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

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

Bonus Fun Time Game Show Challenge @ Escape Factor Forest Park

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)
Outcome:  Escaped

First Impressions
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.

Setup
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!

Game Play
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:

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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. 🙂

Final Touches
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!

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In conclusion…

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/