Escape 101 – The Widow’s Room [Review]

Death… it might be preferable.

Location: Danbury, CT

Date played: December 3, 2016

Team size: up to 12; we recommend 6-8

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: $27.95 per ticket on weekends, $24.95 per ticket on weekday, child pricing available

Story & setting

“A doctor has been discovered lying dead in his study and your team has been dispatched to investigate. Upon discovering inconsistencies in the evidence, things take a turn for the worst. Will you solve the murder before it’s too late?”

Escape 101 followed the script of the early days of escape rooms:

  • Used furniture
  • Cheap props
  • Lots of locks

The room looked about as generic as possible and the story never culminated into anything cohesive.

Puzzles

The puzzles relied on tenuous connections, heavy searching, red herrings, and low feedback.

Escape 101 advertised The Widow’s Room as highly difficult with a low escape rate. It was certainly difficult, but the challenge came from a lot of pointless deception, frustrating gotchas, and some red herrings that subtracted value from the overall experience.

When the puzzles were intuitive, they were boring.

When the puzzles were hard, they were boring and tedious.

Standouts

The Widow’s Room included a beautiful chess set.

In-game: A pretty chess set sits in the foreground. A mundane room escape in the background.

Our gamemaster was kind throughout the entire experience. I am quite certain that she knew that we weren’t enjoying ourselves and handled that gracefully.

Shortcomings

There was a string of puzzles that demanded some logic leaps and offered zero feedback. One slightly incorrect answer was enough to cast doubt on the whole string of puzzles. This was made even more frustrating by the integration of a red herring that seemed deliberately placed to add confusion.

The puzzling simply wasn’t fun. Easy or hard, it was boring. From time to time, I looked up at the clock hoping to see less time remaining.

When requesting a hint, Escape 101 paused the game clock until the hint was delivered. Some of our teammates liked this feature. I found myself wishing that the gamemaster had a hint at her fingertips.

We were missing 2/5 of the pieces to a key puzzle. During our walkthrough at the end, our gamemaster seemed confused about the missing pieces, but ultimately just shrugged and suggested that the pieces may have fallen behind some furniture.

Should I play Escape 101’s The Widow’s Room?

The Widow’s Room feels like a bad game from 2 years ago.

It was one of the weakest games that I have played in a while and I was happy when it was over.

Full disclosure: Escape 101 provided media discounted tickets for this game.

 

Escape 101 – Jet Set [Review]

I need a vacation.

Location: Danbury, CT

Date played: December 3, 2016

Team size: up to 10; we recommend 4-6

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: $27.95 per ticket on weekends, $24.95 per ticket on weekday, child pricing available

Story & setting

“You’ve won a trip to a mystery destination. The catch? You’ve only got an hour before take off. Finish your ‘to-do’ list, pack your bags, and you’ll be on your way. But don’t forget your boarding pass- after all, you’ll need it to escape!”

Jet Set was an old-school escape room packed with used furniture, cheap props, and lots of locks. Against all odds, Jet Set’s gameplay was less exciting than completing a pre-vacation to-do list.

A padlock securing a string atop a beatup desk. A few books and a mug rest in the background.

Puzzles

The puzzles covered a broad range:

On one end of the spectrum, most of Jet Set offered the simplest, most forgettable puzzles possible.

On the other end, it got pretty obtuse, and in one baffling puzzle, we had to do something that the game explicitly told us we should not do.

In the middle, there was one puzzle worth solving.

Standouts

There really was one very clever puzzle. The execution was cheesy, but dammit, the puzzle was smart.

Our gamemaster was lovely and Escape 101’s facility seemed well-staffed.

Shortcomings

Jet Set generally derived its difficulty from subterfuge and silly gotchas. Most of the game was comically obvious, except when it dropped obtuse hint burners.

Jet Set looked thrown together and felt cheap.

A trunk sits on the floor with a laminated world map in the background. The room looks bland and boring.

There came a point early on when a clue explicitly told us that we weren’t supposed to take a specific approach to problem solving. Then later in the game, we had to do the exact thing that we were told not to do.

Should I play Escape 101’s Jet Set?

Jet Set was a categorically weak game, but it was a bit stronger than the unmitigated disaster that was The Widow’s Room.

I cannot recommend this game or this company to anyone.

I hope that the folks from Escape 101 will take a few days and play some of the Northeast’s many great rooms. There is a lot they can learn and it’s a tax write-off for them.

Full disclosure: Escape 101 provided media discounted tickets for this game.