Escape Room Live Georgetown – Titanic [Review]

“Draw me like one of your French girls.” -Rose

Location: Washington, DC

Date Played: April 21, 2018

Team size: 2-10; we recommend 2-5

Duration: 45 minutes

Price: $28 per ticket

Ticketing: Public

REA Reaction

Titanic was a puzzle-focused escape room for newer puzzlers ready to set sail. The themed challenges were a lot of fun. Titanic combined lock-based gameplay with tech-driven interactions. With the addition of more in-game feedback, Titanic could flow more smoothly and feel more immersive.

If you’re a less experienced player looking for an interesting puzzle game, this is a great place to dive in.

If you’re more experienced, this a value judgment. Know that you’ll move quickly through this 45-minute experience, but there are some cool puzzles to grapple with. 

In-game: a chaise lounge beside a porthole in a large stateroom.

Who is this for?

  • Puzzle lovers
  • Best for players with little to moderate experience
  • Players who don’t need to be a part of every puzzle

Why play?

  • Interesting puzzles
  • The chaise longue
  • The Escape Room Live lobby & bar

Story

In our stateroom aboard the Titanic II, the unthinkable happened: we hit an iceberg. (No one could have seen that coming). We needed to escape our room and find our way to the deck of the ship in time to board a lifeboat, or…

Meme: Frozen Rose holding Jack says, "I'll never let go, Jack." Next panel, Jack is gone, reads, "LOL JK."

Setting

Our spacious stateroom was sparsely furnished with a few lovely antiques, some wall decorations, and a porthole with an iceberg view.

In-game: a porthole looking out over the water, an iceberg in the distance.

Aside from being a touch too Spartan and a little worn, the setting conveyed Titanic-style luxury well.

In-game: A portrait hanging on the wall over a mantle.

Gameplay

Escape Room Live Georgetown’s Titanic was a standard escape room with a moderate level of difficulty.

Core gameplay revolved around observing and puzzling.

In-game: a series of bells labeled "TITANIC."

Analysis

Titanic delivered fun, tangible puzzles. We particularly enjoyed a deduction puzzle.

+ We enjoyed the nautically-themed props and their use as puzzle components.

+ David especially enjoyed sprawling on the chaise longue and making jokes.

– Although we appreciated the theming, we would have liked to internalize more story – of the space, our characters, or the impending disaster – as we progressed toward the deck.

+/- There wasn’t a lot to find. On the one hand, we weren’t bogged down by searching through red herrings. On the other hand, the space felt a bit empty. It lacked depth.

– A few of the puzzles lacked feedback. In one instance, when we couldn’t tell if we were striking the right chord, we assumed the puzzle was out of play or broken. It was working, but it gave no indication of that.

– Later in our playthrough we solved a puzzle out of sequence, before receiving the appropriate cluing. The resulting interaction opened, but was not in play. Since we’d been conditioned earlier to proceed with puzzles even without feedback, we continued to hack at this interaction until our gamemaster noticed and nudged us back toward another unsolved puzzle.

+/- We were glad we couldn’t advance out of sequence because we would have missed a substantial portion of the game and some of the best puzzles. We wish the gamemaster hadn’t had to step in to redirect us.

+ The exit door was nifty.

+ Escape Room Live’s lobby and bar area is gorgeous; it’s a lovely place to hang out. I don’t normally get excited for lobbies, but this one is special.

Tips for Visiting

  • There is a parking garage few blocks down at M and Wisconsin. Street parking is a challenge in this neighborhood.
  • There are lots of restaurant options in Georgetown.
  • For baked goods, we recommend Baked & Wired. Be prepared to stand in line on the weekend.

Book your hour with Escape Room Live Georgetown’s Titanic, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.

Disclosure: Escape Room Live provided media discounted tickets for this game.

Escape Room Live Georgetown – The Mummy [Review]

Mummy may I?

Location: Washington, DC

Date Played: April 21, 2018

Team size: 2-10; we recommend 2-5

Duration: 45 minutes

Price: $28 per ticket

Ticketing: Public

REA Reaction

The Mummy was about adventure over puzzles. The large-scale, interactive set pieces were exciting to manipulate. While some of the props and interactions were a touch too temperamental, the escape room delivered well-timed cinematic and memorable moments.

