3600 Escape Room – Conspiracy Theory [Review]

Connect the dots.

Location: Buffalo, NY

Date played: January 21, 2017

Team size: 4-8; we recommend 4-5

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: $25 per ticket

Story & setting

In Conspiracy Theory, we were investigating the apartment of a conspiracy theorist friend who had gone missing.

Our friend’s studio apartment had pretty standard furnishing and decor.

It also included a non-standard escape room countdown clock; 3600 Escape Room counted our time down from 3600 seconds.

Puzzles

3600 Escape Room hid puzzles throughout the apartment, making use of standard home goods. They also snuck in a few unexpected objects for more interesting puzzling interactions.

The puzzles were well-structured with generally clear cluing and elegant solutions.

Standouts

Our gamemaster delivered written hints through a mail slot in the wall. This was on-theme and creative. It was also multi-purpose. She paid close attention to us as we puzzled along and even delivered a Capri Sun in answer to a joke one of us made about the Kool-Aid man. We all had a good laugh… and David drank it.

A CapriSun with a post it that reads, "It's no Kool-Aid but I can send it through the wall :)

Conspiracy Theory included a few standout puzzles. We particularly liked one input device and another “destructible” clue. These were both creative and unexpected.

3600 Escape Room made use of some standard escape room puzzle types. They thought outside the box to successfully deliver one of the clearest solutions to something we often see poorly executed.

In-game: A wall of newspaper clippings with circles and strings connecting them.
Image provided by 3600 Escape Room

Shortcomings

In another standard puzzle type, 3600 Escape Room delivered a rather weak tool and a lack of adequate cluing. Fresh batteries matter.

As with most studio apartments, the layout was not spacious. One corner in particular was relatively inaccessible and certainly not accessible for multiple people at one time. This created minor bottlenecking.

There was a hole in the bottom of a set piece that was easily accessible and sharp. It should be permanently plugged for safety.

The apartment was just an apartment and the setting never did anything to up the level of excitement.

Should I play 3600 Escape Room’s Conspiracy Theory?

Conspiracy Theory was a fun play through. While it was a simple apartment and aesthetically not much to behold, the puzzle resolutions were elegant and satisfying. This creativity in puzzle design – along with an attentive and playful gamemaster – made for a great time.

In this game, 3600 Escape Room demonstrated creative design ability and solid puzzle flow. During our visit, we peeked into their next game, still under construction, and we look forward to them incorporating more exciting aesthetics and world building into their next room escape.

They have a beautiful lobby, and a family / corporate friendly approach to the escape room business. I would absolutely recommend Conspiracy Theory to beginner players. This would make for a great first game. Experienced players may want to scope out their upcoming game, which we are looking forward to playing on our return visit.

Book your hour with 3600 Escape Room’s Conspiracy Theory, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.

Full disclosure: 3600 Escape Room comped our tickets for this game.

The next Room Escape Conference is taking place in Niagara Falls, NY from May 1-3, 2017. The conference organizers sponsored our trip to Buffalo, New York, Niagara Falls, New York, and Niagara Falls, Ontario, to play this game and others in the region. We strive to help conference attendees visit the room escapes that are best for them.

 

Escape Room Buffalo – Brewery 2 [Review]

Order some wings and pound a Labatt. Welcome to Buffalo.

Location: North Tonawanda, NY

Date played: January 21, 2017

Team size: 2-8; we recommend 3-5

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: $25 per ticket

Story & setting

In Brewery 2, we needed to puzzle our way out of a bar. Despite the name, the setting was actually more bar than brewery.

The set of Brewery 2 had a homemade bar vibe. It was playful, hacked together, and adorable.

In-game: A beer tap, and cash register. A Coors Light neon sign hangs on the wall.

Puzzles

Escape Room Buffalo designed the puzzles into the structure of the bar and its associated paraphernalia. Through these hands-on puzzles we physically engaged with the different components of the set.

