60 To Escape · Escape Room · Gurnee, IL · Private Room · Reviews

Hidden Temple @ 60 To Escape (Gurnee, IL)

Date played:  Saturday, September 7, 2019
Number of players:  4
Max number of players possible for this room: 8
Public or private game:  Private
Outcome:  Escaped

I am skipping First Impressions and Setup, since we had been to this location before and things were the same (and great!) (You can read about them here if desired.)

The story for this room on the website is as follows:

“You and your team of explorers have been hired to uncover the mysteries of an ancient, Hidden Temple. Your employer believes there are incredible treasures to be obtained from this lost location – but only you and your team have the skills required to extract them. Can you raid this Hidden Temple successfully? Or will you be lost like those who came before you?”

Game Play
I am going to start out by laying all my cards on the table: I absolutely LOVED this room! It is now my second favorite room out of all the rooms I’ve played (see the Hall of Fame for more info!) and the best room I’ve played anywhere in Illinois. Not only that, but it knocked a game out of my top 3 that had been there since March 2018 (Prison Break at The Escape Game.) Talking with my group afterwards, we could not find anything bad to say about this room. 60 To Escape really did a fabulous job with this!

The scenery/decor/props were all perfect. Everything looked and felt realistic and authentic, and I definitely felt immersed in the world. They used a lot of different things that all stayed within the theme but had variety between the different spaces. And they really used the space well! I loved that there was more than one reveal in this game.

Along those same lines, this is my favorite theme of any room that I’ve played. I love fun adventure themes and movies like The Goonies and Indiana Jones, and this fit right in with those things. I think the name “Hidden Temple” had me thinking of something more Egyptian themed, so I wasn’t quite expecting this theme and I was very pleasantly surprised. I’m pretty sure I was grinning the entire time we were playing!

The puzzles were great. They fit in SO many different kinds of puzzles that I think there would be something for everyone to enjoy, kids and adults included. And I even think they got more enjoyable as the game went along! I thought that our group of 4 was the perfect size that allowed for everyone to be pretty involved in just about everything we did. A few more people wouldn’t hurt, though.

Without giving any spoilers, there is one part of the game that I just have to mention. There was one reveal about halfway through the game that just blew me away! Not only was there a very well-decorated and cool-looking space, but I got to be the person who completed our next puzzle and I LOVED it! That moment in particular is a huge highlight out of all my escape room experiences so far and I was just in heaven. Many, many kudos to 60 To Escape for creating that puzzle and that experience!!

We escaped with only 6 SECONDS left on the clock, and it made for an incredible ending!

Final Touches
I mentioned it in my last post, but our Game Master was truly FANTASTIC! He was our same guide for their Mystery Manor room, which we played right after. I could feel his enthusiasm for the game and he was clearly excited for us and enjoyed talking about things with us. He knew exactly the right kind of hints to give us when we needed help, and he just did an amazing job. He even came in halfway through (a different person had brought us into the room), so it’s even more impressive that he was as invested as he was in our game! I would say he is the best Game Master we have ever had in a room, for sure!

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In conclusion…

Play This Room If…
-You have a group of about 4-6. I thought 4 was perfect, but if you had some players who weren’t very familiar with escape rooms, it wouldn’t hurt to have a couple more people and they would probably enjoy this as their first room.
-You have kids or adults in your group
-You like adventure and Indiana Jones-type themes

Skip This Room If…
-There is no reason to skip this room! PLAY IT!! 🙂

Overall rating:  5 out of 5

Company website: http://www.62escape.com/

60 To Escape · Escape Room · Gurnee, IL · Private Room · Reviews

Mystery Manor @ 60 To Escape (Gurnee, IL)

Date played:  Saturday, September 7, 2019
Number of players:  4
Max number of players possible for this room: 8
Public or private game:  Private
Outcome:  Escaped

I am skipping First Impressions and Setup, since we had been to this location before and things were the same (and great!) (You can read about them here if desired.)

