Boxaroo – Conundrum Museum [Review]

The best security in escape rooms!

Location: Boston, MA

Date Played: July 1, 2018

Team size: 4-10; we recommend 4-8

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: $29 per ticket

Ticketing: Public

REA Reaction

Boxaroo is back in business after a long hiatus. Conundrum Museum was a puzzle-driven escape room that one of our teammates described over drinks as, “the most challenging escape room that I’ve ever played.” This was a difficult escape room in an elegant, but not particularly exciting, environment.

If you’re in escape rooms for the puzzles, Conundrum Museum is top-notch and worth playing if you’re anywhere nearby.

In-game: An art gallery with three framed Jackson Pollak-like non-objective paintings behind a red velvet rope.

Who is this for?

  • Puzzle lovers
  • Players with at least some experience
  • Players who don’t need to be a part of every puzzle

Why play?

  • Good opening
  • Challenging and interesting puzzles
  • A great late-game reveal sequence

Story

We were framed! We had been visiting a renowned art museum when a number of pieces went missing. Thankfully the police response time left us an opportunity to unravel the mystery before we could be arrested.

In-game: an art gallery with a very large wooden crate in the middle.

Setting

Conundrum Museum was an art gallery escape room with the white walls and assortment of art displays-turned-puzzles that we’ve come to expect of the genre.

The aesthetic twist: Boxaroo added a massive and intriguing crate in the middle of the room, along with a number of hidden interactions and technology.

In-game: closeup of two crates, one labeled, "Universal Shipping and Crating," the other, "Handle with care."

Gameplay

Boxaroo’s Conundrum Museum was a standard escape room with a high level of difficulty.

Core gameplay revolved around searching and puzzling.

Analysis

Conundrum Museum had a strong opening sequence that established the story.

+ One set piece grabbed our attention from the early moments. Late game, it delivered on built up intrigue.

– Conundrum Museum started off slowly. Although the majority of the gameplay was nonlinear, there was only one starting puzzle. It would be easy to flail around for a while before figuring out how to start in on anything.

+ Boxaroo designed a variety of puzzles, many of which required or benefitted from teamwork. This dynamic was the heart of Conundrum Museum.

+ At its best, Conundrum Museum brought about fantastic aha moments where it felt like the lights suddenly turned on and everything suddenly made sense.

– One puzzle felt a bit too dense. We took multiple hints on this puzzle, each hint confusing us more.

+ While Conundrum Museum included a lot of locks, it was generally clear where to input any derived code.

+ Our team enjoyed – and I loved – the inventive meta puzzle. It has forever secured a place in my heart.

? While not a problem for us, one significant sequence of Conundrum Museum required above-average command of English. There was a mechanism by which people could learn the necessary words… but if one were resorting to it, then they probably wouldn’t enjoy it all that much.

– Conundrum Museum was emotionally level. The grand reveals and more intriguing moments struggled to get our hearts pumping because we were still in a white-walled, calm, environment.

+ Our gamemaster was a character in our story. Even when we experienced some technical difficulties at the start of our game, our gamemaster remained in character and improvised. Boxaroo handled the technical troubles as gracefully as possible.

Conundrum Museum was puzzle-driven adventure. It was not epic or overly dramatic, but it was a cerebrally satisfying team experience.

Tips for Visiting

  • Boxaroo is easily accessible by subway. Get off at Park Street or Government Center.
  • If you’re driving, the Pi Alley Parking Garage is right nearby.
  • At least 1 teammate needs to be able to crawl a short distance.

Book your hour with Boxaroo’s Conundrum Museum, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.

Disclosure: Boxaroo provided media discounted tickets for this game.

5 Wits Foxboro, MA – Espionage [Review]

“Your mission, should you choose to accept it…”

Location: Foxboro, MA

Date Played: July 15, 2018

Team size: 2-15; we recommend 3-6

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: $19.99 per ticket for one adventure, $24.99 for two adventures

Ticketing: Public (contact them for private games)

REA Reaction

5 Wits’ original Espionage in Foxboro, MA was bookended with awesomeness. The clandestine introduction and dynamic conclusion were leaps and bounds beyond what we had experienced in the more recent, more technology-driven version. In the middle, we saw segments that had been carried over into the updated experience and a section that… we can see why it got cut.

If you’re familiar with 5 Wits, know that the Foxboro location offers longer, actor-led adventures.