Standouts

Brewery 2 encouraged us to interact with every part of the set. We appreciated the tangible puzzles.

Two puzzles in particular relied on technology that largely worked with the theme.

Shortcomings

There was a puzzle interaction where we received some components far earlier then we earned the cluing that instructed us how to use them. This would have been fine except that there were clear ways to attempt to solve the puzzle and some of those paths could consume the game components. We ended up needing to summon the gamemaster to restock us after permanently losing these game components to a set piece.

Brewery 2 wasn’t refined; it was hacked together.

Should I play Escape Room Buffalo’s Brewery 2?

While we didn’t brew any beer, or even drink any, we had a good time at the bar. It was adorably handmade. It may have been hacked together with a design flaw or two, but it was robust enough to withstand the interactions between players, puzzles, and set.

Brewery 2 would be welcoming for new players. Given the beer theme and low level of difficulty, it would also lend itself to a light-hearted and laid back playthrough for experienced players.

Book your hour with Escape Room Buffalo’s Brewery 2, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.

Full disclosure: Escape Room Buffalo comped our tickets for this game.

The next Room Escape Conference is taking place in Niagara Falls, NY from May 1-3, 2017. The conference organizers sponsored our trip to Buffalo, New York, Niagara Falls, New York, and Niagara Falls, Ontario, to play this game and others in the region. We strive to help conference attendees visit the room escapes that are best for them.

Perplexity – Perplexity Lab #42 [Review]

The answer to the universe?

Location: Buffalo, NY

Date played: January 21, 2017

Team size: up to 6; we recommend 3-5

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: $27 per ticket

Story & setting

Our lab partner called in sick on the very day that emergency decontamination triggered. We had an hour to find his half of our research and escape before the incinerator toasted our lab.

Perplexity Lab #42 was a sterile, white, lab-ish environment filled with puzzles of a science-y nature.

A glove holding a vial of yellow liquid.
Image via Perplexity.

Puzzles

Puzzles were the focus of Perplexity Lab #42.

With a little physics, a little bio, and a little chemistry, there were a lot of tangible grade school science-based puzzles to solve.

Standouts

With a bit of science magic, Perplexity Lab #42 had a great puzzling moment. It was a simple solve, but excellent execution.

Perplexity did a good job of keeping things tactile.

Perplexity Lab #42 had a number of strong implementations of more typical escape room style puzzles.

Shortcomings

Among the specimens kept in the lab, the selection of red herrings was breathtaking.

There was quite a bit of unnecessary reading material included in the name of realism. We had one person burn a lot of time exploring this redundant and largely useless material.

The set looked like purgatory. It was flat white and while it did have a lab feel to it, it wasn’t inspiring.

One rather clever puzzle suffered from some issues of readability and orientation.

The conclusion wasn’t particularly satisfying.

Should I play Perplexity’s Perplexity Lab #42?

If you’re looking for a puzzle-centric game, Perplexity Lab #42 has some excellent puzzle offerings. Tangible and creative, there’s plenty of challenge worth exploring.

The catch with Perplexity Lab #42 was that its red herrings, usability issues, bland environment, and reading material merged to create some tedium that hamstrung the experience.

While it wasn’t easy, it was certainly beginner-friendly and also offered enough puzzle intrigue to keep experienced folks entertained.

Book your hour with Perplexity’s Perplexity Lab #42, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.

Full disclosure: Perplexity comped our tickets for this game.

The next Room Escape Conference is taking place in Niagara Falls, NY from May 1-3, 2017. The conference organizers sponsored our trip to Buffalo, New York, Niagara Falls, New York, and Niagara Falls, Ontario, to play this game and others in the region. We strive to help conference attendees visit the room escapes that are best for them.

Trapped – Room #9 [Review]

We checked out early.

