Extreme Escape – The Cursed [Review]

Voodoo so well.

Location:  San Antonio, Texas

Date Played: February 3, 2019

Team size: up to 8; we recommend 3-5

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: $30.99 per player

Ticketing: Public

Emergency Exit Rating: [A+] No Lock

Physical Restraints: [A+] No Physical Restraints

REA Reaction

The Cursed impressed us with a detailed environment, a solid puzzle game, and one hell of a moment. Extreme Escape sold us on the place, the story, and our role within it.

Although they could tweak some aspects of this escape room to improve the puzzle flow, we throughly enjoyed solving our way through this dramatic adventure.

If you’re anywhere near San Antonio, The Cursed is a must play.

In-game: A series of wooden doors linked by a heavy steel chain.

Who is this for?

  • Adventure seekers
  • Story seekers
  • Scenery snobs
  • Players with at least some experience
  • Players who don’t need to be a part of every puzzle

Why play?

  • Cinematic moments
  • Gorgeous set
  • Interactive puzzles
  • Memorable moments

Story

We were trapped in a witch’s cabin. We had to break her curse before she stole our souls.

In-game: closeup of a human skull.

Setting

The Cursed had us venture into a witch’s cabin. It really sold the illusion. From the dramatic lighting to the wooden construction and the mystical props, Extreme Escape built a believable world.

As the experience progressed, audio and visual effects served to create an epic moment.

In-game: A shelf with a human skull and other idols.

Gameplay

Extreme Escape’s The Cursed was a standard escape room with a moderate level of difficulty.

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

In-game: small alligator heads and candles arranged in a shrine.

Analysis

➕ The set was gorgeous. The wood-paneled cabin was dramatically lit with voodoo-esque decor. It felt magical.

➖ The Cursed was dimly lit. Our team of 5 was only provided with 1 hand-cranked flashlight. Although Extreme Escape nailed the ambiance, the gameplay suffered for it. Strategically lit work spaces would help the puzzle flow.

➕ The puzzles generally involved large, tangible prop interactions. These were a lot of fun.

➖ Secondary spaces felt underused. The decor was less detailed and the they were light on gameplay. These spaces were fun to open, but felt like missed opportunities.

➕ Extreme Escape seized their window of opportunity for a dramatic and memorable moment.

➖ One interaction wasn’t firmly secured. It would be easy for one player, taking a specific and well-intended action, to inadvertently injure another unsuspecting player who happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. (Yes, this happened. Extreme Escape was quick to provide a Band Aid.)

➖ We spent a long time on just a few puzzles. Additional cluing or intermediary confirmation would help the gameplay flow more smoothly

The Cursed told a story through the set and many of the puzzles. It was a ton of fun to puzzle our way through this tale, which culminated beautifully.

Tips For Visiting

  • There is a parking lot.
  • They are on the top floor of the plaza.

Book your hour with Extreme Escape’s Cursed, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.

Disclosure: Extreme Escape comped our tickets for this game.

Escape Haus – Backstage at the Magic Show [Review]

For my next trick…

Location: New Braunfels, TX

Date played: January 8, 2017

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

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: $25 per ticket, $20 per ticket if booking for 5 or more players

Story & setting

After landing our dream job as magician’s assistants, we had unfortunately locked ourselves in the prop room. We had to escape with enough time to prepare for the show.

Backstage at the Magic Show’s set was a hodgepodge of performance magic-related items. The centerpiece was the “saw the lady in half” prop, an object that I had never actually touched before. This one was more be-glittered than I was expecting.

In game - the "saw the lady in half" prop sits front and center. Many other magic show props are displayed in the background.

The set made a good first impression, but as the game wore on, it felt a little shallow.

Puzzles

The puzzling in Backstage at the Magic Show was a bit choppy. While some elements of the game had excellent nuance and attention to detail, other elements felt bewilderingly forgotten.

Standouts

Escape Haus created simple yet effective blacklight interaction.

Everything in the game pulled on the theme and related props.

Shortcomings

The puzzles felt disconnected from the story and weren’t memorable.

The set made a great first impression, but it didn’t go anywhere.

There were far too many locked boxes with similar digit structures. It became tedious constantly trying the same combinations over and over until we found the correct lock.

Should I play Escape Haus’ Backstage at the Magic Show?

From the set to the puzzles, I wanted more magic.

Backstage at the Magic Show was a functional game. It didn’t have much that was absolutely wrong with it, but it also didn’t have anything that was especially right either. We struggled to find a favorite moment because so much of the game felt so similar.

If you’ve played all that Escape Haus has to offer and need a puzzle fix, you could do worse, but if there’s anything else to play at Escape Haus, I’d book it instead.

Book your hour with Escape Haus’ Backstage at the Magic Show, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.

