Peddlers & Parchments – Bridge of Embers: Rashi’s Triumph [Review]

Relics

Location:  Brooklyn, NY

Date Played: October 20, 2021

Team size: 2-12; we recommend 3-5

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: $30 per player

Ticketing: Private

Emergency Exit Rating: [A+] No Lock

Physical Restraints: [A+] No Physical Restraints

REA Reaction

I always want to love a company that does something different… but Peddlers & Parchments was struggling with trying to do both too much and too little.

The story that Bridge of Embers: Rashi’s Triumph tried to tell seemed genuinely interesting… but the narrative didn’t shine through in the gameplay. Escape rooms are an experiential medium with a time limit. This makes it incredibly hard for players to learn lots of facts, backstory, and generally take in prose. If an escape rooms wants to explore a story that isn’t ingrained in popular culture, then they have to do a lot of extra work to convey that background (and even then, it might not be enough) because pre-existing cultural knowledge does a lot of the work in helping the players experience a story.

Closeup of a metal balance beside some Hebrew books.

Peddlers & Parchments put too little into the build of Bridge of Embers: Rashi’s Triumph. It felt like there was a lack of care in the game’s construction. This was especially apparent in the the final interactions.

We respect the aspiration to convey story and culture through an escape room. Unfortunately, there were too many hurdles in the escape room design itself for the story to take center stage.

Still, we’d like to see more diverse storytelling in escape rooms and we respect Peddlers & Parchments for their effort. Undertaking something this unique requires a lot of work, and in this case, there was more work needed.

Who is this for?

  • Players looking for something unique
  • Best for players with at least some experience

Why play?

  • It told an unusual story
  • Early in the game there was an interesting challenge sequence

Story

We were on a quest to save Rabbi Pinchas Koritz’s manuscripts from destruction. This quest combined multiple stories from a single lineage: a journey back in time to visit an ancestor and his Sukkot story, and a journey to an ancestor of the great biblical commentator Rashi and his rare diamond. It was complicated.

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Mission Escape Games – Carbon: 3708 [Review]

CyberPu… zzle

Location:  New York, NY

Date Played: November 5, 2021

Team size: up to 10; we recommend 4-5

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: $120 total for a team of 1-3 players, $35 per player for a team of 4+ players

Ticketing: Private

Emergency Exit Rating: [A+] No Lock

Physical Restraints: [A+] No Physical Restraints

Content Warning: Realistic prop weapons are used in this experience

REA Reaction

We’ve been visiting Mission Escape Games in New York since the earliest days of Room Escape Artist. We’ve sort of grown up together in the same environment, and in my memory, the various games from Mission serve as rings in the tree that is my escape room memories. Part of this is because I have genuinely enjoyed this company for so many years, but it is mostly because Mission Escape Games has had this interesting and fairly consistent upward trajectory in quality.

Carbon: 3708 represented the biggest leap we’ve seen from Mission Escape Games in years. The set, lighting, and interaction design in Carbon: 3708 were among the finest in the region, and the puzzle play was phenomenal.

A wall of electronic equipment dramatically lit.

Mission Escape Games puzzle design has settled into a style that is uniquely Mission, and I’m into it. Carbon: 3708 was one of the more challenging top games to open in NYC a long while. It has a fair toughness that I appreciated from start to finish. It’s easy to make a bad, hard game; it takes skill to do challenge well.

Additionally, Mission Escape Games stepped up their storytelling in Carbon: 3708. They worked in more audio and video segments that told a clear story. This felt like a step in the right direction, but the storytelling didn’t quite land for us; it was more forgettable than meaningful.

Overall, Carbon: 3708 is easily one of the top games in New York City in 2021. This is a must-play game for any experienced escape room player. If you’re new, I’d strongly encourage you to play Mission’s other games, Hydeout and Operation End of Days first. They are stellar games in their own right, with softer difficulty curves.

Who is this for?

  • Adventure seekers
  • Puzzle lovers
  • Scenery snobs
  • Cyberpunk fans
  • Best for players with at least some experience
  • Players who don’t need to be a part of every puzzle

Why play?

  • A beautiful cyberpunk set
  • A killer scene transition
  • Fantastic and challenging puzzle play

Story

In a dystopian future, Cyber Industries was using tech implants to control humanity. We were among the few unmodified and still free. It was up to us to break into their headquarters and destroy their systems.

A computer console in Cyber Industries.
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SCAM New York [Review]

Magic, comedy, puzzles… and a dollop of vulgarity

Location:  New York City, NY

Date Played: May 30, 2021

Team size: 1-8; we recommend 4-8

Duration: 2 hours

Price: Start at $55 per player

Ticketing: Public… but if you book as a group of 8 you’ll have a mostly private experience

Emergency Exit Rating: [A+] No Lock

Physical Restraints: [A+] No Physical Restraints

REA Reaction

New York City’s Society of Conjurers And Magicians (SCAM), blends magic, comedy, and puzzles (more or less in that order).

SCAM is set in a nifty karaoke bar where each room has a unique design. The audience is split between these rooms, and magicians circulate from room to room performing their acts to the small groups. In between the acts, each group has the opportunity to solve a series of puzzles.

The performers are a rotating cast of quality New York City magicians. Some left us dumbfounded, others performed classics with elegance, and they all made us laugh.

Magicians Harrison Greenbaum & Patrick Davis wearing cloaks and dramatically holding candles.
Harrison Greenbaum & Patrick Davis

SCAM was co-created by comedian & magician Harrison Greenbaum (the emcee for our convention RECON). I tell you this both to disclose that relationship, and to give you a sense of SCAM’s style. He is talented, funny, and vulgar. (He tones this last part down a lot for RECON.) To varying degrees, the other performers are cut from the same cloth.