Location: Buffalo, NY

Date played: January 21, 2017

Team size: 4-10; we recommend 4-6

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: from $25 per ticket

Story & setting

The hotel staff had warned us that we didn’t want to stay in Room #9, but as weary travelers, we didn’t heed their warning. Now we had to escape before we disappeared like all the room’s previous guests.

Room #9 was an uninspired, uninviting hotel room from 1978. It had sparse furnishings, a few wall hangings, and a cramped closet.

While this set up was creepy enough, the atmosphere in Room #9 didn’t reflect the fiction. It was a bit grimy, but not intense enough to carry the dramatic story.

Trapped logo, reads, "Trapped A Buffallo Escape Room Experience" The "T" looks vaguely like a key, the "D" has an open door in it.

Puzzles

The puzzles derived their challenge from haphazard cluing.

Other challenges relied on careful searching and re-searching.

Standouts

Our gamemaster delivered an outstanding introduction to the room escape. She created a fiction with drama, intrigue, and excitement. Her delivery was polished and engaging.

Shortcomings

Our gamemaster aptly described this room escape as “nonlinear” and “chaotic.” The chaos stemmed from partial access to too many puzzles. Whereas a nonlinear game would have multiple puzzle paths that could be followed simultaneously, Room #9 had multiple puzzles partially available, which couldn’t actually be followed through to completion. These were huge time-burners that disrupted any possible puzzle flow and wore down any enthusiasm for puzzling them out. By the time Room #9 revealed the missing information, it couldn’t reinvigorate our energy. It was painfully difficult to tell what was relevant at any given point in the game.

Room #9 stomped on momentum at every turn. It had multiple locks of the same digit structure, necessitating that we try a derived solution in every one… excitement muffled. It had multiple locks on the same box or space, necessitating a stoppage even after we input a correct code… excitement halted.

While the gamemaster did generally provide clues as needed, she wouldn’t provide them for certain puzzles. When we got stumped on one of these, our game stalled out with no way to move forward.

Some previous team wrote additional numbers on the wall beneath a number-based puzzle. The team at Trapped never bothered to paint over past players’ incorrect scribbles.

Should I play Trapped’s Room #9?

We appreciated how masterfully our gamemaster set the dramatic scene for our haunted adventure in Room #9. She was so incredibly likable and her delivery so compelling that we wish we were writing a different review.

Unfortunately, however, our excitement ended when we left her presence. The uninspired environment couldn’t bring those emotions to life. That, combined with poor clue structure, deliberate chaos, built-in progress stoppages, and inattentive maintenance left us eager to escape, but for all the wrong reasons.

Full disclosure: Trapped comped our tickets for this game.

The next Room Escape Conference is taking place in Niagara Falls, NY from May 1-3, 2017. The conference organizers sponsored our trip to Buffalo, New York, Niagara Falls, New York, and Niagara Falls, Ontario, to play this game and others in the region. We strive to help conference attendees visit the room escapes that are best for them.

Lock & Key Escape Room – The Virus Outbreak [Review]

I’ve been cured of the zombie virus… a lot.

Location: Buffalo, NY

Date played: January 21, 2017

Team size: 4-8; we recommend 2-5

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: from $25 per ticket

Story & setting

After zombies invaded our research lab, we had to find the cure to a zombie bite or become one of them.

The research lab was sparse and sterile in a lab-meets-clean-basement-workshop sort of way.

In-game: A team ini a dark room interacting with a door that is chained shut.
Image via Lock & Key Escape Room

Puzzles

The Virus Outbreak’s puzzling was more or less tactile, but well-integrated with the theme.

The puzzling could have been more built into the set. However, the game shined in some of the places where the puzzle design truly used the set.

Standouts

We quickly found the thread of gameplay and followed the puzzles easily from one to the next. The Virus Outbreak was a non-linear game with excellent puzzle flow and a strong clue structure.

We particularly enjoyed one spacial reasoning puzzle with a fun nod to the zombie invasion. It wasn’t too challenging, but it was unique and fun.

