I Certainly Felt Like a Private Dick… – Room: Detective Office – March 4, 2017


Play if… you like a good detective novel and have an affinity for the 1920s.

Avoid if… you can never remember the combination to your gym locker.


Escape Room LoCo:

Address: 2A Cardinal Park Dr SE, Suite #103A, Leesburg, VA 20175 (click address for Google Map)

Contact and Website: 703-468-8538

The Room – Detective Office: RETIRED

Description (from the company website): You and your teammates are a group of Private Investigators back in the 1920’s.  There have been a series of murders recently all with a mysterious calling card left at the scene.  All clues point to the fact that the next murder will occur in 60 minutes.  Try to solve the case and catch the murderer before time runs out!

Difficulty (1-10)8/10

Time Limit: 60 minutes

Cost: $29 per person

Identifier: R1

Party Size: 2-6

Staging Area: a very simple lobby with a few chairs and a coat rack. This place has a sample of each lock for you to practice on before entering the room.

Metro Access/Parking: it’s in Leesburg, so you gotta drive, but there is plenty of parking.


Here is the Facebook Live video before we entered the room:

And here is the video after we escaped the room:


Description of the room: a small Private Investigator’s office, set in the 1920s… and a whole hell of a lot of padlocks.

Understanding of the Mission: Investigate a series of murders and find the serial killer before he/she kills again.

Did We Escape: Yes

Time Remaining: 4:22

Our Suggested Party Size: 4-6

Did the room challenge the entire team? Yes and no. More on that later.

Members of our team (other than the ERG): Steph, Dalia, Alphonzo

Team Disturbed Friends (Jason, Mike, Dalia, Alphonzo and Stephanie) solved the murder and caught the serial killer!
Team Disturbed Friends (Jason, Mike, Dalia, Alphonzo and Stephanie) solved the murder and caught the serial killer!

Worth the time and money? yes

Where to Eat/Drink Before/After:

  • Dog Money Brewery – stop in for pub food and a flight their brews. Home-made pretzels and dipping sauces are awesome.

Our Scoring:

Overall Expectation (Summary)
I was hoping for something Dick Tracy-like (because it’s the only other movie that needs to be remade, let’s be honest here) with multiple criminal masterminds trying to throw us off the trail of the one whose plan we were thwarting. I didn’t get it. We bought a Groupon for this location so we could actually do two rooms this month. We paired this room with a vineyard event later on in the afternoon, so we figured we’d make a day of it.

As to the location and room itself, I was curious as to the theme (who doesn’t want to be a private detective?), but didn’t have any major expectations beyond that because this is the first room we’ve done at this location.

Story (Rating)
As a local gumshoe, round up as many clues as possible to determine who the victim and killer are. There was something else in there that we didn’t find out until mid-way through, but I can’t spoil it.

Rating: 7/10

The story was interesting in a Son of Sam kinda way.

There’s been a series of murders and the serial killer has been leaving behind notes, and you’re the team of investigators assigned to the case.

Rating: 7/10

Mission (Rating)
Follow the clues and dossiers to determine who the killer is and stop them from killing another victim in the next 60 minutes.

Rating: 6/10

Review the dossiers of the previous murders and use them to narrow down a list of suspects to the murderer, who will strike and kill the next victim in 60 minutes.

Rating: 8/10

Puzzle Diversity (Rating)
Everything we had to do revolved around opening a lock of some sort. Like, everything but 1 puzzle was lock-based. I walked in the room and just said, Ah fuck.

Fortunately, the puzzles themselves were varied enough to keep me mostly interested, but 6 people was a little too much.

Rating: 7/10

Locks… why did it have to be locks? (borrowed and slightly altered from Indiana Jones).

So, we knew we were in for it when we entered the lobby and they had one of each type of lock you would/could experience in the room to practice on before you started your experience.

So, essentially everything was a lock to solve, which I’m not a big fan of. A few are okay, but this room had so many that the experience has made me want to avoid going to my storage locker or the gym in the next few weeks just so I don’t have to deal with another lock.

Now, the puzzles themselves that we had to solve (to get the combinations for the locks) were pretty good, and – as a private detective – you need to use your powers of observation to solve them.

Rating: 7/10

Puzzle Complexity (Rating)
I wouldn’t necessarily say they were overly complex. We ended up overlooking a few things that we shouldn’t have overlooked and I felt needlessly stupid after getting a clue.

Rating: 7/10

So, the puzzles we had to solve ranged from pretty easy (we solved within minutes) to complex (one took us almost 20 minutes), so there is a good mix of satisfaction and frustration as you go through the room.

We did, however, overlook some obvious clues to solve the puzzles, so the ERG score will tell you more.

