ESCAPE ROOM REVIEW – THE QUICK AND DIRTY
Play if… you live in a messy house or apartment. Or you think escaping death is thrilling.
Avoid if… you are prone to wetting yourself or truly believe the moon landing was faked.
Immersion Escape Rooms:
Address: 2125 Ivy Road, Charlottesville, VA 22903 (click address for Google Map)
The Room – House Arrest:
Description (from the company website): The world is heading for a catastrophic collapse since the release of Silver Lining, a cloud-based computer virus developed by Locus Industries. Dave Benson, Chicago journalist and conspiracy theorist, knows this and Locus will stop at nothing to keep him quiet. Enter his apartment and retrace his steps during the final moments leading up to Locus’ arrival at his door. Does he get out in time? The story is in your hands.
Difficulty (1-10): N/A – website lists a 40% success rate with a record of 36:45.
Time Limit: 60 minutes
Party Size: 2-8
Staging Area: The location is downstairs in the strip mall and does not have an outside door to the parking lot (you have to go in through the building and down the stairs). Waiting area is clean, several chairs; place looks nice and cozy.
Metro Access/Parking: There’s no metro or anything nearby, but there is plenty of parking.
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 enter a small studio apartment that is somewhat in shambles. Obviously, the person living here has other things to be concerned about than regularly cleaning the place.
Understanding of the Mission: Escape your locked apartment before agents from Locus Industries show up and cart you away.
Did We Escape: Yes
Time Remaining: Roughly 2 minutes.
Our Suggested Party Size: 6 would have been the sweet spot, but 7 didn’t hurt us
Did the room challenge the entire team? Yes
Members of our team (other than the ERG): Amanda, Mike, Corey, Brittany, Rohan
Worth the time and money? Yes
Where to Eat/Drink Before/After:
- We went to the BBQ joint nearby (less than 100 yards away), Moe’s Original BBQ
|Overall Expectation (Summary)
|The background story on Immersion’s website basically said we were in for a bit of a thrill ride. I wasn’t sure what to make of the whole computer virus thing, but as the story continues into the second room onsite, it becomes more apparent (we did them back to back).
We don’t get down to Charlottesville frequently, so I figured might as well convince the rest of the group to do both rooms. I assumed after the first one, this wouldn’t be a problem. I was right.
|We decided to head down to Charlottesville for the weekend, specifically to do a number of the rooms there. We had initially planned on going back to Cville Escape Rooms (where we had done Spy’s Demise), but they were closed for the weekend. So, after a quick Google search, we found Immersion Escape Rooms, and were intrigued at doing the rooms (including a 2-person room!) that all followed the same story line (we hadn’t seen this anywhere to date).
We had two Escape Room Virgins (ERV) with us, and two regular members of our team of Disturbed Friends. As one of the newbies is a bit claustrophobic, we only booked one room and then would decide if we were going to do a second.
It wasn’t really a choice. Everyone had a great time doing House Arrest that we ended up going right into The Lion’s Den immediately afterwards since it was open.
|You play as Dave, noted journalist and recent conspiracy theorist. He knows that Locus Industries is behind the collapse of society that’s occurring (it’s their computer virus, after all), and Locus wants him (you) dead. The twist on this one is the fact that you ARE Dave. Make it out of his apartment and live to conspire another day. But if they get to your place before you figure out everything you need to know…
*ALEXA! Don’t kill Mike.
|The protagonist in this story is Dave, a journalist and conspiracy theorist, who has been investigating a company called Locus Industries, which developed and released a computer virus called Silver Lining that was taking control of all the computer systems across the globe and being used for nefarious purposes by the CEO. This scenario immediately made me think of SkyNet (without the whole “computers becoming sentient” thing), and was intriguing because it’s a new take on the whole “technology may kill you someday” possibility. As someone who now has a bunch of smart devices in his condo*, the premise of the room was pretty cool.
