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April 17, 2017

Escapology: Shanghaied & Budapest Express (Las Vegas, NV & more)

Flying to victory!
Escapology is an escape room chain with 7 different rooms in 12 cities (soon to be 21 cities) and it was one of the places that seemed really polished in terms of production value. We played two rooms at Escapology, the "Budapest Express" and "Shanghaied" with four people. The first thing that you notice when you walk into the lobby (at least in Vegas) is the beautiful decor. The seating area was large, comfortable and lavish and while it's not that important, it's a nice to have while waiting between games.

Cool design and nice decor
The themes of the rooms that we did were unique and we started off the day with Shanghaied. From their site the story is as follow:

"Hong Kong, December 26, 1848. You have been relaxing in Hong Kong harbor celebrating Christmas and a friendly man has befriended you and started to buy you drinks. That is the last thing you remember that night."

The set designs were immersive and the theme fit well with the riddles. There were a few puzzles that were new to us and there were some automated elements that made it more exciting. It did feel a bit heavy on the padlocks but that didn't detract from our fun. We rolled out with 30mins to spare with no hints and we got lucky and managed to not get stuck anywhere. We felt this would be good for beginners but Shanghaied was apparently their hardest room. This was funny because we didn't escape one of their easier rooms, The Budapest Express, described below:

"Central Europe, February 25th 1931. Onboard the famous trans-European Budapest Express, you are with Karine Peaufiner, a famous French detective from Paris. You are traveling to Budapest to meet with other detectives showcasing the latest developments in crime scene forensics."

The Budapest Express was more of a murder mystery than an escape room. There are no/few hidden rooms and without risking any spoilers, a group must think differently when playing this game. We felt there was a design flaw with the flow of clues that made it frustrating and it was also odd how they give hints without us asking for any. Our game master (GM) also couldn't help us with a puzzle and later said that he didn't know how to solve it. We confirmed these experiences with Matt, who leads the Sacramento Escape Room Enthusiasts Facebook group, who played the room the next day.

Overall, the set designs were very good and Shanghaied was more innovative than the Budapest Express.

Frustration after the Budapest Express

Pros: Intricately detailed environments, beautiful lobby
Cons: Puzzles are average, one GM provided hints when not asked to, and couldn't provide when asked to
  • Set/room design: Good! Decked out pretty well
  • Technology/automation: Gen-1.5 room (medium tech)
  • Difficulty: Average
  • Price: $30/person 
  • Number of players: 2-6, private rooms (we recommend 4) 
  • Duration: 60 minutes
  • Overall Rating: Shanghaied ★★★½, Budapest Express ★★½ 
See their website here: https://www.escapology.com

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