Riddle Room – Vanishing at The Velmont [Review]

Vexing Vacation

Location:  Warwick, Rhode Island

Date Played: December 15, 2019

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

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: $29 per player

Ticketing: Public & Private

Emergency Exit Rating: [A+] No Lock

Physical Restraints: [A+] No Physical Restraints

REA Reaction

Vanishing at The Velmont was a delightful, beginner-friendly escape room filled with clever puzzles and interactions.

In-game: An abstract representation of the hotel's lobby.

The biggest drawback to this escape room was that throughout the game nearly every prop, wall, and surface felt unfinished. It was generally clear where we were and what we were interacting with, but few items were built to a degree that sold Riddle Room’s fiction.

Ultimately, this is a fun game – and for us, that’s what matters most. We’re glad that we played. We think that this would make a phenomenal initial introduction to escape rooms for newbies. The issues of polish didn’t change the fact that Riddle Room crafted some incredibly cool moments. If you’re in Rhode Island, this game is worth playing.

Who is this for?

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

Why play?

  • Great, beginner-friendly game design
  • A number of fun interactions
  • Clever and unique puzzle design

Story

We had always wanted to spend a night in the legendary Velmont Hotel, but it was always far too expensive for us. After a series of strange disappearances occurring in a particular room, the rates had come down… so we figured, why not?

In-game: the front desk with an old phone and slots for the room keys.

Setting

Vanishing at The Velmont took us through a few different spaces within the Velmont Hotel. Each space had a unique look and feel and progressed along a logical path.

The overall build quality was heavily variable. The setpieces ran the gamut from really cool and solidly constructed to flimsy and shoddily built. Most everything in this game had a neat concept behind it. We wished that the level of construction was more consistently strong.

In-game: Astatue in the wall of a hallway within a hotel.

Gameplay

Riddle Room’s Vanishing at The Velmont was a standard escape room with a moderate level of difficulty.

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

Analysis

 Vanishing at The Velmont had lot of content, but a progressive difficulty curve. The first act was straightforward and taught us how to play the game.

➕ Riddle Room constructed multiple unique puzzles into Vanishing at The Velmont. They generally involved custom-built mechanisms. They were unusual and satisfying to interact with.

➖ There was opportunity to add finish and polish to many of the props. For example, cut down on handwriting, except where justified by the story, and refine some associated audio in cluing. Additionally, too many setpieces looked unfinished.

➖ Although Vanishing at The Velmont had a lot of excellent puzzle content, it relied a little too much on key-for-key-style solves.

 Vanishing at The Velmont provided opportunity for collaboration and sharing. When we repeated an interaction with an interface, instead of feeling tedious, it was a moment for another teammate to have a go at a nifty prop.

➕ Riddle Room justified a classic hint system with one sentence of story.

➖ In order to follow the story, we needed to read quite a bit. We couldn’t feel the story arc through gameplay alone.

➕ We moved through multiple sets in this game. We enjoyed the variety in layouts, set designs, and puzzle types.

Tips For Visiting

  • There is a parking lot.

Book your hour with Riddle Room’s Vanishing at The Velmont, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.

Disclosure: Riddle Room comped our tickets for this game.

Lock & Clue Escape Rooms – The Cellar II: Saul's Revenge [Review]

The Beast of Pawtucket

Location:  Pawtucket, Rhode Island

Date Played: December 15, 2019

Team size: 4-8; we recommend 5-7

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: $29 per player

Ticketing: Private

Emergency Exit Rating: [A+] No Lock

Physical Restraints: [A+] No Physical Restraints

REA Reaction

The Cellar II: Saul’s Revenge surprised us. Lock & Clue Escape Rooms struck an engaging balance between camp and legitimate scares.

In-game: A table covered in blood, body parts, and a large clamp.

This wasn’t a Party City Halloween props horror game. The Cellar II had some really interesting and unusual set pieces, some elegantly designed puzzles, and a great in-character gamemaster who breathed life into the game. It’s worth noting that the owner played that part for us, but insisted that he has an employee who does it far better.

If you’re in Rhode Island, there’s a lot to love about the The Cellar II, especially if a horror experience appeals to you. Go investigate for yourself.

Who is this for?

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

Why play?

  • Memorable interactions
  • Intense actor-driven moments

Story

We had escaped the butcher’s basement, which had seemed to put an end to the murder spree. All seemed right in the neighborhood… until people started disappearing again. Once more, someone had to go investigate The Cellar.

In-game: closeup of an incinerator door, blood runs out from under it.

Setting

The Cellar II was appropriately cellar-ish. It looked like a modestly gory murder basement. I know this because I’ve seen a few.

Lock & Clue Escape Rooms didn’t achieve (or seem to strive for) the grotesque level of detail on the extreme end of the genre. However, neither did they cheap out and make The Cellar II look like it was decorated with leftover Halloween decorations from Party City. They struck a solid, approachable balance, and included a fair bit of detail.

In-game: An old worn on/ off switch.