Full disclosure: Escape Haus comped our tickets for this game.

Escape Haus – Game Suite [Review]

Hey! Uncle Milton! Thanks for the free parking!

Location: New Braunfels, TX

Date played: January 8, 2017

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

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: $25 per ticket, $20 per ticket if booking for 5 or more players

Story & setting

Our tabletop game-creating Uncle Milton has passed away. If we can win one final game that he has left for us, he will bequeath his board game fortune to us. If we lose, his estate will be donated to the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster.

Built entirely around tabletop and casino games, Game Suite was less visually impactful than the other offerings at Escape Haus. It was cute but pretty sparse.

In game: A one armed bandit slot machine rests in the foreground. A massive chess board is built into the floor.

Puzzles

Game Suite was not the puzzliest of games. There was a fair amount of searching, some deciphering, and quite a bit of counting.

One puzzle was seriously clever; solving it felt like a triumph.

Standouts

Escape Haus did a great job of incorporating a lot of tabletop games into Game Suite. Nearly every puzzle was born of a game.

In game: a card table with a game of poker in progress sits in the foreground, assorted games and gaming related things reside in the background.

Everything was clearly clued and cleanly executed, even when it wasn’t immediately obvious.

The Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster reference was an exceptional detail.

Shortcomings

The puzzling wasn’t particularly strong. Some of the more task-based interactions overstayed their welcome.

A large set piece wasn’t relevant to the game.

Game Suite didn’t look or feel like it had much gravity.

Should I play Escape Haus’ Game Suite?

Cute and entertaining, Game Suite’s setup had us laughing.

While it wasn’t Escape Haus’ best looking, most challenging, or most compelling game, it was still fun to play.

Game Suite was a solid beginner game; it was player-friendly and unintimidating. Experienced players could sit this one out.

That said, Game Suite would be an exceptional game for families with children. Many of the tasks that turned me off would be perfect for kids.

Book your hour with Escape Haus’ Game Suite, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.

Full disclosure: Escape Haus comped our tickets for this game.

Premier Escape Rooms – Table 4 2 [Review]

A glass of wine and a cigar.

Location: San Antonio, TX

Date played: January 7, 2017

Team size: 2; we recommend 2

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: $63.60 per team

Story & setting

It’s your typical love story: Boy meets girl. Boy and girl go out on a date to the local Italian restaurant. Ants cut the restaurant’s power, locking them in. It happens all the time.

Played in part in darkness, Table 4 2 was about the size of a small walk-in closet and lightly decorated to look like an intimate Italian restaurant. Visually, there wasn’t a lot going on.

In-game: A table with a red & white checkered table cloth and two chairs. A bowl of fruit and cheese along with a pair of candle sticks rest atop the table.

Puzzles

Designed for two players, Table 4 2 wasn’t overflowing with puzzles, but it didn’t need to be.

It had a typical escape room feel with scavenging, deductive connection building, and a bit of reasoning.

The first half of the game was a lot more cohesive than the latter portion.

Standouts

We rarely find games designed for two players; I love that Premier Escape Rooms created one with some leftover space.

The first half of the game was straightforward and enjoyable.

There was a simple physical interaction that was well built and far more satisfying to complete than it probably should have been.

Shortcomings

The second half of the game wasn’t as cohesive as the first half. The clue structure became a little more haphazard and it built to an ending that didn’t feel particularly satisfying.

Aesthetically, the space felt like an Italian restaurant only in the most abstract way.

Premier Escape Rooms built a solid tech interaction into Table 4 2. However this interaction was tied to a puzzle that didn’t feel anywhere near as satisfying as it could have.

This last bit of criticism wasn’t really Premier Escape Rooms’ fault: Table 4 2’s far wall butts up against a neighboring cigar shop and the game smelled of cigar smoke. I know some folks enjoy that smell, but we’re not among that group. Maybe a HEPA filter would help?

Should I play Premier Escape Rooms Table 4 2?

I cannot claim that Table 4 2 brought a lot of excitement. Its draw is the 2-player, private experience. For a pair of less experienced players, I think it’s a good, intimate room escape.

If you’re experienced players, take a pass unless you’re really keen on playing something small with a partner.

Book your hour with Premier Escape Rooms Table 4 2, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.

 

Escape Haus – Kid’s Classroom [Review]

If the teacher doesn’t show up, how long do we have to stay?

Location: New Braunfels, TX

Date played: January 8, 2017

Team size: 6-12; we recommend 6-12 (mostly kids)

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: $25 per ticket, $20 per ticket if booking for 5 or more players

Audience: children

Story & setting

The teacher went home sick, the substitute no-showed, and we were locked in the classroom. We had to puzzle our way out in time to make the school bus.

