Wicked Escapes – The Great Museum Heist Caper Job [Review]

The Great Heist Caper at the Marginal Museum.

Location: Saugus, MA

Date played: April 9, 2017

Team size: up to 12; we recommend 4-6

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: $30 per ticket

Story & setting

Our first night as rent-a-cops guarding the Kuddelmuddel Museum of Marginal Curiosities got off to a rough start: a cat burglar made an attempt to steal the Museum’s most prized artifact, The Sultan’s Lock. After removing it from its display, he stashed it elsewhere in the museum, triggering a security lockdown. We had an hour to find the lock and return it to its display before the crime was pinned on us.

If it’s not clear from the description, The Great Museum Heist Caper Job was a funny room escape. Set within a modest museum, the game looked and felt the part.

In-game: An engraved human skull rests in front of a stone wall with symbols carved into it

Puzzles

The puzzling centered on the various exhibit displays; they looked great. They were large and they felt it. Everything was tangible and responsive.

Wicked Escapes used technology thoughtfully throughout the puzzling and did a great job of breathing life (and humor) into the various interactions.

Standouts

The Great Museum Heist Caper Job was full of hands-on interactions. We picked things up and moved them around. These items had heft, size, and polish.

The puzzles were responsive. With every correct solution, the set revealed new objects or information. This design built forward momentum.

The setup was humorous. Everything from the premise to the exhibit names to the display descriptions made us laugh, if we read closely enough.

Shortcomings

While the reading was entertaining, at times a substantial block of text would halt the flow of gameplay.

The initial set was not particularly impressive or interactive. Fortunately it quickly opened up. The starting area felt like underused space.

Should I play Wicked Escapes’ The Great Museum Heist Caper Job?

The Great Museum Heist Caper nailed so much of what makes for an excellent escape room. The puzzles were big, built into the set, and had gravity. Moreover, accomplishing things felt like an accomplishment.

The Great Museum Heist Caper is a fun and worthy room escape for newer and experienced players alike.

If you play escape rooms because they bring you to new places and give you puzzling you can’t recreate at home, you will enjoy The Great Museum Heist Caper.

Book your hour with Wicked Escapes’ The Great Museum Heist Caper Job, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.

Full disclosure: Wicked Escapes comped our tickets for this game.

Bane Escape – Maritime Grave [Review]

This may shock you, but the room only has 60 minutes of oxygen.

Location: Livingston, NJ

Date played: April 23, 2017

Team size: up to 8; we recommend 5-6

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: from $30 per ticket

Story & setting

While we were aboard a submarine-turned-military museum, the vessel experienced a systemwide malfunction. If we couldn’t right the systems, we would sink to an ocean grave.

Maritime Grave looked part submarine, part museum. Bane Escape constructed a set that felt like an imaginative naval vessel and used the museum-ification of the old boat as pretense to incorporate puzzle-laden displays and plaques. The execution was artfully done.

In game: The ornate interior of the vessel has a large bench in the middle and large copper doors with green walls covered in large rivets.

Puzzles

The puzzling took place largely through keen observation, which then translated into tactile inputs. The challenge was primarily in locating information and making the right connections. That shouldn’t give you the impression that Maritime Grave was an easy escape room.

There was ample room for parallel puzzling.

Standouts

Bane Escape committed to this quirky scenario and delivered. The set struck the right balance between naval vessel and museum. Its unified and polished aesthetic was both impressive and fun.

In-game: A glass display with an bronze octopus inside. Beyond the glass, a porthole is illuminated blue.

So much of this game was custom construction. It looked great and functioned well.

The information-meets-input design unfolded across the large gamespace. This facilitated teamwork well.

Shortcomings

At times, the gamespace felt empty, despite ample puzzles. Large spaces held few interactions.

One area of the submarine remained poorly lit throughout the experience. We were expecting some dramatic lighting to turn on when the area became relevant, but it remained dimly lit.

There were a few instances where the removal of clue ambiguity could dramatically elevate the experience.

Should I play Bane Escape’s Maritime Grave?

Bane Escape is a spinoff of Bane Haunted House. Although the designers have a haunt background, Maritime Grave was not a frightening game. It is approachable for a general audience. Furthermore, Bane Escape’s experience building haunts shines in the artistic and durable set of Maritime Grave. 

This would be a fun, but challenging escape room for new players. There are a lot of dots to connect. Teamwork and parallel puzzling are crucial.

