ESCAPE ROOM REVIEW – THE QUICK AND DIRTY
Play if… you get pissed off at not completing the mission and have the cojones to go back for round 2.
Avoid if… you think things should always be easier the second time around.
Brain Storm Adventure: LOCATION CLOSED
Address: 312 Victory Drive, Herndon, VA 20170 (click address for Google Map)
The Room – The Heist: RETIRED
Description (from the company website): An extremely dangerous, criminal mastermind and his crew have stolen Johnny’s – my top client – very valuable diamonds, gold, and more. Johnny has given us the information necessary for you and your team to complete this operation…
- Wanted by all International Security Agencies
- Considered Extremely Dangerous
- Professional Thief/Assassin:
- Historic Art & Jewelry
- Precious stones, diamonds, and gold
- Classified Documents
- Travels with highly trained bodyguards
- Many connections
- Security on Premises
WARNING! THERE HAVE BEEN MANY AGENTS BEFORE YOU THAT HAVE BEEN UNSUCCESSFUL. ALL HAVE FAILED THE OPERATION TO RETRIEVE MY CLIENT’S STOLEN ITEMS.
- Assemble your team
- Report to location
BE PREPARED • BE DILIGENT • BE FOCUSED
- Find the clues
- Solve the puzzles
- Search all rooms
- COMPLETE EACH TASK AS DIRECTED!
- Don’t set off the silent alarm
- Find all stolen items
- Follow THE directions
- Be careful of the lasers
Difficulty (1-10): not listed, but no one (to date) has ever successfully escaped with all 10 items
Time Limit: 55 minutes
Cost: $30 per person up to 4, and slight price breaks after that. We paid $22 each for 7 people this time vs. the $18 per person discounted rate that was offered. On your second attempt, if you pay $22 up to full price, you are eligible for the whole pot of prize money if your team is the first to complete the room. If you take the $18 per person discounted rate, you are only eligible to win back half of the prize money.
Identifier: R1 (but this room has the clues and puzzles reset every week, allowing you to come back and try again)
Party Size: up to 10 (max), but at least 6 is suggested
Staging Area: This is located in an indoor game room facility (indoor golf simulator, anyone?), and has plenty of seating on couches and chairs. Restroom is right next to the seating area. Food and libations are also available in the Bar-n-Lounge area.
Metro Access/Parking: Not metro-accessible, but it’s out near Dulles Airport and easy access from the Dulles Toll Road.
NOTE: We suggest you read about our first attempt on this room (Better “Safe” Than “Dead”) before continuing with this post.
This is the video we took before we entered the room:
This is the video we took just after we completed the room:
Description of the room: You start in your mission briefing area outside of Dimitri’s house with your handler (handlers for this mission, not Game Masters). After your briefing, you enter the first room…
Understanding of the Mission: Go through Dimitri’s house and accomplish the objectives for each room, solve the tasks assigned, avoid security, make your way to the safe room, and find and escape with all 10 of your boss’ stolen items within 55 minutes, PLUS two secret documents of Dimitri’s that your boss now wants because you didn’t complete the mission last time. So, now you have 12 items to find, and only three clues available to you (versus five on the first attempt).
If your time runs out, you get captured and executed (even if you have found some items). Otherwise, you can abort your mission and escape with what you recovered.
Did We Escape: Well, we escaped this time by the skin of our teeth (aborted said mission) with six items, so we definitely got better this time. And, we did make the leader board again because we recovered 50% of the stolen items and escaped with those.
Time Remaining: 1 second
Our Suggested Party Size: We had 7, and that worked pretty well, but 6 would work too.
Did the room challenge the entire team? Hell, f#$&ing yeah!
Members of our team (other than the ERG): Tara, Eric, Steph, Heather and Mark
Worth the time and money? Absolutely
Where to Eat/Drink Before/After: Try Google. This time, we headed back to Kingstowne for drinks at Fiona’s Irish Pub.
|JASON SAYS:||MIKE SAYS:|
|Overall Expectation (Summary)|
|Pretty sure we had said upon leaving the first time that we were coming back. And, well, I’m not much of a liar, so we found ourselves back at Brain Storm Adventure the one week to the day following our first foray into Dimitri’s house, determined to make it out again, this time with all the items. Rick had told us that it would be harder and that we’d have 3 (not 5) clues to use, so we prepared and had a game plan. The objects were the same, but the puzzles were different (enough) to make it more frustrating that we still didn’t 100% it.