Shortcomings

The lab environment wasn’t particularly exciting. It barely evoked the drama of a zombie apocalypse or the unfortunate zombie bite from which we were trying to cure ourselves.

The Virus Outbreak felt sparse… both in ambiance and in puzzles. It was a little lean on content and interactions.

A few elements in The Virus Outbreak were re-used in different ways. While the game was well-structured such that this didn’t trip us up (although I imagine that this would trip up many teams), the repetition contributed to a feeling that there wasn’t a ton of gameplay in the room escape.

Should I play Lock & Key Escape Room’s The Virus Outbreak?

The Virus Outbreak was a buttoned-up, standard escape room. Lock & Key Escape Room crossed the t’s and dotted the i’s.

While this room escape didn’t deliver outstanding ambiance, drama, or puzzling, it did deliver a product that worked. Everything flowed smoothly and made sense.

This would be an approachable game for new players. It could also be a good for an experienced player looking to go at this solo or attempt a speed run.

Book your hour with Lock & Key Escape Room’s The Virus Outbreak, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.

Full disclosure: Lock & Key Escape Room comped our tickets for this game.

The next Room Escape Conference is taking place in Niagara Falls, NY from May 1-3, 2017. The conference organizers sponsored our trip to Buffalo, New York, Niagara Falls, New York, and Niagara Falls, Ontario, to play this game and others in the region. We strive to help conference attendees visit the room escapes that are best for them.

Escape Room Buffalo – The Bank Robbery [Review]

The police will arrive… just as soon as they finish their wings.

Location: North Tonawanda, NY

Date played: January 21, 2017

Team size: 3-10; we recommend 4-6

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: $25 per ticket

Story & setting

We entered the bank intent on stealing the contents of the vault before the police could catch us.

The Bank Robbery looked like a bank, in that drab bank kind of way. We had plenty of room to move around within the bank and interact with the various set pieces.

In-game: A bank counter. The wall reads "AP savings bank"

Puzzles

Escape Room Buffalo did a good job of keeping most of the puzzles tangible. The puzzling was largely built into the set and required physical interaction.

A few challenges forced teamwork, communication, and careful observation.

Standouts

While we were in the bank to steal the contents of the bank vault, there were additional gems that could be stolen as a bonus puzzles. The added bonus puzzles offered a layer of intrigue and complexity for more experienced teams.

There were a few brilliant puzzle design moments. Many of them were exceptionally simple and elegant, which only made them more impressive.

Shortcomings

The Bank Robbery was spacious but barren. While the set and puzzles remained true to the bank theme, a local savings bank wasn’t the most exciting of environments.

There was a surprisingly confusing puzzle implementation that left us thinking that we hadn’t solved something when we had.

The set of The Bank Robbery looked and felt hacked together. The problem here was that Escape Room Buffalo actually had interesting, unusual, and unique puzzle design… but the cleverness of their work was diminished by the room escape’s lack of aesthetic.

Should I play Escape Room Buffalo’s The Bank Robbery?

Escape Room Buffalo got a lot right in The Bank Robbery. The puzzling was solid and the game flow was generally good. Additionally the set was sturdy, even if it didn’t look particularly enticing. With an added focus on exciting environments and refined set design, I think that Escape Room Buffalo could really shine. They are getting a lot of subtle things right.

The Bank Robbery would be approachable for newer players while appealing to experienced folks due to the addition of the game-extending bonus puzzles.

Book your hour with Escape Room Buffalo’s The Bank Robbery, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.

Full disclosure: Escape Room Buffalo comped our tickets for this game.

The next Room Escape Conference is taking place in Niagara Falls, NY from May 1-3, 2017. The conference organizers sponsored our trip to Buffalo, New York, Niagara Falls, New York, and Niagara Falls, Ontario, to play this game and others in the region. We strive to help conference attendees visit the room escapes that are best for them.

 

Escape Room Adventures WNY – Escape from Wonderland [Review]

“It’s always tea-time.”

