Reminder: NYC Escape Room Fan Shindig on June 6

Back in March we hosted our first NYC Escape Room Fan Shindig.

It was popular enough that there will be a second such meet up… and it’s right around the corner.

Two smiley face stick figures carrying the final two pieces of a jigsaw puzzle into place.

When

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

7pm – 10pm

Where

Shades of Green Pub (125 East 15th Street, New York, NY between Irving Place and Third Avenue)

Please note that there is a $25 credit card minimum at Shades of Green Pub… and they really take that seriously. Please bring cash or a big appetite. They are gracious and flexible hosts and we want to respect them.

RSVP

Please RSVP. We need to provide a headcount to the venue.

RSVP on Facebook or via Email (roomescapeartist@gmail.com)

Why

This is a great opportunity to meet other folks who love escape rooms and other forms of interactive entertainment. If you stop by, you’ll be able to:

  • Give recommendations
  • Get recommendations
  • Find teammates
  • Talk to creators
  • Talk to players
  • Make friends

Additional information is available here.

Komnata Quest – The Vault [Review]

Pack your Pip-Boy for the apocalypse.

Location: New York, NY

Date Played: April 16, 2018

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

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: $40 per ticket on weekdays; $50 per ticket on weekends

Ticketing: Private

REA Reaction

In The Vault, Komnata Quest blended action and comedy in their Fallout themed experience. This was an easy, straightforward, linear adventure-based game that felt like the escape room world’s equivalent of the summer action flick. A little more depth in puzzle design would have been an improvement, but we had a good time traversing its large set and playing with all sorts of interesting toys.

If you’re in Manhattan and looking for an approachable, beginner friendly adventure, give The Vault a shot.

In-game: A welcome screen with instructions about a first aid kit.

Who is this for?

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

Why play?

  • A fun exploration of the Fallout world
  • A humorous artificial intelligence overseer
  • Some great tangible interactions

Story

Nuclear Armageddon had rendered the surface of the Earth uninhabitable. To avoid the radiation, diseases, and mutant monsters, humanity had retreated to the safety of underground vaults. Unfortunately, the vaults were no longer the safe haven that humanity had relied on. Our squad was dispatched to investigate and neutralize the threat.

In-game: A pair of boxes, one is labeled

Setting

Leaning heavily into the mythology of the Fallout video game series, The Vault dropped us into a subterranean ark of sorts, designed to protect and preserve humanity after the Earth’s surface was rendered insufficient for civilization. The Vault was loaded with Fallout references and had a sterile, military-meets-laboratory feel.

The gamespace was surprisingly large for a Downtown Manhattan escape room. There were many spaces to explore.

In-game: A Nuka Cola cabinet.

Gameplay

Komnata Quest Manhattan’s The Vault was a standard escape room with a lower level of difficulty.

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

In-game: The door to the research unity, it looks like there are monsters on the other side of it.

Analysis

+ The Vault was based on the Fallout series. The interactions that pulled on the source material were fun and memorable.

In-game: a large binary switch.

+/- A lot of the escape room was informed by a critical prop. This thing was awesome, but also failed to provide key feedback to let us know that it was working.

+ The lock nerd in me was incredibly pleased with one of the puzzles in Vault.

+/- The in-game “artificial intelligence” was funny.

– However, in-game audio was challenging to hear. Consequently, it was also difficult to tell the difference between audio clues and AI taunts. This was frustrating.

+/- The set was large, especially by Manhattan standards. For all of the space that Komnata Quest had for Vault, it felt light on content and challenge.

+ I have a personal love of nixie tubes. Discovering them in an escape room makes me happy.

Tips for Visiting

  • For upscale dining nearby, we recommend sushi at Haru.
  • For casual dining nearby, City Acres Market offers Vanessa’s dumplings.
  • There are not a lot of dining options open late in this neighborhood.
  • Parking is a challenge; consider a subway or ferry for transportation.

Book your hour with Komnata Quest’s The Vault, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you using the coupon code escapeartist to receive 10% off.