5 Wits is more about the adventure than the puzzles. If that’s appealing, and you’re anywhere near Boston, this is worth a visit, especially if you have children with you.

In-game: A rug shop.

Who is this for?

  • Adventure seekers
  • Story seekers
  • Scenery snobs
  • Secret agents at heart
  • Families
  • Any experience level

Why play?

  • A massive set with some beautiful sections.
  • A creative and exciting opening sequence.
  • A brilliant and magical closing sequence.

Story

Our team of spies had been sent into the headquarters of a nefarious organization known as The Cabal. Our mission was to find stolen satellite plans, identify the mole within our own organization, and do so without being discovered.

In-game: A console for the Cabal Corporation with buttons correlating to chess pieces.

Setting

Our adventure began in an old rug shop, a front for our covert organization and a listening post. After receiving our mission, we descended into the Cabal’s base and began infiltrating their security.

From there, we explored an ever-changing series of corridors and research labs. Most of the experience was incredibly detailed and incorporated more than a little magic to keep things interesting.

In-game: Lisa, David, and Lisa's parents looking up at a spy satellite.

Gameplay

5 Wits’ Espionage was a family-friendly adventure guided by an actor, with a lower level of difficulty.

Core gameplay revolved around puzzling, navigating physical challenges, and enjoying the large and detailed set.

In-game: A large safe with 4 different wheels.

Analysis

+ We entered this undercover operation… under cover. The opening sequence was charming, interactive, approachable, and exciting.

Game Exterior: The game's starting place, a mysterious rug shop.

+ Our guide Angela was energetic, humorous, and a lot of fun.

– We received substantial mission intel through video recordings. Most of these overstayed their welcome.

+ We brought mission-critical tools with us on our adventure. We could choose to access them as it seemed appropriate. This stayed true to the story and worked well.

+ Our guide also carried our gear around with us; it was never a burden.

Espionage included a few more challenging cerebral puzzles that relied on logic and reasoning.

– One set was filled with red herrings. We did not enjoy a search-focused segment in a room where anything felt like it could be relevant.

– One puzzle required substantial guesswork. We were hesitant to guess, wondering if we’d missed some information. We would have preferred some cluing.

+/- Espionage had some beautiful segments, but a fair amount of this game was aesthetically a step down from all of the other experiences we’ve had with 5 Wits.

+ The concluding sequence was brilliantly designed and appeared magical. 5 Wits tricked our senses to end Espionage with a bang.

? We reviewed Espionage at 5 Wits’ Syracuse location more than three years ago. The two versions follow the same mission and incorporate many of the same sets, structure, and puzzles, but they aren’t identical. There are segments that differ between the two. Additionally, the older Espionage in Foxboro is guided, while the newer version in Syracuse (NY) and Plymouth Meeting (PA) is automated, with only voiceover and video guidance. If you enjoy 5 Wits’ adventures, it’s worth playing both versions, but maybe not in too short a span of time.

Tips for Visiting

  • 5 Wits is located at Patriot Place, near the cinema.
  • There are many food options at Patriot Place.
  • At least one team member must be able to crawl through a small space.
  • At least one team member must be comfortable with a more physical challenge.

Book your hour with 5 Wits’ Espionage, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.

Massachusetts: Room Escape Recommendations

Looking for an escape room near you in Massachusetts?

Massachusetts has a lot of great escape rooms outside of Boston. You don’t even need to know how to pronounce the names of the towns to play the games!

Drive west, past Route 495 to find many of these gems. There lies an awesome escape room day trip.

We’ve covered Boston recommendations (inside Route 95) separately.

A covered bridge over a stream at the peak of fall.

Market standouts

  1. The Observatory, The Gate Escape
  2. The Assistant, The Gate Escape
  3. The Dollhouse, Curious Escape Rooms
  4. Escape the Video Store, Curious Escape Rooms
  5. The Titletown Ring Thief, Escape Room Westford
  6. Secret Society, Winchendon Escape Room
  7. King Arthur’s Quest, PuzzlEscape

The set & scenery-driven adventures

The puzzle-centric

The tech-heavy

The newbie-friendly

You are always welcome to contact us if this recommendation list doesn’t answer your specific questions.

Boston, Massachusetts: Room Escape Recommendations

Latest update: April 15, 2019

Looking for an escape room near Boston, Massachusetts?

We go back and forth to Boston a few times a year and we try to sneak in a few escape rooms on each trip.

