May 31, 2017

Escape Era: Deja Vu (San Diego, CA)

The Mad Scientists are at work again
Escape Era, a newish location without many blogger reviews, was located a little out of the way, north of downtown San Diego. The story for their only room, "Deja Vu", was as follows: "It feels like you've been here before, but you can't remember. Can you solve the mysterious case of Deja Vu?". The theme of losing your memory and trying to figure out what happened was rather common but Escape Era did a good job in making their room a lot of fun. 

May 14, 2017

Real Escape Game (Quadra): Escape From The Time Travel Lab (San Jose, CA)

We're going back to the future...with a chicken
SCRAP's reputation precedes them and while we were not the biggest fans of their style, (heavy pen and paper puzzles, low tech, crosswords, illogical final riddle), we read that this was SCRAP's best room from another trusted escape room enthusiast, Will, at EscapeRoomTips. Three of us signed up to play in a public room and ended up with a group of eight teenagers. We knew this would be a tough room given that the success rate was 7% (pretty low compared to most which are 20%-30%) and that we were in a mixed group. The story was as follows:

"You are trapped in the mysterious laboratory, where it has been said, they study time travel...You wonder if they were able to make time travelling true… If you cannot find the key to open the exit, you will drop into the spatiotemporal distortion and not able to return to this world again. Will you be able to escape from the time travel lab?"

May 10, 2017

From Game Design to Escape Room Design: Richard Thames Rowan - Epic Team Adventures (Seattle, WA)

Richard Thames Rowan (left)

We had the pleasure of meeting Richard Thames Rowan while on our Seattle trip in April. We wanted to know what goes on in a game designer's mind and the background behind creating an escape room. Richard has helped design quite a few rooms at Epic Team Adventures with his latest project being the one day (May 20) game of Scotland Yard: The Baker Street Affair in Seattle, WA.

What is your profession?
I have been a game designer and producer for the last 20 years. I have worked for Wizards of the Coast, Microsoft Game Studios, Gazillion Entertainment, and Glu Mobile over the years as well as run my own companies. I’ve worked on over 50 titles including everything from massively multiplayer games to casual web and mobile games. For the last few years, I have been teaching game and user experience design at DigiPen Institute of Technology, one of the top-rated game design universities in the country.

About 15 years ago, I started designing puzzles for the annual Microsoft Puzzle Safari, an annual letterboxing-style event hosted on the Microsoft campus. From there, I branched out to start designing puzzles for other large scale events like Microsoft Puzzle Hunt (~1000 people) down to small birthday and corporate events, and even private commissions for weddings or private parties.

May 8, 2017

Palace Games: The Great Houdini Escape Room (San Francisco, CA)

We finally got around to playing Palace Games' original game, "The Great Houdini Escape Room". We played "The Roosevelt Room" last year and despite the puzzles being average, the automation and grand reveals were enough to hype us up for their first room. We knew that The Houdini Room would probably be less advanced as it was older but we had to experience it for ourselves.

The storyline has Houdini building the world's first escape room a century ago and he challenges eight innovators to escape the room. These innovators include famous icons such as Thomas Edison, Alexander Graham Bell and Charlie Chaplin. There was quite a lot to do so eight is a reasonably good number of people to take on the tasks at hand.

May 5, 2017

Epic Team Adventures: The Sparrow Files (Seattle, WA)

"The Sparrow Files" was the third room we played at Epic Team Adventures (ETA) and this was more like a traditional escape room rather than a quest or a puzzle intensive session like ETA's Storybook Legends. The scenario from their site says you "will be immersed in the most enigmatic cases of P.I. Carmen Sparrow: collecting information from various sources, examining evidence for clues,  investigating every suspicious detail, and racing against time to foil the evil plot". This film noir theme takes place all in one room so it's good to know this before hand to set expectations. I was debating whether saying if an escape room didn't have extra rooms was a spoiler, as it was not obvious this was the case for this game, but I feel knowing this before hand would make the experience better so, in my opinion, this is the opposite of a spoiler.

The set and the story were great and highly immersive. The familiar narration of the film noir genre was present and the look and feel of everything was spot on. The puzzles were a mix of paper puzzles and tangible elements and the storyline was quite important in this game. We enjoyed the automation of the reveals and the overall mood of the room.

May 3, 2017

Epic Team Adventures: Quest For Excalibur & Raven and the Red Death (Seattle, WA)

As Michael would say "FOR FREEDOM!"
We are graced by having fellow game enthusiast, Michael Thompson (front row, right), write this post for two rooms at Epic Team Adventures (ETA). Note that these rooms are quests and not your traditional escape rooms like ETA's Sparrow Files.

ETA Story Book Legends adventures consists of two scenarios: “Quest for Excalibur” and “The Raven and The Red Death”. They were created in that order, so naturally we played them the other way round, because we’re funny like that.

May 1, 2017

Hourglass Escapes: Rise Of The Mad Pharaoh (Seattle, WA)

We made Mummy proud
"Hourglass Escapes" features one room, "Rise of the Mad Pharaoh" and our group of four decided to play this while in Seattle after some word of mouth advice. The story followed Dr. Carter's archaeological dig, which sets off a trap and locks him in an Egyptian tomb. The narrative and countdown were relayed via a TV screen in the room and the flow of the game was smooth. Each player roleplayed a character and used their expertise, in the form of a hint on their character card, to solve a puzzle. We liked this roleplaying and have only seen this in a few escapes room to date.