Escape Rooms of New England – Everyday Superheroes Always Saving Our Butts [Reaction]

The New England escape room community is special. There is a camaraderie among the businesses and the players that doesn’t exist in any other escape room market we’ve visited. It’s inspiring.

This spring, the Escape Rooms of New England teamed up to create Everyday Superheroes Always Saving Our Butts. This collaborative puzzle hunt embodies what we love about these escape rooms. They are welcoming, ingenious, and fun!

Everyday Superheroes logo, presented by the Escape Rooms of New England.

Everyday Superheroes Always Saving Our Butts

What a title!

While playing this in June, it was strange to reflect on how this puzzle hunt was carbon dated to a specific month of 2020… but then, it’s been a strange year.

A toilet paper roll icon.

This amusing theme really makes the entire thing. Each of the participating companies embedded toilet paper icons on their homepages as beachheads for the hunt. Amazing.

The Collaborators

22 escape room companies and We the Enthusiasts Passports collaborated to pull this off.

That coordination is impressive and inspiring.

The prize is extremely generous. You’ll be entered into a drawing to win 2 free tickets to every participating escape room company.

This community is working together to build awareness for one another at a time when all their businesses are struggling.

The Puzzles

We enjoyed the variety of the puzzles. They differed immensely in style, difficulty, and execution.

We loved that we really had no idea what we’d be up against when we found each toilet paper icon.

We especially enjoyed “United We Stand” by Escape New Haven. If you only solve one puzzle from this hunt, let it be that one.

Not all of the puzzles were created equal. Some of these would have benefited greatly from answer verification, or a hint system. We also wished that the solution website had saved our solutions, but luckily, we’d logged them in a Google Sheet, so we didn’t lose all our work when we submitted one answer with a typo.

That said, these flaws weren’t game-breaking. The set up worked well, especially when you think about how many creators were involved, and the simple fact that no one makes any money from this.

Escape Rooms of New England

It’s no coincidence that we’re bringing RECON, the Reality Escape Convention, to the birthplace of Everyday Superheroes Always Saving Our Butts. We chose to host the inaugural in-person RECON in Boston precisely because we knew this New England community – the businesses and the players – have the kind of mindset that we want to shine a spotlight on.

RECON eye & penrose triangle logo.

Given the events of 2020, however, we’re waiting another year to host RECON as an in-person event.

But we are still excited to bring you RECON this August. This summer’s RECON will be global. Please join us digitally August 23-24 for inspiring, actionable talks and community conversation.

And we look forward to bringing RECON to New England in August of 2021!

This is the community where we hosted one of our most packed meetups to date in December 2018… and the owners made it a potluck. With homemade French toast!

It’s also the community we picked to highlight with our 2018 April Fool’s Day post.

We love the welcoming, supportive, caring vibe of the New England escape rooms.

Play Now

The contest ends at the end of the month. Solve now to be entered to win. All those free escape room tickets will come in handy when you attend RECON 2021!

Riddle Room – Vanishing at The Velmont [Review]

Vexing Vacation

Location:  Warwick, Rhode Island

Date Played: December 15, 2019

Team size: 4-8; we recommend 3-6

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: $29 per player

Ticketing: Public & Private

Emergency Exit Rating: [A+] No Lock

Physical Restraints: [A+] No Physical Restraints

REA Reaction

Vanishing at The Velmont was a delightful, beginner-friendly escape room filled with clever puzzles and interactions.

In-game: An abstract representation of the hotel's lobby.

The biggest drawback to this escape room was that throughout the game nearly every prop, wall, and surface felt unfinished. It was generally clear where we were and what we were interacting with, but few items were built to a degree that sold Riddle Room’s fiction.

Ultimately, this is a fun game – and for us, that’s what matters most. We’re glad that we played. We think that this would make a phenomenal initial introduction to escape rooms for newbies. The issues of polish didn’t change the fact that Riddle Room crafted some incredibly cool moments. If you’re in Rhode Island, this game is worth playing.

Who is this for?

  • Story seekers
  • Puzzle lovers
  • Any experience level
  • Players who don’t need to be a part of every puzzle

Why play?