These are our recommendations for Metro Boston.

If you’re ok with traveling beyond Route I-95, check out our recommendations for the rest of Massachusetts.

Stylized image of the USS Constitution in Boston Harbor.

Market standouts

  1. Boda Borg
  2. Clock Tower, Escape the Room Boston (played and reviewed in New York City)
  3. Panacea, Room Escapers
  4. Crush Depth, Trapology
  5. Conundrum Museum, Boxaroo

Something different

The set & scenery-driven adventures

The puzzle-centric

The tech-heavy

The newbie-friendly

Big group games

You are always welcome to contact us if this recommendation list doesn’t answer your specific questions.

Pronouncing Massachusetts Towns: A Rebus Guide

If you’re looking for a puzzle more challenging than any you’ll find in a Massachusetts escape room… it’s pronouncing the names of the towns that these companies are in.

Some may be straightforward, but most of them offer no clues in the spelling.

I’ve simplified these names by turning them into actual puzzles so that you have a fighting chance at pronouncing these names correctly. You’re welcome.

Leominster

The Gate Escape

Leominster rebus - a lemon plus a hand stirring coffee.

Lemonister Pronunciation:

Lemon-stir

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Peabody

Time Warp

Peabody Rebus

 

Peabody Pronunciation:

Pee-bid-eee

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Saugus

Wicked Escapes

Saugus Rebus: Hand saw + Gus Fring

Saugus Pronunciation:

Saw-gus

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Fitchburg

Curious Escape Rooms

Fitchburg Rebus: Farm - Arm + Itch + Iceberg - Ice

Fitchburg Pronunciation:

Fitch-burg… April Fools! That one’s spelled sensibly.

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Tewksbury

Escapology

Tewksbury Rebus: Tea + Books - Bee + Bury

Tewksbury Pronunciation:

Tooks-bury

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Salem

Escape Room Salem

Salem Rebus: Sale + Lemon - On

Salem Pronunciation:

Sale-em… Don’t be smug; you only knew this one because of the witch trials.

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Winchendon

Winchendon Escape Room

Winchendon Rebus: Witch + Inn + Dunce - S

Winchendon Pronunciation:

Witch-in-done

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Woburn

North Shore Escape

Woburn Rebus: Woo girls - girls + burn

Woburn Pronunciation:

Woo-burn

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Worcester

Escape Games Worcester

Live Action Escapes

Worcestershire sauce + Ring - Shearing - Sauce + Turkey - Key

Worcester Pronunciation:

Wuss-tur

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Boston

Escape the Room Boston

Komnata Quest

Raid the Room

Room Escapers

Trapology

Boston Rebus: Bass + Ton

Boston Pronunciation:

Bass-ton

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Live Action Escapes – The Starship: Space Rescue [Review]

“I’m a leaf on the wind.”

Location: Worcester, MA

Date Played: December 18, 2017

Team size: 2-8; we recommend 4-5

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: $27 per ticket

REA Reaction

This was something different.

The Starship: Space Rescue began as a typical escape room of locked spaces and standard gameplay. In the second act, Live Action Escapes turned this into a Star Trek Bridge Commander-style game where up to 5 players fulfilled different roles aboard the ship. The experience of crewing the ship was interesting and uneven. Some players were engaged; others didn’t have much to doNevertheless, this was a competent escape room with an enticing twist.

It is difficult to create new things, and we respected the effort.

In-game: 3 futuristic guns hanging on the wall of a space ship.

Who is this for?

  • Sci-fi fans
  • Video game fans
  • People who want to annoy their friends by endlessly quoting space operas
  • Any experience level

Why play?

  • The Star Trek-esque conclusion sets it apart from the other games.
  • Sci-fi Easter eggs & humor

Story

We were beamed aboard the disabled Starship Janus. Its mystery cargo was of the utmost importance. We had to mobilize the ship and pilot it back to the dock before running out of air.

In-game: 5 of the ship's control screens. The main screen has a planet in view.

Setting

Our starship was spacious and dark. The walls and doors were painted to look like a starship; the floor was tiled to look the part as well. All of the features of the room, however, from walls to doors to ceiling, were, at their core, part of an office building… even if the set designer went to great lengths to transform parts of it.

Gameplay

In the first half of The Starship: Space Rescue, we progressed in typical escape room fashion through a pile of crates locked with letter locks. The escape room flowed pretty cleanly.

