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 Assistant, Gate Escape
  2. The Dollhouse, Curious Escape Rooms
  3. Escape the Video Store, Curious Escape Rooms
  4. The Titletown Ring Thief, Escape Room Westford
  5. Secret Society, Winchendon Escape Room
  6. 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.

Mystified – Rendezvous With The Renaissance [Review]

Leonardo the mystic.

Location: Mystic, CT

Date Played: April 1, 2018

Team size: up to 10; we recommend 3-5

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: $28 per ticket

Ticketing: Public or Private

REA Reaction

Rendezvous With The Renaissance was a puzzle-focused, challenge-oriented escape room. While at times the cluing was a bit imprecise, the puzzles generally flowed well. It may not have been a fully immersive environment, but the staging added to the experience.

If you’re in the area and you want to puzzle, give Rendezvous With The Renaissance a try.

In-game: A door with moon cycles painted on it, a clock face around it, and large gears above.

Who is this for?

  • Puzzle lovers
  • Players with at least some experience

Why play?

  • Puzzle quality
  • Puzzle quantity
  • The steampunk, in-character vibe of Mystified

Story

After arriving at our hotel in Victorian Italy, we found that we’d received someone else’s luggage. We snooped, of course. They had a mysterious little notebook and a letter suggesting an impending rendezvous to uncover artifacts. We decided to find these artifacts first.

Setting

Our artifact search began at the church square. We were surrounded by imposing walls with slight ornamentation and a decorated, locked door. Folks had left a few odds and ends in the square for us to poke around in. It was a relatively empty space.

The set design was solid, but fell short of serious immersion.

Gameplay

Mystified’s Rendezvous With The Renaissance was a standard escape room with a higher level of difficulty.

Core gameplay revolved around searching and puzzling.

Analysis

+ We love the name Mystified. We love the pun. Need a name? Check out our Escape Room Name Generator.

Mystified's steam punk-ish lobby.

+ We enjoyed the vibe of Mystified. It had a steampunk flair that carried through to staff costumes. Our gamemaster was rocking one seriously cool corset… I was envious.

+ We enjoyed the challenging, complex, and structurally varied puzzles presented in Rendezvous With The Renaissance.

– A couple of early puzzles suffered from inconsistencies. These differences in iconography and alignment added unnecessary uncertainty. Later in the escape room, one icon symbolized multiple things. Given the number of open puzzles, this icon choice convoluted the gameplay.

– Rendezvous With The Renaissance followed a run book, and a tiny one at that. While Mystified had worked this prop into the narrative, it was still frustrating to follow. Only one person could read it at a time. With a larger team, this frustration would have been magnified.

+ While the narrative only loosely carried the experience, it culminated well with a satisfying final series of solves.

Tips for Visiting

Book your hour with Mystified’s Rendezvous With The Renaissance, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.

Disclosure: Mystified provided media discounted tickets for this game.

 

Boston, Massachusetts: Room Escape Recommendations

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. The Museum Heist Caper Job, Wicked Escapes
  4. Pirate’s Booty II, Room Escapers
  5. The Retreat, Trapology

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.

Puzzle Parlour – The Surgery [Review]

Prep the patient for puzzles.

Location: White Plains, NY

Date Played: February 24, 2018

Team size: 2-8; we recommend 3-6

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: from $24.99 per ticket

REA Reaction

Surgery was a strong introductory escape room. The puzzles made sense. The space looked good and a bit imposing. It played well. If you’re new to escape rooms, start here. If you’re really experienced, play Puzzle Parlour’s The Heist instead.

Who is this for?

  • Puzzle lovers
  • Group solvers
  • Best for newer players

Why play?

  • Collaborative solves
  • Puzzle flow
  • Solid set
  • Clean execution

Story

Tea time hadn’t gone as planned. Someone had spiked our cups and we had awoken in the office of a serial-killing surgeon. We had to escape before he came back to harvest us.

In-game: A foggy and dramatically lit surgery room.

Setting

Surgery put us in a detailed medical facility. The set looked authentic and a bit ominous without ever turning frightening.

We knocked Puzzle Parlour’s The Heist for the set feeling a little bland. Aesthetically, Surgery was a cut above.

Gameplay

Surgery was a straight escape room experience with equal parts searching and puzzling.

The puzzles all resolved cleanly.

At Puzzle Parlour’s discretion, they add an extra puzzle for experienced escape room players. This puzzle adds some extra challenge by tweaking the gameflow and increasing the volume of puzzles in the escape room. We appreciated the extra challenge, but if you’re a newbie, you will not be missing out on anything mind-blowing if Puzzle Parlour doesn’t include it during your playthrough.

In-game: a cart with surgical instruments on it.

Standouts

Puzzle Parlour provided quality puzzles in Surgery. They flowed well and resolved cleanly.

Surgery facilitated teamwork. Multiple puzzles required communication. These group solves upped the energy level of the group.

In one instance, what had appeared decorative throughout much of the game suddenly illuminated a puzzle. This was a lot of fun.

The main set of Surgery looked really good.