The story for this room on the website is as follows:

“An eccentric family has apparently left their entire fortune (and an incredible mansion) to their only living relative… YOU. Upon arriving at the home, you realize things aren’t so simple. Uncover the mysteries that surround this bizarre home and take home an immense fortune, or suffer a fate worse than death! This ghostly adventure is packed full of incredible effects and is sure to lift your spirits!

Game Play
This was a great room. First of all, I love that the max number of players you can book for this room is 8, because I can see another company putting this at 12 or more. The size of the escape space is fantastic, and 8 players would be fine. I enjoyed having just 4, but it wouldn’t have been bad with more.

The scenery/decor/props were done very well. I don’t always like rooms that are set in homes (or heaven forbid an office) because it’s too close to normal and it ends up feeling boring to me. I’m playing because I want to be immersed in a different world, so I don’t seek out those more regular themes. But the spooky and mysterious theme made this feel special and not just like any old house. Not as cool as some of their other rooms, but still executed well for the theme.

The puzzles were great. I think 60 To Escape has mastered the exact right level of puzzle difficulty in their rooms. We sometimes needed a prod in the right direction, but we could still figure most things out by ourselves and it wasn’t too easy. I really liked how they incorporated little bits of technology into their puzzles, so that fun things would be added to the theme of the room while still assisting us in the puzzles. The puzzles also had a good variety, needing searching, logic, or other different ways to get to an answer.

There was one especially cool moment that I had never seen before in a room. It was a great effect and it fit right in with the theme. I love how original the game creators are!

We escaped with a few minutes left on the clock and had a great time!

Final Touches
Our GM was FANTASTIC! Any time we asked for a clue, he was RIGHT on it. You could tell he was paying attention to our game and knew what help we needed, and he was more than happy to answer our questions or go over a few points of the game with us. We talked with him afterwards for a few minutes and his enthusiasm really showed through. He really made the experience extra great for us!

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In conclusion…

Play This Room If…
-You have a group of just about any size
-You like mystery themes
-You have at least one person in your group who has played several rooms before

Skip This Room If…
-You have very young kids, as it’s possible some things could be scary to them
-You have never played an escape room before. I think this is better for players that are not entirely new to the concept.

Overall rating:  5 out of 5

Company website: http://www.62escape.com/

Escape Room · Mind Trap Escape Rooms · Montgomery, IL · Private Room · Reviews

Pharaoh’s Chamber @ Mind Trap Escape Rooms (Montgomery, IL)

Date played:  Saturday, May 25, 2019
Number of players:  4
Max number of players possible for this room: 10
Public or private game:  Private (only because no strangers booked with us)
Outcome:  Escaped

First Impressions
I had called in advance and asked if it would be possible for our room to be made private, and was told that they could as long as we paid full price for our booking. We used a Groupon so that wasn’t an option for us. The price with the Groupon was only about $18 per person, so we got a good deal there, and luckily nobody else booked the room with us, so we still got a private experience.

The customer service while at the location was great. There didn’t seem to be an option to fill out a waiver online ahead of time but it was a quick process in the lobby.

Setup
There were lockers outside the room for storing our personal items, which I liked. The explanation of the rules took place inside the room, and I found that I actually liked having our Game Master say them out loud to us instead of having it in a video. I wish there was some way veteran players could bypass this step though. Can I get a badge to flash to prove that I’m an experienced player and will not break your room?

The story for this room on the website is as follows:

“Traps have sealed your fate, doors have closed and you have 60 minutes to find the sacred scarab and escape the tomb. This escape room features a super realistic environment within a 20 foot tall room, special effects, secret passageways and more!

Game Play
Immersion is king to me in escape rooms, and Mind Trap did that very well. The room really looked like a tomb from top to bottom, with stone-looking walls, hieroglyphics, dark lighting, sand, and more. I felt like every part of it fit the theme well. I’m someone whose eyes take a long time to adjust to low lighting and even that wasn’t a problem once I had been in the room a little while.

My group did notice that there was no story given at the start of the room. In all honesty that’s not something I usually pay attention to, so I didn’t even realize it, but for those who like to know the background plot of a room, this one didn’t have one given beyond what was written on the website.