Disclosure: Komnata Quest comped our tickets for this game.

Escape Games NYC – Room 745 (Portable Escape Room) [Review]

There’s been a murder in our apartment.

Location: your choice near New York, NY

Date Played: April 5, 2018

Team size: 5-10; we recommend 5-6

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: $30 per person with a minimum of 20 players for a single group bookings; $1,500 to buy the game for resale

Ticketing: Private, designed for corporate bookings

REA Reaction

Escape Games NYC brings Room 745 to corporate groups. They took escape room-style gameplay, focused it on deduction, and packed it into 2 portable trunks. The gameflow worked pretty well and engaged the group. Even with corporate groups of inexperienced puzzlers, however, we recommend smaller team sizes so that everyone can participate in the experience… because it’s a game worth playing.

Room 745 is not on the same level as the best of Escape Games NYC’s real life escape rooms, but it offers something else. It comes to you.

Book this for a groups of at least 20 people. Room 745 is not for casual escape room goers.

One suitcase open, pajamas, a magnifying glass, and other personal effects are visible.

Who is this for?

  • Corporate groups
  • Large parties

Why play?

  • It comes to you.
  • It fits on your table.
  • It can engage a lot of people with escape room-style puzzling.

Story

William Smith had gone missing from The Grand Budapest Hotel. World famous detective Sherlock Holmes had been brought in to crack the case, but tragically Mr. Holmes had been found murdered. Holmes, however, had suspected that his life was in peril, so he had hidden and encoded the evidence among his possessions.

We had to rifle through his things and determine who had committed both crimes.

Two suitcases resting on a table.

Setting

This was Escape Games NYC’s portable game. It is typically delivered to corporate gatherings. In this case, it was set up on the table in our apartment.

The game arrived with our traveling gamemaster in two suitcases. After a standard escape room rules introduction, our gamemaster set a 60-minute clock, and we opened the cases and began searching, puzzling, and deducing.

One suitcase open, a scarf and a letter addressed to Emily are visible.

Gameplay

Escape Games NYC’s Room 745 was a deduction-based escape room with a low level of difficulty.

Core gameplay revolved around searching and solving puzzles.

There were two unusual features of this game:

  • It was brought to our home (or office).
  • The goal was not to escape a room or find a McGuffin, but to deduce who had committed the crimes.

A letter to Emily written on Grand Hotel stationary, a ring box, a magnifying glass, and a small copper lockbox.

Analysis

+ The searching and puzzling felt good and escape room-like.

+ Aesthetically, the contents of the suitcases belonged together. Escape Games NYC judiciously applied copper paint to items that didn’t fit the color palette. This may sound like a minor thing, but it made a big difference.

– There was a complex meta puzzle that offered no feedback until you needed to solve it. We didn’t lean on the gamemaster to solve this, but I suspect that the gamemaster frequently has to step in to guide teams through this puzzle.

– Time mattered a great deal in this game and Escape Games NYC shifted between using base 12 and base 24 time. This added unnecessary confusion to the game. We recommend using only one or the other.

– There’s a ton of reading… not all of it is relevant.

+ Everything fit comfortably on our table. We didn’t need to rearrange our furniture or make other parts of our home available for the game.

Room 745 scratch paper with the game's logo.

+ Escape Games NYC can run up to 5 teams concurrently through separate versions of this game. This would be fantastic for large groups.

– This game can be played with up to 11 people per game, which seems like entirely too many people given the volume of content. This game will become increasingly challenging with each person added after about 5 people, and there will be less to do for each person. I’d recommend negotiating pricing and structures that put no more than 8 people on an individual game (and if possible, cap teams at 6 people).

+ Given that this game is primarily a corporate team building activity, all of our teammates felt that this would be a good game to play with their respective companies.

+ The game is brought to you. Our gamemaster handled setup and breakdown quickly and efficiently, entirely on this own. (He was also pleasant company!)