Experienced players will find this a worthy opponent and likely appreciate this unorthodox rendering of a sinking submarine scenario.

Book your hour with Bane Escape’s Maritime Grave, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.

Mastermind – Bank Heist [Review]

A puzzling withdrawal.

Location: Atlanta, GA

Date played: April 2, 2017

Team size: up to 10; we recommend 5-7

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: $28 per ticket

Story & setting

Our notorious crime syndicate was robbing another bepuzzled bank.

Our goals were to steal as much money as we could within an hour and escape.

The set looked like a bank: a bland lobby and teller counter, along with a vault, which was absolutely the highlight of the set.

In-game: a closeup of a bank teller's window with the FDIC insurance sticker in the foreground.
Nothing says “cool” quite like an FDIC sticker.

Puzzles

The Bank Heist was tangled with puzzles and locks. There were plenty of puzzles to solve, but it wasn’t always clear what was a puzzle.

Additionally, once a puzzle had been solved, it wasn’t easy to determine where to input the solution as there were many similar input mechanisms.

Standouts

There was one well designed, dramatic moment.

One repeated interaction was lifted straight from banking hardware and protocol. This was a clever puzzle-esque design.

Something that originally seemed trivial, even out-of-place, turned out to be useful in a particularly satisfying way.

Shortcomings

There were a lot of numbers and all numbers led back to a lock. These locks were almost all identical. It was a lot of similar information to keep track of.

Much of the puzzling in Bank Heist was accessible before we’d derived all of the necessary cluing or components. Strategic puzzle-gating would save teams from spinning their wheels attempting to solve without complete information.

In one area, the puzzles weren’t well distributed across the space. We spent a lot of time tripping over each other in one small corner of a rather large set.

One critical piece of tech was worn and badly beat up. It needed refurbishment.

Bank Heist had a self-service, QR code-based hinting system that was immersion-breaking. Because the QR codes were beside input mechanisms, not puzzles, we had no idea which puzzle a clue would hint at.

We never understood whether it mattered how much money we stole in our heist.

Should I play Mastermind’s Bank Heist?

Bank Heist had a number of great and satisfying moments. It also had a lot of damaged props and weak use of space. It made nearly no effort to help clue players towards the correct input mechanism for solved puzzles.

This was a game that had promise, but was ultimately too choppy.

While there are a number of moments to enjoy, I think that beginners would find themselves pretty lost in Bank Heist and experienced players will be frustrated by its seemingly incomplete execution.

As I reflect back on the game, parts of it make me smile. Other aspects make me wish that Mastermind had seen this design all the way through to something special. It has the potential and I hope that they get there.

Book your hour with Mastermind’s Bank Heist, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.

Full disclosure: Mastermind provided media discounted tickets for this game.

Zelda: Defenders of the Triforce [Post Game Reaction]

On May 5th, our team played The Legend of Zelda: Defenders of the Triforce by Real Escape Games (aka SCRAP) in New York City.

We previously published a review of this game from its time in Los Angeles, California. Our friend and regular teammate Sarah Willson did such an amazing job of guest reviewing it that most of our readers didn’t realize that someone else wrote it.

Looking back at her review, we completely agree with her assessment and will not write an additional review. I’ll add that of the various mass escape events that we’ve played by SCRAP, The Legend of Zelda: Defenders of the Triforce was the most fun and cohesive.

Mainstream reception

Unlike most escape games, The Legend of Zelda: Defenders of the Triforce received a lot of media attention. This came in the form of pre-game hype, followed by a lot of mixed and disappointed post game reports:

Kotaku: The Zelda Escape Room Is A Little Disappointing (And Not Really An Escape Room)

The Verge: We played a real-life Zelda adventure and Ganondorf won

Engadget: Playing Zelda in real life is a lot like doing grade-school homework

Zelda has withstood the test of time, sticking around for 30 years. It has transcended generations. A number of its installments are some of the finest video games ever created. Since Zelda is one of the most beloved video game franchises in history, this disappointment was inevitable for a number of reasons that I’m going to explore.

Misconceptions

SCRAP doesn’t highlight the fact that their mass escape events bear little resemblance to modern escape rooms in North America (especially the high end). Upon further probing, however, they are quick to point out that their mass events are not “escape rooms.” They call them “escape games.” Ironically, this is the same sort of hair-splitting that makes their mass escape events so frustrating.

