Great Scott Mystery Rooms at The Storyteller’s Cottage – The Dame Disappears [Review]

Where in the world is Agatha Christie?

Location:  Simsbury, Connecticut

Date Played: January 20, 2020

Team size: 2-8; we recommend 2-3

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: $30 per player

Ticketing: Private

Emergency Exit Rating: [A+] No Lock

Physical Restraints: [A+] No Physical Restraints

REA Reaction

The Dame Disappears was a lovely, beginner-friendly escape game in The Storyteller’s Cottage, a Victorian mansion turned escape room/ writers’ workshop/ event space.

Located in a charming small town, we absolutely adored The Storyteller’s Cottage, its programs, and its goals. We wish there was something like this near us.

As an escape room, The Dame Disappears was a strong game for newer players. It was elegant, engaging, and told a story.

In-game: closeup of a nightstand with a book, a lamp, a tea pot and a tea cup.

Who is this for?

  • Story seekers
  • Puzzle lovers
  • Any experience level

Why play?

  • Solid, beginner-friendly puzzling
  • The Storyteller’s Cottage is a wonderful place to visit
  • The Victorian charm of the set and setting

Story

Agatha Christie had gone missing and Scotland Yard had sent us to her home to inspect her belongings. Could we solve the case of the missing mystery novelist?

In-game: Wide view of a bed room with large dressers and a makeup vanity.

Setting

We entered a gorgeous historical home that has been repurposed as an escape room/ writers’ workshop/ whatever other crazy and fun ideas the owners and patrons dream up. It was a wonderful place.

The individual escape rooms were set in rooms within this house. In the case of The Dame Disappears, the room was Agatha Christie’s bedroom. The space was simple, yet lovingly built with clear and consistent art direction.

The use of technology was limited, yet imaginative.

In-game: an open trunk with a dress hanging inside beside a fireplace.

Gameplay

Great Scott Mystery Rooms’ The Dame Disappears was a standard escape room with an easy level of difficulty.

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

In-game: Wide view of an old bedroom centered on the bed.

Analysis

➕ Great Scott Mystery Rooms was built into the beautiful Victorian mansion that is The Storyteller’s Cottage. The Dame Disappears took place on the second floor, in a bedroom that hearkened back to the era of the house with its bold wallpaper and antique furniture. The adorable set felt at home in The Storyteller’s Cottage.

➕ The puzzles were well clued. Although the gameplay was search-heavy, we never found ourselves ransacking a bedroom blindly. While at times there was a higher volume of text, we never found ourselves pulling random words or numbers from documents.

➖ Much of the clue structure was on laminated sheets of paper. We’d love to see Great Scott Mystery Rooms pull more of the clue structure into the set and props and find less anachronistic methods of delivering written materials.

➖ The puzzle gating included a number of locked boxes. Locked trunks belonged in The Dame Disappears. Other locked items felt out of place. There was an opportunity to vary the puzzle gating and build it into more set pieces and props, rather than place it atop these items.

➕ We enjoyed stepping upon a nifty reveal.

➕ The hint system was part of the game world. It was helpful and responsive.

➖ The final puzzles lacked excitement. Although they involved fun mechanisms, they were single player solves, and located in a corner such that they wouldn’t really be available for onlooker participation. For a group of more than 2 people, we expect that much of the team would disengage right as they reached the finale.

➕ The narrative had a fun twist for the final act. This added intrigue.

➕ The escape rooms at Great Scott Mystery Rooms are inspired by literature. They incorporated Easter eggs for the Agatha Christie fans.

Tips For Visiting

  • Great Scott Mystery Rooms is located within The Storyteller’s Cottage, an adorable vintage Victorian home that hosts literary events, literary societies, writers’ workshops and retreats, storytelling events, author salons, literary-themed mystery rooms, and much more.
  • You can park on the street directly in front of the house, or anywhere on Hopmeadow Street (on-street parking is free). Additional free parking is available behind the Fiddler’s Green building (where Joe Pizza is located).
  • The Dame Disappears is on the second floor of the house, up a flight of stairs. There is another escape room on the first floor of the house, which is wheelchair accessible.

Book your hour with Great Scott Mystery Rooms’ The Dame Disappears, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.

Disclosure: Great Scott Mystery Rooms comped our tickets for this game.

Q The Live Escape Experience – Area Q [Review]

Puzzle Gear

Location:  Loveland, CO

Date Played: September 6, 2019

Team size: up to 10; we recommend 3-5

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: $24.99 per player

Ticketing: Public

Emergency Exit Rating: [A+] No Lock

Physical Restraints: [A+] No Physical Restraints

REA Reaction

Area Q was a unique experience. Some of it was brilliant and some of it was a mess (literally and figuratively).