This room is listed as being available for up to 10 players, but that would be one uncomfortable game in my opinion. I’m glad we didn’t have any more than 4 people in there together. There is room to spread out, but anytime you discover something new, of course everyone wants to take a look, and in many cases even the 4 of us couldn’t all see something at the same time. It’s hard not to see that number 10 as just a cash grab (really? You would let TEN people pay full price to squish in together instead of limiting the number and giving each person a better experience?) but I’m sure there are big groups that come in and don’t want to be separated. Still, with the capacity listed at 10, here’s what I’m certain happens: a group of 4 like ours books the room. Then another group comes along who doesn’t understand what ERs are or how they work, and they see.”6 spots available” and they book them, assuming it’s something like a movie theater or other event where the experience is not quite as affected by how many other people are there. And then you get 10 people in a room that’s best for 4 and it’s no fun. I think if a company wants to list a capacity that high, the rooms need to be private by default.

I thought the puzzles in the room were good, with a good mix of different types. There was one puzzle I didn’t love that I had also encountered in another room, only because it required putting 2 items together that otherwise would have no reason to be put together. I would have liked it more if there was more flow into naturally combining the items.

We escaped with over 17 minutes left on the clock, which was just a little disappointing. I wish we had asked for no clues, even though they only provided the 2 or 3 allotted, just to get more out of the experience. It feels like a waste of money to get out with so much time remaining, even though the room was good.

Final Touches
Our GM allowed us to choose either a pen, button, or sticker as our reward for finishing the room. We took our team picture, looked at the ad for their 5 minute Saw themed escape, and then we were off.

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In conclusion…

Play This Room If…
-You’re somewhat new to escape rooms but have done a few and know the basics
-The decor/design is important to you
-You also want to play laser tag, as this is available on-site as well

Skip This Room If…
-You will be playing with more than four people in your group
-You are a very experienced player and want to get your money’s worth, time-wise

Overall rating:  4 out of 5

Company website: http://www.mindtrapescaperooms.com

60 To Escape · Escape Room · Gurnee, IL · Private Room · Reviews

Blast From The Past @ 60 To Escape (Gurnee, IL)

Date played:  Saturday, February 23, 2019
Number of players:  5
Max number of players possible for this room: 8
Public or private game:  Private
Outcome:  Escaped

First Impressions
This company is set up inside Gurnee Mills mall. There’s always a small part of me that feels like an escape room in a mall will be sub-standard somehow, like they won’t have enough space to do it right or it will feel mass produced. That was certainly not the case in this instance. I was impressed by 60 To Escape right away, and pretty much every step of the way.

The main entrance was clean, well designed, and inviting. I liked how the front desk was right in the entryway, perfect for walk-up questions, and that the other part of the lobby was roped off. We checked in easily, and also added another member to our group easily, and then we were escorted beyond the ropes into the bigger area of the lobby. We signed our waivers there electronically and awaited our game master (a wait that was minimal, I might add.) The whole flow of the check in and the layout of the lobby was excellent, in my opinion. Especially with the company placed in a mall, it was a perfect setup to keep the front desk in its own area and to move people through the spaces in an organized way. I also thought just the general decor was simple and chic and perfect for an escape room company.

Let me also not forget to mention: 60 To Escape gives you the option of making your experience private when you’re booking the room, for an extra $2.00 per person. I still think all rooms should be private by default, or that you should get to choose a private experience for free, but this was at least a good halfway point. A ton of companies in the US don’t even offer this as an option, or they make you buy out the whole room, so 60 To Escape is ahead of the game on this point. (Also, the cost per person with the private option – about $31.50 with tax – was still basically the same as what other companies charge without that luxury, so it really wasn’t that bad at all.) Having the guarantee of a private room was a great plus for playing here!