Tips for Visiting

  • The gamemaster brings Room 745 to you.
  • You need only supply a table and chairs for the participants.

Book your hour with Escape Games NYC’s Room 745, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.

Disclosure: Escape Games NYC comped our tickets for this game.

 

Escapeburg – The Tomb [Review]

Brooklyn Bespoke Burial.

Location: Brooklyn, NY

Date Played: March 15, 2018

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

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: $49 per ticket

REA Reaction

There’s a good game buried in The Tomb, but it was unfinished. We had been told that the game was no longer in beta, but, oh boy, was it in need of serious iteration.

We’re rooting for Escapeburg to produce something fantastic, but at almost twice the market rate for NYC escape rooms, we can’t recommend playing this until they finish it. We wish we hadn’t played yet.

In-game: a barred metal door opening into a stone tomb.

Who is this for?

  • Adventure seekers
  • Players who prefer escape rooms without combination locks
  • Best for players with at least some experience

Why play?

  • The first two thirds
  • Exciting reveals

Story

After we uncovered an Egyptian tomb, we became trapped inside and found ourselves at the mercy of an ancient curse, unless we could solve our way to safety.

The blue and brown doorway to enter the game with Egyptian hieroglyphs carved into it.

Setting

The Tomb was dimly lit.

Despite the darkness, the set was detailed. Escapeburg crafted and painted the walls and set pieces.

The set was composed of large, interactive set pieces that made the experience feel larger than it was.

In-game: close up of a caged light hung in a dark dig site.

Gameplay

The Tomb’s gameplay centered around manipulating our environment. We needed to associate props to set pieces and move these about to the solved positions.

Standouts

From the detailed walls to the large, interactive set pieces, there was a lot in the gamespace to enjoy. The construction took us out of a Brooklyn building into another place. The set felt solid.

We were excited when the set reacted by moving, opening, or triggering something new. Many of these effects and reveals – mechanical or tech-driven – delighted us.

The first two thirds played pretty well. We enjoyed the puzzles and the interactions.

Shortcomings

In the third act, The Tomb ground to a halt and the fun stopped.

  • The puzzles weren’t entertaining or gracefully executed.
  • One puzzle couldn’t be solved except by trial and error. It also couldn’t be hinted.
  • One puzzle required us to match items that weren’t a perfect match, and not just off slightly off, but different enough that we questioned whether matching was even relevant. (Interesting enough, there was another earlier puzzle with unusual component variation that seemed meaningful and, again, was completely irrelevant.)
  • One puzzle required us to perceive color differences in the low lighting.

The Tomb lacked clue structure, but the puzzles and interactions were pretty intuitive up until the final third. At that point, Escapeburg made some unorthodox design decisions such as prop reuse, which could have worked well, but suffered from lack of indication. We found this incredibly frustrating.

Our gamemaster had to play a hands-on role in making sure we, as players, didn’t disrupt our own ability to solve the puzzles just by exploring the environment:

  • In one instance, we had an order preservation problem; we had manipulated items that needed to stay in their original positions. Our gamemaster had to enter the game and reset the puzzle.
  • On two occasions, our gamemaster came over the god mic to tell us (in advance, now) not to move certain props or set pieces so as not to mess up the game flow.
  • In another instance, the tech was too finicky to register a solve state. Our gamemaster had to enter the game to make it work right.

Escapeburg could better affix items that should not be moved and refine their tech so that this problem doesn’t continually plague The Tomb throughout the experience.

The Tomb was dimly lit. Escapeburg provided flashlights but lighting was a constant struggle because:

  • they didn’t provide enough for everyone,
  • 1 stopped working after 10 minutes, and
  • 2 were on headlamps but worked better as handhelds, which was awkward.

While the set felt pretty good, it also looked like it was slapped together quickly. The plaster needed work and the 3D printing could use post-production. Additionally, the wiring lacked housing.

Escapeburg charged $49 per ticket. This is well above market rate. Frankly, there are far better games in New York City for almost half the price.

