Escape Factor – The Timekeeper’s Trapped! [Updated Reaction]

Back in 2016, Lisa and David reviewed The Timekeeper’s Trapped! at Escape Factor.

Six years later, I (Matthew) had a chance to play an updated version of the game. Though I hadn’t myself played the original version, I was able to piece together a picture of what had changed from discussions both with Lisa and David and with Escape Factor’s owner. This is my updated reaction.

A steampunk-ish room with many clocks, gears, and a workbench.
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Escape Artistry – Roaring Dan’s Pirate Dungeon [Review]

Seavey shanties

Location: Chicago, IL

Date Played: March 10, 2022

Team Size: 1-8; we recommend 3-5

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: $34 per player for 3+ players

Ticketing: Private

Emergency Exit Rating: [A] Push To Exit

Physical Restraints: [A+] No Physical Restraints

REA Reaction

Roaring Dan’s Pirate Dungeon was based around a truly fascinating bit of local Chicago history: the real-life tale of “Roaring” Dan Seavey, a pirate who frequented the Great Lakes. A well-acted intro video and a theatrical gamemaster helped open this historical portal, and while the room and gameplay were otherwise that of a generic pirate-themed escape room, this historical framing helped the room feel rooted in its location.

Escape Artistry’s rooms stand out for their sustainably built sets, and the masonry and woodwork in Roaring Dan’s Pirate Dungeon were solid and beautiful. Even many of the wooden crates strewn around the room were handbuilt, and some contained some neat handmade mechanical locks.

A pirate's den viewed through a cargo net.

That said, the set felt somewhat underutilized for the puzzles, with most puzzles involving standalone elements in the room. The puzzle flow was fair and contained some rather cute moments, but overall it felt quite dated. I’d love to have seen more Roaring Dan and other local Chicago history directly incorporated into the puzzles and props, and generally more of this story driving the gameplay.

Roaring Dan’s Pirate Dungeon‘s immersive set and smooth, accessible puzzle flow would be especially great for newer escape room players. For experienced players, Duck & Cover Classroom provides denser puzzle content and a few more twists and turns, but Roaring Dan’s Pirate Dungeon would also be an enjoyable appetizer if you have time to play both.

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Escape Factor – Ghost in the Graveyard [Review]

Apparitional aspirations

Location: Forest Park, IL

Date Played: March 13, 2022

Team Size: 2-8; we recommend 2-4

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: $140 for the first 3 players, $30 for each additional player

Ticketing: Private

Accessibility Consideration: Slight crouching/ crawling required for at least some players

Emergency Exit Rating: [A+] No Lock

Physical Restraints: [A+] No Physical Restraints

REA Reaction

Ghost in the Graveyard presented a charming investigation at a quaint cemetery.

Keeping in the general style of Escape Factor’s earlier rooms, Ghost in the Graveyard presented creative puzzle-forward gameplay that led us to uncover various secrets subtly hidden throughout the details of the set. We encountered more varied and refined inputs than before, as Ghost in the Graveyard had more tech and was notably less combination lock-heavy.

A cemetery filled with headstones and lit by two hanging lanterns.

Yet while Escape Factor’s previous rooms thrived in their scrappy, quirky humor, Ghost in the Graveyard took on a generally more somber tone. From the tombstone epitaphs at the start to a somewhat dark narrative twist later on in the game, the seriousness of the environment never quite aligned with the light whimsy of the bulk of the gameplay.

Escape Factor tried to refine their craft with Ghost in the Graveyard. In some respects they succeeded — the set was lovely and clean, and the puzzles were enjoyable. Yet going forward, I hope the humor and energy that made some of their earlier rooms so memorable will persist more strongly in their future creations.

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Escape Factor – The Treehouse Raid at Fort Knocks [Review]

Unbeleafably intreeguing

Location: Forest Park, IL

Date Played: March 13, 2022

Team Size: 2-6; we recommend 2-4

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: $139 for three players, plus $30 for each additional player

Ticketing: Private

Accessibility Consideration: Some slight crawling/ crouching is required for at least one player

Emergency Exit Rating: [A+] No Lock

Physical Restraints: [A+] No Physical Restraints

REA Reaction

When I was a kid, I dreamed of building my ultimate treehouse. My friends and I would lug around random junk we found in town, and save it for our master plans. The Treehouse Raid at Fort Knocks transported me to my childhood; it was filled with objects and puzzles that seriously felt designed by my 12-year-old self. By no means is this game specifically for children, but the wonder, imagination, and joy this room filled me with was a lovely change from the serious and thrilling escape rooms we typically find ourselves in.

Considering how small the floorplan of The Treehouse Raid at Fort Knocks was, Escape Factor was able to jam-pack a ton of puzzles and content from floor to ceiling. The further we progressed, the more we found ourselves discovering layers of the space we hadn’t realized were there the whole time.

A wooden treehouse made from materials cobbled together including a bike, license plates, road signs, and hub caps.

The game’s difficulty came less with individual puzzles, and more in figuring out what in the space was used for each puzzle. Discerning which objects and locks went together was more time consuming than we expected, but felt satisfying once we made the connections.

Escape Factor is a fantastic location to check out if you’re interested in fun, original themes, and clever solves. While you’re here, be sure not to miss the Bonus Fun Time Gameshow as well!

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Escape Factor – Bonus Fun Time Game Show Challenge [Review]

<insert audience applause>

Location: Forest Park, IL

Date Played: March 13, 2022

Team Size: 3-9; we recommend 3-5

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: $140 for the first 3 players, $30 for each additional player

Ticketing: Private

Emergency Exit Rating: [A+] No Lock

Physical Restraints: [A+] No Physical Restraints

REA Reaction

In Bonus Fun Time Game Show Challenge, we played contestants in a vintage game show montage, in a delightful alternate reality where all classic game show challenges are actually cleverly designed puzzles.

Bonus Fun Time Game Show Challenge fully embodied the distinctive whimsy and humor that characterizes Escape Factor’s design style. This was an older room that had aged quite well. Every puzzle and door we opened provided a fun new game show reference, and our faces hurt by the end from nonstop smiling. With relatively little tech and a modestly sized space, the gameplay felt dynamic and engaging, reminding me how much I still love classic escape room gameplay when expressed through a nonstandard theme.

The Fun Time Game Show set is brightly colored and looks like a 1960s gameshow.

Escape Factor is one of the top companies in the Chicago area. Both Bonus Fun Time Game Show Challenge and The Treehouse Raid at Fort Knocks especially stand out for their unique theming and creative puzzles.

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