Setup
Our game master escorted us into the room, where we hung up our coats and then watched a video explaining the rules. Even though I never like bringing my items into the room and ruining that part of the immersion, I didn’t mind it as much this time. I thought that the rules video went on for too long, but then again, we just played a room with people who pried open a filing cabinet, so…. I get it. Then the game master left and we watched another video giving us the story of the room. I will admit that I was really not paying much attention to the second video at all. I think I care a lot more about the story if it’s given to me before I enter the room, but once I’m there, I’m much more interested in searching the room and starting to work on solving the puzzles.

The story for this room on the website is as follows:

“A local arcade owner has gone missing and it is up to you to find out what happened. Rumors were all around town that the guy was trying to build some sort of “machine” and then one day – he vanished. The Feds say he was murdered but you don’t buy it. Find out what happened to the owner of the Blast from the Past arcade – who knows you might even be able to save him (and the world!)”

Game Play
I want to start with the very basics of how this room was built. For some strange reason, the walls did not go all the way up to the ceiling! That meant that we got to hear another group yelling to each other loudly for the whole time we were working on the first part of the room. It was really distracting and annoying, and I didn’t want to hear anything about the other rooms because I knew I would eventually probably want to play them myself. That was a big downside. I want to give them the benefit of the doubt and say that maybe they were going for an outdoors feel, since the room begins outside the arcade, but that wasn’t the only part of the room like that. I can’t remember for sure but I think the whole room might have been missing full walls. So that unfortunately added a tally to the set-in-a-mall-mass-produced feel. And immersion is the main thing I’m looking for, so that did not help.

The decor of this room was great and right on theme. It was a nice touch to start outside the arcade, especially since that’s where you receive the rules and the story. So you’re in the room and beginning the transition, without really being “in” the room yet. They had all the old classic arcade games present and they did a good job of making it a realistic environment.

In general I liked the way they used screens to add to the story. I felt like they used the technology efficiently, showing different things on the same screen when needed, and it worked well. On the other hand, I felt like a lot of the puzzles were technology-based and I wasn’t a huge fan of that. I guess that’s to be expected in an arcade room, but pushing buttons and flipping switches isn’t super fun to me. They did include one tactile puzzle that I thought was so fun, and the hint in the room for how to solve it was great.

This might be considered a mini spoiler by some, even though it has nothing to do with any puzzles, but I had to note that one of the best things about this room was that there were multiple rooms within it. The worst thing to me is to have a single room escape room, and even just 2 rooms can sometimes be only ok. The best rooms in my opinion are the ones that have multiple reveals. Even if they only include a kind of “half” room or just a transition space between two rooms, I think the reveal of opening up a new space adds a lot to the excitement. And this room did that better than any other room I’ve played to date.

One thing I thought this room was missing was a puzzle that made you play an old arcade game. I don’t think adding a video game into an escape room would be a great idea, because you’re there to play the escape room and not just a video game, but I would have liked a short side puzzle where you had to beat one round of space invaders or pac man or something. Just a little taste to get to the heart of the room. But oh well.

As a general playing experience, this escape room was one of my least favorites. There weren’t a lot of “a-ha” or discovery moments in the game. There was little to no searching for clues, which removed the fun moment of finding an important piece to a puzzle, and I felt like our group never gained momentum. We would figure something out, move forward a tiny bit, get stuck for a long time, get a nudge, move forward a tiny bit, and then get stuck again. We didn’t get into the fun flow of a game where solving one thing leads to another, so it wasn’t as satisfying of an experience. Looking back afterwards, we thought if we had solved things in a different order, we would have had more information available to us sooner and then the game would have flowed a little better. And with that being the case, perhaps the game master should have nudged us towards solving the puzzles in a different order so as to make the experience unfold in that way. We did still end up solving everything, but it just wasn’t as enjoyable as I think it could have been.

Along those same lines, our lack of momentum also made me feel like I wasn’t contributing anything to the game for long stretches of time. There was lots of poking around and wondering what to do next. I also think having only 4 players instead of 5 might have been more ideal, since there was at least one part of the game where I felt like the group size hindered all of us being able to see/experience/enjoy something. It’s kind of a catch-22 because we might have played even worse with fewer brains working on the puzzles, but then at least everyone could be more involved in everything, so who knows. There was a logic puzzle I really enjoyed working on, so I’m glad I at least had that as part of my experience, but I would have liked to feel like I was contributing more to the whole room.