Tips for Visiting

  • There is street parking. Escapeburg is also accessible by public transportation. Take the L train to Lorimer.
  • There are plenty of restaurants in the area.
  • Accessibility: The Tomb requires color & auditory perception. It also requires players to step over a relatively high barricade.

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

Disclosure: Escapeburg provided media discounted tickets for this game.

 

Virgil A. Peach Travel and Adventure Co – Escape To Virginia Beach Popup [Mini Review]

A very limited free escape room promoting travel to Virginia Beach.

Location: Brooklyn, New York (Williamsburg)

Date Played: April 18, 2018

Team size: 1-4; we recommend 3-4

Duration: 20 minutes of gameplay + post-game entertainment

Price: Free for one weekend only (April 21-22, 2018)

Ticketing: Public

What’s Going On?

The Virgil A. Peach Travel and Adventure Co is a popup storefront for a limited run escape room promoting Virginia Beach as a travel destination.

Virgil A Peach Travel and Adventure Co's hipster signage.

The storefront is set up as a travel agency with the staff representing the history of the last 50 years. The game itself was a 20-minute race through the past and present of Virginia Beach, highlighting and alluding to all of the various forms of entertainment available to visitors.

The travel agency's lobby with a woman dressed like she's from the 60s, a guy from the 70's, a woman from the 80s, and a guy from the 90s.

The escape room concluded in a speakeasy with food and alcoholic beverages that represented the region’s cuisine.

I attended a complementary media preview. The experience will be free to the public when it opens, but space will be incredibly limited. It will be only open on April 21 & 22, 2018.

REA Reaction

Escape To Virginia Beach pleasantly surprised me. You never know what you’re going to get from a popup promotional escape room.

In-game: An old office with a desk covered in papers an old gramophone.

The staff was on top of things. The set was large and the game played like an escape room. Moreover, it visually communicated about Virginia Beach without beating me over the head with messaging or a hard sell.

From a gameplay standpoint, Escape To Virginia Beach was a standard escape room with a lot of searching and observation and a few puzzles.

It was legitimately challenging due to the size of the gamespace and a fair amount of red herrings. It also had a lot of content for a 20-minute experience. Finally, for the true escape room nerds, there was one impressive piece of tech that was so brilliantly executed that I had to ask how it worked.

If you’ve been around the escape room block a bunch, you won’t see a lot that will blow your mind, but you will find a solid traditional escape room.

All in all, this was a fun game, at a price that can’t be beat. If you’re in the area and this sounds intriguing, go play. It was a good time.

Note that you have to be over 21 to book.

Book your session with Virgil A. Peach Travel and Adventure Co’s Escape To Virginia Beach, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.

June 6: NYC Room Escape Fan Shindig

The first NYC Room Escape Fan Shindig was a ton of fun… even though we had to change the date last minute due to kind-of-sort-of bad snow.

So… we’re doing it again.

Two smiley face stick figures carrying the final two pieces of a jigsaw puzzle into place.

We continue to meet so many wonderful people through this blog and we really enjoy bringing them together to talk about escape rooms and the like.

This event is an opportunity to meet local escape room enthusiasts, designers, operators, bloggers, and others. Share your knowledge of and excitement about getting locked inside giant puzzle adventures!

Come on down, make new friends, and find yourself some teammates.

When

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

7pm – 10pm

Where

Shades of Green Pub (125 East 15th Street, New York, NY between Irving Place and Third Avenue)

RSVP

Please RSVP. We need to provide a headcount to the venue.

RSVP on Facebook or via Email (roomescapeartist@gmail.com).

Who Else Might Attend?

Escape rooms have a lot in common with other types of immersive entertainment.

We’ve invited the folks from New York City Larp to co-host this event. New York City Larp is a group devoted to fostering the New York City live-action roleplay community, and developing the resources to support productions in the tri-state area.

This will be an opportunity to meet escape room fans as well as larpers and fans of other types of immersive entertainment. You don’t have to mingle, but now you have the opportunity!