  • Great, beginner-friendly game design
  • A number of fun interactions
  • Clever and unique puzzle design

Story

We had always wanted to spend a night in the legendary Velmont Hotel, but it was always far too expensive for us. After a series of strange disappearances occurring in a particular room, the rates had come down… so we figured, why not?

In-game: the front desk with an old phone and slots for the room keys.

Setting

Vanishing at The Velmont took us through a few different spaces within the Velmont Hotel. Each space had a unique look and feel and progressed along a logical path.

The overall build quality was heavily variable. The setpieces ran the gamut from really cool and solidly constructed to flimsy and shoddily built. Most everything in this game had a neat concept behind it. We wished that the level of construction was more consistently strong.

In-game: Astatue in the wall of a hallway within a hotel.

Gameplay

Riddle Room’s Vanishing at The Velmont was a standard escape room with a moderate level of difficulty.

Core gameplay revolved around searching, observing, making connections, and puzzling.

Analysis

 Vanishing at The Velmont had lot of content, but a progressive difficulty curve. The first act was straightforward and taught us how to play the game.

➕ Riddle Room constructed multiple unique puzzles into Vanishing at The Velmont. They generally involved custom-built mechanisms. They were unusual and satisfying to interact with.

➖ There was opportunity to add finish and polish to many of the props. For example, cut down on handwriting, except where justified by the story, and refine some associated audio in cluing. Additionally, too many setpieces looked unfinished.

➖ Although Vanishing at The Velmont had a lot of excellent puzzle content, it relied a little too much on key-for-key-style solves.

 Vanishing at The Velmont provided opportunity for collaboration and sharing. When we repeated an interaction with an interface, instead of feeling tedious, it was a moment for another teammate to have a go at a nifty prop.

➕ Riddle Room justified a classic hint system with one sentence of story.

➖ In order to follow the story, we needed to read quite a bit. We couldn’t feel the story arc through gameplay alone.

➕ We moved through multiple sets in this game. We enjoyed the variety in layouts, set designs, and puzzle types.

Tips For Visiting

  • There is a parking lot.

Book your hour with Riddle Room’s Vanishing at The Velmont, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.

Disclosure: Riddle Room comped our tickets for this game.

Lock & Clue Escape Rooms – The Cellar II: Saul’s Revenge [Review]

The Beast of Pawtucket

Location:  Pawtucket, Rhode Island

Date Played: December 15, 2019

Team size: 4-8; we recommend 5-7

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: $29 per player

Ticketing: Private

Emergency Exit Rating: [A+] No Lock

Physical Restraints: [A+] No Physical Restraints

REA Reaction

The Cellar II: Saul’s Revenge surprised us. Lock & Clue Escape Rooms struck an engaging balance between camp and legitimate scares.

In-game: A table covered in blood, body parts, and a large clamp.

This wasn’t a Party City Halloween props horror game. The Cellar II had some really interesting and unusual set pieces, some elegantly designed puzzles, and a great in-character gamemaster who breathed life into the game. It’s worth noting that the owner played that part for us, but insisted that he has an employee who does it far better.

If you’re in Rhode Island, there’s a lot to love about the The Cellar II, especially if a horror experience appeals to you. Go investigate for yourself.

Who is this for?

  • Adventure seekers
  • Story seekers
  • Scenery snobs
  • Any experience level
  • Players who don’t need to be a part of every puzzle

Why play?

  • Memorable interactions
  • Intense actor-driven moments

Story

We had escaped the butcher’s basement, which had seemed to put an end to the murder spree. All seemed right in the neighborhood… until people started disappearing again. Once more, someone had to go investigate The Cellar.

In-game: closeup of an incinerator door, blood runs out from under it.

Setting

The Cellar II was appropriately cellar-ish. It looked like a modestly gory murder basement. I know this because I’ve seen a few.

Lock & Clue Escape Rooms didn’t achieve (or seem to strive for) the grotesque level of detail on the extreme end of the genre. However, neither did they cheap out and make The Cellar II look like it was decorated with leftover Halloween decorations from Party City. They struck a solid, approachable balance, and included a fair bit of detail.

In-game: An old worn on/ off switch.