We escaped with about 5:00 left on the clock. That would never have happened without all the help and nudges from our game master!

Final Touches
Again, our game master was great. Every time we asked for a clue, she was ON IT. The hints were immediately available to us on the screen and they were tailored exactly to our situation. As I stated above, we really needed a lot of help in this game, so this made all the difference. I also liked that the game was set up so that you have access to a new hint every 10 minutes. That’s better than getting only 3 clues for the whole game and it sets up a great balance of trying to solve things on your own and having ample help if you need it.

We went back out into the lobby and were given little pins for escaping, and then we took a group picture. This is so simple but I have somehow not seen it done anywhere else yet – they had a photo booth in the lobby! We were able to choose the frame of our photo to correspond with the game we had played, stand in front of a backdrop with the company name on it, take as many pictures as we liked, and then put in our phone number and have the picture sent to us immediately. Genius! No waiting for the pictures to be posted on a Facebook page, no not being able to see the picture beforehand, just easy picture taking and sharing. The photo area was plenty large enough to accommodate a big group to all be in the picture at the same time, too. I feel silly for praising this so much, but it was just set up so well that I cannot believe that all escape room companies aren’t doing this.

Well done, 60 To Escape! I’m just now realizing that I assumed this was one location at a chain company, but I don’t think that’s actually the case. As far as I can tell, this is their one and only location. That makes the professional look and design of everything even more impressive. I think it also says something that even though my actual playing experience wasn’t my favorite, I’m really looking forward to going back and playing their other rooms. Mystery Manor and Hidden Temple, you are in my hopefully near future!

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In conclusion…

Play This Room If…
-You have nostalgia for the 1980s, since that’s a big part of the charm of the room.
-You like technology puzzles.
-You don’t enjoy shopping and the rest of your group is cruising around the mall. 🙂

Skip This Room If…
-You have young kids.
-You have a group with more than 5 people.

Overall rating:  4 out of 5

Company website: http://www.62escape.com

Chicago · Escape Room · Public Room · Reviews · The Escape Game Chicago

Gold Rush @ The Escape Game Chicago (Chicago, IL)

Date played:  Saturday, December 22, 2018
Number of players:  8
Max number of players possible for this room: 8
Public or private game:  Public
Outcome:  Escaped

First Impressions
We played this room immediately following Prison Break, so I will skip the first impressions. 🙂

Setup
The story for this room on the website is as follows:

“For nearly two centuries, the hope of gold has lured people to the hills of Northern 
California. No one was captivated more than Clyde Hamilton, a greedy gold prospector 
who loved to gamble. Clyde made too many bets with the wrong crowd and now he’s 
missing. You’ve been tipped off to where he stashed his gold.. but so has the mob. 
Find it first!”

Game Play
We had some bad luck in that our group of 4 was paired with a group of 4 strangers for this room. Since we had just finished playing Prison Break with a group of 4 newbies that caused some issues, we were again not thrilled at having strangers in the room with us. This group had 2 children in it, and overall things went smoothly with the game play. There were a few moments when I think some people in my group would have liked to have been more involved in something and couldn’t, or would have liked to have completed something and couldn’t, but I’m sure they felt that way at times too. Just another example of why all escape rooms should be private.

I will say right off the bat: this room became my new favorite at The Escape Game, and it made it into my top 3 favorite games overall. I have learned through experience that the main thing I love in an escape room is quality immersion, and this room did a great job of that. I like when puzzles are about average difficulty, or maybe even erring on the easier side. If I can be in a really well constructed space and feel like I’m in the environment, and then have puzzles to solve that aren’t super frustrating but just hard enough to be satisfying to solve, that’s the sweet spot for me.

The room design of Gold Rush is wonderful. It begins “outdoors” near a cabin in the woods, and it’s just fun to step into something that feels so different. I loved how they made the ground with real dirt/gravel, and the cabin with real wood. The puzzles in that first section were cute, and definitely geared more towards beginners, but I loved them. There was a puzzle that used technology in a fun way, something I had done before in other rooms, but it was more enjoyable (and executed much better) in this room.