Image from Zelda II of Link speaking with another character who has stated,

Painting by Squarepainter

As an escape room player and reviewer who simply wants more people to become aware of all of the magnificent escape rooms out there, this drives me up the wall.

Given Zelda’s popularity, this event was an incredible opportunity to introduce more mainstream players to modern escape rooms… but this event didn’t do that.

My very first escape room review was of a SCRAP mass event, Escape From the Werewolf Village, in mid-2014. I left that game legitimately worried that first-time escape game players would think that a SCRAP escape event was indicative of the larger industry (which at the time was admittedly tiny and underdeveloped). I feel the exact same way about Defenders of the Triforce.

It was a fun mass escape event, more fun than any of the other SCRAP events that we’ve played. It was fun when considered as a short puzzle hunt. However, it was neither a good representation of modern North American escape rooms nor an exceptional Zelda game.

Culture gap

SCRAP was founded in Japan in 2007. They were also the first escape room company in the United States when they opened in San Francisco in 2012.

At Up The Game 2017, Yu-lin Chiu, writer of ASIA.EscapeGames, spoke about the escape room markets in East Asia. She explained how escape room design in Japan differs profoundly from other countries in Asia, as well as from Europe and the United States.

Japanese escape rooms are primarily paper-based events with minimal set design or story. They are more similar to short puzzle hunts than what we in the United States commonly think of as escape rooms.

This has confirmed for us what we have long believed to be a fundamental expectations gap between the games that SCRAP brings to the United States and the general market trends within the American escape room scene.

Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild

Possibly the biggest difference between Sarah’s playthrough of Defenders of the Triforce and mine was the release of Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild on Nintendo Switch… the game that Defenders of the Triforce was essentially advertising on its North American tour.

In February, Sarah played SCRAP’s Defenders of the Triforce in anticipation of the release of Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. 

By the time we played Defenders of the Triforce in May, I had been playing Breath of the Wild for 6 weeks or so, sneaking it in between work and running Room Escape Artist. I am loving this game and taking my time to milk it for everything that it is worth. Going into Defenders of the Triforce I had been immersed in one of the Zelda franchise’s most magnificent specimens. This greatly elevated my expectations and set Defenders of the Triforce up for failure.

I’m glad that Sarah wrote the review without having just played Breath of the Wild. She could more easily separate SCRAP’s escape event from the video game expectations.

Actual Zelda room escape

I wish that Defenders of the Triforce were not a mass escape event, but a full blown, large-budget escape room. The material lends itself to an incredible escape room and I can think of a number of escape room companies that could build mind-blowing experiences with the concept.

SCRAP put on a fun mini-puzzle hunt. They leveled up their storytelling and set design. They made the puzzling generally more accessible. They navigated logistics well. Defenders of the Triforce was a huge step forward in meshing Japanese-style escape room events with North American preferences. 

That said, SCRAP is simply not equipped to fully realize the potential of this franchise for a North American audience, especially in the mass escape format.

Defenders of the Triforce paled in comparison to the best permanent escape rooms in the cities that it visited; most of them cost less than the $40-50 per ticket price of this game.

For now, Zelda escape rooms will go dormant for some time. I hope that one day the concept is resurrected and able to become the immersive real-life puzzle adventure through Hyrule that escape room lovers know that it can be. That it should be.

(If you purchase via our Amazon links, you will help support Room Escape Artist as we will receive a very small percentage of the sale).

Big Escape Rooms – Outbreak [Review]

We have another puzzle outbreak.

Location: Atlanta, GA

Date played: April 3, 2017

Team size: up to 12; we recommend 4-5

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: $28 per ticket

Story & setting

A government super soldier program went wrong and unleashed a horde of zombies. We had to find a cure for their mindless rampaging before they broke down the door to our lab and ate us.

Set within a stark research facility, the aesthetic ranged from mundane doctor’s office to grim lab.

Big Escape Room's maze logo. Captioned, "Can you escape?"

Puzzles

Outbreak was search-heavy with clumsy puzzling.

Many of the puzzles ultimately came together in laborious processes that didn’t require so much reasoning as they did working through tasks.

Standouts

Big Escape Rooms created a humorous introductory video to set the stage for Outbreak. 

In one instance, we encountered an error-tolerant design adaptation of a puzzle trope that is frequently misused. It was refreshing.

Shortcomings

One unfortunate side effect of the implication of this puzzle was that it caused some team members to have mild allergic reactions to the environment.

When the cluing was particularly tenuous, the rest of the props quickly became distracting red herrings.

