Escape Room Center – Blackbeard’s Brig [Review]

Battle the true enemy: scurvy

Location: Bridgewater, NJ

Date played: November 13, 2017

Team size: 3-8; we recommend 2-5

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: $200 per team

Story & setting

We had been taken captive and brought aboard the dread pirate Blackbeard’s ship. It was time to escape.

Escape Room Center’s spacious location inside a strip mall has a corporate and family-friendly aesthetic. Their 6 escape rooms are adjacent to one another, with walls reaching 3/4 of the way to the ceiling. This was a structure that we’ve seen before and hated… However, Escape Room Center makes it work.

Escape Room Center's facility. with 3/4 cubical wall structure.

Blackbeard’s Brig was a pirate ship-inspired, simply constructed and sparsely decorated gamespace. It was light and airy. It represented a pirate ship, but never pretended to be one.

Puzzles

Blackbeard’s Brig included a selection of nautical- and pirate-themed puzzles. They ranged in complexity and tangibility. There was a lot of puzzle variety.

In-game: A skeleton beside a chest leaning against a wall.

Standouts

Blackbeard’s Brig included a few satisfying layered puzzles. These complex interactions were a lot of fun to work through.

The set decor provided a little nudge toward one potentially more challenging solve. It was a subtle touch.

Later in the escape room, a few unexpected props facilitated more interactive puzzling.

Escape Room Center designed some funny puzzle solutions that nodded to our captivity aboard this brig.

The puzzles and props were all thematically connected to the pirate ship setting. Escape Room Center built a particular pirate ship aesthetic for this puzzle game and it worked.

Shortcomings

One early puzzle seemed unnecessary. It was likely meant to be an on-ramp for uninitiated room escapers, but it was uninteresting and entirely grounded in “escape room logic” where an item had meaning that was neither logical nor earned.

The wear on one puzzle added unnecessary confusion for a brief while.

Blackbeard’s Brig was a pirate ship-themed puzzle room. We enjoyed the thematic puzzles, but we never suspended our disbelief. While this was Escape Room Center’s deliberate design decision, Blackbeard’s Brig was still escape room first and pirate ship second.

The walls were far too glossy. Had they been matte finished, they wouldn’t have glistened and seemed so out of place.

Should I play Escape Room Center’s Blackbeard’s Brig?

Escape Room Center is a bright, open, and inviting escape room facility. Blackbeard’s Brig had approachable puzzles and unintimidating surroundings. It belonged here.

Blackbeard’s Brig was primarily about the puzzles. These varied in challenge level, puzzle type, and interactiveness, which made this escape room more interesting than it originally appeared.

At Escape Room Center, we weren’t meant to believe we were on a pirate ship. We were meant to share a collection of seafaring solves and a few chuckles. That’s exactly what we did.

Blackbeard’s Brig would be a great choice for new escape room players, families, and corporate groups. This is a wonderful place to learn the basics of escape room puzzling.

This would also be a fun playthrough for more experienced players who prefer puzzles to set design. It won’t be too challenging, but it will probably surprise you. Escape Room Center certainly surprised us a few times.

Book your hour with Escape Room Center’s Blackbeard’s Brig, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.

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

 

Puzzle Out – Grand Theft Jersey City [Review]

You’ll never guess what that shoe cost.

Location: Jersey City, NJ

Date played: September 25, 2017

Team size: 4-30; we recommend 4-16… Note that they have two copies of the game and larger teams can split and play head-to-head, 16 = 8 vs 8

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: $32 per ticket

Story & setting

Grand Theft Jersey City took place in a bank vault, where we were trying to steal as much loot as possible… and more than our friends stole… and then escape with it all.

Each of the valuables had a barcode affixed to it. We “stole” them by scanning the barcodes. As we scanned each item, its dollar value was added to our running total.

The space looked more like a museum than a vault, with white walls, bright lights, and valuables in glass cases.

In game: A museum-esque vault behind a gave. There is the Mona Lisa, a dress, and many cases of rare artifacts.

Puzzles

Grand Theft Jersey City was loaded with puzzles. Most puzzles lead to a scannable valuable. Some puzzles were stand-alone and others were interconnected.

While the puzzles had physical components, they were generally more cerebral than tangible. They relied on logic, ciphering, math, and observation, among other skills.

There were additional bonus puzzles labeled with a green and gold star. These indicated high dollar value items that were not necessary for victory. The bonus puzzles were especially challenging.

Standouts

The barcode concept worked really well. It enabled Puzzle Out to create a heist where we didn’t have to hang onto or keep track of a ton of large and heavy loot.