As we moved through the room, the scene design stayed at a very high level. I loved every space they created. The puzzles also were very good. They used the theme in creative and fun ways, they had things that were easy for kids to do, they had puzzles that required different kinds of strengths/abilities, and they had some really fun effects! I also think The Escape Game proves really well that you don’t need to include any red herrings in a room. Make everything useful, and the room works beautifully, without causing any frustration for the players.

I really liked this room. I wish we had been able to play with only our group of 4, but I was still able to appreciate the game design and the puzzles. We escaped with around 12 minutes left on the clock, which was a little disappointing because of course I wanted to get our money’s worth and use the whole experience. But with 8 people and our level of experience, there was no way it was going to take us the whole 60 minutes. Still, I’m glad we escaped and I think everyone had fun.

Final Touches
Our GM was really nice, and he said he knew we would escape since we had already escaped Prison Break. We looked back at the room and talked for a few minutes, and then we were on our way.

 

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In conclusion…

Play This Room If…
-You are new to escape rooms
-You have kids in your group
-You like immersive environments

Skip This Room If…
-You want to solve really complex or difficult puzzles
-You have a large group (I think this would be best for 2-4 players with some experience)

Overall rating:  5 out of 5

Company website: http://www.theescapegamechicago.com

Chicago · Escape Room · Public Room · Reviews · The Escape Game Chicago

Prison Break @ The Escape Game Chicago (Chicago, IL)

Date played:  Saturday, December 22, 2018
Number of players:  8
Max number of players possible for this room: 8
Public or private game:  Public
Outcome:  Escaped

This review took an extra long amount of time to write, due to an incredibly frustrating laptop that badly needs replacing, and also some slow internet service. Please leave your recommendations for great laptops in the comments!

First Impressions
Since I’ve been to this location several times already, I had no new impressions of the company or lobby. I would like to mention that we used Spot Hero to reserve a spot in the parking garage at 33 W Ontario and we only BARELY got a spot. We drove through the whole garage several times and saw no empty spaces (even though we had prepaid to reserve a spot) and we were in very real danger of missing our game time. We saw 2 cars that looked like they were about to leave, and when we circled back around, someone was already taking one of those spots. We just happened to luck out that the other car was also leaving and we were able to take that spot. But needless to say, I would not recommend that garage to anyone coming to this location. In the past we have parked in the garage at 50 E Ohio and have always had plenty of spots to choose from there.

Setup
The rules explanation and the storing of personal items both took place inside the room, as is always the case with The Escape Game. I still think it would be better if they did this in another room or in the lobby, but maybe space is just limited at the Chicago location.

The story for this room on the website is as follows:

“The year is 1955. You’ve been wrongfully accused of a crime, and sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole. Your new “home” is a cell that once belonged to an inmate who disappeared without a trace…or did he? Some claim he escaped. Others swear he was murdered by the infamously cruel warden. But no one actually knows…can you escape before you suffer the same fate?”

Game Play
This was a new experience for me, in that it was the very first time I ever played the same escape room twice. I previously played Prison Break back in March 2018 (blog post here) and it became my top favorite game at the time. I never, ever expected to revisit the same room again, but I had such a great time playing it that I really wanted some of my friends to experience it too. And the first time I played this room, it was one of only 3 rooms to date that I did not escape from, since we only had 3 people playing and the other 2 had never done an escape room before. So there were some things that I hadn’t gotten to do before, and it seemed worth it to play it again. (I had some fun reading my previous post about this room, where I said: “But how many people would really pay to play the exact same room again, especially if they almost completed it the first time? That’s something I don’t believe I would ever do, even as an enthusiast!” I guess you can never say never!)