The set wasn’t particularly interesting. It was a large space, but not purposefully designed or well used.

Should I play Big Escape Rooms’ Outbreak?

If you don’t care much for setting, there are a few thoughtful and fun puzzle designs in this escape room. Outbreak is a generic early escape room design from a company that is learning the ropes.

While we think there is a more fun and interesting game in Clownedif you’re looking for something different, or you just don’t like clowns, you could do far worse.

Book your hour with Big Escape Rooms’ Outbreak, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.

Full disclosure: Big Escape Rooms provided media discounted tickets for this game.

Team vs Time – Save the Queen [Review]

God speed.

Location: Berlin, CT

Date played: April 8, 2017

Team size: 2-8; we recommend 3-5

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: $30 per ticket

Story & setting

In 14th century England, we discovered a plot to unseat our beloved Queen. We infiltrated the castle to uncover information and thwart the overthrow.

Team vs Time constructed a space that brought us back in time. From the woodwork to the real church stained glass windows installed in this castle, their attention to detail brought the set to life.

In-game: A beautiful chapel set with incredible stained glass windows.

Puzzles

While the initial puzzles weren’t particularly interesting, as the game progressed, the puzzles became increasingly dynamic.

For most of Save the Queen, we worked through large tangible puzzles that interacted with built-in set pieces.

Standouts

Team vs Time constructed a castle into their run-of-the-mill building. The walls, windows, furniture, and smaller details brought the space to life.

In-game: A closeup of a wooden statue of a king backlit by beautiful orange stained glass windows.

Many of the puzzles made use of the castle decor. We manipulated “ancient” tools and investigated substantial props and set pieces.

A tiny gamemastering detail added a great dramatic moment to Save the Queen.

With Save the Queen, Team vs Time constructed an interactive, engaging, logical, and fun puzzle game.

Shortcomings

The narrative of Save the Queen didn’t carry our experience. In the end, we searched for specific information, as instructed by the game, but without any story-driven understanding of why.

In one late-game puzzle, the input mechanism seemed out of place. Given the historical setting, any modern interaction broke the fiction created by the set design. All tech should to be well hidden and seemingly magical.

Occasional double cluing proved more confusing than helpful.

One set puzzle was completely useless and threw us off track.

While the set looked great, it (and by it, I mean we) suffered from a significant splinter problem. We both picked up wood splinters from the game, and other players whom we have spoken with have as well.

Should I play Team vs Time’s Save the Queen?

Team vs Time creates impressive escape room sets. Save the Queen is no exception. We enjoyed our hour in a 14th century castle.

With Save the Queen, Team vs Time has improved their puzzle chops, designing interactive, challenging, and interesting puzzles into the set pieces. There is room for refinement, but the underlying structure and construction is solid.

As much as we loved puzzling through the castle, we didn’t feel like the hero and heroine of a narrative-driven adventure in the same way as we did in Gangster’s Gamble.

Save the Queen would be an exciting escape room at any level. Newer players will find it challenging, but not unmanageable. More seasoned players will be able to appreciate the experience that much more. If you’re traveling through Connecticut, this one is a must visit.

Book your hour with Team vs Time’s Save the Queen, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.

Full disclosure: Team vs Time provided media discounted tickets for this game.

New York Puzzle Company – New Yorker Coffee Break [Puzzle Review]

Pour over the details.

Manufacturer: New York Puzzle Company

Puzzle Type: Jigsaw Puzzle

Price: $19.95

Puzzle Overview

Coffee Break is a 500 piece jigsaw from the New York Puzzle Company’s New Yorker line. This is an entire collection of beautiful New Yorker magazine covers, not just the illustration, but the entire cover (date, price, and magazine name).

This particular puzzle is an intricate satire of complex modern coffee brewing trends illustrated by Christoph Niemann and originally published on November 16, 2015.

Puzzle close up shows an intriacte series of pipes, and Neimann's signature.

Materials & pieces

New York Puzzle Company puzzle pieces are a thick, durable cardboard. The pieces interlock well. For the most part, it’s clear when pieces do and do not go together.

Additionally, the cardboard is 100% recycled and the inks are soy-based.

An assortment of 6 puzzle pieces flipped over so that the viewer focuses on their irregular shape.

The pieces themselves are fairly irregular, making this a less predictable puzzle to assemble.

Why this puzzle?

Having recently watched the Netflix series Abstract: The Art of Design, I was pretty enthralled with Niemann’s episode (S1E1).