Are we going back for a third round? Probably…
|So, after getting a draw on our first attempt of doing this room, we decided that we ABSOLUTELY had to go back and try it again, even though the company switches out the codes, puzzles, clues and hiding places (they re-set the room every week to keep it fresh).
However, they also make it harder to win the room (since you now have some idea of what you need to do) and provide less clues (three this time versus five).
I truly expected us to fully complete the mission this time, but it was as hard as it was last week, maybe even a bit harder (giggity).
|I always have a hard time remembering the story and mission (because I’m more interested in the other ratings, honestly), but they changed it up for us. Last time, Dimitri was on his way from the airport.
THIS time, he was detained at the airport and was waiting on his lawyer to get there to get him out. Still the same 55 minutes, but slightly different story. Additionally, now because we failed to get all 10 items last time, our client, Johnny, wants us to steal 2 things of Dimitri’s from the house. So yeah, there’s that. F Dimitri.
|You would think that they’d give you essentially the same old briefing as before.
NOT THIS PLACE! They tailored the story to include the details from our first mission and adapted the storyline to include what they did to make the room a bit more difficult.
This time, Dimitri has been detained by the agency, giving us the time to infiltrate his house. However, his high-powered attorneys have secured his release and he’ll be back home in 55 minutes.
Now, our client was a bit pissed last time that we only escaped with 20% of his items, but we didn’t get caught or executed, so he’s giving us another chance to redeem ourselves.
|Same as before, but with the addition of stealing 2 of Dimitri’s items, so 12 items this time.
|Same as before: avoid security, don’t trip the lasers or the silent alarm, complete the task list for each room before progressing to the next one, utilize some of the props to help you get into the next room
BUT, this time your client not only wants his 10 items recovered, but now wants two of Dimitri’s valuables (a new diamond and another bar of gold), PLUS two secret documents that Dimitri has on another victim to use as blackmail.
|Puzzle Diversity (Rating)|
|As I think I’ve made clear via previous posts, I like cool shit. The puzzles were essentially the same, but they added a few seemingly minor things and changed a few of the ones we were expecting. (Again, I’ll reference the stove.)
I, obviously, must preface (postface?) that by saying that we knew they changed things up week to week so that you could come back multiple times, and – yes – we were told there would be more changes should be plan a third outing, which I am very much looking forward to with another hand-picked team. I. Don’t. Like. Losing!
Again, I think I need to say that they switch this room up every week, so it would be a lot for us to expect that they would switch out all the puzzles and locks and clues to something different. They re-use some of the items, but everything is pretty much different in what you have to figure out, even if some of the formats are the same (so it’s like encountering a new puzzle).
Because they kept the diversity of what we saw before but made it an entirely new experience, I’ll increase their rating this time to top marks.
|Puzzle Complexity (Rating)|
|Ok, so we made Rule #10, having do with with looking under things. Again, nothing was *overly* complicated in there, and this time we made it a point, before we even set foot inside the building, to have a game plan.
We had a slightly smaller group this time (by 1) so that made things somewhat easier (read: not really). Mostly the fact that we had been in there already and kinda knew what to look for helped us out. I wouldn’t necessarily say it took anything away from the experience, but the fact that we were flying through the room looking for things (looking, not finding) (and still managed to overlook some small things) added back to anything that was taken away.
Rating: 9/10 (-1 for the repeating of some of the things, but +1 because we still stunk it up at times)
Even after doing the room once, we thought maybe SOME of it would be the same (I mean, how much can they really re-set a room in a week), so I was pleasantly surprised that the experience was similar but COMPLETELY different in how we moved through the room. We still had to ask for two clues and had one of the slowest times escaping the first room.
We did, however, have the fastest time in entering the safe room, so that was a boost to our collective egos… until we didn’t recover all 12 items. GRRRRR
|So, I said last time that there was an animatronic in there that kept pissing me off. It was off this time (thank you).
