Project Escape – Nautilus [Review]

Keep talking and nobody implodes.

Location: Marietta, GA

Date Played: March 24, 2018

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

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: $28 per ticket

Ticketing: Public or Private

REA Reaction

Nautilus looked great and played well. It was challenging, and the challenges were interesting. One communication design flaw notwithstanding, it was a ton of fun.

If you’re anywhere nearby, it’s worth a drive to visit to Nautilus.

In-game: A hard helmet diving suit.

Who is this for?

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

Why play?

  • Interesting puzzles
  • A great set
  • Surprises
  • Cohesion

Story

A sea monster had attacked our submarine. As the vessel began to come apart, we’d been separated from half of our crew. We needed to make repairs to reunite and regain control of The Nautilus or become sea creature food.

In-game: big metal binary switches.

Setting

We began split between two different rooms: the parlor and the engine room. Each room had an eye-catching hardhat diver suit on display.

The parlor looked like a Victorian living room with book shelves, an easy chair, and soft brown hues. It was relaxing. The engine room had a knobs-and-buttons aesthetic. Everything was very Jules Verne.

In-game: A porthole in the side of the ship.

Gameplay

Project Escape’s Nautilus was a standard escape room with a high level of difficulty and a split beginning. Teams were separated into two different rooms at the start of the escape room.

Core gameplay revolved around searching and puzzling with a heavy emphasis on communication.

Analysis

+ The opening sets of Nautilus looked as intriguing as they were different. Presided over by hardhat diver suits, the sets felt appropriately submarine-esque and Jules Verne-ian.

+ The gamespace was a part of the experience. The large and intricate space was fun to explore and manipulate. It continued to surprise us as we progressed through the escape room.

– The opening communication puzzle was needlessly frustrating. It was unclear whether a dedicated communication channel was absent or broken, but we had to shout to each other through a wall. With our teammates in the background in each room, solving other puzzles, the communication challenge was primarily in hearing the other person. This opening sequence was challenging for the wrong reasons, and therefore tedious.

? The communication theme persisted throughout this escape room. There was a lot to observe and connect. Our team of 8 experienced players suffered from too many engaged eyes, ears, and hands at once. However, I expect small teams would easily overlook important details. Your enjoyment of this puzzle style will likely vary significantly based on your team composition.

+ Many of the puzzles were tactile, environmental-driven solves. We had to search, observe, and make connections, as well as solve more complex, layered puzzles. The puzzles varied in degree of challenge and type of challenge. The gameplay flowed well. When we won, we felt like we had earned it.

+ This was a cohesive and well-realized design.

Tips for Visiting

  • Parking: There is parking out front.
  • Note that if you book multiple games at Project Escape, you might have to drive/walk around the building complex between games because they aren’t all located at the same entrance.
  • Food: We enjoyed the Marietta Diner.
  • Accessibility: At least one teammate needs to be able to crawl and maneuver in a small space.

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

Disclosure: Project Escape comped our tickets for this game.

Project Escape – Saw [Review]

How did one team win by 6 seconds?! Read the epic tale.

Location: Marietta, GA

Date Played: March 24, 2018

Team size: up to 6 per room; we recommend 3-5 per room (book both copies and put even teams in each room)

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: $28 per ticket

Ticketing: Public or Private

REA Reaction

Project Escape’s Saw looked as good as it played. This team vs team competitive game wasn’t particularly challenging, but the intensity of the competition amped up the excitement of the experience.

Lisa and I once again played against one another and my team won by 6 seconds. For those keeping score at home, we are now 2 & 2 against one another.

If you’re anywhere nearby and have enough people to play Saw competitively, I’d encourage you to do so.

In-game: A rundown white tiled room with a big slop sink and a toilet.

Who is this for?

  • Adventure seekers
  • Puzzle lovers
  • Scenery snobs
  • Any experience level
  • Competitive escape room players

Why play?

  • Competitive gameplay
  • Great set design
  • Strong puzzles

Story

We woke up handcuffed to our friends in a strange room. In the next room, another group of victims were locked up in the same manner.

Only the first group to escape would emerge unharmed.

It was Saw staged as a team vs team battle… and without all of the blood, screaming, death, and dismemberment.

In-game: A rundown white tiled room with lockers and a maze along the back wall.

Setting

Project Escape did a great job of capturing the dirty white-tiled aesthetic of the original Saw film. The gamespace was detailed and eerie, without instilling terror. It was well lit and easy to focus on gameplay.

In-game: An exit door with 5 glowing lights above it.

Gameplay

Project Escape’s Saw was a standard escape room with a low level of difficulty and a team vs team twist.

Competitive play was handled Race To Escape style. Two teams competed in mirror image rooms. Each room had five different paths of puzzles that resolved linearly. At the conclusion of each puzzle path, we earned a key that would turn on a light. Both teams could see their own lights as well as the opposing team’s lights. The first team to trigger all five of their own lights won.

When a team requested a hint, both teams received the same hint.

Core gameplay revolved around observing and puzzling.

Analysis

+ The competitive gameplay was exciting. This was especially true given the two overpowered teams we fielded. We created our own pressure to succeed. It was real and exhilarating.

– When the opposing team triggered a light, it was too subtle. We frequently didn’t realize it had happened until quite a bit later. Project Escape missed this opportunity to add drama to the experience.

+ The puzzles were well executed. Some offered unique challenges; others allowed us to build skill and mastery.

– One team (the winning team) had some seriously weak batteries in a handheld light. This was a significant annoyance and could have turned into a game-breaking barrier.

+ The handcuffed opening limited our access to the scope of the room until we had earned our freedom. This provided a good on-ramp for teams to learn the basics.

+ The set looked great and was easy to operate within. We weren’t straining for light and even our most nervous players were unaffected by fear. This was a concern for some going into a Saw-themed game.

– If you’re expecting horror from a Saw-themed game, your undead princess is in another castle.

? There were no opportunities to interact with the opposing team during gameplay. The effects of this were mixed. On one hand, it was a clean race. On the other hand, this limited the tension, strategy, and tactics available.

+ Hints were fair and designed to prevent blowouts by helping keep a team from falling too far behind.

– The light indicators were laid out in a peculiar and confusing manner. The teams were labeled “Team A” & “Team B.” One would assume that Team A’s lights would be on top, and Team B’s the bottom. Strangely each room had the same layout of “us” on top and “them” on the bottom. Clue indicators, however, followed the more comfortable A on the top, B on the bottom layout. This was all especially annoying for Team B. Consistency and better labeling would have helped.

+ Each room had its own gamemaster overseeing the experience.

– The system didn’t know which team had won. In the case of our game, the 6 second difference in escape times meant that both teams were initially told that they had won. I suspect that Escape Room Master doesn’t have proper functionality for managing these aspects of competitive gameplay.

+ Both teams are allowed the full hour of gameplay. When one team wins, the other team is still allowed to play out the experience.

Tips for Visiting

  • Parking: There is parking out front.
  • Note that if you book multiple games at Project Escape, you might have to drive/walk around the building complex between games because they aren’t all located at the same entrance.
  • Food: We enjoyed the Marietta Diner.

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

Disclosure: Project Escape comped our tickets for this game.