If you’re a new player in the area, try this one out.

If you’re more experienced, this a value judgment. Know that you’ll move quickly through this 45-minute experience.

If you’re in Georgetown looking for a good adventure, checkout The Mummy.

In-game: A massive sphinx head on the wall of an Egyptian tomb.

Who is this for?

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

Why play?

  • Beautiful set pieces
  • Exciting, set-based interactions
  • Cinematic moments
  • The Escape Room Live lobby & bar

Story

As archeologists, we were exploring an ancient Egyptian tomb when the main doors sealed shut. We needed to escape because… Egyptian curses aren’t favorable.

In-game: A blue glowing ankh set in sandstone.

Setting

The set felt small; there wasn’t a ton of room to walk around. (Note for the claustrophobic folks: It’s not that small.)

The props felt enormous. The Egyptians had carved life-sized – and larger – stone depictions of their gods to guard this ancient burial place.

The floor was covered in real sand and the entire set was a bit sandy.

In-game: A sarcophagus leaning against the wall of an Egyptian tomb.

Gameplay

Escape Room Live Georgetown’s The Mummy was a standard escape room with a compelling set.

Core gameplay revolved around observing and determining interactions.

Analysis

+ The set had scale. The space may have been smaller, but the props and scenery felt immense.

The Mummy was an adventure. We interacted with it and it reacted to us.

– While we weren’t a rough group, our gamemaster repeatedly told us not to touch or investigate the set pieces with our hands or other in-game props. The continual admonishment diminished the fun of exploration. More player-proofing would go a long way; we felt like we needed permission to play.

– We found one search puzzle more frustrating than fun, especially given the small search tool and the admonishment for certain types of set exploration.

+ We loved one particularly larger-than-life set piece’s reaction. It engaged and impressed the entire team.

The Mummy looked worn and not in a ruins kind of way. Escape rooms with sand wear more quickly than most and need additional maintenance.

+ The initial room setup subtly clued late-game gameplay. This small detail probably makes a big difference for many teams. It was thoughtfully designed.

– One prop fit exactly into a place where it didn’t belong. We ultimately used it for a completely different purpose where size and shape meant nothing. This was confusing, unsatisfying, and avoidable.

– The gameplay relied on a run book: a journal contained a good portion of the clue structure. While the run book made some sense narratively, in an escape room with a visually interesting set, it was disappointing to have my nose in a book.

+ The opening and closing puzzles were cinematic. Escape Room Live Georgetown designed the puzzle flow around memorable moments. It worked. The final puzzle was a great choice.

Tips for Visiting

  • There is a parking garage few blocks down at M and Wisconsin. Street parking is a challenge in this neighborhood.
  • There are lots of restaurant options in Georgetown.
  • For baked goods, we recommend Baked & Wired. Be prepared to stand in line on the weekend.
  • The floor is covered in sand. We recommend closed-toe shoes.
  • Note that this is a 45-minute game. If you are experienced player, it will move quickly and feel short.

Book your hour with Escape Room Live Georgetown’s The Mummy, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.

Disclosure: Escape Room Live provided media discounted tickets for this game.

PanIQ Room – Primal Quest [Review]

Grunt loudly and carry a bigger stick.

Location: Washington, DC

Date Played: April 22, 2018

Team size: 2-6; we recommend 3-5

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: ranging from $24 – $36 per ticket depending on weekday/weekend and team size

Ticketing: Private

REA Reaction

Primal Quest was our first prehistoric escape room. It was a puzzle-focused game with enjoyable puzzles, set against a fun theme. The setting and the gameplay felt split from one another, as the set was prehistoric and the puzzles were modern. Pulling the puzzles and environment into a more cohesive unit could make this interesting game great.

If you’re in the neighborhood, it a fun playthrough.

In-game: A fire on the other side of a wooden cage.

Who is this for?

  • Puzzle lovers
  • Any experience level

Why play?