If you aren’t sure whether you’ll enjoy the humor of SCAM New York, I recommend taking a good look at their secret society logo. Study the details, identify the layers… really take it in… because this shit is hilarious…

Society of Conjurers And Magicians logo depicts many people with devil tails arranged in a circle with their heads up one anothers' asses.
While at SCAM, I recommend asking why the logo is designed this way.

If instead you are bothered by it… perhaps Disney’s The Lion King is more your speed and it’s only a few blocks away from SCAM. No judgement from me; I want everyone to have a good time.

SCAM New York was the first show or game that Lisa and I had experienced post-quarantine. I cannot think of a better show for the era. Meeting up with a small group of friends and spending most of the show in a room with them while entertainment came to us was exactly the speed that we were looking for. If you enjoy magic, comedy, or puzzles, there’s something for you at SCAM.

Who is this for?

  • Magic fans
  • Comedy fans
  • Puzzle lovers
  • People looking for an unusual night out
  • Any experience level

Why play?

  • It’s funny
  • It’s entertaining
  • The puzzles do a good job of filling in gaps between acts

Story

We were invited to an initiation into a magical secret society.

A hand reaching out for a small chest secured with a padlock.
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Myss Tic – Ghost Light [Review]

Leave the light on when you depart.

Location:  Brooklyn, NY

Date Played: November 8, 2020

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

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: $35-60 per player depending on team size and day

Ticketing: Private

Emergency Exit Rating: [A+] No Lock

Physical Restraints: [A+] No Physical Restraints

REA Reaction

Ghost Light was Myss Tic’s second escape game and it sent us into a unique haunted theater – without horror.

While it was an escape room through and through, with escape room logic, and all of the trappings… there was a lot about Ghost Light that felt fresh and novel. It looked different, told a new story, and incorporated lighting with an elegance that we rarely see.

In-game: Two changing stations backstage. Makeup, perfume, and jewlery are laid out.

I’ll go so far as to say that lighting was the secret weapon in this game. It drew us in, focused our attention on what mattered (and where Myss Tic spent effort and money building), and deprioritized segments that weren’t essential. It felt a little like a magic trick, and served as a constant reminder that truly caring about craft is a superpower in and of itself.

With this and their first game Montauk Project, Myss Tic has established itself as a must-play venue in New York City. If you’re choosing between Montauk Project and Ghost Light, my first question would be, why not play both? If you can’t do that, honestly, pick the one that speaks to you. There are no wrong choices.

It’s also worth noting that we visited in November of 2020 and Myss Tic made us feel about as safe and comfortable as would be possible during a pandemic.

Who is this for?

  • Adventure seekers
  • Puzzle lovers
  • Scenery snobs
  • Theater folk
  • Players with at least some experience
  • Players who don’t need to be a part of every puzzle

Why play?

  • A unique setting & story
  • Some beautiful interactions
  • A well crafted, layered final sequence

Story

Everyone had heard of the Ziegfeld Follies, the Vaudeville era’s most famous theatrical revue. And who doesn’t know about Olive Thomas, the Follies’ most popular star? You don’t?

Well, while Thomas was known for her performances, she’s been remembered for being murdered. Poisoned.

To this day, she still haunts Broadway’s New Amsterdam Theatre. If we don’t figure out how to turn on the stage’s ghost light at night, giving her and her fellow Follies a stage to perform on, they will surely find ways to make our daytime stage performances memorable… for better or for worse.

In-game: A photo of an actress, an hourglass, and opera glasses on a shelf.
Continue reading “Myss Tic – Ghost Light [Review]”

Myss Tic – Montauk Project [Review]

Stranger Rooms

Location:  Brooklyn, NY

Date Played: November 8, 2020

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

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: $35-60 per player depending on team size and day

Ticketing: Private

Emergency Exit Rating: [A+] No Lock

Physical Restraints: [A+] No Physical Restraints

REA Reaction

This was our first real-life escape room since March 7, 2020… and Montauk Project was exactly what we were craving.

Montauk Project was an escape room-y game. While there was an underlying narrative that wasn’t shy about being an homage to Stranger Things, the gameplay was the star.

In-game: A bike, a baseball, and a mailbox in a mulched yard.

There was no shortage of “escape room logic” when it came to the narrative, but while there was an opportunity to build stronger linkages between the puzzles and the plot, it was a fantastic game.

Montauk Project was the type of game that reminds us why we love escape rooms, and we needed that more than ever.

It’s easy to recommend Montauk Project and Myss Tic’s other game Ghost Light (review coming soon). This is one of the top companies in New York City.

It’s also worth noting that we visited in November of 2020 and Myss Tic made us feel about as safe and comfortable as would be possible during a pandemic.

Who is this for?

  • Adventure seekers
  • Puzzle lovers
  • Scenery snobs
  • Sci-fi fans
  • Any experience level

Why play?

  • Strong set- and prop-based interactions
  • You want to play a Stranger Things-inspired escape game
  • A memorable final sequence

Story

Everyone knew to stay away from the old Montauk Air Force Station. It had been closed back in the 1970s, and it had continued to be the source of unusual happenings. Those stranger things kept getting worse, so we were sent to investigate.

In-game: A 1980s living room with a D&D board, and a big old CRT television with an 8 bit video game style countdown clock.
Continue reading “Myss Tic – Montauk Project [Review]”