t offer much of anything besides a room in which to build the gameplay. It looked and felt bland.

+ The Crux Escape Rooms built solid, tidy clue structure for every puzzle. This didn’t mean the puzzles were easy. They were challenging solves clued in fair and sometimes unusually clever ways.

– We would have liked to see more from the infiltration mechanic. It seemed underused.

– The conclusion was begging for a little more drama.

Saboteur worked well as a split team game. We needed to communicate and work together from the different spaces. Our actions affected one another. When the groups joined, it was clear where and how to focus our energy on new tasks.

Tips for Visiting

  • There is a parking lot.
  • The Crux Escape Rooms is also a board game cafe.
  • If you play with fewer than 6 players, there is one puzzle where someone will have to move quickly.

Book your hour with The Crux Escape Rooms’ Saboteur, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.

Disclosure: The Crux Escape Rooms provided media discounted tickets for this game.