In-game: A captain's Android tablet with controls for the shields and emergency operations.

After unlocking the bridge, we positioned ourselves in front of various screen-and-controls stations where we worked through a series of scripted instructions to pilot our spacecraft to safety via a video game interface.

Standouts

There were a ton of fun props laying around that could be used for all sorts of non-game recreation. Pew! Pew! Pew!

We appreciated the numerous nerd references.

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Finger strength only. #escaperoom

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Two larger, more detailed props were as surprising as they were alien. We delighted in discovering them.

In the final, act we played the roles of the starship’s commander and crew. This real-life video game was different from anything that had come before it and from most escape room gameplay. It worked well.

Shortcomings

In the video game segment, not all roles were equally exciting. Due to the positioning of screens and chairs, the lesser roles couldn’t even really view the action while attending to their stations. I really enjoyed being Pilot, but Lisa was bored at the Communication station.

While we enjoyed maneuvering through space, we found it to be more like following instructions than solving a puzzle. With the exception of one action-based segment, we didn’t have much agency on this ship. Our options were to follow instructions and win, or fail.

The escape room gameplay was remarkably standard given the environment. The bulk of the puzzles could have existed in any escape room. I wish that Live Action Escapes did more with the spaceship.

The most interesting props didn’t contribute much to the puzzles or narrative… but they were cool.

Most of The Starship: Space Rescue took place in low lighting with poor quality flashlights. If the ship had some pointed “emergency lighting” the puzzling would be more fun. The flashlights detracted from the experience.

Tips for Visiting

  • Enter the elevator to the right before the main entrance to the building and take it up to Live Action Escapes.
  • Parking can be a challenge and/ or expensive.

Book your hour with Live Action Escapes’ The Starship: Space Rescue, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.

Disclosure: Live Action Escapes comped our tickets for this game.

 

Escape Room Westford – The Titletown Ring Thief [Review]

Pahk the cah; it’s time to break into the ahpahtment.

Location: Westford, MA

Date Played: December 16, 2017

Team size: 2-8; we recommend 3-5

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: $27 per ticket

REA Reaction

We don’t find a lot of apartment-themed escape rooms that are worth exploring. This one was.

The Titletown Ring Thief was a well-executed, standard escape room with great puzzles. While we wished the ending were a bit more dramatic, we had a lot of fun playing. We appreciated that The Titletown Ring Thief was so very Massachusetts. Escape Room Westford knows its audience.

In-game: a Patriots World Champion, diamond encrusted ring sitting on a table, a door covered in sports caps blurred in the background.

Who is this for?

  • Puzzle lovers
  • Boston sports fans
  • Any experience level

Why play?

  • Creative puzzles
  • Massachusetts theming

Story

In sports-obsessed Boston, the crime of the century had been perpetrated by a man who had been stealing championship rings from prominent players on all four major New England teams. The police had dispatched us to investigate the suspect’s home. Upon entering we had triggered a booby trap.

We had to outwit the criminal, find the rings, and disarm the trap before it destroyed us and the crown jewels of New England along with us.

Setting

The Titletown Ring Thief was staged in the crook’s apartment, which can best be described as: rabid Boston sports fan’s man cave.  

In-game: a bar with 4 beer taps and a growler in the middle of an apartment with walls covered in sports posters and vinyl records.

It had a bar, piles of sports memorabilia, a coffee maker, a La-Z-Boy, and a TV. What more does one need in life?

While apartments are not typically my favorite escape room environment, this one stood out because it looked believable… I might have been in an apartment that looked like this before.

Gameplay

The Titletown Ring Thief was a standard escape room with a bit of searching and an emphasis on the puzzling… and the puzzling was good.

The puzzles were well integrated into the set and props. When we handled an item, it felt like it belonged. The technology, while limited, was also well integrated into the environment.

Standouts

The Titletown Ring Thief was a fantastic escape room premise. Escape Room Westford built a more compelling apartment set by leaning into the Boston theme and outfitting it with the appropriate sports and beer paraphernalia.

We enjoyed one early puzzle sequence where multiple apartment-y actions funneled into more typical puzzling. It worked really well.

Escape Room Westford relied on a lot of different locking mechanisms, meaning a variety of types of solves, which we appreciated.

Shortcomings

We misinterpreted one clue as belonging to another puzzle that had some visual similarities. Escape Room Westford could gate the puzzles a little differently to avoid teams tripping up on this similarity.