Kid’s Classroom looked like a classroom for young kids. The decor included tiny desks, small chairs, little lockers, and all of the brightly colored educational wall hangings that you expect in an elementary school classroom.

It wasn’t a fancy looking game, but to the best of my memory, they nailed the look.

In-game, small school desks set in a classroom with brightly colored posters on the walls.

Puzzles

I think there were 21 puzzles in Kid’s Classroom. There was a lot to do; especially for our 2-person team. The good news was that all of the puzzles were designed for children, so they were fast solves… unless we overthought something… which may have happened a few times.

The few interactions that took some doing were process-driven. For most teams, these would occupy lots or all of the children for a little while.

Standouts

I have no problems imagining a small hoard of older elementary schoolers having a blast in this room escape that was clearly designed for them.

Kid’s Classroom was, for all intents and purposes, a classroom.

In game: The wall displays the alphabet and also reads,

There was one larger prop that was used brilliantly in a few ways. It was simple, clever, and slick.

Shortcomings

Kid’s Classroom was not a game for adults. This isn’t so much a shortcoming as it is a warning.

One item in the room perpetually seemed like it should hold the right answer to a puzzle. We kept returning to it and inspecting closely. That grew old fast.

The game was broken up into a few tracks and it was challenging to identify where the tracks began. Especially in a game for kids, stronger cluing could remove unnecessary uncertainty.

Children spend a lot of time in classrooms. I can imagine far more fun environments designed for children to investigate. An escape room is an opportunity to explore something fantastic, rather than the all-too-familiar classroom.

Should I play Escape Haus’ Kid’s Classroom?

We saw a group of tween girls leave Kid’s Classroom and they were all smiles and exuberance.

If you’re looking for a kid-friendly escape room, Kid’s Classroom would be a great option. If you’re adults looking for an escape room at Escape Haus, I’d suggest you explore their other offerings. Kid’s Classroom is not designed for adults.

Book your hour with Escape Haus’ Kid’s Classroom, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.

Full disclosure: Escape Haus comped our tickets for this game.

Escape Haus -Egyptian Mysteries [Review]

The name “Isis” has been seriously ruined.

Location: New Braunfels, TX

Date played: January 7, 2017

Team size: 6-12; we recommend 2-8 (depending upon experience level)

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: $25 per ticket, $20 per ticket if booking for 5 or more players

Story & setting

A renowned egyptologist had made a key discovery and was promptly abducted by individuals who wanted to keep his discovery a secret. We had an hour to piece his work back together in order to learn his discovery before those who had captured him reached his office and destroyed his work.

If the Egypt section of a children’s history museum had a baby with a Franklin Mint store, it would be Egyptian Mysteries. Made up of display cases of artifacts, a massive wall mural, and a Sphinx that was larger than the smallest escape room I’ve ever played, Egyptian Mysteries was vibrant, inviting, and academic yet playful.

In-game, the walls are painted in hieroglyphics, small locked boxes lay about, and a massive sphinx statue sits in the middle of the room.

Puzzles

Egyptian Mysteries was a large game that was designed for player friendliness. There were a ton of straightforward puzzles to solve. None of them were particularly challenging nor did they overstay their welcome.

This was Escape Haus’ style for their large games: Everything was eminently solvable, so long as we observed the room carefully and kept organized.

Standouts

The mural and sphinx were pretty damn cool.

The puzzling was fun and uncomplicated.

Everything was thoughtfully designed.

The Escape Haus facilities and staff were caring and friendly.

Shortcomings

Egyptian Mysteries felt a little heavy on boxes. It would have been great to see more of the game built into the set.

Similarly, a lot of the puzzles felt small and disconnected. A few more puzzle interactions involving the large set pieces would have gone a long way.

The story lacked gravity and had nearly no impact on the game.

Should I play Escape Haus’ Egyptian Mysteries?

Escape Haus was located between Austin and San Antonio, Texas. We had to go out of our way to visit them, 50 minutes in each direction from Austin. Amanda Harris (who played her 400th escape room on this trip to Texas) and I did it twice because we wanted to go back to Escape Haus for more.

Egyptian Mysteries was simple, but we left the game feeling joyful and energized. Everything from the waiting room, to their games, to the staff felt welcoming.

I am legitimately not sure how many people would make an ideal team size for Egyptian Mysteries. Amanda and I plowed through everything in approximately 40 minutes, but this wasn’t a company designed to accommodate seasoned room escapers.

It was, however, an exceptional game for newbies. On the drive back to Austin, I told Amanda, “It wasn’t hard, and I wouldn’t recommend someone fly across the country to play it… but I would be happy if that was everyone’s first game. It would be good for the industry.” New Braunfels, Texas. Who knew?

Book your hour with Escape Haus’ Egyptian Mysteries, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.

Full disclosure: Escape Haus comped our tickets for this game.