FAQ

Have you run this event before?

Yes, we ran this event in March and we had a great time chatting with everyone who came out. Due to a snowstorm on the originally planned date of the event, we had to postpone it one week, and a lot of folks couldn’t make it on the rescheduled day. We are hoping that it doesn’t snow in June and we get to meet many more of you!

Answers to all your other FAQs are available here.

Mystery Room NYC – Chapter 5: Secluded Vault [Review]

Who gave Uncle Scrooge a vat of lacquer?

Location: New York, NY

Date Played: March 19, 2018

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

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: $28 per ticket

REA Reaction

Despite the uneven clue structure and set construction, we enjoyed many of the puzzles and nifty mechanisms in Secluded Vault. If Mystery Room NYC can remove debris from former puzzles and put a bit more attention into upkeep and cluing, Secluded Vault will deliver a more satisfying experience.

All in all, the fifth installment from Mystery Room NYC was a big step up from chapter 4.

In-game: a collection of gold coins lacquered to a silver table. The lacquer is clearly pooled around the coins.

Who is this for?

  • Observant players
  • Players who enjoy mechanical interactions
  • Best for players with at least some experience

Why play?

  • Unusual interactions

Story

Our pursuit of Edwards, the recurring villain at Mystery Room NYC, had led us to a vault. We needed to solve our way past the security to steal a journal from within.

Although this was Chapter 5 of the Mystery Room NYC saga, it didn’t rely on any knowledge of previous chapters. It was only connected to those other chapters in so far as there was a recurring character as the backdrop for the escape.

Those of us who didn’t know the story going in had no idea that there was a story.

In-game: A bookcase with books a plant, and some coins all behind acrylic plasic shielding.

Setting

The set was an escape room-style office with a few bank-esque nods. A few desks, shelves, and bookcases-turned-display cases were set against barely adorned white walls.

Any decor not behind glass was lacquered down. The entire set felt like a giant still life.

In-game: A digital keypad against a silver table.

Gameplay

Secluded Vault was an observe-and-puzzle escape room. If we could move or manipulate it, we were going to have figure out how to use it by connecting it to something we could observe.

The clue structure varied enormously. Sometimes Mystery Room NYC told us exactly what to do and sometimes we had to grasp at connections.

Standouts

Secluded Vault included a few unusual mechanical interactions. We enjoyed these moments as many of them were particularly cool.

Mystery Room NYC thwarted our expectations with one prop that wasn’t used as we’ve come to expect. We thought we had this case cracked, but we were wrong, in a good way.

The reliance on observation of a larger gamespace facilitated teamwork.

Shortcomings

Since opening Secluded Vault, Mystery Escape Room had removed some of the puzzles, but left disabled set pieces or props. This created needless red herrings that persisted throughout the experience. It was also a disappointment because some of those props seemed like they should have done something cool.

In-game: A beat up contraption with odd symbols on it.

The set and props lacked polish and showed signs of wear. Some of this wear made the game look beat up; other instances obscured the in-game clues.

There were audio clues that were so garbled that we couldn’t understand them.

Secluded Vault suffered from inconsistent clue structure. At times, it was too direct. Other times, we were presented with unfamiliar objects and expected to intuit connections without any cluing.

Mystery Room NYC remains heavily committed to their ongoing narrative, but it is so loose that it’s irrelevant, missable, and forgettable.

Tips for Visiting

  • Mystery Room NYC’s downtown location is accessible by subway. Take the B/D/F/M to Broadway-Lafayette or the 4/6 to Bleecker or the R/W to Prince. There is also street parking.
  • For nearby food, we recommend Burger and Barrel (try the Bash Burger). There are lots of options around.

Book your hour with Mystery Room NYC’s Chapter 5: Secluded Vault, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.

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.

 

Exit Escape Room NYC – The Mission [Review]

Execute Mission.