Rating: 8/10

Flow/Cohesiveness/Uniqueness (Rating)
This one’s tricky (but not as tricky as rocking a rhyme). In retrospect, I’d say everything flowed together, but mainly because it had to. We knew after the briefing but before entering the room proper that this was going to be a linear room, but to what degree, we didn’t know.

What we ended up getting was an experience that frustrated (not *only* because of the above issues) but because we stood there like ignoramuses for a long enough time that by the time we asked for clue #1 we had already wasted enough time standing there trying to figure it all out on our own.

Rating: 4/10

So, I’ll start off by saying that we went into the room knowing that it was going to be a lot of locks and that it was going to be a very linear experience (meaning that you had to solve one clue to get to the next and so forth). When you have more than a few people in the room, this kind of experience doesn’t work as well because there are only so many people who can crowd around the puzzles in order to try and solve them... and – if you get stuck on one – you are prevented from going any further until you resolve it (often with the help of a clue).

I also think that it’s sometimes a cop-out (no pun intended) to put everything behind a series of padlocks because you can easily repurpose the filing cabinet (not a spoiler, you can see this in the video on their homepage) and change a few decorations and you can turn the room into something completely different (good for keeping expenses down, but not as much in adding to the experience). This location is out in Leesburg, so I’m assuming that they may not have as much traffic as the locations in DC (just based on population), but a few different types of locks would be appreciated.

That being said, the clues and puzzles did work very well with the theme. We’ve done a few detective rooms before and we saw some new ideas here in terms of the types of puzzles to solve.I did also enjoy the item the GM gives you to wear upon entering the room, which segued into the experience about half-way through, but I can’t tell you more without ruining this part. But, I’ll also say that this kinda went nowhere and could have been incorporated better or made part of the overall mission.

Rating: 5/10

Fun/Amusement (Summary)
Unfortunately, I can’t really give the commentary here I’d like to because the part that I liked the most would be considered a *spoiler*. So, I’m going to write it in white text after this. Highlight to see.


You find out later on in the room that one of the PIs is actually an accomplice to the crimes, but this information had NO BEARING on the end result whatsoever. Such a missed opportunity for an added game mechanic.

It’s hard for me to ever say that I didn’t have fun in a room. That’s all part of the experience. For reasons I’ve already mentioned, I started off frustrated and then got more into it the further along we got.

One thing new we saw at this location is that you spin a big wheel before you go in and that determines how many clues you can ask for and still make the leaderboard (another plus), but I would suggest taking 0 and 1 off the wheel.

And I’ll give a shoutout to my counterpart here

That is pretty FREAKIN brilliant with the white text.

Game Master (Summary)
Our GM was ok. Nothing against her, but for the mission briefing, she just read from a print out. I’d have liked to see her do this from memory or off the top of her head. I don’t think this is a reflection of her; I just would have preferred that they knew the scenario and projected it onto us, rather than just regurgitate a story.  Our GM was good. She prepared us for the linear experience and all the locks, and then read the mission from a handout, which provides all the basic detail. As I’ve said in previous posts, the GM can sometimes make the experience in how enthusiastic they are about giving you your mission and the backstory, so I’d lose the script and get everyone geared up to do the room.

Throughout the experience, she was very attentive and provided excellent clues when we asked for them (we all had to be in agreement to request one), and there were parts of the experience that she got involved in an indirect way, which we haven’t seen in too many of our experiences.

How Helpful Were Any Clues Given, if any (Summary)
The clues we asked for (yes, plural; I think we used 2) were simple. But when we got them I was like, seriously?!? The FUH. Yeah, so we used 3 clues (although one was more of a confirmation that we had the right combo to a lock… turned out to be user error), and she guided us through the puzzle without providing us the solution, which is always appreciated.
Anger Level Score ERG (pronounced URG, as in “we should have known better”) Score
I’m more annoyed at the puzzles we didn’t get than anything else, overall.

Rating: 2/5 Fists

There were a few ERG moments as in not doing the locks correctly, and having to ask for clues… when we finally solved them, there were a few “WHAAAAT????” moments.

Rating: ?‍♂️?‍♂️?‍♂️?‍♂️ FacePalms – 4/5


Final Thoughts: If you’ve read our other reviews, you know that the ERG dislike an overabundance of padlocks and a fully linear experience (we generally have 6-8 people on our team, which we scale down based on the suggested size in the room so we don’t overcrowd it on our own), so you can take our rating knowing these two key factors (other people may LOVE locks and a set path). However, this room did have some good challenges and is a good one to practice your lock skills (LOL). We would also suggest incorporating the item we make vague references to in our ratings more into the overall experience because it just seemed to not fully connect to the rest of the room’s overall mission.