Location: North Tonawanda, NY

Date played: January 21, 2017

Team size: 4-8; we recommend 4-5

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: $25 per ticket

Story & setting

We found ourselves locked away in the Queen of Hearts’ dungeon. We had to puzzle our way our of Wonderland before we lost our heads.

Escape from Wonderland spanned a few settings within Wonderland. The early dungeon set was vibrant, as you’d expect from a dungeon in that world, but also bland, in that there wasn’t a lot to interact with. The later sets were lushly decorated.

In game - the Queen of Heart's dungeon. The walls are painted red with card suites on it, and many locked boxes sit on shelves.

Puzzles

Escape from Wonderland’s puzzling experience was broad and varied.

The earliest puzzle was simple, yet tedious. After that, the puzzles became more interesting.

Escape Room Adventures WNY created some unusual puzzles. There was a recurring answer mechanism early in the game, a recreation of a classic Survivor puzzle, and a complex third act.

Standouts

The final set looked great and compelling.

There were some excellent puzzles to solve and a fair amount of complexity for experienced players to sink their teeth into.

The simple fact that we were ourselves in Wonderland, neither as Alice nor as some other established character, allowed us to simply be us. It was a minor detail that we greatly appreciated.

The Survivor puzzle was a great concept.

Shortcomings

While I loved the Survivor puzzle, there wasn’t enough room for more than two people to work on it at once. This amplified its difficulty and left a lot of our team with nothing to do.

There was a particular type of challenge that players can either do, or they can’t. I can’t, which was frustrating.

There came a point where the room escape relied on a little bit of Alice in Wonderland knowledge. While I am sure that most teams will have at least one player with this outside knowledge, it’s not guaranteed.

While working on the complex third act, we called for a hint and received an outright solution to the bulk of the final act. This left us with an abundance of puzzle pieces, a solution, and no idea how it all came together or which bits were still unused to complete our escape. Upon slogging through to completion, our gamemaster remarked how difficult it was to watch us in those closing minutes… which was funny… because we found it pretty difficult to experience.

Should I play Escape Room Adventures WNY’s Escape from Wonderland?

Escape from Wonderland was an interesting game. It was equal parts expected and outlandish, which beautifully captured the essence of Alice in Wonderland.

Its strengths were challenging puzzles and some great set design. It was abundantly clear that this experience was created with passion and love.

Its weaknesses were an uncomfortable bottleneck, a challenge that some will literally find impossible, and in our case, a derailment in the form of overeager hinting. They are all correctable.

Beginners will likely find themselves facing some large challenges in Escape from Wonderland. Experienced players will discover a final act that is a truly worthy opponent. I wish that we could have received a more gentle hint and tackled that beast.

Book your hour with Escape Room Adventures WNY’s Escape from Wonderland, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.

Full disclosure: Escape Room Adventures WNY comped our tickets for this game.

The next Room Escape Conference is taking place in Niagara Falls, NY from May 1-3, 2017. The conference organizers sponsored our trip to Buffalo, New York, Niagara Falls, New York, and Niagara Falls, Ontario, to play this game and others in the region. We strive to help conference attendees visit the room escapes that are best for them.

 

Qube Entertainment Emporium – Grandpa’s Study [Review]

Grandpa

Location: Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada

Date played: January 22, 2017

Team size: 2-8; we recommend 4-6

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: 25 CAD per ticket

Story & setting

We were sneaking around Grandpa’s study and found some enciphered letters. We had to crack his code and uncover their meaning before we were caught by Mom.

The setup was simple and adorable. The office looked fairly compelling… even though it was just an old office.

The story and many of the props came from creator’s actual family. I learned this detail post-game, but I wish we had known it going in because it added more heft to the story.

In-game: an office with a large red chair at the desk. A fireplace, and a portrait of a young soldier hanging over it.
Image via Qube Entertainment Emporium

Puzzles

There was plenty of puzzling to work through in Grandpa’s Study.