The barcode concept even factored into the puzzling. This was a brilliant puzzle design. It was challenging, rewarding, and fit right into the overall gameplay.

There were many fun and satisfying puzzles to solve within this escape room. Puzzle Out did simple, puzzle-driven gameplay really well. This has been Puzzle Out’s signature each time we’ve visited.

Grand Theft Jersey City kept our teams of 7 experienced players each fully engaged throughout the experience… and we were all playing for just under an hour.

As a head-to-head game, Grand Theft Jersey City was intense. We were scurrying around solving for and scanning loot as rapidly as possible. We could see our dollar value and the opposing team’s increasing on a screen. As the minutes ticked away at the end, and we could see that we were neck and neck, we debated whether to escape or try to add more money to our tally.

The soundproofing between the two games was excellent. We may have been next to one another, but we never heard the other team.

Shortcomings

While Puzzle Out leaned into their strength, challenging puzzles, we would have loved to see more attention to the set. It never felt like we were in a vault.

Some of the puzzles – and especially one of the more complex layered puzzles – was suffering from wear and tear.

We relied heavily on the barcode scanning app. While it generally worked, a few small UI tweaks would greatly improve the experience… and make one particular puzzle a lot more fair.

The scanner app was also a little too slow to respond and sometimes failed to scan an item at all. Our gamemasters were on top of this and promptly added the correct dollar value to our score.

The excitement came from the head-to-head gameplay as the monetary values increased. We would have loved to see a more interactive head-to-head design where one team’s gameplay could impact the other’s. That would have further increased the drama.

Should I play Puzzle Out’s Grand Theft Jersey City?

Grand Theft Jersey City was a game for puzzle lovers of any experience level.

You could easily book this for a few friends to play together without the competitive aspect and have a great time.

I’d recommend, however, that when you visit, you go all out. Bring two teams of evenly matched puzzlers and distribute the skill sets across the teams. Make sure you have at least one person per team who is willing to work a scanning device. Also, if you’re bringing large teams, someone will likely need to play “project manager” to keep the puzzling, loot, and gameplay organized.

While Grand Theft Jersey City was a heist in name, it was really a puzzle battle.

Book your hour with Puzzle Out’s Grand Theft Jersey City, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.

Full disclosure: Puzzle Out comped our tickets for this game.

 

Haunted Scarehouse – The Cookhouse [Review]

Where you’re on the menu.

Location: Wharton, NJ

Date played: September 11, 2017

Team size: 2-10; we recommend 3-5

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: $29 per ticket

Story & setting

The murderous Hayden family cannibalizes their victims in the The Cookhouse. We’d been caught trespassing on their property and now we had to figure out who had been killed there last in order to win our freedom… or become their next meal.

In-game: An old and disgusting blue refrigerator from the 1960s. It's chained and padlocked shut.

In The Cookhouse, the old appliances hadn’t been touched or cleaned in years. The set looked exactly the part. It was a small and uninviting, but oddly charming 1960s kitchen.

Puzzles

The puzzles required us to closely observe the set and connect these observations to tangible interactions.

Standouts

The incredibly weird and quirky kitchen set a fantastic tone for The Cookhouse. The look and feel of the space were impressive.

In-game: An old 1960s kitchen with a disgusting blue cooking range.

There were transitions and surprises hidden within The Cookhouse that delighted us.

Two different tech-driven interactions were unexpected, fun and funny.

Haunted Scarehouse added a brilliant extra touch with their introduction and conclusion.

Shortcomings

The Cookhouse included many locks with the same digit structure. It then relied repeatedly on a similar puzzle design for each of these locks. Thus in the beginning we had to try every solution in multiple places and by the end the gameplay felt repetitive.

One area of The Cookhouse focused on a single set piece and consequently felt under-utilized.

Should I play Haunted Scarehouse’s The Cookhouse?

The Cookhouse was an unusual interpretation of a mundane space. The aesthetics made us want to both shy away and also interact. It was strange like that.

The Cookhouse was more funny horror than actually scary, but to enjoy it, you had to be ok with a bit of gore, of the not-too-realistic variety.

If you’re new to escape rooms, The Cookhouse will show you how to observe, connect, and open. If you’re looking for more creative and complex puzzles, we recommend The Great Room.

Enter The Cookhouse for an entertaining space and the particularly fun moments within.

Book your hour with Haunted Scarehouse’s The Cookhouse, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.

Full disclosure: Haunted Scarehouse comped our tickets for this game.

Haunted Scarehouse – The Great Room [Review]

The name doesn’t lie: the room was great.

