Brighton Asylum Escape – 1408 Escape [Review]

Do not disturb.

Location: Passaic, New Jersey

Date played: August 7, 2017

Team size: 2-7; we recommend 3-4

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: $33 per ticket

Story & setting

Based on the Stephen King short-story-turned-film 1408, Brighton Asylum’s 1408 Escape cast us in the role of paranormal investigators seeking to learn the truth about a string of strange suicides in room 1408 of the Dolphin Hotel.

In-game: A fairly normal looking hotel room with a double bed, and a digital clock that reads "60:00."

The set of 1408 Escape looked exactly like a creepy hotel room. It wasn’t a frightening set, but it projected feelings of unease.

Puzzles

1408 Escape was light on puzzles and heavy on connection building. The set was detailed and much of the interaction was designed around exploring the nuances of the space.

Standouts

The set looked great and its design escalated late-game.

There was a fantastic tech-driven reveal.

Brighton Asylum Escape’s set told a story on its own. One of our favorite in-game moments had nothing at all to do with the puzzles or gameplay. That was impressive.

Shortcomings

While the space told a story, the gameplay did not. It felt bolted on and disconnected from the experience.

Overall, 1408 Escape lacked puzzling and gameplay. The interactions bounced back and forth between being obvious and requiring us to search for pixel-hunt details in a large space. We lost this one after spending an incredible amount of time searching and continuously failing to find one thing. The irony was that I guessed most of what we were looking for, but not all of it.

The soundtrack from 1408 Escape included a lot of confusing background noise. We continually asked each other, “Did that sound mean something?” or “Was that sound triggered by something we did?” This noise regularly made us think we had triggered something when we hadn’t… And at times it also prevented us from realizing that we had actually triggered a thing.

One key piece of tech failed on us. Thankfully our gamemaster gave us simple bypass instructions.

Should I play Brighton Asylum Escape’s 1408 Escape?

1408 Escape was rooted in horror and dealt with suicide bluntly. While the room escape was not scary, I would strongly suggest that you avoid it if suicide is a subject that hits too close to home.

A portion of 1408 Escape’s set may be inaccessible to players with mobility issues. As long as a few teammates are fully mobile, this won’t be a problem, but any less mobile players will have severely diminished participation. Speak with your gamemaster if this might be an issue, they may be able to help.

The set of 1408 Escape looked great, but the gameflow was not where it needed to be. The folks from Brighton Asylum Escape told us that they are aware of these issues and plan to fix them before haunt season starts. They are committed.

1408 Escape will likely be a better escape room come September/ October. How much better will remain to be seen, but I am not counting Brighton Asylum out.

If you’re a beginner, 1408 Escape will be better tailored to you. The heavy focus on searching frequently plays against experienced players’ desires and skills; more experienced players should take on The Tomb. I consider myself a good searcher and I couldn’t find all that needed to be found. I didn’t enjoy my stay at the Dolphin Hotel… but I’m holding out hope that this turns into a hotel worth visiting.

Book your hour with Brighton Asylum Escape’s 1408 Escape, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.

Full disclosure: Brighton Asylum Escape comped our tickets for this game.

 

Brighton Asylum Escape – The Tomb [Review]

The Great Sandbox of Giza.

Location: Passaic, New Jersey

Date played: August 7, 2017

Team size: 3-6; we recommend 3-4

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: $33 per ticket

Story & setting

Sealed into an ancient Egyptian tomb, we had to puzzle our way out.

With Brighton Asylum’s 15 years of experience in the haunted house industry, they constructed a compelling set for The Tomb. This included detailed walls and floors covered in sand throughout the experience. The set-based interactions were tangible and technology-driven.

In-game: The walls of an ancient Egyptian tomb. The walls have paitings on them, and there is a pedestal with a thick book resting upon it.

Puzzles

The puzzles demanded us to observe the detailed set, interpret it, and connect it back to set-based tech-driven interactions.

Standouts

The Egyptian set’s faux stonework and painted details were outstanding. The large interactive set-pieces were fun to manipulate.

Almost all of the puzzles solved with tech-driven interactions. This worked with the theme and made for some exciting moments.

There were a couple of surprising reveals.

The puzzling was interactive, involved, and demanded teamwork.

Shortcomings

The Tomb started off very slowly.

A few puzzles needed refinement. For example, one lacked clue structure. Another gave only vague feedback. When these things compounded, the gameplay stalled.

The dim lighting made it nearly impossible to read certain written clues.

Star Wars meme featuring Anakin Skywalker speaking to Padme saying, "I don't like sand. It's coarse and rough and irritating and it gets everywhere."
I’m just as surprised as you are that I found a use for this scene.

The sand was problematic. It was off-putting to some players. It had also been continually destructive to some interactive set pieces, making them seize up and difficult to manipulate.

There was nowhere to put our belongings… which was honestly an issue due to the sand.

Should I play Brighton Asylum Escape’s The Tomb?

The Tomb was a playground of interactive puzzling.

Brighton Asylum Escape has the makings of an outstanding escape room in The Tomb. It has a gorgeous interactive set, interesting tech-driven puzzles, and exciting reveals.

That said, the components need refinement. The Tomb needs more light for reading, feedback for successfully completed puzzles, and more cohesive cluing to tie the puzzling components together. Also, some of the interactions need to function better in the presence of sand.

The Tomb is not accessible to players with mobility issues. You need to be able to crawl… in sand. However, your gamemaster might be able to help a player or two skip the crawling component.

The Tomb would be incredibly challenging for newer players. The details and their connections can be hard to find. That said, it would certainly be solvable.

Brighton Asylum Escape knows where The Tomb could use some work and is actively improving it before haunt season. I trust that by the time crowds flock to Brighton Asylum for the haunt, there will be a few more jewels in this tomb.

If you’re planning on playing, wear sand-friendly footwear and travel light (as there isn’t anywhere to put your things). Also note that you do not need to dump sand on any of the set pieces.

Book your hour with Brighton Asylum Escape’s The Tomb, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.

Full disclosure: Brighton Asylum Escape comped our tickets for this game.