  • Interesting puzzles
  • Some good moments

Story

We were hostages of cannibal cavemen. Before they returned from hunting, we needed to escape or we’d be the meal in our last supper.

Setting

The cave was dimly lit and dusty. PanIQ Room had treated the walls to give them a more cave-like vibe. Some rooms had been heavily augmented to create a cave feel while others remained fairly modern. The cave was decorated primarily with animal hides, bones, and a glowing fire pit.

In-game: The walls of the cave with a pelt on the wall, and light shining in from above.

Gameplay

PanIQ Room’s Primal Quest was a standard escape room with a moderate level of difficulty.

Core gameplay revolved around searching, observing, and puzzling.

Analysis

+/- Primal Quest was our first prehistoric escape room. It was thoughtfully but unevenly themed in terms of set decor and props. Some portions of the game felt like they had received a lot of attention, while others strongly resembled the office building that housed the game.

– Some of the decor needed maintenance; it looked worn.

– A few modern details remained exposed. The escape room would have been better had these details had been hidden away.

– The set was dusty. After crawling through one low doorway, our pants were covered in grit. Especially considering PanIQ Room’s location in Georgetown, we recommend a cave aesthetic that looks and feels dirty without the actual dirt.

Primal Quest started off in a limited space with only a few challenges available. This offered an on-ramp for newer players.

Primal Quest escalated in difficulty and intrigue.

Primal Quest contained interesting, satisfying puzzles of varied types. We generally knew how to approach them, but to solve them, we had to think a little differently than we had upon initial glance. The puzzles resolved cleanly.

– The puzzles were escape room-y and generally felt modern, even though we were in a prehistoric setting. This created a schism between the setting and the gameplay.

– One heavy prop may stall a team of younger or smaller people for substantial time on a puzzle where hints won’t be any help.

+ We particularly enjoyed the late-game puzzle embedded in an early set piece.

Tips for Visiting

  • There is a parking garage few blocks down at M and Wisconsin. Street parking is a challenge in this neighborhood.
  • There are lots of restaurant options in Georgetown.
  • For baked goods, we recommend Baked & Wired. Be prepared to stand in line on the weekend.
  • This cave is dusty.
  • At least 2 players will need to crawl or otherwise get through a low doorway.

Book your hour with PanIQ Room’s Primal Quest and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.

Disclosure: PanIQ Room comped our tickets for this game.

Escape Room Live Georgetown – Ghostbusters [Review]

“Ray. If someone asks you if you’re a god, you say . . . . . YES!” – Winston Zeddemore

Location: Washington, DC

Date Played: April 21, 2018

Team size: 2-10; we recommend 2-5

Duration: 45 minutes

Price: $28 per ticket

Ticketing: Public

REA Reaction

This officially licensed Ghostbusters was beautiful. Escape Room Live Georgetown pulled iconic characters and moments from the original Ghostbusters films and produced an experience that was a great escape room and a fun homage to the source material.

The difficulty curve on Ghostbusters was a bit steep for newbies, so I’d encourage players get at least a game or two under their belts before taking on these ghouls. Experienced players should note that Ghostbusters is a 45-minute game, so if you get in a groove, it’s possible to knock this one out quite quickly.

We think this one is worth checking out if you’re anywhere nearby.

In-game: The Stay Puft Marshmallow Man peering in through a window.

Who is this for?

  • Adventure seekers
  • Story seekers
  • Puzzle lovers
  • Scenery snobs
  • Players with at least some experience
  • Players who don’t need to be a part of every puzzle
  • Collectors of spores, molds, and fungus.

Why play?

  • It’s an official Ghostbusters escape room
  • A beautiful set
  • Strong puzzles
  • Seeing some classic movie characters
  • The Escape Room Live lobby & bar

Story

Slimer, the Librarian, Mr. Stay Puft, and Vigo the Carpathian were on the loose in New York City. Who were Venkman, Spengler, Stantz, and Zeddemore gonna call?

Us. They called us.

In-game: The main set of the Ghostbusters firehouse. There is a large box in the middle of the room for manipulating hazardous objects.