There was still that same flow from the last game, which somewhat surprised me. I went in assuming that my knowledge from our initial run through would help me, and while it did in some instances (the bomb case isn’t going anywhere, nor is the disposal area or the keypad to get into the guard room) it did. But there was still enough changed between the 3 rooms that, even though we had a game plan for the safe room (the room of safes, that is to say), we still got flustered. We got in there with over 14 minutes (*gasp*) and still didn’t get everything.
Long story short, everything just WORKED. (This last line remains unedited from the original post.)
Additionally, to pick up on something Mike said regarding the earpiece and walkie-talkie, yes, it definitely helped me hear everything much clearer (though at times I did have to go in a corner, yell STFU, and cup my hand over my ear, but we’re sometimes a rowdy bunch). I don’t think wireless earbuds for all is economically feasible (nor healthy; I really hope the one I had way up in my ear was disposable…). And yes, $10 per item recovered. (Go me! You’ll be receiving an invoice shortly.)
Not a lot to say here that I didn’t say with my last review. They took what they delivered before and expanded upon it by providing a whole new experience.
The way that they integrated our first attempt into the storyline and mission were fantastic bonuses, and put us right back into the experience and hopes of actually pleasing our client this time.
One thing I didn’t like as much this time around was that the walkie talkie had an earpiece, so only Jason could listen to our handler’s instructions. We had the issue last time with us being too loud and not being able to hear him over the walkie talkie, so the earpiece was probably to correct that. Maybe (depending on cost) provide wireless ear buds (one in each ear) for every member of the team? I’m a bit OCD so only one person getting the clues or updates on remaining time drove me a wee bit insane.
We also suggested that they give us a watch or clock synched with the game clock time, since none of us actually bothered to set a timer on our phones (you can have your phones in the room to use the flashlights or to look stuff up… or to set an alarm – just as long as you don’t take pictures or post stuff to social media). There’s a twist to doing so because of something that occurs during the experience, so you’d have to adapt if you try this out.
They did, however, take one of Jason’s suggestions after we did the first room, which was to offer a percentage of the prize money based on how many items you recover and escape with (if you get caught, you still get ZERO). This was a nice surprise so we got $60 back in cold, hard cash, since we recovered half of the items and the full pot was $120.
So, now that you know about this incentive, GO AND DO THIS ROOM!
|We’re going back to try it again. This one’s being called a draw on our scoreboard. (This is unchanged from the original post.)||Had even more fun this time around, but still got super pissed we missed one little thing that prevented us from getting all 12 items.|
|Game Master (Summary)|
|Rick and Anastasia were there again to help us out. Rick continued with the cryptic clues (which I was actively listening for this time, thankyouverymuch). They did help (again), but of course our shortest member (I’m looking at you, Tara) was the one that went for the item the highest up. So, to that I say, HAHAHAHAHAHA!||
Rick and Anastasia were great, once again, and really make the experience fun and exciting by giving you continuous updates.
|How Helpful Were Any Clues Given, if any (Summary)|
|What Mike said.||
Again, the clues we asked for were helpful (we used two), and the fact that they make it more complex by reducing the number of times you can ask for help on multiple attempts is pretty diabolical.
|Anger Level Score||ERG (pronounced URG, as in “we should have known better”) Score|
|Moved this one from 2 from the original review to 3, mainly because we still didn’t 100% this B. We had 14 f&#!ing minutes to clear out those damn safes and still managed to mess it up. SO. PIST.
Ok, making it 4 now…
Rating: ??? ? Fists – 4/5
|Well, this time I’m going to give this a FAT OLE FOUR because when we figured out where we messed up in the end, I felt like smacking myself in the face… with a baseball bat.
Rating: ?♂️ ?♂️ ?♂️ ?♂️ FacePalms – 4/5
ESCAPE ROOM GUYS’ OVERALL SCORING: 9.75/10
Final Thought: This is the first time we’ve done a room that had not been completely overhauled in terms of story, mission, puzzles, locks, etc. The same basic premise remains the same, but the fact that we had an entirely different experience is pretty tremendous and a nod to the ingenuity of the folks at Brain Storm Adventure.
Who’s up for Attempt #3?