This game begins with players split up into 2 different cells, and I made sure to ask that I be placed in the “left” cell, since that was the one I had not been in the last time. After now having played in both cells, I can definitively say that the “right” cell is more fun. 🙂

My team of 4 played with a group of 4 strangers. None of them had ever done an escape room before, so you can imagine how we felt going into the game. We decided to split up and put 2 of us in each cell and 2 of them in each cell, which I think was the best thing to do. I just have to repeat my constant refrain again: escape room companies in the US: PLEASE make all your rooms private! PLEASE! Don’t make customers have to pay to buy out 4 extra spaces just to have a private experience. Don’t be greedy. Those new players that don’t know what they’re signing up for? They will choose another open date and time and come back, and they won’t know any different. The first group of 4 that booked will LOVE that they get to play by themselves and it will make their experience, and their view of your company, SO much better. There is just nothing worse than finding out that a group of 4 newbies has added themselves to your room, especially when you know it’s not their fault. They saw 4 open spots and didn’t realize what that meant. (Why people don’t read more information and try to book their own private experience, I’ll never understand.) But please, for the sake of the customers and the experience they are paying for, MAKE ALL ROOMS PRIVATE.

Okay. Now that I’ve gotten that out.

The first part of the game was just ok for us. I loved being able to compare and contrast between my 2 experiences playing the room, because some things were solved in vastly different ways and it was fascinating to me. You are able to pass items between the two cells, and we realized afterwards that our cell gave away too many things. Because of this, the other cell solved a few things and we were kind of left doing nothing. I’m glad that I had played before and knew that it didn’t have to be like that, otherwise my idea of the room would have been very different. But the beginning wasn’t great for our cell.

The intro video for the room mentions that there is a thunderstorm going on, and that it will help cover your sounds as you escape. When I played back in March, I thought that those effects weren’t working, since we had normal lighting and no sound. I confirmed beforehand that the effects would be working this time, but they let me know they were very subtle. I’m glad they said that, because this time I realized that the effects had been working before too, they are just basically nonexistent. It’s a shame because it could have been REALLY cool to have lightning effects and thunder crashing and the sound of rain, but the lights stayed normal and the only sounds we heard were prison noises like alarms. A missed opportunity for cool sound immersion, I think.

There were still the same cool puzzles I had enjoyed before, and I was happy to get to experience more of them this time around. I tried very hard not to give away things that I already knew or to say too much, but I don’t know how successful I was. I think there were a few moments that I probably could have stayed quieter, but overall I hope everyone else still felt like they got to experience the game as normal.

We had another problem with our group of strangers, where they wrangled a clue out of a location that was still locked. They kept referring to it and trying to solve it, even though we weren’t there yet. Our group tried fruitlessly to tell them to ignore that for the time being (or better yet, to just put it back where it belonged until we accessed it like we were supposed to), but they didn’t really get it. I know as new players you don’t really get what’s going on all the time, but that seemed over the line to me. They also stood on the furniture at one point, reminding me that Game Masters go over those seemingly ridiculous rules for a reason.

We escaped with I think 2-3 minutes left on the clock. I knew right away that this would no longer hold the spot for my top favorite room, and I was kind of sad that my friends hadn’t gotten to have the great first experience with the room that I did back in March. Having to play with strangers that didn’t know what they were doing definitely affected the whole experience for them, and for me. I had already been reconsidering my top 3 rooms for awhile, but this experience confirmed for me that I had to do some rearranging. Check out the Hall of Fame page to see the new rankings!

Final Touches
Our GM was really nice about answering questions after the room was over. The ending had happened so quickly that I had missed seeing some things, so I appreciated him taking the time to explain things.

 

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In conclusion…

Play This Room If…
-You can arrange to have a private experience
-You have a group of 4-6 people. I think 2 people per cell is ideal, but 3 could work.
-You like very immersive, realistic environments

Skip This Room If…
-You are a beginner and have not played any escape rooms before
-You will be playing with younger kids (I think Gold Rush would be a better fit)

Overall rating:  4 out of 5

Company website: http://www.theescapegamechicago.com

Escape Factor · Escape Room · Forest Park, IL · Private Room · Reviews

The Timekeeper’s Trapped! @ Escape Factor (Forest Park, IL)

Date played:  Wednesday, December 5, 2018
Number of players:  4
Max number of players possible for this room: 10
Public or private game:  Private (only because no strangers booked with us)
Outcome:  Escaped

First Impressions
I had been to this location back in June to play the “Bonus Fun Time Game Show” room (review here) and my impression of the lobby space was still positive. I did think it was a little strange that there were random airline seats in the locker/storage area, which they called the airplane room but I think must just be prop storage for an upcoming room? But otherwise it was great.

