MindEscape – Alice in Wonderland [Review]

Time for tea.

Location:  Philadelphia, PA

Date Played: October 23, 2021

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

Duration: 75 minutes

Price: $35 per player for up to 5 players, $32 per player for 6 or more players

Ticketing: Private

Accessibility Consideration: All players must pass through low doorways.

Emergency Exit Rating: [A+] No Lock

Physical Restraints: [A+] No Physical Restraints

REA Reaction

MindEscape’s Alice in Wonderland was a colorful yet bumpy adventure down the rabbit hole.

Alice in Wonderland was filled with tactile puzzles that visually screamed “Alice in Wonderland” both in subject and aesthetic. The props were colorful and chunky, but also faded and showing significant wear. A diverse range of classic hands-on games and puzzles were generally fun and encouraged collaboration. However, the gameplay lacked an attention to detail which led to a frustrating number of ambiguous or finicky interactions.

A collection of 3 signs with arrows, thy read, "wonderland," "tea party," and "somewhere."

With multiple puzzles available in parallel for much of the game, this room would work well for medium-sized teams. Although the set of Alice in Wonderland appeared kid-friendly, this room was actually the most difficult room at MindEscape.

A note to itinerant enthusiasts: Alice in Wonderland is a turnkey design from Indestroom, a large escape room supplier, so it’s possible you’d find this same room design in other locations. While the puzzles and props were prefabricated, MindEscape added some of their own in-house artistic touches to the set, including murals by local artists.

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Vampire.Pizza Chapter 2: The Case of the Missing Vamp [Review]

Trick or treat?

Location:  At home (via delivery or pickup in Los Angeles or Philadelphia)

Date Played: October 15, 2021

Team size: 1-6; we recommend 2-3

Duration: Variable; about an hour

Price: $29 per player (not including tip or delivery fee, if applicable)

REA Reaction

Vampire.Pizza is a series of at-home games where dinner and puzzles are delivered directly to your door. Through paper game materials and online videos, Chapter 2, The Case of the Missing Vamp, continued the story of Belle’s vampire revolution.

A pizza box containing a slice of pizza, next to a red envelope labeled "Vampires Only. Mission: The Case of the Missing Vamp."

A year or so after Chapter 1, the concept of pizza and puzzle delivery still felt fresh. But after all the immersive gaming innovation during the pandemic, we were less excited to discover a packet of paper puzzles sorted into envelopes. The Case of the Missing Vamp probably won’t have much new to offer if you’ve already played some of the standout at-home escape games.

The Case of the Missing Vamp felt even easier than the first installment, so it may be best suited to beginning puzzlers or younger players. (This chapter is recommended for ages 10 and up, likely due to some allusions to the bloody realities of the vampire lifestyle.)

Now under the umbrella of Bite.Delivery, Vampire.Pizza is part of a system of collecting points which can be saved in a user account and redeemed for prizes. Additionally, for orders in October, extra prizes were delivered to the team leader’s home at the end of each game. These bonuses are a perk for players who value the element of surprise, but may disappoint those who were hoping to win an Oculus Quest. Still, the in-character prize delivery was the highlight of the evening (despite some puzzlement over the prize we received).

Between the pizza, puzzles, and prizes, the food was ultimately what we most enjoyed sinking our teeth into. However, The Case of the Missing Vamp offers an undemanding hour of eerie entertainment if you’re looking for an unusual add-on to your takeout delivery. This run of tickets spanned October 2021, but Bite may offer more opportunities to play in the future.

Who is this for?

  • Story seekers
  • Pizza lovers
  • Best for beginners

Why play?

  • Pizza and puzzles in one package
  • Vampire lore
  • Mystery prizes

Story

Head vamp Belle asked us, as members of the Fang Force, to help find an old friend who’d gone missing. By reading Belle’s old journals starting in the 1910s, we needed to identify and locate this powerful ally so she could help lead the vampire revolution.

A folded letter, adorned with a drawing of a vampire's fangs. The letter begins "Dear Fang Force, I need your help to find one of the most brilliant vampires I've ever known..."
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Expedition Escape – The List [Review]

Christmas in June

Location:  Montgomeryville, PA

Date Played: June 13, 2021

Team Size: 2-10; we recommend 3-4

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: $29.99 per player

Ticketing: Private

Emergency Exit Rating: [A] Push To Exit

Physical Restraints: [A+] No Physical Restraints

REA Reaction

It’s never too early to revel in some Christmas cheer. If you’re eagerly looking toward December and have visions of sugar plums dancing in your head, The List is a good room for you.