Gameplay

Lock & Clue Escape Rooms’ The Cellar II: Saul’s Revenge was a standard escape room with a moderate level of difficulty.

Core gameplay revolved around searching, observing, making connections, puzzling, and interacting with the actor.

Analysis

➕ With a detailed set, a badass prop, and an interesting character, The Cellar II was clearly made with love and thought.

The Cellar II struck a balance between campy and scary.

➖ The Cellar II was a search-heavy escape room. There were a lot of small details to uncover and a large gamespace in which to find them. One critical item was insanely tiny.

➕ The hinting was fully integrated in the gameplay and the experience. Because of this, Lock & Clue Escape Rooms had complete control over the timing and difficulty of The Cellar II. They chose when and how to push hints to the group. It takes a lot of skill to balance this for each group, providing enough character development along with appropriate puzzle direction. We were an unusual group for them – as a group of 6 highly experienced players – and overall, they did a phenomenal job.

➕ The Cellar II developed the character of Saul throughout this escape room. He had his own voice and writing style.

➕ Lock & Clue Escape Rooms put their own perspective on some of the puzzles. We especially liked how they spun one classic escape room trope.

➖ While many of the puzzles were worked into the setting or theme, some seemed like random escape room-y add ons that didn’t belong in the setting.

➖ We tripped up on an instance of double cluing. This cheapened an otherwise strong puzzle that thematically worked well.

➕ Lock & Clue Escape Rooms set this game in the same physical space as The Cellar, but changed things up quite a bit. We hadn’t played the original, but it was made clear to us that this game was fully redesigned from the original.

Tips For Visiting

Book your hour with Lock & Clue Escape Rooms’ The Cellar II: Saul’s Revenge, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.

Disclosure: Lock & Clue Escape Rooms provided media discounted tickets for this game.

Riddle Room – Forest of Fortune [Review]

Flora and Fauna

Location:  Warwick, Rhode Island

Date Played: December 15, 2019

Team size: 4-10; we recommend 3-6

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: $29 per player

Ticketing: Public & Private

Emergency Exit Rating: [A+] No Lock

Physical Restraints: [A+] No Physical Restraints

REA Reaction

We had played at Riddle Room before, but stepping into Forest of Fortune demonstrated such a leap forward in game quality that it felt like a completely different company. It was incredible how far Riddle Room has come in 2 years. From the gameplay, to the set, to their hosting, they have substantially leveled up every conceivable element of their business.

It was clear that Riddle Room had put a lot into this buildout and pushed themselves far beyond anything that we had seen from them to date.

In-game: A stone wall with a metal gate.

In addition to the set, Riddle Room built dynamic mechanisms into their gameplay. On more than one occasion, they took an old, stale escape room cliché and morphed it into something unique and incredibly fun.

If you’re in Rhode Island, Forest of Fortune is a must-play escape room. It was fun and funny. On a personal level, we’re truly in awe of how Riddle Room has reinvented itself.

Who is this for?

  • Adventure seekers
  • Puzzle lovers
  • Families
  • Any experience level
  • Players who don’t need to be a part of every puzzle

Why play?

  • Novel puzzle and interaction design
  • Playful set design
  • Thoroughly fun gameplay

Story

We had received a text from our friend Justin that he needed our help. Justin was lost in the wilds of western Rhode Island, but he’d found a mountain of treasure.

In-game: Forest set.

Setting

Riddle Room set their adventure in an enchanted forest. The set had a whimsical woodland feel. It was almost cartoonish, which helped to sell the detailed, but homemade aesthetic. We liked it.

The stars of the show were some of the larger puzzle set pieces that were clearly the product of a lot of effort and ingenuity.

In-game: A stump with a a fleece hung on it in the middle of the woods.

Gameplay

Riddle Room’s Forest of Fortune was a standard escape room with a moderate level of difficulty.

Core gameplay revolved around searching, observing, making connections, and puzzling.

In-game: View of a a cemetary through a metal gate.

Analysis

➕ The mechanical interactions were dynamic and really cool.

➕ We enjoyed the theme and the setup for this adventure. It was unusual. Although the set looked handmade, it was clearly crafted with care and deliberate design. Everything felt playful.

➖ Forest of Fortune had experienced some wear and tear from players.