The Titletown Ring Thief petered out. It needed a climactic moment and more exciting conclusion.

Tips for Visiting

  • Escape Room Westford has ample free parking.
  • We recommend nearby Tavern in the Square in Littleton for a meal.

Book your hour with Escape Room Westford’s The Titletown Ring Thief, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.

Disclosure: Escape Room Westford provided media discounted tickets for this game.

 

Club Drosselmeyer 1940 [Event Review]

The cat’s meow.

Location: Cambridge, MA

Date Played: December 17, 2017

Team size: we recommend 2-6 depending on the experience you’re looking for

Duration: about 2.5 hours

Price: $49-85 per ticket

REA Reaction

Club Drosselmeyer brought together swing dancing, a fantastic band, magic, acrobatics, puzzles, intrigue, a beautiful setting, and lots of interaction. The 2017 show fixed or dramatically improved the gameplay issues that I discussed last year.

If you didn’t get to attend the limited run in December 2017, and if they run a sequel, find a way to get to Boston for this in December 2018. Hopefully they’ll run a 1941 event.

The red and gold Club Drosselmeyer stage with a 7 piece jazz band playing.

Who is this for?

  • Puzzle lovers
  • Jazz lovers
  • Swing dancers
  • Immersive theater fans
  • People who are fine with crowds
  • People who don’t need to be part of every interaction
  • Any experience level … for puzzlers or dancers

Why play?

  • Spectacle
  • Dance, acrobatic, and magical performances
  • Music
  • 1940-themed party
  • LARPing
  • Puzzle hunt-style puzzles

Story

One year after Club Drosselmeyer 1939, we again found ourselves in our dancing shoes stopping another Nazi techo-conspiracy in a reimagining of The Nutcracker.

Last year, when we learned that Drosselmeyer Industries was creating fighting robots to support the war effort, we prevented the plans for these bots from falling into German hands.

This year we found ourselves in between two factions: Drosselmeyer Industries and King Technologies. Both fighting robot manufacturers wanted to earn a military contract with the US Government.

To determine who would win the contract, a robot from each maker would battle at the end of the night. It was up to us, the attendees, to help the companies upgrade their bots for battle.

Lisa and David dressed up and swing dancing on the Club Drosselmeyer floor.
Yours truly tearing it up on the dance floor.

Setting

Club Drosselmeyer 1940’s setting was identical to last year’s production, near as I could tell. The only additions were upgrade boxes for each robot, and an intimate back-stage set for winning teams to encounter.

We returned to the OBERON Theater in Cambridge, Massachusetts, where the stage was decked out with signage and bandstands to remind you that this was Club Drosselmeyer. The staging was decadent and beautiful.

The actors were decked out like it was a Christmas party in the 40s. As attendees, we dressed the part as well. (Those who didn’t dress for the occasion did it wrong.)

The evening included intermittent stage performances ranging from magic by Herr Drosselmeyer himself, to Lindy hop and waltz, and even an aerial silk act.

Gameplay

In keeping with last year, we had our pick of swing dancing, puzzling, interacting with characters, drinking, and watching the show unfold. Any attendee could do any combination of these activities.

Dancing was always an option, unless the performers were on stage.

The puzzles were delivered puzzle-hunt style, as mostly paper-based challenges. There were 5 different missions, each consisting of a series of puzzles. The missions culminated in a single meta-puzzle. Each mission was assigned by a specific character in the show who provided both the challenge and the context for it.

Upon completing a mission, we were given punch cards for different robot features. We could drop them into one of two boxes to upgrade the robot of our choosing. This was essentially a voting feature. As players solved puzzles, they gained the opportunity to support either the good or the evil robot.

An anecdote: I was eavesdropping on a team debating which robot to support. One guy persuaded his friends to upgrade the evil bot arguing (and I’m paraphrasing), “It isn’t really clear if he is bad. He just seems like a stronger, more fierce bot.”  Many folks upgraded the Nazi-bot that evening. To me it was abundantly clear that this was a battle of obvious good and evil. It was interesting to observe. 

Standouts

Everything that was great about last year’s Club Drosselmeyer still applied to the sequel, without exception. I’m not going to rehash them. There were also some critical improvements this time around:

The evening’s introduction clarified our role, as attendees, in the evening’s festivities. It gave direction as to whom to approach and how to start playing.