Location: Wharton, NJ

Date played: September 11, 2017

Team size: 2-10; we recommend 3-5

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: $29 per ticket

Story & setting

When the Hayden family of murderers caught us trespassing on their property, they locked us in The Great Room of their farmhouse. We needed to escape in order to survive.

In-game: A dilapidated banister, a door beyond reads "Dave" written in blood.

The Great Room was a grand ballroom-esque space with a high ceiling, a large dining table in the room, and smaller furnishings along the walls. The open space was dim and eerie, but not scary.

Puzzles

The puzzles in The Great Room facilitated teamwork. Any given puzzle might engage different parts of the space in different ways. Many of the puzzles were more complex than they originally appeared.

Standouts

The Great Room surprised us. It was exciting when the space revealed something entirely unexpected.

The set looked phenomenal.

In-game: 4 skulls resting on a small table in an old rundown room. The largest skull has a knife protruding from it.

The layered puzzles flowed well, connecting set pieces and encouraging teamwork. They were also designed so we couldn’t cut corners.

The puzzles engaged the full space. The gameplay was interactive and tactile. It was hands on puzzling.

Haunted Scarehouse went the extra mile. They used both the introduction and conclusion to The Great Room to add levity and fun.

Shortcomings

Since most of the puzzles were presented or revealed, we found a single search element to be unnecessarily challenging by virtue of it being out of context.

Haunted Scarehouse designed an interconnected set and puzzle room escape, but it didn’t convey narrative. The next level for them will be to use the gameplay to take players through a story.

Should I play Haunted Scarehouse’s The Great Room?

The Great Room was pretty great. It was a series of fun, tangible, interconnected puzzles. These solved into some exciting reveals.

The Great Room took place in low light (with adequate flashlights). It was a little bit creepy, but not scary.

Make sure that at least one person on your team is agile.

We recommend The Great Room for the puzzle-minded, regardless of experience level. It will be pretty challenging if you are new to escape rooms, but the gameplay is approachable. It still has new intrigue to offer more seasoned players.

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

Full disclosure: Haunted Scarehouse comped our tickets for this game.

 

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.

 

Trap Door – Puzzles & Corks [Review]

🍷 The gateway drink.

Location: Morristown, NJ

Date played: July 31, 2017

Team size: 1-10; we recommend 2-5 thirsty puzzlers

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: $37 per ticket

Story & setting

Puzzles & Corks was not an escape room. It was a light puzzle hunt that rewarded solves with a round of wine tasting.

Staged at high tables in the lobby of Trap Door, Puzzles & Corks was a puzzling spin on the girls’ night out genre popularized by Paint Nite.

In-game: A branded Puzzles & Corks wine glass held up before the set of high top tables with locked puzzle boxes.
Cheers

Each month Puzzles & Corks offers a series of puzzles and wines. We visited for the German wines.

Puzzles

Puzzles & Corks was rooted in paper puzzles, presented in slightly more tangle ways. Played in the absence of large set pieces, the puzzle components all fit in small boxes and on small tables.

All puzzles led to a lock… and another one ounce taste of wine for each player.

Standouts

Puzzles & Corks introduces puzzling by combining it with a more popular leisure activity, wine tasting. It’s an unintimidating initiation for anyone wary to spend an hour entirely focused on puzzles.

The gamespace, sectioned off from the rest of Trap Door’s lobby, was conducive to both tasting and puzzling. There was room to maneuver, crowd around a puzzle, or move off to an empty table with a tasting pour.

The pacing worked well. We didn’t spend too long on any one puzzle or any one wine.

The wine was delicious.

If you like the game, you can play it 12 times per year.

A Puzzles & Corks loyalty card. The 6th game is free.

Shortcomings

While the wine was themed, we would have liked to see a more cohesive collection of puzzles, along the lines of Puzzled Pint. This would make the puzzles more engaging.

Some of the puzzles seemed not quite complete. For example, we’d derive numbers, but then guess at an input order. On multiple occasions strong puzzles had a weak finish. One puzzle was too imprecise.

Should I play Trap Door’s Puzzles & Corks?

Trap Door created Puzzles & Corks for a different audience – not the avid puzzlers who spend their weekends in escape rooms. The puzzles were less involved, non-immersive, and less engaging than what we’ve come to expect from escape rooms. For non-practiced puzzlers, they are also less intimidating, but certainly still challenging… especially if you aren’t an avid puzzler.

With Puzzles & Corks, Trap Door has a business model that caters to repeat business in a way escape rooms cannot. With less involved construction, the puzzle elements can be swapped out each month and the customers enticed with new wines. We hope that Trap Door can keep up with the puzzle design and play testing necessary for a monthly cycle because this idea is pretty great. We know that there is a large audience of people who are intimidated by the escape room concept. Puzzles & Corks provides a fantastic soft entry into the hobby.

