Boda Borg Boston Revisited – Potions

After two and a half years we finally returned to Boda Borg Boston… and there were some new games.

What’s The Same?

For the most part, Boda Borg was as we’d left it and discussed in great detail in our previous review.

It was still:

  • an automated physical challenge/ puzzle facility (now with 17 games instead of 16)
  • rough on the knees (kneepads recommended)
  • worth spending at least half a day exploring

Boda Borg's logo beside some of the militaristic props from their game Platoon.

What’s Different?

Some of the games had changed:

  • Infrared had dropped from the Boda Borg spectrum, replaced by the affirmational and strangely puzzley Awesome. We won this one quickly and seemed to have surprised the staff by doing so. It was a weird, low-budget game that we got a kick out of.
  • Rock & Roll had died, replaced by the communicative Shapes. We loved Shapes even when we encountered what we’re confident was a technical glitch.
  • Step Up had stepped down, replaced by ball-based Boll Koll. This was a fantastic addition to the Boda Borg lineup. This teamwork/ physical challenge/ puzzle mashup had a phenomenal ending.
  • Potions was entirely new. It’s the main topic of today’s discussion.

Boda Borg is a Strange Beast

I love and hate Boda Borg; I mostly mean this as a compliment.

The hybrid of challenging gameplay, automation, and some basic flaws in the human brain makes Boda Borg both brilliant and messy.

Players learn how to puzzle through each game with trial and error. Failure isn’t just inevitable; it’s how you learn to play in a Boda Borg game.

This gameplay is overseen by automated systems. The systems work really well, most of the time. Occasionally, some of them seem janky. We’ve lost for seemingly no reason in rooms that we knew how to solve. Sometimes this was just a fluke; sometimes it shattered our trust in a game. There is a real opportunity, and need, for Boda Borg to clean this problem up as it can break otherwise fantastic experiences.

This leads to what I call Boda Borg superstitions: situations where we more or less know how to solve a room, but because we don’t quite have it all figured out, we try not to change anything from what had worked before, resulting in us adding an extra step or constraint that has nothing to do with the proper solution to the room.

This play structure is complicated by the occasional unexpected and barely-clued psychotic spike in difficulty.

Boda Borg offers some beastly challenges that would be a nightmare in an escape room because of time constraint and limited freedom. In an escape room, you cannot abandon a puzzle that you aren’t enjoying or cannot solve. In Boda Borg, you can. That’s why this is more than acceptable; it flat out works.

Boda Borg isn’t meant to be fully won. It can be done, but the photos of teams that have successfully completed all available challenges are shockingly few.

Potions

Potions is one of the new games, and one of the most – if not the most – aesthetically pleasing installments in Boda Borg Boston (rivaled only by Alcatraz).

In-game: Boda Borg's Potions, interior. A Harry Potter-esque wizard's lab.
Photo by Ronald Batista

Set

Potions was a Potter-esque wizard’s laboratory where each phase took us on a journey to best a dragon. The set had that earthy, medieval vibe that immediately conveyed fantasy.

Room 1

The first room was a purely cerebral puzzle. It was smart, challenging, and fairly well clued.

When we knew what we were doing, it was possible to complete this first room incredibly quickly.

Room 2

The second phase of Potions was a mostly self-evident dexterity puzzle. We got to a place where we worked through this challenge with military precision.

There was one massive oversight in this room. The conclusion seemed like it had originally been designed as a far more complex puzzle and Boda Borg had smartly simplified it after play testing. Unfortunately, the remaining infrastructure for the more complicated version was still there and its presence was confusing as hell…

which brings me to room 3.

Room 3

The third room turned everything that we thought we had learned on its end and presented what I think is the most difficult twist that I’ve ever seen in a puzzle game. It was a total brain melter. (It was also unnecessarily and obnoxiously complicated by that left over puzzle infrastructure from the end of room 2.)

We killed ourselves to figure out the first trick to room 3… but we did it, in part thanks to short lines at Potions and in part thanks to helpful hinting by the friendly staff.

We kind of figured out the second half, but ultimately couldn’t sort it out. We ran out of time and patience before we could complete Potions.

Trial & Error Learning

I don’t think players will trial and error their way through the third room without some form of redirection.

Boda Borg has conditioned players how to think and learn from these games. Potions offered a genius twist on the parameters of gameplay. It expanded what Boda Borg gameplay can be. It was brilliant.

It also wasn’t clued. The solve was clued. The twist was not. Not even a little bit. We didn’t have a fighting chance. We also weren’t going to get lucky. Boda Borg superstition couldn’t help us here.

Wrap Up

Potions was a fantastic case study in how Boda Borg is interesting, infuriating, and wonderful; it vacillated among all three.