Lisa's father in a fedora and suite sitting at a small table looking at puzzles with Lisa.
Lisa and her father looking mighty mysterious.

The characters were able and eager to provide direction if we were confused. Additionally, there were extra Club staff floating around who would help out for a flirt or a bribe. (Fake money was casually dropped and hidden throughout the Club.)

The devastatingly long lines that we contended with last year were virtually gone. The longest that I waited to meet with any character was about 3 minutes. Because the lines were eliminated, there weren’t the same crowding problems that we had previously encountered.

The acting was a whole lot better. It also put greater emphasis on dancing and farce, which played much better to the strengths of the cast.

The teams that completed the main game got some nifty bonus interactions. The first team to complete the game (which was us, at the first performance) also made a decision that impacted the finale.

Shortcomings

Even with the gameplay improvements, it was still difficult to figure out how to approach gameplay. Were we teammates with our table mates? (Only if we wanted to be.) Could we team up with others? (Yup.) Did you need a team? (No, but you wouldn’t finish the game on your own.)

We uncovered a lot of fake money, but we weren’t clear how to use it. It also lacked value because it was overly abundant.

Much of the stage acting, while improved, was still a little forced.

While the finale played to the strengths of the performers, it got a little bonkers. This was amplified because some characters and plot threads were serious and others were farcical. It was a bit challenging to keep up with the tonal leaps.

Tips for Visiting

If they run it again next year:

  • Dress up. Even if you don’t go full 1940s period accurate, put on a suit or a dress or something. You’re going to feel silly if you show up in jeans.
  • They don’t open the doors early. Bring warm layers. They have a coat check.
  • Be open to all that Club Drosselmeyer has to offer.

Club Drosselmeyer took place in December 2017 and is not currently running.

 

Winchendon Escape Room – Secret Society [Review]

Be sure to ask about the tea party.

Location: Winchendon, MA

Date played: October 2, 2017

Team size: 2-6; we recommend 2-4

Duration: 90 minutes

Price: $25 per ticket

Story & setting

As hopeful members of the mysterious The Moonlight Club secret society, we were up to our final test. We had to solve the Club’s test to learn the names of its members and leader in order to prove our worth.

In-game: A beautifully set breakfast table beside a massive window and a grandfather clock.

Winchendon Escape Room is part of Winchendon Historical Society and stages escape rooms within their beautiful grounds. Secret Society was set in the lounge of a beautiful mansion. (The rest of the building is preserved as a museum that we were free to wander after the game.) It had real stained glass windows and was largely composed of antiques. It didn’t look authentic… It was authentic.

Puzzles

Winchendon Escape Room captured textbook escape room puzzling in Secret Society. It included a mix of well-designed beginner-friendly puzzles with plenty to explore and discover.

Standouts

Winchendon Escape Room was an amazing value: $25 per ticket for 2 to 6 players to explore a game for 90 minutes… plus we could explore a beautiful estate staged as a museum.

In-game: A loung in an old mansion. There's a beautiful fireplace, and a cabinet filled with locked boxes.

Winchendon Escape Room staged Secret Society in a beautiful room full of interesting props.

Secret Society was well-designed and beginner-friendly, but still offered a challenge. As experienced players, we didn’t need the 90-minute game clock (we escaped in about 40 minutes moving at a comfortable pace), but that extra time allows beginners to work through puzzles rather than get dragged via hints.

The final puzzle was really smart.

All of the proceeds from Winchendon Escape Room go back to the Winchendon Historical Society.

Shortcomings

There was a lot to search for and look at early on in Secret Society. It was a little cumbersome to find a good starting place. Over the course of the game, puzzle flow became linear with a crystal clear progression. I think that if Winchendon Escape Room were to instead start with a funnel that opened into the rest of the room, the game would flow beautifully. It would ramp up the challenge later in the game, after players had become more comfortable with the escape room.

Having no concept of local history, I left a little confused whether the story and characters were entirely made up or based on something real. It would be amazing if the game conveyed a little local history through play.

While the final puzzle was great, there wasn’t much of a climax. Secret Society didn’t built any tension.

Should I play Winchendon Escape Room’s Secret Society?

Winchendon Escape Room was really surprising. If I’m being honest, I wasn’t expecting a great experience from a $25 per person, 90-minute escape room, set up on the grounds of a local historical society. I worried that we would find a well-intentioned, low quality, amateur-designed game. I was dead wrong.