For escape room enthusiasts and other more experienced puzzlers, know that Puzzles & Corks is not designed for you. It was a fun time, but it was a different sort of activity. It was as much about sipping wine as it was about solving puzzles.

Book your hour with Trap Door’s Puzzles & Corks, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.

Full disclosure: Trap Door comped our tickets for this game.

Trap Door – F5 [Review]

Puzzle storm.

Location: Morristown, NJ

Date played: July 31, 2017

Team size: up to 6; we recommend 3-5

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: $35 per ticket

Story & setting

As a tornado approached, we needed to navigate a corn field and secure ourselves in the barn’s storm cellar to survive.

Trap Door created a ominous atmosphere for F5. An abundance of corn stalks rustled in the dim light and loud wind of the impending storm. We were equipped with only a handheld radio, our strength, and our wits.

In-game: A kid's bicycle with a teddy bear in the basket abandoned beside a gate. An ominous corn field is beyond it.

F5 was part escape room and part obstacle course. A pair of massive fans blew and the projections of a tornado drew closer as we climbed, crawled, and moved heavy objects to navigate the corn maze towards the safety of the barn’s storm cellar.

Puzzles

F5 was both mentally and physically demanding. We determined how items interacted and then we exerted the strength or dexterity necessary to accomplish each feat.

F5 also included some more typical escape room-type puzzles that did not require feats of strength, agility, or dexterity.

Standouts

We loved the premise of F5. We don’t often escape into shelter and we had never been chased by a killer storm before.

Trap Door constructed a compelling Midwestern landscape into their suburban building. They minded the set details. The lighting, sound, and giant fans added dramatic effects. We could easily imagine the impending tornado barreling toward us, which motivated us to move swiftly.

The hint system was funny and served to further the fiction.

There was an incredibly satisfying Zelda-inspired puzzle. David was a little sad that the Zelda puzzle sound didn’t chime when we solved it… until one of our teammates sang it herself.

The physicality of Trap Door’s puzzle-by-way-of-obstacle course design intensified the experience. These integrated challenges made F5 special.

Shortcomings

The final act of F5 abandoned the obstacle course aspect of the game’s design for a more typical escape room-style series of puzzles. In doing so, it shifted away from what made it exciting and the tension cooled before we made it to the finish line.

Toward the end, the puzzles relied on “escape room logic” rather than continuing to work within the environment as the previous puzzles had. The puzzles worked, but they didn’t feel natural within the game.

Should I play Trap Door’s F5?

F5 was unlike any other escape room we’ve visited to date. It was an obstacle course and a puzzle game, dramatically staged, and integrated into one complete adventure. It was more escape room than Boda Borg and more strenuous than… most other escape rooms.

If you like both physical and mental challenges, you will enjoy this.

While you don’t have to be physically fit to succeed in F5, you will need to climb over and crawl through obstacles. Your teammates can assist you, but they can’t do these things for you. I recommend bringing at least one teammate who actively seeks this type of activity.

Do not wear a skirt, heels, or other impractical clothing to F5.

Trap Door has taken necessary safety precautions in designing and constructing F5. It was a safe experience. That said, you could certainly get hurt, especially if, in the excitement of the moment, you aren’t smart about how you move through this adventure.

The gymnast-kid in me loved F5. The decidedly indoor-kid in David loved F5 too. We each tackled it in our own way and left smiling.

Book your hour with Trap Door’s F5, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.

Full disclosure: Trap Door comped our tickets for this game.

Escape Room NJ – The Lost Cabin: Book of Souls [Review]

New Jersey Necronomicon.

Location: Madison, New Jersey

Date played: June 12, 2017

Team size: 4-18; we recommend 5-7

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: $30 per ticket

Story & setting

After finding refuge in a cabin in the woods, we learned that we needed protecting from our shelter. The only way out was to find the Book of Souls and use it to break an enchantment.

From the walls to the ceiling, Escape Room NJ designed a compelling and spacious cabin. The dim lighting, coupled with the enchantment, made it feel just a little bit haunted (but certainly not scary).

In game: A bull's skull hangs on a wood cabin wall, with a window and rocking chair in the background.

Puzzles

The Lost Cabin: Book of Souls combined traditional locks with tech-driven interactions.

The puzzles wound their way through every set piece and prop in the gamespace.

Standouts

With The Lost Cabin: Book of Souls, Escape Room NJ vastly improved their set design. They built an intriguing, compelling cabin set, complete with the exterior details, visible in the lobby.