The catch was that a large amount of the game revolved around solving for a single cipher and then applying it to large blocks of text.

Standouts

Period jazz music was a great touch.

The set looked good, especially for an office. The paint job and prop selection was particularly noteworthy.

The use of actual family history and a number of small details made the story feel considerably more real than your average escape room narrative.

Shortcomings

Grandpa’s cipher overstayed its welcome.

Some of the puzzle cluing was loose and logic-leapy.

Multiple combination locks repeated the same digit structure, which meant we had to continually attempt to input a correct combination before finding the right place for it.

The ceilings were left open in Grandpa’s Study and the other surrounding games. While we weren’t there at a busy time, I imagine that this could become pretty distracting if a sufficiently loud group were nearby.

Should I play Qube Entertainment Emporium’s Grandpa’s Study?

Grandpa’s Study was elegantly low-key. There weren’t big stakes; we weren’t saving the world and our lives weren’t in danger. We were simply learning a family secret. As a result of the small scale, the game felt more real… and it turned out that a lot of it was.

It wasn’t big and bombastic, but it was an intimate experience that is friendly for all levels of player experience. If you’re looking for something intense or otherworldly, then you should seek out a different game. If you’re down for uncovering some family drama by way of puzzles, then look no further.

Additionally, if you’d like to get your blood pumping, you can also buy a little time in Qube Entertainment Emporium’s “rage room” or buy some items to hurl at the wall in their “smash room.”

Book your hour with Qube Entertainment Emporium’s Grandpa’s Study, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.

Full disclosure: Qube Entertainment Emporium comped our tickets for this game.

The next Room Escape Conference is taking place in Niagara Falls, NY from May 1-3, 2017. The conference organizers sponsored our trip to Buffalo, New York, Niagara Falls, New York, and Niagara Falls, Ontario, to play this game and others in the region. We strive to help conference attendees visit the room escapes that are best for them.

Locked-Up Escape Games – Locked in a Room with a Zombie [Review]

“Ready or not here they come. IT’S ZOMBIE TIME!”

Location: Cheektowaga, NY

Date played: January 21, 2017

Team size: 4-10; we recommend 4-6

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: $30 per ticket

Note: Locked-Up Escape Games’ Locked in a Room with a Zombie is NOT related to the prolific and playful Trapped in a Room with a Zombie games.

Story & setting

We weren’t alone: a ravenous zombie was chained up and eager to devour us. Every 5 minutes the length of his chain increased, giving him access to more of the room, while reducing our access to its puzzles. The structure was clearly a derivative of the broadly available Trapped in a Room with a Zombie series.

The room felt like it belonged in an old manor. We were locked in a study and its adjacent bathroom. While thematically uninteresting, a dingy grandeur brought a foreboding excitement to the environment. Plus… the zombie looked pretty intimidating.

The space felt a little spooky, but not too scary. We were comfortable enough exploring our surroundings and puzzling our way out… but for the zombie chasing us. While the zombie looked compelling, he was less fear-inducing and more adrenaline-pumping as he moved efficiently and didn’t give us a lot of openings for puzzling.

In-game: A the corpse of a guy who's stomach and skull had been opened by a zombie.
Image provided by Locked-Up Escape Games

Puzzles

The key to the puzzles in Locked in a Room with a Zombie was strategically choosing what to start with. As the zombie received more chain, otherwise easy puzzles became massive challenges.

The puzzles themselves combined tactile and paper-based puzzling with both standard locks and technologically triggered mechanisms.

There was plenty to play with.

Standouts

Our zombie kept the game balanced between challenging, exciting, and conquerable. He was distractible and predictable enough that we could figure out how to maneuver around him, yet determined enough that that wasn’t easy. I have to assume that he was aware of our  capabilities and could easily adjust his level of aggression based on a team’s behavior in-game. He did all of this while remaining a convincing character.