Shortcomings

Although the puzzles worked well, they didn’t develop the narrative any further over the course of the Surgery. This was something that Puzzle Parlour absolutely nailed in The Heist.

While we enjoyed the set, it was uneven, and there were some little details begging for refinement.

Surgery lacked a climactic and memorable moment. While we enjoyed many of the puzzles, including the final one,  there wasn’t a puzzle or interaction that will really stick with us.

Tips for Visiting

  • Solo players cannot complete the Surgery. There are multiple puzzles that physically require at least 2 players.
  • Puzzle Parlour has a lovely lobby.
  • Park in their lot and use the app ParkWhitePlains to refill your meter.
  • There is plenty to eat and do in the area. Take advantage of the Puzzle Parlour discount and the large tap list at Lazy Boy Saloon.

Book your hour with Puzzle Parlour’s The Surgery, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.

Disclosure: Puzzle Parlour comped our tickets for this game.

 

Escape New Haven – The Game Show [Review]

“I’ll take ‘escape rooms’ for $200, Alex.”

Location: New Haven, CT

Date Played: December 18, 2017

Team size: 2-8; we recommend 4 or 6

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: $26 per ticket

REA Reaction

On the one hand, we loved the innovation in The Game Show. Escape New Haven included more inventive game mechanics in this escape room than most companies have in all of their games combined. On the other hand, The Game Show didn’t adequately onboard players, which could leave even experienced players completely clueless. Its unforgiving nature could be frustrating or exhilarating.

In-game: The neon and reflective Game Show set with puzzle stations along the walls and a pedestal in the middle of the room.

Who is this for?

  • People who like competitive games
  • Players with at least some experience

Why play?

  • Atypical escape room structure
  • Unusual game mechanics
  • Competitive gameplay
  • Great twist

Story

We were contestants on a new game show. The winners would receive a free trip to sunny New Haven, Connecticut.

In-game: A reflective wall with a box covered in four switches, red, green, blue, and orange.

Setting

Split into two teams, Red and Blue, we were each led into mirror image spaces where we had to use puzzle stations built into the walls to compete with one another for points.

The back wall graphically displayed each team’s score in real time.

In-game: The score rings, a large ring for "Red Points" and a smaller ring for "Blue Points."

Gameplay

The competitive gameplay was built around rapidly learning the rules to each game and outplaying your opponents.

The initial difficulty was more in operating the game’s controls. Once we mastered that, we turned our attention to the competitive puzzles.

Finally, there was a big twist in this game… and explaining it would absolutely ruin the game. So I’m going to leave it at that.

Standouts

The Game Show was different. Its starting split-team competitive segment and the twist that ensued made for a dramatic and unusual experience.

The competitive concept was energizing. Escape New Haven drew inspiration from famous psych experiments, but reinvented the concepts as gameplay. It worked well.

The Game Show made sense, narratively speaking.

The post-twist gameplay was fantastic. I wish I could go into more detail.

Shortcomings

The competitive gameplay lacked instruction or clear feedback. If you get it, it will be exciting. If you don’t get it, it will be painfully frustrating. If it doesn’t click for anyone, you will spend a lot of time in an unforgiving environment, under pressure from the competitive aspect. This could and should be smoothed over.

In terms of build quality and finish, while The Game Show was a step up from some of Escape New Haven’s earlier work, their set design still lacked polish and attention to detail. Everything felt decidedly homemade, even when the creation was impressive.

For example, the video segments seemed haphazardly slapped together. They featured a host standing in front of a white sheet. The elementary look detracted from the aesthetic that Escape New Haven clearly wanted for The Game Show.

Tips for Visiting

  • Use the app Parkmobile to fill your meter on the street in New Haven.
  • There are lots of great restaurants in New Haven.

Book your hour with Escape New Haven’s The Game Show, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.

Disclosure: Escape New Haven provided media discounted tickets for this game.

 

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.

Finger strength only. #escaperoom

A post shared by Lisa & David 🔑 (@roomescapeartist) on

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.

 

The Puzzle Parlour – The Heist Part 1 [Review]

Don’t piss off the Chief.

Location: White Plains, NY

Date Played: December 18, 2017

Team size: 2-8; we recommend 3-5

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: from $90 for teams of 2 up to $199 for teams of 8

REA Reaction

Puzzle Parlour made subtle changes to a popular escape room theme to deliver more drama, adventure, hidden technology, and consequences than most. While we wished Puzzle Parlour had built a more captivating environment, they justified the setting and scenario through gameplay. The brilliance of The Heist Part 1 will be lost on most players, but maybe this doesn’t matter.

Who is this for?

  • Puzzle lovers
  • Adventure seekers
  • People who like to banter in a bad British accent
  • Any experience level

Why play?

  • Interactive gamemaster
  • Great puzzle flow
  • Gameplay shifts based on player action (or inaction)
  • Silky smooth, practically invisible tech

Story

We were robbing a crooked cop who had stashed a whole lot of loot in his locker at the London Police Station. We had to break in, cut the power, and steal our prize without getting caught by the Chief.

