Date played: Saturday, June 30, 2018
Number of players: 6
Max number of players possible for this room: 8
Public or private game: Private (only because no strangers booked with us)
The website is professional looking and easy to use, and it was easy to find parking even though Forest Park is on the outskirts of Chicago. (Just make sure your parallel parking skills are up to snuff!)
Escape Factor has a nice, clean lobby. They have a side room with lockers (free of charge) to keep personal items in, and some fun brain teaser games to play while you wait. No seating, but otherwise everything you would need in an ER lobby.
Our Game Master went over the rules in the lobby, before we entered the room. This is best practice, in my opinion – get all the other stuff out of the way first, and then when you get in the room it can all just be excitement.
The story for this room on the website is as follows:
“As a contestant on this vintage game show set, you’ve made it to the final round and have just minutes to win the grand prize! The plot thickens, however, in a bizarre turn of events. Can you channel your inner game show contestant and solve your way into the winners’ circle?”
Kudos to the designers on the very creative and original theme of this room, and also on the name!
In this game, the Game Master stays in the room with you the whole time and gives you any clues that you might need verbally. I am normally not a fan of having the GM in the room, but in this case I think it fit the theme and worked out well. Every game show needs a host, right??
The game starts by having all players work together on one thing, and then it opens up after that. I had never played a room with that kind of format before and I actually really liked it. It was fun to have everyone work on the same puzzle without having to feel guilty for clustering around something. 🙂
The decor of the room was spot on with the theme. It didn’t feel as immersive to me as, say, a prison room, but I think that’s just the nature of the theme. It definitely was well done and different from any other escape room I’ve seen. I’m sharing this picture here since it’s already a public photo online:
We had 6 people in the room and it didn’t feel cramped at all. Even 8 people would have been fine.
I will say that if your preference is for discovery, there is not really any of that in this room. As you can see from the photo, the room is pretty straightforward. It’s not the kind of room where you search and find hidden items. At least one person in our group noted that they would have liked more of that, and after thinking about it, I realized that I enjoy doing that in rooms too. As frustrating as it can be to get stuck because you haven’t found something, it does provide excitement to uncover something hidden somewhere. I don’t think it’s necessarily a negative that there was no searching to be done though – lots of people dislike searching for items, so it all comes down to personal preference.
The puzzles in the room were great. Everything flowed logically, everything made sense, there was no outside knowledge needed, and everything worked well. There was a great mix of tactile puzzles, riddles, mental work, and reasoning. There were also no “technology” puzzles – meaning no entering numbers on a screen to unlock something, etc. I always prefer putting numbers into a combination lock over using a screen, so to me this was a big plus. There was also a nice amount of things for everyone in our group to be working on at once. I don’t think anyone was ever just standing around watching because there was always something to do, which was excellent. There were a few times when we were all able to gather around something and work together, and that was great too.
I thought our Game Master (Amanda) was fantastic. She stayed in character the whole time, and her prompts/hints had the perfect level of vagueness – just enough to prod us in the right direction without ever giving anything away. We only used 2 hints and she did a great job with them.
We completed the room with 9:49 left on the clock. The ending of the room was a little anticlimactic, and that’s the one thing I think could be improved. It would’ve been fun to have something really “game show-y” happen, like balloons falling from the ceiling or a screen where you watch yourselves win with a big flashing dollar amount at the bottom. That would just be a nice extra touch to the whole thing. I think the ending, and the lack of searching, are the only reasons I would not give this room a 5/5 though. I guess this means I want a little more adrenaline in my gameplay. 🙂
Our GM took our picture before we left (in addition to taking one beforehand with their camera) and was also very nice about answering all our questions after the room was over. The customer service here was top notch!
Play This Room If…
-You’re looking for a unique theme
-You want a wide array of puzzle types without lots of technology-based things
-You’ve always wanted to be on The Price Is Right
Skip This Room If…
-You dislike having the Game Master in the room with you
-You want to be able to search and discover items in the room
Overall rating: 4 out of 5
Company website: http://www.escapefactorchicago.com/