Niagara / Buffalo, NY: Room Escape Recommendations

Latest update: 26 March 2017

This list will be updated whenever we travel to Buffalo/Niagara Falls.

We know that a lot of folks are looking for the “best” escape rooms to play. While we think that best is relative, we also realize that people want firm recommendations.

Here are our recommendations for games in the Buffalo, NY and the Niagara Falls region. Since we like nuance, they are broken out into categories.

Mosaic photo of 6 buffalo wings sitting atop an ornately decorated plate upon a wood table.

Standouts

These are the escape rooms that are raising the bar for the region.

Intensity

These will get your blood pumping.

Set and scenery driven

These escape rooms take you to another world.

Puzzle-y

These escape rooms demonstrate a puzzling focus.

Beginner-friendly

Bring your inexperienced friends to these welcoming room escapes with solid game-flow and approachable puzzles.

Large Team

This room escape will keep an entire team involved throughout.

Things to know before visiting

Ride share

While Uber/Lyft do operate in Niagara Falls Canada, ride share apps are not available in Buffalo. You will need a car to get around.

Passport

If you’re planning to cross the border between the United States and Canada, you need a valid passport or enhanced drivers license (if you aren’t sure if you have one, you don’t).

Buffalo wings

… they are legitimately better in Buffalo than they are throughout the rest of the country. Hit up Anchor Bar or Duffs.

Captive – Dracula’s Library [Review]

Draining.

Location: Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada

Date played: January 22, 2017

Team size: 2-7; we recommend 3-5

Duration: 45 minutes

Price: 25 CAD per ticket

Story & setting

Set in 1862, we were a team of investigators on the hunt for the most famous of vampires in New Orleans. Could we find the proof we needed to expose Dracula before he learned of our intrusion and ended our story?

The set looked like the vague idea of New Orleans had collided with an Ikea catalogue.

Captive's stylized "C" logo.

Puzzles

The main thrust of Dracula’s Library was hunting and searching. Both times we called for hints, it was because of an obscure search failure. We spent the bulk of our 45-minute time in the room escape hunting for minute details. I think we escaped with 15 seconds to spare.

There wasn’t a lot to find, but it was hard to find everything.

Standouts

Our gamemaster had a wonderful delivery of the rules and story. She was engaging and excellent at her job.

Shortcomings

We had to fully interact with some large pieces of furniture. None of the furniture that required heavy interaction was sturdy, on wheels, or properly secured.

With no in-game monitoring, in order to give us a hint, our lovely gamemaster had to climb a set of stairs and have a conversation with us about our progress.

There weren’t enough handheld lights to go around for the moments that needed them. We found ourselves working harder to choreograph the passing of lights than we did working through puzzles.

The puzzling wasn’t compelling or fun.

Should I play Captive’s Dracula’s Library?

Dracula’s Library seemed great before we entered:

An energetic and engaged gamemaster: ✔

A historical setting in America’s true Sin City: ✔

A mythic mystery to unravel: ✔

High stakes: ✔

Unfortunately Dracula’s Library collapsed within the first few minutes. There was a stunning lack of depth and some bizarre design choices that bordered on safety concerns. Dracula’s Library wasn’t an easy game, but it was hard in all the wrong ways.

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.

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.