Elf workshop with the back of a train caboose.

I would describe The List as a room that has a lot of potential, delivering a few cool moments while falling short in others. Minor refinements to the scenery and gameplay could go a long way to improving the overall experience. For those who haven’t played many (or any) games since early 2020, The List would be a great way to ease back in and brush up on your escape room skills.

Who is this for?

  • Puzzle lovers
  • Christmas fans
  • Players with some experience
  • Strong searchers
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Expedition Escape – The Candy Shop [Review]

The Candy Shop is one of the best escape rooms in Philadelphia, PA. Here are our recommendations for great escape rooms in Philadelphia.

Sweet & Puzzley

Location:  Montgomeryville, PA

Date Played: June 13, 2021

Team size: 2-10; we recommend 4-5

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: $29.99 per player

Ticketing: Private

Emergency Exit Rating: [A] Push To Exit

Physical Restraints: [A+] No Physical Restraints

REA Reaction

The Candy Shop was the kind of escape game that immediately drew me in, put a smile on my face, and kept it there the entire time.

The set was bright, playful, and full of joy.

A checkout counter in a candy shop.

The gameplay was traditional and puzzle-focused, but generally well executed, with some novel interactions. That said, there was one low point in this game, and it was a singular puzzle that dominated most of the play time for one player. While the team loved this game, the person who spent most of their time solving this puzzle wished that they had picked up something else in the opening minutes of the game.

An interesting thing happened to us in The Candy Shop: we unintentionally set a record, completing this game in about 23 minutes. I don’t normally mention record-setting, but in this instance, no one on the team felt like we had only spent a third of our allotted time in the game. In spite of blazing through this, we all felt like we had gotten our time’s worth out of this experience. It was a fun game and we truly enjoyed playing it.

This was the kind of traditional escape room that made us love escape rooms. If you’re in the Philadelphia area, venture out into the suburbs for The Candy Shop.

Who is this for?

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

Why play?

  • A delightful theme
  • Puzzle-focused gameplay
  • The set feels happy

Story

Our chocolatier grandfather was searching for an heir to his candy shop. We may have been his favorite grandchildren, but we still had to prove ourselves by solving the puzzles he’d hidden in the shop and uncovering his secret recipe.

A line of barrels filled with candy.
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Olde City Escape Games – A Quest for Freedom [Review]

A Quest for Freedom is one of the best escape rooms in Philadelphia, PA. Here are our recommendations for great escape rooms in Philadelphia.

“Escape rooms are proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy.” – Benjamin Franklin

Location:  Philadelphia, PA

Date Played: June 13, 2021

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

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: $30 per player

Ticketing: Private

Emergency Exit Rating: [A+] No Lock

Physical Restraints: [A+] No Physical Restraints

REA Reaction

A Quest for Freedom is Olde City Escape Games’ original experience. It’s a good, traditional escape room set against a fantastic theme.

Escape room fans who have visited Philly over the past few years have consistently told us, “You have to go to Olde City to play Midnighters.” While I agree, Midnighters is great fun, I feel like A Quest for Freedom deserves some love.

Closeup of Ben Franklin's writing desk.

With a venue a few blocks from the Liberty Bell, a game themed around Benjamin Franklin and the American Revolution is as sensible as it is obligatory… and Olde City did a great job with the concept. It looks the part, has a unique character, and played well.

From a gameplay perspective, A Quest for Freedom was especially non-linear with many puzzle paths opening up more or less at once. This made it a little challenging to figure out where an individual thread of gameplay began, but it was always clear when it had concluded.

There were a few puzzles that felt like they could have been a bit more refined, but overall, this was a strong experience, especially for the region. If you’re near Philadelphia, Olde City Escape Games is a must-visit and I recommend playing everything they have to offer, not just Midnighters.

Who is this for?

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

Why play?

  • An elegant 18th century set
  • Puzzle-focused play with good variety
  • Thematically fits with the character of Philadelphia and the neighborhood that Olde City Escape Games occupies

Story

It was 1776 and Benjamin Franklin had just been appointed ambassador to France. As he embarked on a mission to secure a $10 million loan from France to fund the rebellion, Franklin sought our help. We had to search his office and print shop to help him assemble his argument with 7 American Reasons.

Ben Franklin's secret print shop.
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