Boda Borg is pushing the envelope. Potions is pushing that even more. We hope Boda Borg can refine the clue structure just a bit more. We didn’t want to walk away from this one.

The root of what makes Boda Borg special is the freedom to explore, the expectation of constant failure, and the openness of the facility.

If we stopped deriving pleasure from a game, there were always 16 others for us to attempt.

Room Escapers – Organized Chaos [Review]

Accurately named.

Location: Boston, MA

Date Played: July 14, 2018

Team size: up to 12; we recommend 4-6 (more for a different experience)

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: $30 per ticket

Ticketing: Public

REA Reaction

Organized Chaos was all about collecting evidence of crimes. There was a silly number of crimes to solve and a massive heap of evidence to collect in our attempt to collate the evils of an organized crime family… and doing so was chaotic.

While Room Escapers introduced innovative gameplay and some fun moments, the entire experience felt uneven. The quality of the puzzles, cluing, story, and set were all over the map. Some of it was great. Some of it fell short of what we know Room Escapers is capable of producing.

Organized Chaos is worth playing if you’re looking to keep a large group occupied or are interested in exploring an innovative approach to escape room design… even if some of it doesn’t quite gel.

In-game: the inside of a Boston bar covered in Massachusetts license plates, Red Sox banner, and a Budweiser advertisement.

Who is this for?

  • Searchers
  • Armchair detectives
  • Any experience level
  • Players who don’t need to be a part of every puzzle

Why play?

  • A massive amount of content
  • Deliberate chaos
  • A couple of memorable moments
  • A few strong puzzles

Story

It was the 1990s and organized crime was running rampant through Boston. Our agency had finally caught a break in our investigation and we had a brief span of time to investigate Spanky’s Pub, a notorious front business. Our goal: find evidence to close as many unsolved cases as we could before we were stopped by the mobster’s lawyers and their rolls of red tape.

In-game: The exterior for Spanky's Pub with a gated window, and no parking signs.

Setting

The starting area of Organized Chaos was split in two. Spanky’s Pub, a Boston bar complete with a beautiful old beer tap and New England sports insignias took up about two thirds of the gamespace. The remaining third of the gamespace was dedicated to evidence collection with a whiteboard-painted wall, evidence bins, case files, and a listing of missing evidence for each case.

In-game: a large game corner covered in white board paint, case files, and goals for each case.

The level of set detail fluctuated depending upon where we looked. Some portions were on point; others were a bit on the bare side.

Gameplay

Room Escapers’ Organized Chaos was an atypical escape room with a moderate level of difficulty.

The goal was to find the evidence needed to close as many cases as possible. There wasn’t a traditional win/ lose scenario. We were given a score based on our case close rate. Closing a case required the recovery of three pieces of evidence per case.

Core gameplay revolved around searching, puzzling, and remaining organized.

In-game: close up of a beautiful old beer tap.

Analysis

+ Room Escapers’ new School Street location had a spacious, comfortable lobby where they opened up the experience.

+ Our objectives were crystal clear and much of what we needed to accomplish was accessible to even the greenest of escape room players.

In-game: criminal case files in the Room Escapers lobby.

– While waiting for our game to start, we were presented with a selection of case files that would be relevant to the gameplay. While more competitive players might want to familiarize themselves with the material ahead of time, many teams will likely find these files dense, overwhelming, and filled with red herrings. We liked the concept, but as it was set up, the pre-game felt like homework and didn’t build up energy for the main event.

+/- There wasn’t any reason to read the case files; we could solve almost all of the crimes with just the evidence checklists. On the one hand, this made the gameplay itself less tedious than if we had had to read the case files. On the other hand, we were sitting on books of needless red herring detail.

– One puzzle couldn’t be solved without either a thorough case file reading or specific outside knowledge. This opened us up to a entire file of red herrings. It also deviated from the pattern learned throughout gameplay that we didn’t need to read the case files.

+ There was a lot to tackle in Organized Chaos. Players were never lacking things to do.

– We didn’t get a sense of the characters or the crimes from the focused search for evidence. Even after solving all the cases, we left with no emotional investment in any of characters or the crimes.

+ Room Escapers provided a dedicated evidence organizing workspace. We especially enjoyed the whiteboard wall.

? Successful teams will likely designate an “evidence cataloguer” to manage the chaos. This person likely won’t experience the rest of the gameplay. Depending on your group, this could be the perfect role for someone… or no one.

+ Room Escapers built a number of fun puzzle interactions and releases into thematic set pieces.

– The point system felt anticlimactic and tacked on because we were only truly introduced to it after the clock had stopped. As a result, the concluding moments of the game felt muddy.