Location: New York, NY

Date Played: February 19, 2018

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

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: $28 per ticket

REA Reaction

The Mission started off uninspired, but turned into something interesting. While we wished some of the execution was cleaner, The Mission conveyed narrative well and the second half was filled with innovative interactions.

(Interestingly, for the reverse structure, play Exit Escape Room NYC’s High Speed.)

Who is this for?

  • Story seekers
  • Puzzle lovers
  • Novelty hunters
  • Any experience level

Why play?

  • The second half
  • Unusual interactions
  • Narrative-driven gameplay

Story

Our agency had been infiltrated by a double agent. We had to identify this individual, determine their location, and eliminate the threat.

In-game: A black box with 9 binary switches hung on a wall beside top hats and overcoats.

Setting

While the late-game setting for The Mission was unusual and exciting, the initial set was an uninspiring barebones office with an unfinished look.

I can’t spoil the late-game reveal because it was worth being surprised. 

Gameplay

As the name implies, The Mission was mission-based. Our objectives were explained clearly in the pre-game:

Identify the double agent.

In-game: A black suitcase on a desk, the wall behind has 12 portraits of different people.

Track the double agent.

In-game: a world map covering a wall with black dots over select major cities.

Eliminate the double agent.

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While we were following a specific mission plan, the game itself was still an escape room with equal parts searching and puzzling.

Standouts

The Mission escalated. From set to effects to interactions, it built excitement over time.

The late-game mechanical puzzles facilitated interactive group solves.

As we solved the puzzles, we learned mission-critical information. Both the puzzles and our intel flowed well and flowed together. This made for a cohesive story.

Exit Escape Room NYC included a time-consuming mid-game narrative sequence. They structured their timekeeping to ensure all players receive a full 60 minutes to solve the puzzles. When you reach this sequence, you’ll know it. Relax, you’re off the clock. 

Shortcomings

The first act lacked excitement. The mundane office set felt tired. Its puzzles didn’t engage the physical space.

Exit Escape Room NYC installed this escape room in an unfinished space. Despite some interesting set pieces in the later portions of the experience, it felt unfinished.

The final interaction missed the mark. The concept was really cool, but the props and set pieces didn’t breath life into the moment. In addition, they didn’t engage the team. We escaped without fanfare and weren’t even sure that we had won until the door opened.

Tips for Visiting

  • Exit Escape Room NYC is easily accessible on public transportation.
  • We recommend Black Iron Burger (across the street) and Thai food at Larb Ubol (on 9th ave).

Book your hour with Exit Escape Room NYC’s The Mission, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.

Disclosure: Exit Escape Room NYC comped our tickets for this game.

 

Beat the Bomb [Review]

Play hard or become a Pollock.

Location: Brooklyn, NY (DUMBO)

Date Played: February 27, 2018

Team size: 2-6; we recommend no more than 5

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: $39 per ticket

REA Reaction

Innovation isn’t creating entirely new ideas from scratch; it’s taking existing concepts and refactoring them into something completely new. That’s Beat the Bomb.

Beat the Bomb presented 5 collaborative challenges requiring physical, mental, and communicative skills. Everyone was participating all the time. There was no waiting or watching from the sidelines. Teams win or lose together… and you’ll probably lose, which is part of the fun.

Beat the Bomb was not an escape room, but it drew on escape room concepts. We didn’t enjoy all the challenges equally, but we had a blast! Plus… Beat the Bomb is replayable.

Who is this for?

  • Thrill seekers
  • Players who enjoy some physicality
  • Team players
  • Any experience level
  • Players who don’t mind getting a tad messy
  • Graffiti artists

Why play?

  • The paint-splosion
  • Team challenges
  • Some awesome challenges
  • Adrenaline rush
  • It’s replayable

Story

This one was pretty simple: there was a giant paint bomb; we had to defuse it.

In-game: The paint bomb with 6 different cannons.
Tick… Tick… Boom.

Setting

There were 5 stages within Beat The Bomb. Each stage had its own set. Most of these were dimly lit rooms where the key interactions glowed. The lighting was never an issue.

