Escape Zones – Black Beard’s Brig [Review]

Pirates of Eastern Alabama.

Location: Auburn, AL

Date played: March 31, 2017

Team size: up to 8; we recommend 3-5

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: $22 per ticket

Story & setting

Tossed into Black Beard’s brig, we had a brief window of time to escape while our captors were off plundering and pillaging.

Black Beard’s Brig was Escape Zones’ first game. As such, it looked like a fairly typical first game. The set wasn’t particularly immersive; it was a cute but basic pirate ship.

In-game: A skeleton propped against a wooden wall.
That’s a pretty cunning shirt.

Puzzles

Just as Black Beard’s Brig looked like a first game, it largely played like a solid first escape room design. It balanced searching with puzzling, offering the standard, old-school escape room experience.

In-game: A bird skeleton in a a cage. The cage is locked with a 5 digit combination lock.

Standouts

Black Beard’s Brig was appropriately balanced for the Auburn escape room market, where Escape Zones was the only company in town and nearly all of the local players are first-timers. In terms of puzzling, it was neither a pushover nor brain-buster. More importantly, the puzzles flowed well.

It had a well-hidden surprise.

Shortcomings

In many instances, technology was visibly out of place on the brig. Escape Zones should build housing for their technology so that it can be better integrated into the experience.

Some of the props were in rough shape. We had to contend with breakage and wear, which made puzzles either easier or harder depending on the puzzle and the breakage.

One particular prop had an unintentional red-herring built in. It should be modified to avoid leading players away from its actual function.

Should I play Escape Zones’ Black Beard’s Brig?

Black Beard’s Brig was a solid escape room for new players. It combined many escape room elements: searching, puzzles, locks, and tech.

If you’re new to this type of entertainment, you’ll most definitely enjoy a surprise or two.

More experienced players will likely move through it quickly, but will still enjoy a few truly satisfying solves.

Book your hour with Escape Zones’ Black Beard’s Brig, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.

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

Escape Zones – The Cabin [Review]

We don’t see games like this in New York.

Location: Auburn, AL

Date played: March 31, 2017

Team size: up to 8; we recommend 4-6

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: $22 per ticket

Story & setting

On our way to our uncle’s remote huntin’ cabin, our friend was bitten by a timber rattler. Without any cellular coverage, we had to break into the cabin and find the antivenom.

The set looked and felt like a cabin. It was kitschy in a compelling sort of way. There were some great twists and clever design.

In-game photo of a cabin's exterior. The door is barred shut. There is a sign that reads,

Puzzles

The Cabin was a puzzle-heavy game. There was a lot to work through, so much so that we kept 8 serious puzzlers busy on parallel tracks.

The puzzles were blended with technology and set design.

Standouts

In escaping The Cabin we re-enacted a true life-or-death situation… with a lot more puzzles than real life usually offers. It was unusual, entertaining, and delightful.

With this escape room, Escape Zones leveled up their set design. One magic moment in particular relied on expertly crafted, well-hidden technology.

Where Escape Zones’ previous games were search-based, The Cabin was a more complex, puzzle-driven adventure.

The ending was adorable.

Shortcomings

While Escape Zones did integrate puzzles and story, The Cabin still contained some standard escape room puzzles that didn’t necessarily make sense in the context of our life-or-death adventure.

Occasionally, Escape Zones’ attempt to combine puzzles and story resulted in the reading of extraneous, long-winded, sciencey babble. It got a little tedious.

We encountered one puzzle that relied on order preservation. Moving props rendered it unsolvable. This could be easily remedied.

Should I play Escape Zones’ The Cabin?

The Cabin was a pleasure to play. The set was compelling, the puzzling good fun, and the story entertaining.

Escape Zones in Auburn, Alabama is a legit escape room company, despite being the only company in town. They have produced an escape room that would hold up in any market.

First timers might find The Cabin a touch overwhelming, as there was a lot to do. If you’ve never played a room escape before, start with one of Escape Zones’ other offerings to get used to how things work. After you’ve finished with those, return for The Cabin. It’s absolutely worth it.

If you’re an experienced room escaper who happens to find yourself near Auburn, I’d strongly encourage you to spend an hour in The Cabin.

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

Full disclosure: Escape Zones comped our tickets for this game and outfitted our team in t-shirts.