Locked in a Room with a Zombie had some excellent puzzling. This included some would-be easy puzzles that were made exponentially more challenging by the hangry zombie. Through this, Locked-Up Escape Games demonstrated thoughtful game design.

We rarely praise home or office settings, but Locked-Up Escape Games managed to bring their manor to life. We felt like we were in another world.

Locked-Up Escape Games brought sincerity and depth to an early escape room concept. The set design and construction, combined with an intense zombie character, gave more weight to the experience than similar incarnations of it from other companies.

Shortcomings

More so than in most escape games, zombie-tag games can fall victim to lack of consequences. Locked in a Room with a Zombie was no exception. “Bitten” or tagged players had to stand on an X around the edge of the room for 2 minutes until the gamemaster gave them a silly task to perform to free themselves. We could keep getting tagged over and over knowing that the penalty was minimal. Given the intensity of the zombie and set, this lack of consequences betrayed the overall feel that Locked-Up Escape Games created.

As the zombie’s chain reached further into the room, active players struggled for safe space because the timeout Xs for “bitten” players were in the protected areas around the edges of the room.

Given the running and jumping byproduct of escaping a zombie, there were two safety hazards in Locked in a Room with a Zombie. We’d recommend removing the rolling chair and large, hinged objects, liable to swing out into open space without warning. This would protect both players and zombies.

There was a tech-driven puzzle that had sensor tolerances that were far too narrow given the jitteriness and rapid pacing of Locked in a Room with a Zombie. We thought it was broken.

We solved the door puzzle halfway through the game. Our gamemaster handled it well and allowed us to stay  and complete the unsolved puzzles. We recommend, however, that Locked-Up Escape Games restrict this final puzzle such that players can’t solve it before completing more of the experience.

Should I play Locked-Up Escape Games’ Locked in a Room with a Zombie?

Locked in a Room with a Zombie was an energetic game for agile players. While you can hug the wall and enjoy solving the puzzles, you’ll have more fun if you are able and willing to risk crossing paths with the zombie.

That said, the game was no joke and there was an interesting puzzle in how to navigate the zombie. That was a layer of puzzling that most escape rooms don’t have, which could be a fun challenge for the less zombie-enthusiastic player.

Despite the zombie character, and the foreboding set, the escape room was not overly terrifying. It would be approachable for most audiences.

If you’ve played Room Escape Adventures’ Trapped in a Room with a Zombie or Still Hungry, you’ll recognize the premise and the game mechanics. In their Locked in a Room with a Zombie, Locked-Up Escape Games designed a less silly, more intense approach to zombie room escaping and they delivered.

Book your hour with Locked-Up Escape Games’ Locked in a Room with a Zombie, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.

Full disclosure: Locked-Up Escape Games comped our tickets for this game.

The next Room Escape Conference is taking place in Niagara Falls, NY from May 1-3, 2017. The conference organizers sponsored our trip to Buffalo, New York, Niagara Falls, New York, and Niagara Falls, Ontario, to play this game and others in the region. We strive to help conference attendees visit the room escapes that are best for them.

The Great Escape Room™ – Moriarty’s Gameroom [Review]

Moriarty’s scavenger hunt.

Location: Buffalo, NY

Date played: January 21, 2017

Team size: up to 10; we recommend 5+

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: $25 per ticket

Story & setting

It seems we were searching Professor Moriarty’s gameroom in an effort to find an antidote and save the world.

While this setup was explained to us prior to the game, it wasn’t at all relevant to the gameplay. We were in a massive scavenger hunt.

The room felt a like an antique store. It had items hanging all over the walls, displays loaded with toys and other assorted oddities, and a card table in the middle of it all.

In-game: An artistic shot of a dartboard on the wall, assorted other props are on a table below.
Image via The Great Escape Room

This was our first visit to one of the many The Great Escape Room™ venues around the United States. They have taken a slightly different approach to escape games. The game had different color-coded sections and each color had a certain number of corresponding pieces scattered across the room. For example, Pink – 36, Blue – 5, Green – 7, Black – 15, Yellow – 20, and Red – 8. This meant there were 36 pink pieces, 5 blue pieces, and so on.