I loved the idea of having to puzzle through an almost entirely black and white jigsaw puzzle.

Should I buy the New York Puzzle Company’s Coffee Break?

Niemann’s Coffee Break illustration is incredibly intricate. Jigsaw puzzling through this image was both a beautiful and challenging experience.

Piecing this image together required me to visually interrogate every little intricacy of the illustration. By the time I was finished, I had gotten to know every reference and joke in the image.

It was challenging and occasionally frustrating because it’s essentially a black and white puzzle loaded with false leads and rapidly changing patterns. As soon as I had a handle on one section of the puzzle, it was finished… and suddenly there was a new section to learn. As a result, this took me about double the time that a 500-piece puzzle usually requires.

In the end, Coffee Break was a fun, yet fair challenge. It’s a wonderful illustration to spend some time exploring.

Buy Coffee Break today.

(If you purchase via our Amazon links, you will help support Room Escape Artist as we will receive a very small percentage of the sale).

Escape Zones – Imprisoned [Review]

Why do we keep ending up in puzzle jail?

Location: Auburn, AL

Date played: March 31, 2017

Team size: up to 8; we recommend 4-5

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: $22 per ticket

Story & setting

During the prison warden’s lunch break, we broke into his office to find evidence of our imprisoned friend’s innocence.

Unlike many prison room escapes, we weren’t locked in cells looking to escape, we were breaking in and seeking evidence. As a result, Imprisoned still looked like the typical drab prison. However, we began the game within an office setting.

In-game: A shelf with a camera, a pair of glasses, and a detective's shield.

Puzzles

Imprisoned was first and foremost a searching game. While there was some puzzling, the experience hinged on finding exceptionally well-hidden objects.

Standouts

As far as search-centric games go, uncovering many of the hidden objects was surprisingly satisfying.

In one instance, there was a fun and surprising open.

Escape Zone has designed an unnecessary, yet very appreciated personalized touch into Imprisoned.

Shortcomings

Imprisoned included some unnecessary red herrings.

One particular puzzle had a flawed set-up. It lacked continuity. It was also easily destructible, which would render it unsolvable.

Other puzzles were double-clued such that elements of the experience could be bypassed. This led to some confusion as to the flow of the room escape.

Should I play Escape Zones’ Imprisoned?

Imprisoned leaned heavily on searching over puzzling. The searching wasn’t easy, but it was generally well designed.

I cannot recommend that experienced players get locked up in Imprisoned, unless they are open to a game that feels a little more like a scavenger hunt than an escape room.

If you’re a newer player looking to get into escape rooms, Imprisoned would be approachable. It will teach you to be observant. You won’t be over your head in complicated puzzles.

Book your hour with Escape Zones’ Imprisoned, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.

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

Refuge: Prologue [Review]

“Oh shit! We’re competing against each other… and I know how smart my friends are.”

Location: New York, NY

Date played: April 14, 2017

Team size: 4-8; we recommend 6-8

Duration: 90 minutes

Price: $38-43 per ticket

Story & setting

Refuge: Prologue was an immersive, narrative-driven, competitive puzzle game.

Set in a dystopian mirrored reality where humanity’s decisions have caused an environmental apocalypse, we were competing for coveted spots in billionaire Alex Ayers’ prosperous Refuge. Our lives depended on proving our worth.

Refuge: Prologue took place in The Mist, an immersive entertainment space in Chinatown. The various rooms were staged for different challenges, each stylized, some more intriguing and involved than others.

At any given point, our group was divided up, competing against each other in different challenges. As Alex’s recorded voice narrated the instructions for various activities, we also learned the extent of the plight of Earth and human society, a narrative that unfolded over the duration of the experience.

In-game: a player looking upon a picture hung on a wall in a hallway.
Image via Refuge.

Puzzles

Refuge: Prologue pitted us against each other as we each vied for a future in Alex’s Refuge.

The puzzles took different forms: understanding the objective and context of any given contest, puzzling our way through, and strategizing against each other.

During the various puzzle challenges, we used logic, riddles, math, intuition, deductive reasoning, reaction time, agility, luck, strategic thinking… and more.

In-game: A hand interacting with glass bottles containing rolls of paper.
Image via Refuge.

Standouts

Refuge: Prologue painted a compelling dystopian parallel reality. Its message provoked thought about our world.

Refuge: Prologue meticulously designed printed materials and set dressing. It was deliberately crafted and looked polished.