➕ We loved when the forest revealed its magic. This lifted our experience and opened up new thrills.

➖ The plot progression wasn’t entirely clear. Midway through the game, we became a bit confused with the story. Because our team split up to solve some of the later puzzles, some players missed some key plot points.

➕ Riddle Room’s outstanding props enabled us to wield magic. These were fashioned out of everyday items and escape room clichés… but crafted into extraordinary tools.

➕ Searching challenges were well clued.

➖ There was an opportunity to craft more engaging interactions and better incorporate cluing for one star element of the final act.

➕ There was a lot of puzzle content in Forest of Fortune, most of which lent itself to teamwork. The gameplay worked well.

➕ The hint system fit right in with the world. It was fun and engaging to interact with.

➕ The finale was surprising and momentous.

Tips For Visiting

  • There is a parking lot.

Book your hour with Riddle Room’s Forest of Fortune, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.

Disclosure: Riddle Room comped our tickets for this game.

Amaze Escape – Art of the Heist [Review]

“9-1-1 this better be good.” -Chief Wiggum

Location:  Arlington, Massachusetts

Date Played: December 15, 2018

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

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: $30 per player

Ticketing: Public

Emergency Exit: Yes

REA Reaction

The Art of the Heist was a competent escape game with solid puzzle flow, good humor, integrated history, and a compelling, authentic setting.

Amaze Escape’s creation was held back by two frustrations: an overabundance of interesting red herrings and a painfully underdeveloped late-game sequence. These were serious momentum-killers, but are quite fixable.

Art of the Heist was a strong game that I wanted to enjoy more than I did. It just needed a bit more polish.

If you’re in the area and looking for a solid escape game in a unique and authentic setting, Art of the Heist would be a good choice.

In-game: The police station, featuring an American & Massachusetts flags, a coat hanger with a uniform and a desk with a computer.

Who is this for?

  • Puzzle lovers
  • Any experience level

Why play?

  • A genuine setting
  • Solid gameflow
  • An interesting final puzzle

Story

We were members of a syndicate of thieves tasked with stealing the world’s most valuable suitcase. Allegedly the suitcase had found its way into police custody in the town of Farlington, Massachusetts.

The syndicate had created a diversion, giving us an hour to break into the police evidence locker and retrieve our prize.

In-game: Close up of the electronic surveillance system box.

Setting

Amaze Escape was located in a building that formerly housed a municipal justice center. Their earlier game made use of the building’s authentic jail cell. Their latest game was set within the police station.

The concrete walls and generally drab setting was livened by a number of Simpsons references and other jokes. The setting was pretty perfect and was one of those instances where the real thing doesn’t necessarily look like TV or the movies, but feels like the genuine artifact.

In-game: the word "Taxachusetts" painted boldly on the wall.

Gameplay

Amaze Escape’s Art of the Heist was a standard escape room with a moderate level of difficulty.

Core gameplay revolved around searching and puzzling.

Analysis

➕ Amaze Escape was located in a former municipal building that housed the court, jail, and police. They stuck to their roots again in their second game, The Art of the Heist, set it in a police station. It was believable.

➕ The puzzles flowed pretty smoothly. The gameplay generally worked well.

➖ We encountered one frustrating section. Ambiguous cluing, lack of necessary light sources, and choice of input mechanism came together aimlessly.

➖ Amaze Escape included substantial red herrings in The Art of the Heist. We kept looking for ways to interact with these significant props, only to find that they were simply ambiance. This was unfortunate because these red herrings were among the most interesting items in the game.

➕ We enjoyed one nifty late-game tech-driven solve. It was an intriguing design and amusingly precise.

➖ While we enjoyed the setup, we didn’t feel the narrative pressure of the heist scenario. The Art of the Heist lacked a moment of intensity and excitement that made our hearts race.

➕ I loved how Amaze Escape worked other bits of Boston heist history into their game, including the infamous Gardner Heist, which I had originally learned about from my favorite podcast, The Futility Closet.

Tips For Visiting

  • There is street parking nearby. Pay the meter.

Book your hour with Amaze Escape’s Art of the Heist, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.

Disclosure: Amaze Escape provided media discounted tickets for this game.