The Maze – The Sting [Review]

Escape the Escape Room

Location: Petah Tikva, Israel

Date Played: May 15, 2022

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

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: 120 NIS per player for 3 players to 100 NIS per player for 6+ players

Ticketing: Private

Accessibility Consideration: Crouching and climbing for all players

Emergency Exit Rating: We’re unsure what fire escape measures there were, if any. More Info.

Physical Restraints: [A+] No Physical Restraints

REA Reaction

As soon as I realized the full premise of The Sting, I instantly squealed with glee. A version of this concept has long been on my wish list of escape room themes, yet given its potentially niche appeal to escape room enthusiasts, I’d all but given up hope that it would ever actually exist.

The Sting‘s designer, Gai Bosco, described this room as his “love letter to escape rooms.” I’d have to agree with that sentiment — from start to finish, through every detail of the game, it was abundantly clear that The Sting was a heartfelt ode to the escape room industry, to escape room designers, to escape room tropes, and to escape room enthusiasts. It successfully channeled many of the mechanics and emotions that made us fall in love with escape rooms in their many forms.

Inevitably, these meta nuances may only be fully grokked by escape room enthusiasts. But The Sting was thoughtfully designed to be equally playable and enjoyable by newer escape room players. The story and puzzles were straightforward and accessible, occasionally verging on overly simplistic for my taste. The gameplay was greater than the sum of its parts, which would have risked feeling too scattered or random if not for solid narrative justification.

A laser maze in a long, dark, narrow room.

I adored The Sting. Though this game may not have the same effect for all players, I strongly vibed with the story and sense of humor. Moreover, I deeply appreciate The Maze’s willingness to take risks on quirky, uncommon themes across all their rooms. This commitment to experimentation, along with their stellar set builds, establishes The Maze as one of the top escape room companies in Israel.

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Panica – Eurovision Pizza Party [Review]

Pizza my heart ❤️

Location: Tel Aviv, Israel

Date Played: May 10, 2022

Team Size: 2-10; we recommend 2-3

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: 140 NIS per player for 2 players to 120 NIS per player for 5+ players

Ticketing: Private

Accessibility Consideration: All players must pass through a narrow doorway

Emergency Exit Rating: [A+] No Lock

Physical Restraints: [A+] No Physical Restraints

REA Reaction

Panica has discovered the solution to getting hungry while playing escape rooms: culinary escape rooms. In Eurovision Pizza Party, we solved our way through a set of Eurovision- and pizza-themed puzzles, unlocking real dough, tomato sauce, cheese, and other pizza toppings along the way. By the end of the game, we’d baked a delicious pizza, which we were invited to enjoy right there in the room.

A heart-shaped pizza with a pizza cutter on one side and three tomatoes on the other.

The gameplay in Eurovision Pizza Party was simple and delightful. I particularly appreciated how each puzzle that unlocked a food ingredient was clearly themed around that ingredient.

Of note, Panica has a second pizza-themed room, Holy Pizza, that is more singularly pizza-centric. As the name suggests, Eurovision Pizza Party was equal parts pizza and Eurovision.

I’ll readily admit that my exposure to Eurovision prior to playing this room was largely limited to a viewing of the film Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga a few years ago. As an American, I’d been aware of Eurovision, but it was never a particularly big part of my life. While the room included plentiful Eurovision references that I imagine Eurovision fans will appreciate, it succeeded in authentically channeling the joy, showmanship, and talent that are core to Eurovision without over-relying on the reference as a gimmick.

As a dining experience, Eurovision Pizza Party was reasonably filling. The pizza made for a tasty lunch, especially when split amongst a smaller team. The pricing for this experience was quite reasonable: including the price of the pizza (with a small additional charge for the vegan option), the price stayed around the average for Tel Aviv escape rooms.

Eurovision Pizza Party was the only game at Panica officially available in English, but our team had the opportunity to play a selection of their other Hebrew-language offerings, including Mega Burger, Ice Cream Blast, and Free at the Bar. For our reflections on these games and Panica’s approach to culinary escape rooms, check out our culinary escape room overview (coming soon!)

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Escape Sign – The Vikings [Review]

Norse codes

Location: Petah Tikvah, Israel

Date Played: May 11, 2022

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

Duration: 75 minutes

Price: 140 NIS per player for 3 players to 110 NIS per player for 7+ players

Ticketing: Private

Accessibility Consideration: Low lighting and walking on uneven surfaces (all players)

Emergency Exit Rating: We’re unsure what fire escape measures there were, if any. More Info.