Organized Chaos was aptly named. It could keep a large group busy. It was utter chaos managing all that we needed to do. Organizing it was the goal.

Tips for Visiting

  • Organized Chaos is at Room Escapers’ School Street location.
  • It 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.

Book your hour with Room Escapers’ Organized Chaos, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.

Disclosure: Room Escapers comped our tickets for this game.

Complexity – The Mall [Review]

The Complex City Mall

Location: Farmington, CT

Date Played: June 29, 2018

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

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: $25 per ticket on weekdays, $30 per ticket on evenings and weekends

Ticketing: Private

REA Reaction

The Mall represented a big step forward for Complexity in a number of categories: puzzle complexity, set design, technology, and humor.

While a few of the puzzles could have benefited from a touch more clarity, and there’s room for additional growth in set design, The Mall was challenging, entertaining, and worthy of a visit if you’re in the area.

In-game: The Pizzeria Pie mall Italian restaurant.

Who is this for?

  • Puzzle lovers
  • Players with at least some experience

Why play?

  • Punny mall store names
  • A humorous and light-hearted justification
  • Some really good puzzles
  • Interesting opportunities for teamwork

Story

Wow… I’m unreliable. After a day of shopping at the mall, we were getting ready to leave when I realized that I had lost my wallet and car keys! According to Google Maps, we had one hour before we had to hit the road to make our dinner reservations at our favorite restaurant.

The stakes had never been higher.

In-game: Sign for "Yellow House Orange Market."

Setting

Complexity created a scaled-down approximation of a mall. Each nook, corner, and room in the space represented another store. Each store was given a punny or joke name referencing common mall-based businesses.

In-game: Sign for "Things Forgotten Art Gallery."

Gameplay

Complexity’s The Mall was a standard escape room with a higher level of difficulty.

Core gameplay revolved around searching, observing, and puzzling.

Analysis

+ The set was almost like a cartoon. We never felt like we were in a mall, but we always knew exactly what they were striving for. It was charming and engaging.

In-game: The "Daily Specials" white board.

+ Complexity justified our presence in The Mall and our goal to escape with a delightfully humorous backstory.

– While the premise justified the experience, it didn’t justify the puzzles. The justification devolved into a puzzle room pretty quickly.

+ The puzzles were challenging and engaging.

– The Mall had a rough difficulty curve. Some of the earlier puzzles seemed particularly challenging and the balance of effort-to-reward felt a bit off.

– We missed a few tech-driven opens. Added springs and directional audio or light cues would help turn reveals into events, reducing confusion and adding drama.

+ Complexity’s Apple Store was as white as it was enjoyable.

+ Multiple puzzles required teamwork and communication.

The Mall was entertaining. Every time we opened a new space, we delighted in the witty reveal.

Tips for Visiting

  • There is a parking lot out front.
  • We recommend Cugino’s for Italian cuisine nearby.

Book your hour with Complexity’s The Mall, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.

Disclosure: Complexity comped our tickets for this game.

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.

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.

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

[collapse]

Peabody

Time Warp

Peabody Rebus

 

Peabody Pronunciation:

Pee-bid-eee

[collapse]

Saugus

Wicked Escapes

Saugus Rebus: Hand saw + Gus Fring

Saugus Pronunciation:

Saw-gus

[collapse]

Fitchburg

Curious Escape Rooms

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

Fitchburg Pronunciation:

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

[collapse]

Tewksbury

Escapology

Tewksbury Rebus: Tea + Books - Bee + Bury

Tewksbury Pronunciation:

Tooks-bury

[collapse]

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.

[collapse]

Winchendon

Winchendon Escape Room

Winchendon Rebus: Witch + Inn + Dunce - S

Winchendon Pronunciation:

Witch-in-done

[collapse]

Woburn

North Shore Escape

Woburn Rebus: Woo girls - girls + burn

Woburn Pronunciation:

Woo-burn

[collapse]

Worcester

Escape Games Worcester

Live Action Escapes

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

Worcester Pronunciation:

Wuss-tur

[collapse]

 

Boston

Escape the Room Boston

Komnata Quest

Raid the Room

Room Escapers

Trapology

Boston Rebus: Bass + Ton

Boston Pronunciation:

Bass-ton

[collapse]

Portsmouth Escape Room – Westower’s Study [Review]

Antiquing in New England.

Location: Portsmouth, NH

Date Played: December 16, 2017

Team size: 2-10; we recommend 4-6

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: $28 per ticket

REA Reaction

This was an entry game.

Westower’s Study was a basic escape room of searching, locked compartments, and a few more layered puzzles. It worked well, but didn’t present anything novel or exciting for experienced players.