Setup
Our Game Master was Dan and he explained the rules in the main lobby. He was really, really great at his job! He just had the perfect combination of professionalism with a sense of humor, he connected with the group, and I really felt like he loved his job. Big kudos to Dan!

The story for this room on the website is as follows:

“You have been summoned to the lab of the Official Interplanetary Timekeeper. An evil group has been bending time for their own benefit, placing your colleague in extreme peril. Using your group’s unique blend of skills and teamwork, you and your guests must work together to free the Timekeeper. Can you complete your quest in time?”

Game Play
This room was definitely on theme with “time.” I thought the decor was well done and that there was a nice style to the room. The above story line didn’t really ever come into play at all, but the puzzles were all nicely tied into the time theme. I personally don’t usually need much in the way of story, and while playing the room I wasn’t thinking about the story at all, but a little more story line would have added to the overall experience. When I compare this room to rooms that DO integrate the story into the whole room (like Locurio), I realize how much can be added to the experience by really feeling like you’re immersed in something with a more narrative arc.

I felt like 4 people was the perfect amount for this room. (I feel that way about most rooms.) I think up to 6 wouldn’t have been too bad, but any more than that would have just been too much. I suppose if it was a group of all new players, then more people could be helpful, but 4 seemed just right. We all got an equal chance to complete different puzzles, without feeling like we missed out on the rest of the room.

I liked the puzzles in this room, and felt very in-sync with the creators. Sometimes puzzles are written or created in ways that just don’t make sense to you, and sometimes you are right there on the same wavelength with them – this was a same-wavelength room for me. An explanation on a clue would click with me right away, or the setup of a clue would make absolute sense to me as to what I should do with it. There was just the right amount of difficulty, nothing that was frustrating or tedious, no red herrings, no outside knowledge needed, and variety while remaining in the time theme. Maybe I was just having a good puzzle day, but I also felt like I just “got” the room and the style of the clues. (There was one thing in the room that I took much too long to figure out how to interact with, and it wasn’t even something hidden, I just wasn’t looking at it and paying attention to what I was seeing I guess. So maybe that supports the theory that it wasn’t just a good puzzle day for me, or maybe it makes me an over-thinking enthusiast, or maybe it just means I need to get my eyes checked for awareness.)

Overall I would say this was a solid room with good puzzles. If I had to give it a downside, I would say that there wasn’t really much “wow” factor to it. Some parts of the decor were very plain, and there wasn’t anything over the top in the scenery or clues. It makes me want to recommend this room more to beginners because it’s a fine room with good puzzles, but enthusiasts might want something a little extra.

Dan asked us beforehand if we wanted nudges, and I appreciated that. I always want to at least get to the end of a room, even if we don’t beat it, so at first he gave us almost too many nudges and I wanted time to struggle a little more. But we escaped with 2:36 left on the clock, so I think he just wanted to make sure we got through all the puzzles.

Final Touches
I like that Escape Factor asks if you want to see their other rooms while you’re there. We peeked at the game show room, for those of us who hadn’t played it before, and then we also got to see their brand new about-to-open Tree House room. I think more companies should do this, because it does get you interested in coming back to play them, and it doesn’t really give anything away.

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In conclusion…

Play This Room If…
-You have a group with beginners
-You mostly like solving puzzles in an escape room and don’t need many frills
-You have 4-6 people in your group

Skip This Room If…
-You want a game with a “wow” factor
-You like a detailed story line that integrates heavily into the game play

Overall rating:  4 out of 5

Company website: http://www.escapefactorchicago.com