As we played the game, we searched for the items with the corresponding colored dots, which were hidden all over the place. Once we uncovered enough of the pieces to solve a color, it was time to puzzle.

We had to earn our hints by finding 3 dice hidden about the room.

Puzzles

Moriarty’s Gameroom was first and foremost a scavenger hunt. I cannot recall a game where the team had to search as hard, as long, and as thoroughly as The Great Escape Room™ demanded.

To make it clear how much searching was involved, we:

  • only found 2 of the 3 dice
  • burned both of our hints to find missing objects
  • spent 95% of the game searching
  • escaped at the buzzer having still not found 2 items and the aforementioned dice

We found most of the puzzling straightforward, once we had everything in hand. This was more complex when we attempted to solve puzzles where we were missing an item or 5.

Standouts

We appreciated the counts for each color set. This design made success possible, given the incredible amount of searching necessary to play Moriarty’s Gameroom.

Our gamemaster, who was in the room, didn’t betray the locations of things, but knew exactly what we had and had not found. When we asked for hints she never hesitated to point us in the direction of something insanely well hidden that we had not yet found. I was impressed that she was so on the ball.

In-game: A collection of old kids toys on a table including a skinky, blocks, and jacks.
Image via The Great Escape Room

While kids cannot play Moriarty’s Gameroom alone because there are plenty of items hidden out of their reach, it was an exceptionally kid-friendly game. I have to imagine that it would be useful to have a few children in the room to hunt for the unfindable.

Shortcomings

While the use of colored dots and item counts helped immensely, The Great Escape Room™ used them in slightly confusing ways. There was an item with a clear green dot on it that wasn’t part of the green dot puzzle. There were items that had dots on them that were critical, but didn’t count towards the total number of items with that colored dot. Finally, there were a few dots attached to the physical space that did not count either. This added unnecessary confusion.

Some of the items were frustratingly well hidden. This was one of those games where our experience and gentleness with an escape room set betrayed us.

When we did get to puzzle, some of the puzzles required a few logic leaps that didn’t really make a ton of sense. There were times where the clue structure was barely present.

It was especially annoying to have to hunt for our clues in a game that was primarily about searching.

Should I play The Great Escape Room’s Moriarty’s Gameroom?

We’ve had a lot of readers write in and ask us to review The Great Escape Room™. Those requests have clearly implied that we would be disappointed. I cannot speak to the other games or locations that The Great Escape Room™ has to offer, but… we had fun. We certainly kept busy.

Moriarty’s Gameroom was different and we like different. It was heavily search-centric. It lacked story, immersive set design, and the kinds of puzzling that we are normally drawn to.

However The Great Escape Room™ knew what it was; it was a scavenger hunt. A few confusing issues with the colored dots notwithstanding, it succeeded in what it set out to do.

Beginners, families, and teams with children will have a lot to do. If they go in knowing that their job is primarily to search, and secondarily to puzzle, then their expectations will be aligned with reality.

Experienced players need to be aware of what they like and what they do not. If you’ve played a few rooms and made it this far down the review, then I think you should be able to make the judgment call for yourself.

The decision to play Moriarty’s Gameroom is a value judgment. How much do you like this type of gameplay?

Personally, I would stop into another The Great Escape Room™ venue if I have the chance… But I don’t mind searching.

Book your hour with The Great Escape Room’s Moriarty’s Gameroom, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.

Full disclosure: The Great Escape Room comped our tickets for this game.

The next Room Escape Conference is taking place in Niagara Falls, NY from May 1-3, 2017. The conference organizers sponsored our trip to Buffalo, New York, Niagara Falls, New York, and Niagara Falls, Ontario, to play this game and others in the region. We strive to help conference attendees visit the room escapes that are best for them.