In-game: A red walled, and wood furnitured old study. The photo is taken just above a sticker-covered trunk.

Who is this for?

  • Beginners
  • People whose day won’t be ruined by a little math

Why play?

  • Cozy, classic escape room gameplay

Story

World traveler and antique dealer Ian Westower had been kidnapped on his latest journey. The kidnappers had demanded a one-of-a-kind necklace from the man’s collection. His family was willing to part with the necklace if only they could find where it was hidden.

Our team of investigators was offered a reward if we could search Westower’s study and find the necklace that could also be the key to its owner’s freedom.

In-game: A map mounted to the wall, a stack of books on a small table, and a arm chair with a locked box.

Setting

The large room contained antique furniture and a travel trunk. Art decorated the walls. The space embodied the classic escape room study aesthetic.

Gameplay

Westower’s Study was a beginner’s search-focused escape room.

Much of the clue structure was well hidden among Westower’s possessions. Everyone could get involved in searching and making connections between found objects. Most puzzles led to a lock with a few more innovative opens.

Standouts

We were shocked by one late-game moment that was as surprising as it was low-tech.

In-game: A broad shot of the whole study gamespace.

Later in Westower’s Study we uncovered more inventive and exciting puzzles.

The puzzles flowed logically to move the escape room forward.

Shortcomings

We spent a lot of time searching a rather large gamespace. When we stalled, we were failing to discover an item.

Search was complicated by the many items marked out of play… which could still have a game component tucked away inside them.

Westower’s Study included a few process puzzles: once we knew how to solve them, it still took a bit of time to work out the solution. One of the more involved process puzzles was a one-person task that felt like homework. It appeared late in the game when there wasn’t anything left for the rest of the team to work on. (At that point, everything had been found.)

Tips for Visiting

  • Don’t forget your order of operations.
  • Google Maps directed us to the entrance of a plaza… that we almost didn’t notice. Turn into the plaza and drive toward the back to find Portsmouth Escape Room. They have a big parking lot, so if you can’t see their door from where you parked, you’re in the wrong place.
  • MoJo’s BBQ Grill & Tavern in the same plaza was pretty good.

Book your hour with Portsmouth Escape Room’s Westower’s Study, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.

Disclosure: Portsmouth Escape Room comped our tickets for this game.

Lok’d! Room Escape – The Lost Soul [Review]

The bottom of the uncanny valley.

Location: Manchester, NH

Date Played: December 16, 2017

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

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: $25 per ticket

REA Reaction

The Lost Soul was a search-heavy, locked-compartment, older-style escape room with a rundown set, tenuous connections, and uncomfortable 3D renderings. Lok’d! Room Escape did present quite a charming twist at the end… but it was not enough to make this a recommendable escape room.

In-game: a old study with a lounging couch a

Who is this for?

  • Diehard M. Night Shyamalan fans

Why play?

  • Weird twist

Story

The ghost of old Alistair Winthrop locked us in his study. He would not let us leave until we brought his soul peace by uncovering the truth about his wife Margaret’s mysterious disappearance.

Setting

The Lost Soul was set in a study with old furniture and a laptop. There was one corner of the room partitioned off and rendered “out of play.”

In-game: Close up of a clock on a bookcase.

Aesthetically, this escape room was uninspiring and drab.

Gameplay

The Lost Soul was an old-school search-and-puzzle escape room.

The gameplay largely revolved around searching for hidden items and solving puzzles loosely connected to the story in order to pop combination locks.

Standouts

The Lost Soul included a strange and amusing twist. We never saw it coming.

Some of puzzle solutions and materials foreshadowed the plot twist.

Our gamemaster was attentive and helpful.

Shortcomings

For the most part, the puzzles didn’t have any reason to exist in that gamespace. They were random and disconnected. This was particularly true of the Sudoku and the crossword… which were literally from a newspaper.

At two points we didn’t know whether we had found a clue or trash… They were clues.

The Lost Soul flowed such that we could unlock ciphered material before finding the keys. Given that Lok’d! Room Escape used common ciphers, we could have easily skipped over things and lost the thread of gameplay. I’ve written about this issue in the past.

While lovely and attentive, our gamemaster lacked sufficient camera coverage. The cameras weren’t pointed at the things we struggled with. Her hints led us astray because she couldn’t tell what had been solved.

The Lost Soul included some weird and creepy animation that persisted throughout the experience. This guy presided over haunted our entire game. Fun fact: if you look into his eyes you can see the bottom of the uncanny valley.

 

The Lost Soul was dated and rundown.

Disclosure: Lok’d! Room Escape provided media discounted tickets for this game.