Escape Room NJ embedded a lot of tech in this cabin. The room’s response to our actions contributed to the eerie atmosphere and worked well with the theme.

The Lost Cabin: Book of Souls contained many excellent puzzles with satisfying solutions. There was a lot to explore. Furthermore, the puzzles lent themselves to teamwork.

Shortcomings

There were, however, a few far-fetched connections. One puzzle in particular seemed unsolvable without a hint… or in our case, an outside knowledge bypass.

There was a moment in this escape room that deviated completely from the otherwise thematically cohesive experience. If Escape Room NJ wants to use that type of interaction, they should rework how this setting produces it. In this room escape it felt silly.

While Escape Room NJ built an excellent set, it didn’t feel quite to scale. It felt too big for the story and the props within it, which in turn made the otherwise nifty interactions feel small.

Should I play Escape Room NJ’s The Lost Cabin: Book of Souls?

When we entered Escape Room NJ’s newer Madison location (we’d previously visited them in Hackensack), we were immediately impressed with their commitment to the theming. They had designed the outer walls of each escape room, which were visible in the lobby. When we entered The Lost Cabin: Book of Souls, we entered an enchanted forest-cabin puzzle adventure.

The Lost Cabin: Book of Souls was a puzzle-centric room escape in a fun environment.

Note that the environment was a tad eerie, but certainly not scary. In that sense, it’s fit for all audiences, except for little kids who are afraid of the concept of ghosts.

The Lost Cabin: Book of Souls would be a challenging escape room for beginners, but approachable. Experienced players will move faster, but will still find The Lost Cabin: Book of Souls a worthy puzzle opponent.

Book your hour with Escape Room NJ’s The Lost Cabin: Book of Souls, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.

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

Northern New Jersey: Room Escape Recommendations

Latest update: December 9, 2017

This list will be updated regularly.

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 escape rooms in Northern New Jersey. Since we like nuance, they are broken out into categories.

Image of Bruce Springsteen on stage with a Gibson Les Paul

…Because there is nothing more iconically Jersey than The Boss © Mark V. Krajnak | JerseyStyle Photography

Market standouts

The set & scenery-driven adventures

The puzzle-centric

The tech-heavy

The newbie-friendly

You want to see something special

It’s not technically in NJ, but if you drive just a little farther north, it’s so worth it:

You are always welcome to email us if this recommendation list doesn’t answer your specific questions.

 

Bane Escape – Captive [Review]

Captured by a serial killer. Again. Why does this keep happening to us?

Location: Livingston, NJ

Date played: April 23, 2017

Team size: up to 8; we recommend 4-6

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: from $30 per ticket

Story & setting

We were locked away by a serial killer and made to play his game in order to survive.

Although Bane is one of New Jersey’s most well-known haunted houses, Captive was not a horror experience. The setting was dark and creepy in that polished way that haunts so often achieve. In spite of Bane’s primary business, however, this escape room did not instill terror.

In-game: Closeup of tally marks scrawled on a concrete wall.

Puzzles

Captive had a large number of challenges to complete. The vast majority of these required us to make connections between props and set pieces rather than puzzle our way through them.

Standouts

The set looked great. It especially stood out within the New Jersey market, which doesn’t have many escape rooms that are aesthetically impressive.

Bane used the space cleverly.

The puzzling, while not particularly complex, flowed well.

Shortcomings

So much of Captive bunched up in one in one segment of the experience. I would have loved it if Bane wove the puzzling and interactions throughout the escape room a little more.

Bane’s website sets up some expectations that they do not meet: ”Welcome to Bane Escape, the largest most immersive Escape Games on the East Coast.” If one were to include the massive square footage of their entire haunt facility, it very well might be the largest business with an escape room. However, I don’t think that Captive is even the largest game in the state of New Jersey. Yes, Bane did a great job of creating a thrilling ambiance, but was it the “most immersive escape game on the East Coast?” I can comfortably dispute that claim as well. These boasts led me into the escape room with false expectations. For me, Captive would have been more enjoyable if I wasn’t expecting something gigantic and over-the-top.

Should I play Bane Escape’s Captive?

Captive is an approachable but difficult room escape for less experienced players looking for a thrill without terror.

Experienced players should go for the atmosphere and set design, but not if you’re  seeking a puzzley game. There was no shortage of things to do, and there were a couple of brilliant moments, but at its core, Captive was about the feeling.

On the drive home, I found myself wishing that Bane had made Captive into a true horror game. I understand the drive for haunts to produce escape rooms with mass market appeal, and Captive was absolutely that… but it left me feeling like it was incomplete and missing the thing that makes Bane special: fear.

Book your hour with Bane Escape’s Captive, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.