Setting

Ghostbusters was staged in famed firehouse. The set was loaded with details and Easter eggs that called back to the original Ghostbusters movies.

This was a beautiful and fun environment to explore.

… And no, there was no pole to slide down.

In-game: Closeup of a Ghostbusters trap.

Gameplay

Escape Room Live Georgetown’s Ghostbusters was a standard escape room with nonlinear gameplay and a higher level of difficulty.

Core gameplay revolved around searching, puzzling, and capturing ghosts.

In-game: The portrait of Vigo the Carpathian.
He is Prince Vigo!

Analysis

+ In this licensed Ghostbusters escape room, Escape Room Live Georgetown made great use of the most iconic magician/ tyrant, god, and class 5 full roaming vapor.

In-game: The Librarian ghost.

+ The set looked fantastic and felt Ghostbusters-y.

– There wasn’t much of an on-ramp. Ghostbusters threw us into the deep end and it was difficult to figure out exactly how to make progress (especially for the newbies in the group).

In-game: A close up of the proton pack schematics and the Ghostbusters logo.

+ Once we got rolling and learned how the game wanted us to play it, there were good, satisfying puzzles.

– Most of the puzzles were technology-driven, with serious lag and delay. We found ourselves staring at solved puzzles for long stretches of time waiting for the puzzle-concluding sequence to trigger.

– One of the core puzzle’s input mechanisms offered almost no feedback. When I was inputting the solution, I wasn’t even sure that it was working until the puzzle resolved.

+ The hint delivery system made perfect sense given the source material.

“He’s looking at me Ray.”

+ There was a smart augmented reality sequence.

+/- The finale had a great interaction, but it was missing a satisfying puzzle. This escape room was begging for a final boss battle.

+ The Escape Room Live Georgetown lobby is really something to behold. It’s a massive full bar with ample seating and tables. This was a lovely place to hang out.

The Escape Room Live Georgetown bar. It looks posh.
Yup. That’s a bar. No, we didn’t drink before our games. We are professionals.

Tips for Visiting

  • There is a parking garage few blocks down at M and Wisconsin. Street parking is a challenge in this neighborhood.
  • There are lots of restaurant options in Georgetown.
  • For baked goods, we recommend Baked & Wired. Be prepared to stand in line on the weekend.
  • Plan to spend some time in at the Escape Room Live bar.

Book your hour with Escape Room Live Georgetown’s Ghostbusters, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.

Disclosure: Escape Room Live provided media discounted tickets for this game.

Escape From West Texas on CNBC’s West Texas Investor’s Club: Interview with Ginger Flesher-Sonnier

Ginger Flesher-Sonnier is the Owner & CEO of Escape Room Live. The company currently operates Escape Room Live DC near Glover Park and Escape Room Live Alexandria. They will be opening a second Escape Room Live DC location in Georgetown later this summer, and their Alexandria-based games have been some of the most wonderful room escapes we’ve encountered.

West Texas Investors Club is a television show on CNBC. As described on the CNBC website, “Self-made multimillionaires Rooster McConaughey and Butch Gilliam invite ambitious entrepreneurs from across the country to come down to West Texas and make their case.”

“Escape From West Texas” (Season 2, Episode 10) aired on June 14, 2016. The episode features Ginger pitching for a $4 million investment in her escape room business. She accepted $800,000 for 40% share of her company and their help expanding her business into corporate resorts.

The full episode is available on CNBC’s website.

We recently spoke with Ginger about her experience on the show and where her company goes from here:

Room Escape Artist: Tell us about your experience on Escape From West Texas. For context, when was this filmed?

Ginger: Mid-February, 2016.

How did this all come about?

They actually reached out to me and asked if I would be on the show. I had seen their show after Shark Tank one night last summer and really enjoyed it – so much more than Shark Tank, surprisingly – so I agreed to go through the casting process. They had 10,000 applications this season so I am honored to have actually been approached by them.

What was it like seeing yourself walk off a private airplane in slow motion?

Surreal! But fun. The whole experience was amazing.

How much of your experience in West Texas do viewers see?

