Once Upon an Escape – Neverland [Review]

Off to never never land

Location:  Las Vegas, NV

Date Played: January 30, 2022

Team Size: 2-8; we recommend 2-4

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: $39 per player

Ticketing: Private

Accessibility Consideration: Players are all required to duck under a low doorway. One player is required to crawl.

Emergency Exit Rating: [A+] No Lock

Physical Restraints: [A+] No Physical Restraints

REA Reaction

Neverland was Once Upon an Escape’s first dive into non-linear gameplay. The game was based on a fairytale we had always wished to see an experience designed around. Similar to the other games by Once Upon an Escape, the puzzles encompassed some traditional escape room puzzle play with numerous twists on their typical implementations. Puzzles were overall fun to solve and interact with, including a handful of dexterity challenges. Because this room had multiple communication puzzles, it was nicely designed for teamwork.

Neverland carried the strongest story out of Once Upon an Escape’s three current offerings, with a cohesive adventure traversing varied sets that showcased a creative use of space. With this being said, the experience felt less polished due to a few of the puzzles not making sense thematically. Additionally, Neverland had the ability to break sequence, allowing us to bypass a series of puzzles and ultimately finish the game with leftover clues.

A well-like table with a thatched roof beside some tropical plants.

If you’re visiting Once Upon an Escape, check out the room with the fairytale that calls out to you, whether it be your childhood favorite or a novel theme you have never played before!

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Third Gate Escape – Third Gate Hotel [Review]

Welcome to Hell

Location:  Las Vegas, NV

Date Played: January 29, 2022

Team Size: 3-8; we recommend 3-5

Duration: 70 minutes

Price: $45 per player

Ticketing: Private

Accessibility Consideration: One player must be able to crawl

Emergency Exit Rating: [A+] No Lock

Physical Restraints: [A+] No Physical Restraints

REA Reaction

Third Gate Hotel was a memorable experience, grounded in a consistently haunted ambiance, and punctuated by a unique interaction in the middle of the experience.

Transitions between the vast set spaces were polished, with each door leading us to unknown and increasingly eerie scenes. The gameplay traversed these areas, making this linear escape game feel more layered than it was. While the spaces made sense to be in a hotel with the detailed décor to match, we left wishing to see more of a fleshed out story carried throughout the experience.

The final puzzle was weak and included elements of what seems to be a previously designed puzzle. The components from this ghost puzzle solved well, but they ended up being unused for the actual solution. Following the mid-game climactic sequence, this conclusion was a let down.

A luxurious couch in a room covered with flower wallpaper, in the center of each flower is an eyeball.

We really loved the haunted hotel vibe at Third Gate Hotel, and can’t wait to see what this game looks like once all of the kinks are ironed out.

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Once Upon an Escape – Arabian Nights [Review]

I can show you the world

Location:  Las Vegas, NV

Date Played: January 30, 2022

Team Size: 2-8; we recommend 2-4

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: $39 per player

Ticketing: Private

Accessibility Consideration: Players are all required to crawl a short distance.

Emergency Exit Rating: [A+] No Lock

Physical Restraints: [A+] No Physical Restraints

REA Reaction

Once Upon an Escape’s Arabian Nights was an adorable game chock-full of cute references to a cult-favorite childhood movie. With solid puzzle flow and creatively hidden technology, Arabian Nights was able to design a nostalgic game for players who are familiar with the Disney rendition of the story.

Assorted clothes on a clothing line beside a pair of windows.

The puzzles throughout the room solved cleanly and easily, although the game could have benefited from including some more layered puzzles to enhance the team experience. Even though the challenges of the room were rather simple, we always had something to do. Some of the puzzles felt like homework in style, with a few of them feeling like they belonged in a puzzle book rather than an escape room.

Spotlighting was plentiful for ease of puzzle-solving and clue-reading, with reliable and sturdy technology integrated into the set.

Some sections of the game contained more content than others. An under-utilized yet aesthetically pleasing space mid-game could have used a bit more puzzle content. This area was one of the best decorated portions of the set, yet we weren’t in there long enough to enjoy the atmosphere.

Once Upon an Escape executed their theming spectacularly from the moment we entered the venue. With a gorgeous lobby, doorways painted specifically for each game, a live fish tank, and themed cloaks for their gamemasters, the space was joyful to spend time in between games.

For newer players, this game is good as an entry level experience that will provide satisfying solves, and experienced folks will still find the game enjoyable.

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Doldrick’s Escape Room – Spoopy’s Ghoulish Graveyard Gameshow [Review]

Rice-A-Roni AND Moon Shoes!?

Location:  Kissimmee, FL

Date Played: February 27, 2022

Team Size: 2-5; we recommend 2-4

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: $36 per player

Ticketing: Private

Emergency Exit Rating: [A+] No Lock

Physical Restraints: [A+] No Physical Restraints

REA Reaction

Spoopy’s Ghoulish Graveyard Gameshow was an absolute riot. Full of callbacks to 90’s game shows and terrible jokes, this game had me laughing so hard I was in tears. With beginner-friendly puzzles that were fun to manipulate, the room was just pure and goofy fun. You can see the designer’s personality oozing through in every inch of the space, with hilarious references and entertaining interactions. The immense detail put into every little set piece and puzzle item didn’t go unnoticed.

This game was originally designed to be a mobile game that could be set up temporarily in different spaces, complete with modular lighting and projectors. Doldrick’s went above and beyond integrating this game into its temporary space, so much so that we did not realize it could be packed up and moved so easily. Due to the portable nature of the game, it was lacking some polish and sturdiness that the rest of Doldrick’s rooms had, but was not by any means flimsy.

Spoopy the skeleton in a fake orange mustache, wearing a top hat and a suit jacket, holding a microphone.

Spoopy’s Ghoulish Graveyard Gameshow was an experience that marries fun, friendly gameplay with exceptional interactions and charming puzzles for an impressive escape in a small space.

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Once Upon an Escape – 7 Dwarfs [Review]

Heigh-hi, heigh-ho, it’s off to puzzle we go

Location:  Las Vegas, NV

Date Played: January 30, 2022

Team Size: 2-8; we recommend 2-4

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: $39 per player

Ticketing:  Private

Accessibility Consideration: Players are all required to duck under a low doorway.

Emergency Exit Rating: [A+] No Lock

Physical Restraints: [A+] No Physical Restraints

REA Reaction

Once Upon an Escape’s 7 Dwarfs was a whimsical adventure into the childhood story we all know and love. From the nostalgia-inspired puzzles to adorably dwarf-sized props, Once Upon an Escape did a good job of taking intricate details from the fairytale and implementing them into puzzles inspired by key moments of the story. On its own, though, the game didn’t tell the story to a player without the prior knowledge of the fairytale. Our players who were unfamiliar with the fairytale did not grasp the story of the room, and felt as if there was room to integrate more storytelling throughout.

A bird house with a small cardinal atop it.

I adore One Upon an Escape’s overall atmosphere, bringing whimsical and magical moments into the smallest details of their venue. The lobby was decorated from floor to ceiling (complete with the cutest fish tank), and each entry to each escape room had an accompanying doorway designed around the fairytale. While the décor inside the room was adorable and thematic with multiple, vastly different sets, it felt lesser compared to the lobby. With multiple “do not touch” labels and out-of-play red locks, the immersion was broken early on.

From a gameplay perspective, the puzzles flowed well, with only short moments of hesitation and quite a few aha moments. Once Upon an Escape did a good job of taking puzzles we’ve seen before and surprising us with unusual applications.

Overall, 7 Dwarfs was a cute fairytale experience filled with traditional puzzles, adorably small booties, and whimsical moments.

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