Trap Door Escape Room – Cure Z: Quarantine [Review]

Bigger, longer…

Location:  Bartonsville, PA

Date Played: August 25, 2019

Team size: up to 16; we recommend 4-6

Duration: 120 minutes

Price: $49.99 per player

Ticketing: Public

Emergency Exit Rating: [A+] No Lock

Physical Restraints: [A+] No Physical Restraints

REA Reaction

Trap Door Escape Room builds big, strange, narrative-driven escape games. They have a style all their own and I’m into it.

Cure Z: Quarantine, the sequel to their retired second game Cure Z, was massive. It ran 120 minutes and took up a ridiculous amount of square footage. I cannot think of another escape game in the Northeastern US that’s anywhere near this big.

In-game: A test subject with dead eyes in a containment chamber.
Image via Trap Door.

What became clear over the 120 minutes was that what Trap Door Escape Room does well, they do really well: size, scale, narrative, effects, atmosphere. Trap Door Escape Room falls short in puzzle design and hinting.

The hinting seemed optimized around keeping us in the game for as close to 120 minutes as possible. This led to choppy gameplay. We found ourselves frustrated and wanting hints with no way of receiving them during much of the game… and then a flood of solutions wrapped as hints in the late game.

The puzzle quality was inconsistent with a few dreadful challenges. I have long believed that Trap Door Escape Room is a puzzle designer away from greatness. I think that now, more than ever.

Overall, I find myself coming back to the same feelings about Trap Door Escape Room. There is so much genius in their work… even when their puzzle play leaves me wondering, “was that even a puzzle?”

Trap Door Escape Room is all about spectacle and physicality and Cure Z: Quarantine brings what we’ve come to expect. If you’re near the Poconos, it’s well worth exploring; there isn’t anything else like it.

Who is this for?

  • Adventure seekers
  • Story seekers
  • Zombie fans
  • Any experience level

Why play?

  • It’s physically massive
  • 2-hour game clock
  • Fun interactions

Story

One year after the original zombie virus outbreak was contained, a large portion of the population takes Quiet Z by Quieten Pharma to suppress the disease.

With the world beginning to pull itself back from the brink, a new attack from a terrorist organization named 1 World Alliance could push society into collapse if we couldn’t contain the threat.

In-game: a strange coiled device glowing green.
Image via Trap Door.

Setting

Trap Door Escape Room likes building big… and Cure Z: Quarantine was among the largest escape rooms we’ve encountered in terms of square footage. There were many different rooms, each with a unique aesthetic and purpose.

The general quality of the build was fairly high. There was some variation in quality, complexity and intrigue from scene to scene, but Cure Z: Quarantine had a lot to love in the set department.

In-game: an old and rundown travel agency.
Image via Trap Door.

The game itself had an unusual opening sequence. I could call it theatrical, but not in the sense that you’re probably thinking. Trap Door Escape Rooms opened their game with a ~10-minute coming attractions reel for their other experiences before pivoting into a video briefing. This was really clever, although its runtime was excessive.

Finally, the first set – a police station – was the weakest in the game. It was just barely designed and it wasn’t an inspiring first impression. The good news was that things rapidly improved from there.

In-game: an alleyway with "zombies = people" painted on the wall.
Image via Trap Door.

Gameplay

Trap Door Escape Room’s Cure Z: Quarantine was a standard escape room with a moderate level of difficulty.

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

In-game: a red faux rotary pay phone.
Image via Trap Door.

Analysis

➕ Cure Z: Quarantine was an adventure. Foreboding, but not horror, this escape room had us racing through a large gamespace, exploring, solving, and interacting. It was exhilarating.

➕ The story of Cure Z: Quarantine worked. As we played, we learned more about the characters and the extent of the goings-on in this space. We understood the scenario and our role within it.

In-game: a dead body on the floor in the foreground, a zombie lurking in the background.
Image via Trap Door.

➕ As we played Cure Z: Quarantine, we were continually opening up new spaces. The floor plan was sizable and unusual. It was exciting to open up a new place. Trap Door Escape Room built some wonderful sets and drops. These were detailed and interesting. We had a continual sense of exploration and discovery throughout the experience.

➖ We played the entire game with flashlights. Although this could be justified by the staging, it was inhibiting as a player. We would have really liked spotlighting or a puzzle that revealed better light in key areas. 120 minutes by flashlight was too much.

➖ The puzzles needed additional refinement. Most puzzles seemed to be almost – but not quite entirely – clued. In one instance, we had the wrong tools to solve the puzzle. In another, the UI didn’t accept reasonable variation. At one point, the clues didn’t give us order. The puzzle-play dragged; it was the least exciting part of the experience.

➕ Trap Door Escape Room gated gameplay by illuminating the next input. In a game with such a large footprint and so many opportunities, this worked well to keep us on task.

➖ The hints weren’t hints; they were solutions. Trap Door Escape Room pushed us hints as they felt we needed them, based on our timing, but these hints came far later than we would have wanted them, long after we’d stopped enjoying solving a puzzle. When hints arrived, we could move forward again, but not in a satisfying way. We would have had stronger momentum with gentle nudges earlier in the game.

➕ The plot culminated with a nifty prop. The UI worked great. It delivered satisfying successes and humorous failures. It was fun to use. 

In-game: A dead person on an operating table in a green lit room, their organs are exposed.
Image via Trap Door.

➕/➖ Before our adventure began, we watched the previews… for Trap Door Escape Room’s other experiences at their other locations in New Jersey. We respect the hustle. It’s a smart move… if it were half the length, it would have been genius.

➕ The scope and size of Cure Z: Quarantine was admirable. Trap Door Escape Room isn’t afraid of throwing an incredible volume of square footage at a game; that’s pretty cool.

Tips For Visiting

  • Trap Door Escape Room is located at the back of the plaza. Drive behind the building.
  • There is a parking lot.
  • We highly recommend Pho Saigon II for a meal before or after your game. They are located in the same plaza.

Book your hour with Trap Door Escape Room’s Cure Z: Quarantine, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.

Disclosure: Trap Door Escape Room comped our tickets for this game.