An extremely small part! Imagine boiling down about a week of filming to mere minutes. My pitch actually lasted 3 hours. Same with the negotiations, which wound up taking place into late Friday night (hence my puffy face… it was an exhausting week). The entire ride with Gil never made the show, nor his serenade at the end.  

In the episode, the investors play one of your games. How long did you have to design and fabricate the room on the show?

All I can say is that I did have longer than one day! That would have been impossible. But I can say that we did construct it from scratch completely ourselves (my husband and I). 

Wide view of the "Escape West Texas" jail game. The key focal point is a large megal safe that reads "Wells Fargo Bank."

What specific design considerations went into this game?

I really wanted to create something that spoke to their West Texas heritage, so we decided on the West Texas Jail Break. It was much more appropriate than my Edgar Allan Poe room would have been!

Close up of the marshal's desk in the Escape West Texas jail.

Were you worried that these guys were going to be terrible at your game?

Ummmm…. they were.

In their defense, they had no idea what the heck to expect. Editing, editing, editing! The game was so much longer than that what viewers see, with many more puzzles. They edited it down to two or three. They even mismatched puzzles and their endings with editing… it was surprising but looked fine.

Close up of the wall in the Escape West Texas jail dipicting a high level of detail in the room's design.

The investors weren’t too keen on your restaurant & bar concept or locations in Vegas, Disney, or Times Square. What do you think of their assessments?

They are dead on about the low profit margin of restaurants. We ARE adding bars to our locations wherever it is possible, though. I still disagree about being in a place like MGM in Vegas and that is still not off the table.

The investors pushed the importance of the corporate client and you’ll be using their connections to open in corporate resorts. When should we expect to see these resort games opening?

We are meeting with Hyatt and Hilton in the next couple of weeks. A television show is also in discussions. Things have been crazy, especially with us opening this new location in Georgetown complete with a liquor license.

The good news is, we have paired up with Larry Kirchner from The Darkness, a haunted house in St. Louis, to build all of our rooms and he is AMAZING! You will be blown away by the Titanic, Ghostbusters, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Friday the 13th, and Mummy rooms. They have CGI, lighting effects, sound effects, and incredible theming. They aren’t cheap though, and all in all will come in at about $100,000 apiece.

Larry’s ability to build multiple rooms quickly in his warehouse from the ground up, disassemble, ship, and reassemble onsite has opened up a whole new world. Getting consistently themed rooms into resorts now seems much more feasible.

We are also working with a professional and seasoned puzzle designer who has vast experience in designing for the best puzzle hunts in the world. He is local to us and we work extremely well together.

What new design considerations do you see as factors for resort-based games? 

Simply put: more automation, including automatic reset of the games. This is in addition to the increased immersion through true set design and special effects, of course.

How will you handle quality control in these diverse locations?

Our Director of Operations and his VP of Operations are gearing up to be mobile. They are very excited.

What overlap or conflict does this deal have with the partnerships you’ve formed with movie studios? 

None.

In the negotiations, you counteroffered with $800,000. That was a very specific number. How much time did they allow you to research before giving them this number?

No time. I replied immediately.

If we do the math, you valued your company at $2 million. Given that you’ve grossed $2.3 million in 15 months, help our readers understand why you took the deal.

I agree that the valuation was not good, especially since our gross receipts for 2016 should be over $4 million. Here was my thought process, although things are still fluid in the deal: These guys have far more connections than you can even imagine – in Hollywood (Rooster is Matthew McConaughey’s brother, after all), New York, Wall Street – so the growth potential here goes beyond anything I could do myself. Given that fact, as an example, 60% of $100 million is a lot more than 100% of $10 million, don’t you agree?

And are you happy with the outcome?

I love these guys. I love creating. And I really love being a successful entrepreneur. I’m happy as hell.

Ginger and Rooster clinking beer cans in celebration of their deal on The West Texas Investors Club.
Escape Room Live Owner and CEO Ginger Flesher-Sonnier pitched investors Rooster McConaughey and Butch Gilliam on “West Texas Investors Club,” which airs Tuesdays at 10PM/ET on CNBC.