Physical Restraints: [A+] No Physical Restraints

REA Reaction

The Vikings was a stunning hybrid of immersive theater and escape room. Featuring a memorable immersive entrance into the space, a lovingly constructed set that told a story, and compelling acting, The Vikings was a dark and intense adventure within the more often lighthearted Israeli escape room scene.

Very few Israeli escape rooms include actors, let alone a challenging multi-character role that dominates a good portion of the experience. Our actor’s performance was nothing short of spectacular, instantly transporting us to a different time and place. He looked and spoke like a Viking, and his English was near perfect. It was abundantly clear that he was a properly trained and highly talented actor, not just a gamemaster who’d been taught a few lines in order to deliver a brief, campy performance. Moreover, his roles were cleverly integrated into some of the narrative and game mechanics.

Wooden exterior of an ancient building with a torch hanging from the wall and a spear beside it. .

There were more than a few beautiful moments in The Vikings, but one particular scene — and set piece — provided an intimately cinematic, perfectly timed vision that has regularly haunted my dreams since I played. It was exactly this sort of sublime scene that keeps me excited about escape rooms.

The Vikings was breathtaking up until its final scene, where things began to fall apart. In brighter lighting, without the presence of the actor, and in a room with a rather lumpy and lifeless animatronic figure, imperfections shone through and the immersion crumbled in on itself. This scene still included some great interactions that appropriately continued the story, but the spell had already been broken. This did not take away from the magic that came before, but it failed to deliver the glorious victory it had set itself up for.

As is, The Vikings is a fantastic must-play experience. With some edits to the lighting, pacing, and character interactions of the final scene, it could become a true tour de force.

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TLV 2048 [Review]

Pushing all the right buttons

Location: Tel Aviv, Israel

Date Played: May 19, 2022

Team Size: 2-5; we recommend 3-4

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: 150 NIS per player for 2 players to 130 NIS per player for 5 players

Ticketing: Private

Accessibility Consideration: Basic fitness level – climbing, crawling, and balancing required for all players

Emergency Exit Rating: We’re unsure what fire escape measures there were, if any. More Info.

Physical Restraints: [A+] No Physical Restraints

REA Reaction

TLV 2048 immerses players in seven thrilling physical challenges throughout an expansive post-apocalyptic environment.

Self described as an “action game,” this was neither an escape room nor an obstacle course, though it included elements from both genres. If you took the top physical challenges from Boda Borg, turned the fail states into a points-based system, and pipelined them together into a single cohesive hour-long experience, you’d get TLV 2048. And on top of that, it was a great workout.

In each space, we had a concrete objective and a fixed amount of time in which to complete it. Sometimes points resulted from how fast we hit a goal. For other challenges, failure would reset our point count, and we were trying to reach the highest possible score before time ran out in that room. Across a variety of visually and physically stimulating environments, our goals often involved pushing glowing buttons in hard-to-reach places.

A painting of a post-apolyptic scene, with "TLV2048" in a dramatic font with a metal look.

TLV 2048 did not contain any puzzles, yet it still felt lightly puzzly in the same way that a “boulder problem” in climbing might be. Our strategies around physical cooperation evolved as we progressively “solved” how to optimally play each environment with our particular team configuration.

Upon finishing TLV 2048, I immediately wanted to play again. Like any great game that leaves you wanting more, TLV 2048 was filled with moments of challenge, satisfaction, and joy. Though not an escape room, I very highly recommend that escape room players with a decent level of fitness give this unique experience a try.

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Action Game – Robin Hood [Review]

It Sherwood help

Location: Kfar Saba, Israel

Date Played: May 15, 2022

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

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: 140 NIS per player for 3 players to 110 NIS per player for 6+ players

Ticketing: Private

Accessibility Consideration: Crouching through small doorways

Emergency Exit Rating: [A+] No Lock

Physical Restraints: [A+] No Physical Restraints

REA Reaction

Robin Hood was simply delightful. Demonstrating an impeccable attention to detail in every dimension, this experience made us as merry as the Merry Men.

At its core, Robin Hood was a standard escape room executed really well. The Robin Hood narrative provided a unique framing to what might have otherwise been a more run-of-the-mill medieval castle. The set was one of most attractive and skillfully built that we encountered in Israel, with a range of textures, a consistent aesthetic and build quality, and cleverly disguised moments of discovery. And the gameplay was just so darn fun. While not necessarily the most innovative, nothing felt like filler. We experienced moment after moment of joy as we discovered the secrets subtly contained in our surroundings.

Two knights holding crossed poleaxes, guarding a castle door.

Robin Hood was clearly designed, built, and maintained by folks who truly love their craft, and it showed. For newer players and escape room enthusiasts alike, Robin Hood is one of the top games in Israel and is a must-play if you are in the Tel Aviv area.

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