The crux of the game was built around a heist. We were stealing something and needed to navigate the security system as well as the guard. In a lot of ways, it felt a lot like a Metal Gear game.

In-game: A person sneaking around a wooden crage in a dark room.
Image via Q The Live Escape Experience

The cool thing about Area Q was that there were a lot of different ways to play it. If you played Area Q as a straight puzzle room, however, I think that you would find it pretty dull; the puzzles were decidedly subpar. That said, you don’t have to play it that way. It can be what you make of it.

I’m really glad that we played this game because it was different. Q The Live Escape Experience tried some interesting concepts… and they nailed the actor interactions. The catch here was that the puzzles, cleanliness, and finer points of set design felt all but ignored.

If you’re open to a unique experience that is equal parts exciting and flawed, then this is worth checking out. However, if you’re looking for something that is more grounded in escape room tradition and functions more smoothly, The Conjuror was a stronger all-around game.

Who is this for?

  • Adventure seekers
  • Actor interactors
  • Players with at least some experience

Why play?

  • The guard actor was fantastic and gave the character a ton of personality
  • The scenario built a lot of tension

Story

A meteor had crashed into Earth and had been retrieved by a criminal organization. Their scientists had extracted alien bacteria and used it to engineer a plague. Now they planned to auction it to the highest bidder.

Our assignment: infiltrate the facility under cover of darkness, avoid being caught by the guard, steal the plague sample, and plant a bomb to destroy the remaining samples.

Setting

Area Q sent us down into a rustic research lab. The reality of this staging was a game in a large, dusty, and dark warehouse space. Most of the set pieces were large wooden crates behind a chain-link fence. The laboratory portions felt hacked together.

It was spartan.

In-game: A glowing green exit sign over a door viewed through a chainlink fence.
Image via Q The Live Escape Experience

Every 10 minutes, like clockwork, a security guard patrolled the space. The actor was fantastic and really imbued this character with a personality.

Gameplay

Q The Live Escape Experience’s Area Q was an actor-driven escape room with a moderate level of difficulty.

Core gameplay revolved around searching, puzzling, hiding, and engaging with the actor.

Analysis

➕ Area Q was an escape room in principle, but the gameplay was open ended. We could play it straight by solving puzzles, or go for a more dramatic, improvisational approach with the actor.

➕ The guard gave this game intrigue. He walked with personality. He was imposing and threatening, but also amusing. He was adaptive too. He would play the type of game that the players wanted to play. When we chose to mess with him, he gave it right back to us. This was a ton of fun.

➖ The puzzles were downright boring. They felt like tedious work we had to slog through. It didn’t help that we had to abandon them and hide every time the guard approached.

➖ The gameplay was largely search-focused. Search was frustrating because the set was large and dark. Although we weren’t bumping into things, we weren’t keen on blind searching, considering the dirt and splintery props.

➕ Although Area Q was a dark space, it needed to be for the premise of the game. We had enough flashlights for each teammate. The space was also devoid of clutter and tripping hazards. We weren’t going to miss these props.

There is a difference between a dirty-looking set and an actually dirty set. Area Q was filthy. After hiding in this set, we were covered in dirt and dust.

➕ Area Q had a laissez-faire approach to solving. There was no definitive way to accomplish something. We could solve the puzzles or find our own means to accomplish our heist. In fact, they’d designed different paths to get teams to the same ending. Depending on how a team approached the game, different things could happen, but none of them would be game-ending. Instead, they would set the team on a different path to a successful ending.

➖ There were opportunities to make the props more interesting. For example, the plague sample we needed to steal could have looked like something we wanted to get our hands on.

Area Q built a ton of tension with the constant hiding and the actor dramatics. Given this build up, the ending fell flat. Our exit from the gamespace was anticlimactic in comparison.

Tips For Visiting

  • Wear closed-toed shoes and clothing that can get dirty.
  • There is a parking lot.

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

Disclosure: Q The Live Escape Experience comped our tickets for this game.

Disclosure: Our trip to Denver was sponsored by the Denver escape room community. Contributions were anonymous.

Time to Escape – Flashback [Review]

Totally rad Dragonlance collection!

Location:  Lakewood, CO

Date Played: September 8, 2019

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

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: $25 per player

Ticketing: Public or Private

Emergency Exit Rating: [A+] No Lock

Physical Restraints: [A+] No Physical Restraints

REA Reaction

Time to Escape’s Flashback was a traditional escape game in a large space.