The price and game clock were deliberate. Winchendon Escape Room wants to offer a lot of value to their local audience while giving them the time to really work through the puzzles and learn how an escape room works.

Secret Society played well. It was a solid escape room.

Furthermore, Secret Society was lovingly staged in a gorgeous manor. We play a lot of games that attempt to capture that manor aesthetic, but I can tell you: there’s nothing like the real thing.

Winchendon Escape Room is among the best deals in escape rooms that I know of and one the finest places to start playing escape rooms. If you’re a beginner who’s on the fence about this “locked-in-a-puzzle-room” thing, know that Winchendon Escape Room won’t lock you in, and playing their games will help you build the core skills necessary to enjoy puzzling adventures all over. Massachusetts has a ton of fantastic escape rooms and this is a phenomenal place to get started.

Book your hour with Winchendon Escape Room’s Secret Society, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.

Full disclosure: Winchendon Escape Room comped our tickets for this game.

Room Escapers – Pirate’s Booty II: The Lost Ship [Review]

The search for more booty.

Location: Boston, MA

Date played: October 2, 2017

Team size: 2-10; we recommend 4-6

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: $30 per ticket

Story & setting

In this sequel to Room Escapers’ first game, Pirate’s Booty, a disgruntled former employee of the Cape Cod Treasure Hunters hired us to plunder a recently rediscovered pirate ship. With a hurricane bearing down on New England, we had an hour to liberate an estimated $1 billion in gold or face the wrath of the storm.

In-game: A shot in the ships galley, a table full of candles, a skeleton in the background.

Pirate’s Booty II: The Lost Ship was largely set on a pirate ship. While portions of the set were recycled from Room Escapers’ first game, this was an entirely new experience. New puzzles. New narrative. New game.

Puzzles

Pirate’s Booty II: The Lost Ship upped the puzzle difficulty. We had made fairly quick work of Room Escapers’ earlier games, but in this one, we really earned our victory.

Additionally, there were bonus bags of treasure hidden throughout the escape room.

Standouts

Pirate’s Booty II: The Lost Ship got the action going quickly using a technique that Room Escapers pioneered last year in Naughty or Nice. It’s a good trick. The encore wasn’t a bad thing, but if you’re familiar with their most recent offering, you’ll also see it coming.

In-game: A shot in the ships galley of a skeleton.

The set was a big step up from their previous room escapes.

There was whole a lot to do. Pirate’s Booty II: The Lost Ship kept us busy.

The hurricane game clock fit right in.

The in-character hint system was effective and well integrated into the escape room.

We particularly enjoyed the more tangible and thematic puzzles, of which there were many.

Finding gold was an entertaining way to expand the adventure and encourage participation without requiring every team to solve the game to 100% completion.

This was a funny escape room. Room Escapers has an enjoyably unsophisticated sense of humor and they are not afraid to use it.

Shortcomings

A few puzzle flow and gating issues sprang from having access to puzzle components and clues related to them too early. With a large team, someone inevitably wasted a lot of time investigating an item that was completely useless at that moment. This was frustrating.

In the escape room briefing, our gamemaster introduced us to a guide book. He flat out told us to read it from cover to cover. The guide book game mechanic generally causes frustration, especially in large team games. Room Escapers did it better than most by giving us multiple copies and thus avoiding the usual guide book bottleneck. That said, we still had to read and retain information that we might want to apply later, which wasn’t particularly fun. We also continually had to retrieve guide books as we progressed throughout the ship. Every time I encounter one of these guide books, I find myself wishing that the clues were more integrated into the set, rather than tacked on with a book.

There was a climax to Pirate’s Booty II: The Lost Ship, but it fizzled a little. There’s opportunity to do more with it.

Should I play Room Escapers’ Pirate’s Booty II: The Lost Ship?

Room Escapers has come a long way since they set sail with the original Pirate Booty. Each subsequent room escape from them has been more interesting and ambitious. Pirate’s Booty II: The Lost Ship continued that trajectory.

This escape room was fun, funny, and kept us busy until the very end.

Newbies should go in ready to make use of the well-integrated hint system and experienced players should attack this ship humbly yet aggressively. There was a lot to do. It was fair, but it was not easy.

Puzzle hard or you’ll walk the plank.

Book your hour with Room Escapers’ Pirate’s Booty II: The Lost Ship, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.

Full disclosure: Room Escapers comped our tickets for this game.