The bomb room was the most visually impactful, as it had a monstrous paint-spewing contraption and walls covered in layers of paint.

In-game: gif of Lisa, David, and Lindsay getting doused with a paint explosion.

Gameplay

While the overarching goal of Beat The Bomb was to defuse the bomb, the gameplay was rooted in completing other timed tasks and puzzles to earn more time on the bomb’s clock. As we became more familiar with them, the challenges became increasingly difficult. The better we performed, the more time we earned in the bomb room at the end of the game.

Prior to entering the game, Beat The Bomb’s staff helped us get suited up in giant white onesies and safety glasses (for those not already wearing glasses). Basically, they turned us into human canvases.

Our team in white onesies with our hands in the air.
Check out dem fanny packs.

The Challenge Rooms

Hack Attack: While the gameplay in Hack Attack was incredibly similar to another popular game, it played fantastically. It was a great first challenge to get the team working together.

In-game: David looking and pointing intently at a touch screen.

Laser Maze: This physical challenge rewarded speed, agility, patience, and pattern recognition. To score, our entire team needed to cross the laser grid and push buttons on the other end. Each crossing changed the laser pattern.

A laser maze.

Echo Chamber: This was a take on Simon.

Floor Grid: The most distinctive puzzle in Beat The Bomb, Floor Grid was really cool. I’m not gonna talk about how it worked.

In-game: Gif of Lisa stepping back and fourth.
Lisa playing Floor Grid and looking like an Oompa Loompa. We’re not sure why she crossed her arms.

Cyberbot: To defuse the bomb, we navigated a robot through a maze, destroying targets along the way. We had as much time to complete this challenge as we had earned in the previous challenges. To even have a prayer of winning here, we needed to have performed well in the first four games.

Standouts

Beat the Bomb was well paced. These 10-minute challenge rooms gave us enough time to get the hang of the puzzle, but ended before we bored of the challenges. They were ordered such that we changed up skill sets from challenge to challenge.

While many of these challenges seemed familiar, Beat the Bomb spun up new twists. We’ve crossed many laser mazes, but none that required this level of strategic play.

Floor Grid was awesome. We’d both like to play it again.

All 5 challenges invited replay. They were the types of puzzles we could (and did) get better at over the time. Even though they were familiar, they were exciting. We can see people returning – bomb aside – because they want to replay these challenges.

In-game: The team in extra protective gear before the bomb.
The team: Now with extra armor and face shields.

Beat the Bomb was all about Instagram. They encouraged us to take our own pictures, even providing plastic fanny packs to keep our phones safe from the paint. They knew, however, that we’d be focused on the puzzles, so they jumped right in and took action shots. They do this for every team.

A wall covered in layers of paint.
The bomb’s artwork.

Getting doused by a giant paint bomb was fun. It felt very early Nickelodeon.

Shortcomings

While the gameplay was basic, each challenge came with new instructions to read. We had to read rapidly and catch any nuance in the instructions. This was challenging and especially so in the challenge that didn’t use a standard screen interface. We’d have to start in on the challenge before everyone had fully comprehended the instructions.

One of the challenge rooms started off approachable, but eventually reached a point where if a team didn’t have someone with the right sensory skills, it became a guessing game.

Cyberbot was frustrating for the wrong reasons. The controls were clunky and didn’t work well; one was pretty close to non-functional.

We wished Cyberbot was a “defusing” challenge. It didn’t seem to have anything to do with bomb deactivation. It felt strangely disconnected from the overall mission.

Tips for Visiting

  • Dumbo is easy to get to on public transportation
  • We recommend Randolph Beer for food and booze.
  • You need to be able to crawl and to move rapidly with some agility to complete all the challenges.
  • The paint washed out. That said:
    • Do not wear shoes or clothing that you 💖
    • Do not wear skirts or heels.
    • Do not wear clothing that is extremely tight or overly baggy.

Book your hour at Beat the Bomb, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.

Disclosure: Beat the Bomb comped our tickets for this game.