The puzzles played well and the set was loaded with 80s charm. It was a solid old-school escape room.

In-game: Wide shot of the main character's 80s bedroom.

There wasn’t much wrong with Flashback, but there also wasn’t anything truly memorable about it either. If you’re in the area and looking for an escape room fix, it’s a fine option.

Seeing where Time to Escape started and where they are heading, they are clearly on an upward trajectory. After peeking inside, I’d be curious to play their next game when it officially opens.

Who is this for?

  • Puzzle lovers
  • 80s lovers
  • Any experience level
  • Players who don’t need to be a part of every puzzle

Why play?

  • Fun traditional escape room gameplay
  • Totally rad references

Story

It was 1989 and someone had kidnapped the pioneer of time travel technology. We had to investigate her home and explore her work to find the secret of time travel.

In-game: A dry erase board in pright pastel colors reads, "Totally RAD."

Setting

Flashback was set in the main character’s 1980s teenage bedroom. From a construction standpoint, there wasn’t anything special going on. Where the environment’s design shined was in the details. The room had a lot of personality beyond the standard 80s cliches that most 80s rooms lean heavily on.

In-game: The main character's bed and bookcase.

Gameplay

Time to Escape’s Flashback was a standard escape room with a moderate level of difficulty.

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

In-game: a Ouija board on a desk.

Analysis

➕ Flashback was adorable. We enjoyed the props that harkened back to the ’80s. It also had a great soundtrack; we danced our way through the puzzles.

➖ Flashback felt homemade. The set looked like a home, which wasn’t particularly interesting, and by the end even that look had kind of evaporated.

➕ Our favorite puzzles repurposed period appropriate games and toys into escape room-style solves. Time To Escape also leaned into some more niche 80s props, which was charming. These worked well.

➖ Time to Escape struggled with digit structure. At times, we’d derive a combination and try it in the wrong place because we had too many similarly structured inputs. This hampered momentum.

➕ We enjoyed the final puzzle sequence. It was an interesting, layered solve.

➖ Although it was fun, Flashback wasn’t exciting. It needed a memorable moment or a dramatic turn.

Tips For Visiting

  • There is a parking lot.

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

Disclosure: Time to Escape comped our tickets for this game.

Disclosure: Our trip to Denver was sponsored by the Denver escape room community. Contributions were anonymous.

Q The Live Escape Experience – The Conjuror [Review]

Odd Duck Immersive

Location:  Loveland, CO

Date Played: September 6, 2019,

Team size: up to 8; we recommend 4-5

Duration: 70 minutes

Price: $24.99 per player

Ticketing: Public

Emergency Exit Rating: [A+] No Lock

Physical Restraints: [A+] No Physical Restraints

REA Reaction

The Conjuror was an actor-enhanced escape room. It was teed up to us as more immersive theater than escape room, but that didn’t feel like accurate expectation setting.

This was a solid escape room, with a dramatic (and slightly over-the-top) character overseeing the experience. He was a delight. Additionally, there was one fantastic recurring set piece. It was pretty much worth playing the game for these two things alone.

In-game: a series of glass vials beside a crow.

The puzzle design itself was fine – maybe a little dated – but it got the job done.

One last thing… and this recurred in both games we played at Q The Live Escape Experience. They needed to get a cleaning crew into their games. Both games were unacceptably dusty.

All in all, there aren’t that many escape rooms with a theatrical bent to them and this was a solid one. If that sounds like your kind of thing, then you should check out The Conjuror.

Who is this for?

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

Why play?

  • The seance table
  • A strong introduction
  • The actor interactions

Story

We had tickets to see Malveaux the Magnificent conduct a seance, piercing the veil between life and death to commune with the spirits.

In-game: a white table clothed table in a dim seance parlour.

Setting

Billed as a hybrid of immersive theater and escape room, The Conjuror opened with a humorous scripted introduction. From there, we found ourselves in a magical study/ seance chamber. The centerpiece of the game was the seance table, which was quite cool.

The room had a grim, Addams Family vibe. While the game was fairly new, it was pretty damn dusty.

In-game: an assortment of magical items including a skull, and a hand labeled "Poison Ivy."

Gameplay

Q The Live Escape Experience’s The Conjuror was a standard escape room with a theatrical bent and a moderate level of difficulty.

Core gameplay revolved around searching, observing, puzzling, and bantering with the actor.

Analysis

➕ The Conjuror started with a performance. The actor was engaging and talented. He established a character in the opening act, which set up the rest of the experience.

