Escape.exe – Site 117 [Review]

Escaping: 101

Location:  Bethlehem, PA

Date Played: July 25, 2021

Team Size: 3+; we recommend 3-6

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: $29.99 per player

Ticketing: Private

Emergency Exit Rating: [A+] No Lock

Physical Restraints: [A+] No Physical Restraints

REA Reaction

The team at escape.exe has set their sights on a very ambitious format: a series of escape rooms all woven into a detailed story. This story starts on their website and carries over into their first in-person escape room. Site: 117 was puzzle-dense and tech-heavy.

We were helped along by escape.exe’s A.I. companion GAVIN. (To note, the company escape.exe also exists as a company in its own lore.) GAVIN was our friend, offering us vital information and occasional nudges. At times GAVIN was a little too present, and sorting out the difference between banter and important game cluing was a touch difficult with everything else going on.

A locker room in leading into a clean room.

Site: 117 gave our team the chance to spread out among multiple parallel puzzle paths. This allowed each teammate to not only find something personally interesting to solve, but also something that played to their individual strengths. Of particular note were the puzzles that were enhanced by coordinating and communicating with other team members. We all know that communication is important, and Site: 117 gave us plenty of opportunities to practice it. The narrative comes to a meaningful conclusion at the end of the experience, setting players up for the next game. If you’re in the area, you should stop by and check out escape.exe’s first chapter.

Who is this for?

  • Story seekers
  • Puzzle lovers
  • Sci-fi fans
  • Best for players with at least some experience
  • Players who don’t need to be a part of every puzzle
Continue reading “Escape.exe – Site 117 [Review]”

Enter the Imaginarium – The Search for Leviathan [Review]

Mysterious Depths

Location:  Pittsburgh, PA

Date Played: July 3, 2021

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

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: $165 up to 4 players, additional $26 per person up to 10

Ticketing: Private

Accessibility Consideration: you need to walk up stairs to get to this game

Emergency Exit Rating: [A+] No Lock

Physical Restraints: [A+] No Physical Restraints

REA Reaction

The mystery in The Search for Leviathan was its unusual blend of high highs that followed an opening act loaded with low lows.

This was an escape room in which multiple teammates stopped dead in their tracks from sheer amazement, in the best of ways.

The thing is, if you want to be amazed, there’s a moat of less-than-stellar gameplay that you’ll have to overcome. The first act of The Search for Leviathan felt like it was designed by a completely different company. Fortunately, this segment was not the bulk of the game.

Somehow, these two worlds are part of one whole that was entirely worth playing… even if I truly believe that a handful of little improvements could elevate this game in countless ways.

An unusual room filled with assorted technology and a matrix of television screens.
Image via Enter the Imaginarium

The Search for Leviathan is worth traveling to play, especially if you haven’t played the other offerings at Enter The Imaginarium. It’s certainly not perfect, but I encourage you to push onward when you stall because there’s something worthwhile on the other side, and the stuff that makes this game great is rare.

Who is this for?

  • Jules Verne fans
  • Adventure seekers
  • Story seekers
  • Puzzle lovers
  • Scenery snobs
  • Best for players with at least some experience

Why play?

  • Some spectacular set design
  • Killer transitions
  • A strong second act

Story

Our mission was to dive deep beneath the waves to tangle with incredible beasts between us and buried treasure.

Panoramic photo of a submarine.
Image via Enter the Imaginarium
Continue reading “Enter the Imaginarium – The Search for Leviathan [Review]”

Puzzle Room Pittsburgh – Seeking Sasquatch [Review]

A hairy situation

Location:  Pittsburgh, PA

Date Played: July 2, 2021

Team size: 2-8; 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

Seeking Sasquatch was a unique game that did a stellar job creating an exterior environment.

A large tree with ivy, the treetop surrounded by clouds in a forrest.

The gameplay was puzzle-focused, which worked great while surrounded by such a nifty space.

The opportunities for improvement in Seeking Sasquatch were in detail refinement, spotlighting, and in-world hinting.

Puzzle Room Pittsburgh did a ton of great things with Seeking Sasquatch, and I think it’s an under-appreciated gem in the Pittsburgh region. Go check it out if you’re in the region.

Who is this for?

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

Why play?

  • A unique set with some surprising features
  • Unusual interactions

Story

Our crew had set off in search of Sasquatch. As we came upon his trail, we learned that he was hunting us as well.

Warning sign reads, "Bigfoot area - stay on marked trails."
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Captured LV Allentown – The Island [Review]

Jurassic Plot

Location:  Allentown, PA

Date Played: July 5, 2021

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

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: $28.50 per player

Ticketing: Private

Accessibility Consideration:  without spoiling, I would recommend mentioning to your gamemaster if you’re unsteady on your feet

Emergency Exit Rating: [A+] No Lock

Physical Restraints: [A+] No Physical Restraints

REA Reaction

The Island was the type of escape room scenario that felt like a child had an assortment of unrelated toys and smashed them together in a burst of imagination. It combined unlike ideas into a fun adventure. It worked.

A jungle set with colorful tribal drum props and puzzles.

Captured LV Allentown put a lot of effort into the ambiance of this world, especially for the main set. They are not masters of set design or technology, but they put in the work to learn and construct an exciting adventure. Although they couldn’t capture this vibe from start to finish, they punctuated it with memorable moments and that goes a long way.

If you’re in the mood for a tiki island of puzzles and dinosaurs, and you’re in eastern Pennsylvania, do yourself a favor and visit The Island.

Who is this for?

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

Why play?

  • A playful and vibrant setting
  • Lots of solid puzzles with varied inputs and interactions
  • It’s a mighty game for a smaller market

Story

Renaissance Laboratories had been conducting questionable research with dinosaur DNA on a remote tropical island. Last week, they’d reported a security breach. We’d been flown in by helicopter with the mission to retrieve the DNA samples and avoid contact with the native population.

Continue reading “Captured LV Allentown – The Island [Review]”

Escape Room Pittsburgh – Carnegie’$ Million$ [Review]

Use your (Carnegie) Mellon

Location:  Pittsburgh, PA

Date Played: July 4, 2021

Team Size: 2-10; we recommend 3-5

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: $32 per player

Ticketing: Private

Emergency Exit Rating: [A] Push To Exit

Physical Restraints: [A+] No Physical Restraints

REA Reaction

Carnegie’$ Million$ set the tone immediately with a beautiful entryway into our game space. As a fantastic soundtrack flooded the room, we were able to traverse a massive set in search of the Stone of Destiny left by Andrew Carnegie himself. Using the building to their full advantage, Escape Room Pittsburgh integrated so many thematic and complex puzzles. While we found the experience lacking a clear starting puzzle and thus slow to start, the gameplay flowed well during the second half.

In-room: a bookshelf and fireplace in a study.

I’m sure Carnegie’$ Million$ was once an absolutely gorgeous game, but the wear and tear from years of play showed. Some of the puzzles unfortunately felt like homework to our team, while some were creative yet process-heavy.

If you’re in Pittsburgh and want to play a game with roots tied to the city, Carnegie’$ Million$ is the game for you. I’d also recommend playing Escape Room Pittsburgh’s other offering, Tomb Explorer, if you’re stopping in.

Who is this for?

  • Puzzle lovers
  • Best for players with at least some experience
  • Players who don’t need to be a part of every puzzle
Continue reading “Escape Room Pittsburgh – Carnegie’$ Million$ [Review]”