60 to Escape – Mystery Manor [Review]

G-g-g-GHOST!

Location: Gurnee, IL

Date Played: March 13, 2022

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

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: $30 per player

Ticketing: Private

Accessibility Consideration: One player must be able to crawl

Emergency Exit Rating: [A+] No Lock

Physical Restraints: [A+] No Physical Restraints

REA Reaction

60 to Escape’s Mystery Manor was a goofy and spooky take on the haunted mansion theme, full of character and whimsy. With a clear yet easy puzzle flow and parallel paths to victory, this experience was on the easier end of 60 to Escape’s offerings. The build quality was on the same level as their other experiences, including fantastical lighting and audio cues. Atmospherically, 60 to Escape nailed the immersion of the space in every corner.

Compared to their other experiences at both locations, Mystery Manor’s ending was missing some of the charm we’ve come to love from 60 to Escape’s games.

An old, rundown victorian manor with an assortment of pictures, and items laying on and around a desk.

Mystery Manor is a fantastic game for newer players. It will be a great introduction to the wonderful world of escape rooms. If you’re choosing between 60 to Escape’s games, we recommend Hidden Temple for more experienced groups. However, if you have time in your day, Mystery Manor would be a delightful add on.

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60 to Escape – Hidden Temple [Review]

Hello, Mr. Big Stone Face

Location: Gurnee, IL

Date Played: March 13, 2022

Team Size: 2-8; we recommend 3-4

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: $90 for up to 3 players, $30 for each additional player

Ticketing: Private

Accessibility Consideration: Kneeling/ crouching required for at least some players

Emergency Exit Rating: [A+] No Lock

Physical Restraints: [A+] No Physical Restraints

REA Reaction

The set of Hidden Temple was stunning. Stepping from a bland and generic shopping mall hallway into a cinematically lit, vividly textured temple chamber, the contrast was instantaneous as we were immersed in a different world.

As the game progressed, the temple continued to open up in exciting ways. Hidden Temple was as much about exploration and ambience as it was about puzzle-solving, and the puzzles skewed more towards fun process, with the occasional aha in the mix.

A stone temple with a carved face illuminated by sconces.

While Hidden Temple at 60 to Escape’s Illinois location did nearly everything right, it felt like it was playing in much safer territory than 60 to Escape’s Wisconsin location, where the rooms had quirkier themes, endearing characters, and more nonstandard gameplay.

Both approaches are valid. Hidden Temple and the other offerings at the Illinois location would be phenomenal introductions to escape rooms for newer players or families. Enthusiasts would enjoy both locations but likely will especially appreciate the Wisconsin rooms for their showstopper finales and the risks they each take.

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Twisted Limits Escape Rooms – The Passage [Review]

Making caves

Location: McHenry, IL

Date Played: March 11, 2022

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

Duration: 90 minutes

Price: $40 per player

Ticketing: Private

Accessibility Consideration: stairs and strobing lights, though special accommodations can be made

Emergency Exit Rating: [A+] No Lock

Physical Restraints: [A+] No Physical Restraints

REA Reaction

The Passage opened in a breathtaking cave. I’m a sucker for rooms that don’t feel like rooms, and Twisted Limits accomplished that brilliantly, obscuring any evidence that this space had ever consisted of mundane perpendicular walls. Flickery lighting, stylized cave drawings, and a large water feature rounded off the atmosphere.

The Passage was a big step up for Twisted Limits in terms of set design. From building a cave from scratch to concocting a mind-bending “Passage,” it was clear that a massive amount of creativity and labor went into creating this escape game.

The gameplay in The Passage was also creative and enjoyable, though most puzzles centered around opening standalone briefcases and could have felt more deeply integrated with the set. Additionally, certain puzzles could have benefited from clearer signposting.

A room of sandstone with a illuminated pool in the center.

If you are in NE Illinois, The Passage at Twisted Limits Escape Rooms is a unique hidden gem and is well worth a visit.

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CU Adventures in Time & Space – Calling All Villains [Review]

“A lot of guys ignore the laugh”

Location:  Urbana, IL

Date Played: March 12, 2022

Team Size: 4-10; we recommend 4-6

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: $30 per player for 4 players, $25 per player for 5+ players

Ticketing: Private

Accessibility Consideration: a step up for at least 1 player

Emergency Exit Rating: [A+] No Lock

Physical Restraints: [A+] No Physical Restraints

REA Reaction

Originally designed as a pop-up, Calling All Villains was a visually compelling experiment in escape room design.

Calling All Villains took many risks, and for the most part, they really paid off. The opening scene felt like a Burning Man-esque warehouse installation, absolutely packed with interactive art in a plethora of colors, textures, and materials. 3-4 distinct chunks of gameplay featured a wide range of puzzle and interaction styles. There was a ton to work on in each stage of the game, making this an excellent option for somewhat larger teams. The gameplay was layered and utilized the physical space in some rather creative ways.

Calling All Villains flowed well overall, but compared to CU Adventures’ other offerings, it was a bit uneven. As much as I enjoyed the majority of the set and gameplay, one intermediate space was a noticeable drop in production value and polish, though I appreciated its intended narrative function. Whereas Game Night, which also originated as a pop-up, managed to coalesce into cohesive permanent experience, more elements in Calling All Villains still felt a bit more ephemeral. I’d love to see how the highlights, aesthetic, and ambitions of this game translate into a more permanent future experience.

An old beat up and broken down van beside a robot.
via CU Adventures

Some of my favorite moments at CU Adventures took place in Calling All Villains. While Game Night and Revenge of the Cabin were our overall favorites, I also highly recommend playing Calling All Villains if you have the time.

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CU Adventures in Time & Space – The Wizard’s Curse [Review]

We’re off to see the wizard…

Location:  Urbana, IL

Date Played: March 12, 2022

Team Size: 2-6; we recommend 2-3

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: $35 per player for 2 players, $30 per player for 3-4 players, $25 per player for 5-6 players

Ticketing: Private

Accessibility Consideration: stairs for at least 1 player

Emergency Exit Rating: [A+] No Lock

Physical Restraints: [A+] No Physical Restraints

REA Reaction

The Wizard’s Curse was clever, compact, and thoroughly charming. The smallest of CU Adventures’ current offerings, it was best suited for smaller teams, but had no shortage of delightful interactions.

CU Adventures has a talent for putting original twists on common themes, in both their in-person and virtual/ tabletop games. In The Wizard’s Curse, we encountered a familiar story: we had to find a way to defeat the evil wizard who’d cast a spell over our kingdom. Even if this story was nothing new, the room’s polished puzzling, multi-level set, and fun characters made this a memorable experience.

A wizard's study with books and trinkets.
via CU Adventures

If you’re choosing amongst the rooms at CU Adventures, you can’t really go wrong. Especially for small teams, newer players, and magic lovers, I recommend playing The Wizard’s Curse.

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