In-game: A pair of handcuffs beside a keyboard, dramatically lit with computer monitor lighting.

Setting

As explained in our pre-game briefing, we targeted the Chief’s office and the adjacent locker room.

The office set was largely as expected… but a bit more realistic than typical escape room offices. It looked office-bland, but not like a lock-riddled escape room-y office.

While the locker room wasn’t a heart-poundingly adventurous environment, it justified the existence of the locks and it offered up a few creative puzzles that we never saw coming.

Gameplay

Puzzle Parlour presented us with a cleanly executed, well-thought-out standard escape room with a break-in twist.

Puzzle Parlour designed subtle, yet impactful game mechanics: We had a job to do. Our proficiency (or lack thereof) resulted in 1 or 2 meaningful differences in gameplay.

Depending upon how you play, there are at least 3 different paths in The Heist Part 1 and 3 different outcomes. The crazy thing is that most players will likely never even know about the variance. 

In-game: a police hat and attaché case on a desk.

Standouts

Puzzle Parlour created an energy that lasted the entirety of The Heist Part 1. This was a lot of fun.

Our gamemaster was a character in this clandestine mission. His interactions – a combination of hints and narrative progression – kept us on edge, in a good way.

Our actions in The Heist Part 1 had consequences that changed the nature, tone, and challenges within the escape room.

The Heist Part 1 included fun puzzles, a few of which solved in exciting, atypical ways.

Puzzle Parlour’s technology was subtle, smart, and stable.

The office looked like the creator had seen a real-life office before.

Shortcomings

While realistic, the office didn’t instill drama. We would have liked the set to work in tandem with the gamemastering and game mechanics to up the excitement.

While some of the puzzles worked through the environment, others were more escape room-y and disconnected from the mission.

Near the end of The Heist Part 1 we were able to solve a puzzle before we had an input for the solution, which confused us and screwed with the pacing.

The win was anticlimactic. Especially with our gamemaster as a character, we would have liked a more dramatic ending as a culmination of our covert operation.

Tips for Visiting

  • Puzzle Parlour has a lovely lobby.
  • Park in their lot and use the app ParkWhitePlains to refill your meter.
  • There is plenty to eat and do in the area.

Book your hour with Puzzle Parlour’s The Heist Part 1, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.

Disclosure: Puzzle Parlour comped our tickets for this game.

 

Elm City Escape – The Initiative [Review]

“This isn’t even my final form.”

Location: New Haven, CT

Date Played: December 18, 2017

Team size: 2-8; we recommend 4-5

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: $26 per ticket

REA Reaction

We were pleasantly shocked by the second act after being underwhelmed when we set foot in The Initiative. Narratively, Elm City Escape paid off the banality of the opening sequence and they rewarded us with fantastic gameplay later on. Worth it.

Who is this for?

  • Puzzle lovers
  • Sci-fi and anime fans
  • Any experience level

Why play?

  • The second act
  • Subtle character building and storytelling
  • Three epic puzzles

Story

We made it! It was our first day of our dream job at the OMNE Corporation. Our excitement was swiftly dashed when we realized that we were going to be drones in a corporate machine that seemed like it was up to no good.

If we were going to continue working for this company, we had to meet the boss and learn his intentions.

In-game, a bland corporate office with white walls, computer desks, and motivational posters.

Setting

We entered a large office with a few employee desks, a filing cabinet, and a break room station. Despite the motivational posters on the walls, it was as bland and mundane as a set could get… until the second act, which I simply cannot spoil… but it’s cool.

Gameplay

The Initiative was a standard escape room with a far greater emphasis on puzzling than on search.

Elm City Escape turned office essentials into puzzles that unlocked… more office essentials.

In the second act, The Initiative offered more inventive, interactive, and intriguing challenges.

Standouts

Throughout The Initiative we uncovered many fun, nerdy references.

The Initiative followed a narrative arc culminating in a great twist.

Elm City Escape designed some phenomenal puzzles. These late-game challenges were the highlights of the escape room. They were brilliant.

The Initiative escalated well.

Shortcomings

The opening set was large and lackluster. Elm City Escape could improve The Initiative with a stronger opening statement.

We suggest that Elm City Escape bolt down one more substantial prop and maybe consider making it easier for shorter players to interact with it.

The Initiative required parallel puzzling. In one instance, we tackled three creative and intriguing puzzles and a fourth typical process puzzle concurrently. The person tackling this fourth puzzle missed out on the most interesting parts of this escape room.

Tips for Visiting

  • You’ll be underwhelmed by the first room. Puzzle through it, things get more interesting.
  • Use the app Parkmobile to fill your meter on the street in New Haven.
  • Enter the building, pass the security desk, turn left, and go downstairs.
  • There are lots of great restaurants in New Haven.

Book your hour with Elm City Escape’s The Initiative, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.

 

 

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.

Fantastic night at Club Drosselmeyer. #puzzlehunt #swingdancing #immersivetheatre

A post shared by Lisa & David 🔑 (@roomescapeartist) on

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.