Gameplay

Lock & Clue Escape Rooms’ The Cellar II: Saul’s Revenge was a standard escape room with a moderate level of difficulty.

Core gameplay revolved around searching, observing, making connections, puzzling, and interacting with the actor.

Analysis

➕ With a detailed set, a badass prop, and an interesting character, The Cellar II was clearly made with love and thought.

The Cellar II struck a balance between campy and scary.

➖ The Cellar II was a search-heavy escape room. There were a lot of small details to uncover and a large gamespace in which to find them. One critical item was insanely tiny.

➕ The hinting was fully integrated in the gameplay and the experience. Because of this, Lock & Clue Escape Rooms had complete control over the timing and difficulty of The Cellar II. They chose when and how to push hints to the group. It takes a lot of skill to balance this for each group, providing enough character development along with appropriate puzzle direction. We were an unusual group for them – as a group of 6 highly experienced players – and overall, they did a phenomenal job.

➕ The Cellar II developed the character of Saul throughout this escape room. He had his own voice and writing style.

➕ Lock & Clue Escape Rooms put their own perspective on some of the puzzles. We especially liked how they spun one classic escape room trope.

➖ While many of the puzzles were worked into the setting or theme, some seemed like random escape room-y add ons that didn’t belong in the setting.

➖ We tripped up on an instance of double cluing. This cheapened an otherwise strong puzzle that thematically worked well.

➕ Lock & Clue Escape Rooms set this game in the same physical space as The Cellar, but changed things up quite a bit. We hadn’t played the original, but it was made clear to us that this game was fully redesigned from the original.

Tips For Visiting

Book your hour with Lock & Clue Escape Rooms’ The Cellar II: Saul’s Revenge, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.

Disclosure: Lock & Clue Escape Rooms provided media discounted tickets for this game.

Riddle Room – Forest of Fortune [Review]

Flora and Fauna

Location:  Warwick, Rhode Island

Date Played: December 15, 2019

Team size: 4-10; we recommend 3-6

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: $29 per player

Ticketing: Public & Private

Emergency Exit Rating: [A+] No Lock

Physical Restraints: [A+] No Physical Restraints

REA Reaction

We had played at Riddle Room before, but stepping into Forest of Fortune demonstrated such a leap forward in game quality that it felt like a completely different company. It was incredible how far Riddle Room has come in 2 years. From the gameplay, to the set, to their hosting, they have substantially leveled up every conceivable element of their business.

It was clear that Riddle Room had put a lot into this buildout and pushed themselves far beyond anything that we had seen from them to date.

In-game: A stone wall with a metal gate.

In addition to the set, Riddle Room built dynamic mechanisms into their gameplay. On more than one occasion, they took an old, stale escape room cliché and morphed it into something unique and incredibly fun.

If you’re in Rhode Island, Forest of Fortune is a must-play escape room. It was fun and funny. On a personal level, we’re truly in awe of how Riddle Room has reinvented itself.

Who is this for?

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

Why play?

  • Novel puzzle and interaction design
  • Playful set design
  • Thoroughly fun gameplay

Story

We had received a text from our friend Justin that he needed our help. Justin was lost in the wilds of western Rhode Island, but he’d found a mountain of treasure.

In-game: Forest set.

Setting

Riddle Room set their adventure in an enchanted forest. The set had a whimsical woodland feel. It was almost cartoonish, which helped to sell the detailed, but homemade aesthetic. We liked it.

The stars of the show were some of the larger puzzle set pieces that were clearly the product of a lot of effort and ingenuity.

In-game: A stump with a a fleece hung on it in the middle of the woods.

Gameplay

Riddle Room’s Forest of Fortune was a standard escape room with a moderate level of difficulty.

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

In-game: View of a a cemetary through a metal gate.

Analysis

➕ The mechanical interactions were dynamic and really cool.

➕ We enjoyed the theme and the setup for this adventure. It was unusual. Although the set looked handmade, it was clearly crafted with care and deliberate design. Everything felt playful.

➖ Forest of Fortune had experienced some wear and tear from players.

➕ We loved when the forest revealed its magic. This lifted our experience and opened up new thrills.

➖ The plot progression wasn’t entirely clear. Midway through the game, we became a bit confused with the story. Because our team split up to solve some of the later puzzles, some players missed some key plot points.

➕ Riddle Room’s outstanding props enabled us to wield magic. These were fashioned out of everyday items and escape room clichés… but crafted into extraordinary tools.

➕ Searching challenges were well clued.

➖ There was an opportunity to craft more engaging interactions and better incorporate cluing for one star element of the final act.

➕ There was a lot of puzzle content in Forest of Fortune, most of which lent itself to teamwork. The gameplay worked well.

➕ The hint system fit right in with the world. It was fun and engaging to interact with.

➕ The finale was surprising and momentous.

Tips For Visiting

  • There is a parking lot.

Book your hour with Riddle Room’s Forest of Fortune, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.

Disclosure: Riddle Room comped our tickets for this game.