The puzzles and games were challenging. For most interactions, each individual had to rely on their own understanding, make quick decisions, and continually strategize.

My favorite challenge was physically involved and lots of fun. The story unfolded through the escalating complexity of the puzzle. It was clever.

Without spoilers, the website for Refuge: Prologue was as clear as possible about what this experience entailed.

Shortcomings

The tech in Refuge: Prologue was repeatedly buggy. Even before we accidentally knocked something a little too forcefully, it was finicky. The set was delicate, and the tech even more so. Much of the set and technology needs modification in order to stand up to repeated use.

It wasn’t entirely clear how points were calculated, and therefore which actions and decisions mattered most. It also seemed like luck played a substantial role in some of the games.

The challenges varied in quality. One slow-paced game seemed to drag on. In another puzzle, the order of activities seemed to create a markedly unfair situation for the players.

Throughout the experience, there was a lot of information to take in in short amounts of time. Sometimes it was reading on top of audio instruction. Other times it was comprehensive reading while searching for other information. While this was part of the challenge, it was also more frustrating than it needed to be.

Should I attend Refuge: Prologue?

Refuge: Prologue was not a room escape, but it was an immersive, narrative-driven puzzle adventure. It was challenging and interesting.

In Refuge: Prologue, you will be competing against the others in your booking. You will be alone, vying for your own spot in a better future. If you usually count on others to pull some of the weight, you’re in for a rough ride.

Your adversaries are the others who’ve booked into your session. We recommend that you bring a group of people you know are equally competitive, skilled, and engaged. All the better to strategize against them… Also, leave the sore winners and losers at home.

While the technology implementation and set design had flaws, the folks behind Refuge: Prologue were attentive to detail.

Note that the website gives the following warnings, all of which matter: Don’t be late. Wear comfortable shoes. Also, one puzzle uses the full spectrum of color; colorblindness will be problematic.

If you like quick-paced puzzle competitions where you work on your own against opponents, and you don’t mind that the game, the rules, and the points will be a bit opaque, then we recommend visiting Refuge: Prologue.

If you’d rather work as a team or you don’t want to compete without a clear picture of what’s going on, you might want to sit this one out.

Win or lose Refuge: Prologue offers a new form of immersive puzzle adventuring. We’ve seen a lot collaborative gaming, and a little head-to-head team-based gaming, but Refuge is its own beast. Battling your friends by yourself offers a new style of interactive intrigue.

Book your spot in Refuge: Prologue, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.

 

Time to Escape – Escape from Alcatraz [Review]

Swimming not included.

Location: Atlanta, GA

Date played: April 2, 2017

Team size: up to 10; we recommend 4-6

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: $28 per ticket

Story & setting

As Alcatraz inmates in 1962, we found a series of clues left by escaped convict Frank Morris. We had to follow his footsteps to freedom.

The set was the star of the show. Time to Escape built a compelling prison.

In game: A heavily weather concrete wall with a metal door.

Puzzles

Time to Escape worked hard to build the puzzling interactions into the set and props. This worked with varying degrees of effectiveness.

Some puzzles felt like they truly belonged in the narrative; others felt like escape room puzzles that had been bolted onto a prison set.

Standouts

The set design was outstanding. Time to Escape’s attention to detail was evident in the custom construction, complete with detailed weathering.

In game: A heavily weather concrete wall with a metal door. A light hangs about them.

At their best, the puzzle / set integrations were exciting.

Shortcomings

In contrast to the set itself, some of the props felt cheap. While the set felt artfully designed, many of the props deflated the environment. Additionally, there was a significant anachronistic prop that wouldn’t have existed in 1962.

One particular puzzle needed stronger cluing. It seemed rather ambiguous.

In another instance, where order preservation was necessary, a team could mess with the props such they would render a late game puzzle impossible.

Should I play Time to Escape’s Escape from Alcatraz?

If you’re looking for a set-driven adventure, then Escape from Alcatraz is absolutely worth a visit. Time to Escape built a beautiful set and it was fun to play within it.

If you’re looking for an escape room that is rooted in puzzling, you should go in knowing that the puzzling is a little uneven.

Beginners and experienced players alike will be able to find just about equal enjoyment in Escape from Alcatraz, as the room itself is the driving force behind the entertainment.

Book your hour with Time to Escape’s Escape from Alcatraz, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.

Full disclosure: Time to Escape provided media discounted tickets for this game.