❓ Although The Conjuror opened with an actor, the experience was an escape room, not immersive theater (as it was framed for us). For the majority of the time, we solved puzzles towards accomplishing a mission. Although it had dramatic flourishes, and allowed character banter, it was an escape room through and through. There’s nothing wrong with this at all, but setting expectations is important.

➕ Q The Live Escape Experience kept the character involved throughout the experience. He was amusing. We could choose how much to engage with him. This was fun.

➕ The Conjuror wove narrative and puzzles together. The puzzles were justified and made sense in the space.

➖ The puzzles felt dated. They were largely search based and not all well clued. One seemed like it almost required a hint. There were opportunities to make the puzzles more interesting.

➕ That seance table!

➖ The gamespace was filthy. David didn’t set foot in particular area of the gamespace because his allergies were already acting up, and that section would surely have aggravated them more.

Tips For Visiting

  • There is a parking lot.

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

Book

Disclosure: Q The Live Escape Experience comped our tickets for this game.

Disclosure: Our trip to Denver was sponsored by the Denver escape room community. Contributions were anonymous.

Red Herring Escape Rooms – The Deadly Inheritance [Review]

Cousins Unite!

Location:  St. Louis, MO

Date Played: March 22, 2019

Team size: up to 8; we recommend 4-6

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: $27.50 per player

Ticketing: Public

Emergency Exit Rating: [B] Emergency Code

Physical Restraints: [A+] No Physical Restraints

REA Reaction

The Deadly Inheritance was our favorite escape room from our 2019 trip to St Louis.

This was a heavily puzzle-centric escape game with a quirky setup. It was a bit old school, but it was well-executed for what it was.

In-game: statues of a lighthouse and a hard-helmet for diving.

The set was worn, however. If you’re the type of player who values set design, narrative, and adventure… it was a little light on those elements. Instead it delivered strong gameplay, great puzzle flow, and some interesting interactions.

If you’re looking for a traditional escape room with a funny setup and solid execution, then this is a fantastic option and we absolutely recommend it if you’re in St Louis.

Who is this for?

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

Why play?

  • Strong puzzle-centric gameplay
  • A quirky, funny setup

Story

We’d received a letter from an attorney representing the estate of our recently deceased Uncle Martin. Our mysterious uncle, whom we had never met, nor heard of, was a pirate and had left his fortune to his nieces and nephews… if we could find it.

In-game: Uncle Martin's house includes an old TV, a fireplace, and an overt nautical theme.

Setting

The Deadly Inheritance was a puzzle room in a quirky nautical set. The room was showing its age. Its focus was on the puzzles rather than the set design. That said, there were some interesting elements to take in.

In-game: a boat and ship light.

Gameplay

Red Herring Escape Rooms’ The Deadly Inheritance was a standard escape room with a moderate level of difficulty.

Core gameplay revolved around searching and puzzling.

In-game: Porthole windows and mirrors.

Analysis

➕ The Deadly Inheritance started with a hilarious intro video. It set the tone for a fun escape room experience that didn’t take itself or its ridiculous scenario too seriously.

➕ The Deadly Inheritance had a weird aesthetic that we enjoyed. It was clearly built on a budget, but built with care. It all came together to create our strange uncle’s abode. When your main character is an eccentric millionaire, you have a creative license to cobble together something interesting… and that’s exactly what Red Herring Escape Rooms did.

➖ The room was worn. Some of the locks needed to be replaced. One of the input mechanisms was finicky.

➕ The puzzles were delightful. They were varied and made use of interesting and unexpected props. Our Uncle had quite the collection of oddities! We solved some layered puzzles and other more straight forward ones.

➖ Most of the puzzles were built into props, but not into the set itself. There was opportunity to use the gamespace to create exciting, memorable moments.

Red Herring's quirky and elegant lobby.
Red Herring Escape Room had a great lobby

➕ There was a lot of gameplay packed into this escape room. The game flowed well, encouraging us to start certain puzzles early, for example, and funneling us away from potential bottlenecks.

The Deadly Inheritance offered a particular style of puzzle-focused gameplay. While the puzzles flowed well, the gameplay felt like solving many unconnected puzzles in an eclectic space rather than solving through a cohesive adventure. Your appreciation and enjoyment of this escape room will depend heavily on your style preferences.

Tips For Visiting

  • It looks like there is street parking.
  • Red Herring Escape Rooms has a gorgeous lobby. It’s a comfortable place to hang out.

Book your hour with Red Herring Escape Rooms’ The Deadly Inheritance, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.