A different take on the room, however, is that YOU are Dave… not having to simply find out what happened to him… kinda like a whole Quantum Leap vibe. Your contact wakes you up with a phone call and tells you that agents from Locus are on their way, and you have 60 minutes to escape your locked down apartment (crazy conspiracy theorists… when will you learn not to barricade yourself in your own home without a simple escape hatch) before they bust down your door, capture you and silence your theories…
|Retrace Dave’s steps to escape his apartment and get to safety before Locus comes. (It’s kinda weird trying to get out of your own apartment. Why wouldn’t you just know the combinations and leave immediately? Yes, I get that it’s because YOU’RE the character, but still. It felt weird.)
|After being woken from a sound sleep, your mission is to escape your own place before being captured by Locus. As conspiracy theorists aren’t always 100% right in the head, trying to figure out the combos to the locks that you’ve set up isn’t all that far-fetched. I, myself, occasionally have forgotten the combo to my gym lock.
|Puzzle Diversity (Rating)
|Any diversity rating that starts with “there were things we haven’t seen” is usually going to get a good rating. That said, there were things we haven’t seen.
After talking with our GM, Mark, after the game, we found the company has a background in movie effects. Let me tell you, they were able to put that experience to GREAT use as everything looked and felt so real. We’ve been in rooms before where you can tell there were some amateurs that made it (or at least decorated) but not this place. I will use John Hammond’s quote from Jurassic Park: Spared no expense.
The puzzles fit in quite well and made great use of what really felt like someone’s studio apartment. Newspapers, movies, books, radio. Everything in there was used in some fashion and it was well done. I don’t want to say anything more because I feel like I’ll be ruining it for you.
|While there were lots of combo/key locks in the room (which fits the theme of a person trying to secure their own place), the puzzles themselves that you had to solve to get the solutions/keys to those locks were pretty cool.
The apartment is messy, which contributes to the vibe of a “crazy” conspiracy theorist. I really liked how the puzzles were set up… they didn’t use a lot of tech and thrills… just everyday items that you had to figure out how they related to escaping the room. Maps, coordinates, books, movies, radio, TV, newspaper clippings were all in the room. Some were red herrings and others needed to be solved. It’s up to you to puzzle them out… puzzle them out… get it? (bad pun inserted)
|Puzzle Complexity (Rating)
|Nothing was overly hard (well, nothing that I specifically worked on), but we did get stumped from time to time. What really worked, however, was that when one person was stumped, we Rule #3’d this bitch and pulled people over and talked. I got 2 puzzles that way from collaborating with others and broke out of some slumps. There were a few really clever puzzles and one specifically I’d love to incorporate into a room of my own.
|So, with two ERVs, we were a little nervous about how they would take to the room, but they jumped right in and started really scrutinizing everything.
The puzzles ranged in complexity from “oh,yeah, that’s what we have to do” to “how the hell do we get this f%&@ng thing open?”
There is one really great puzzle that took a lot of thinking on how to go about solving it, and once we figured it out, it was pretty easy. I will admit that we started to just approach it the way anyone would expect, but that is a HUGE time suck (but if we didn’t figure out what to do, we may have dismissed it as a red herring).
We actually were not complete victims of Rule #3 in this room… if someone couldn’t get the solution or were stumped, they pulled in someone else to help or try it out. There was one item that was overlooked, but it was overlooked by half the team, so that’s on us.
|So, when I said before that it all worked, I mean it. The room really looked like some crazy dudes place, complete with a map and string pointing to things (that’s all I’m saying about that, but I’m sure you get the visual). Again, everything in the room was purposeful (there were a ton of things to make you waste time, too) and, when you eventually realized what it was you were looking for or trying to do, things not only were apparent, but literally fell into place. The key there, of course, was figuring out what you were looking for.
|The storyline was worked through this entire room very well in terms of colliding with the puzzles and clues and locks. In fact, one of the puzzles that we had to solve gave us a bit of insight into WHY Dave became this conspiracy theorist, but we didn’t learn the whole story until we did The Nightly Reminder.
Everything fit well, and had its own purpose (whether it was something to solve, or to make you waste time). I did feel at points where I was a bit crazy and scared (under the gun due to the timeframe). When time was beginning to run out, there was a twist that made us all jump. It definitely kept the adrenaline going and provided that last push to get us out of there.
We did find out after doing two of the rooms that Mark and Jeremy (our two points of contact at Immersion that night) had a cinema background and incorporated that into building their rooms. You could definitely tell because the slightest details were not overlooked.
|I think my favorite part was the sense of urgency as time winds down. I don’t want to give away the twist that Mike references, but man, that was intense.
And the space they created for the ‘exit’…I can’t say I could have created it any better. Bravo.
|The room itself was done really well and I enjoyed the challenge. I also loved the fact that we introduced two more people to the fantastical world of Escape Rooms.
|Game Master (Summary)
|Mark was our host. I wouldn’t call him a GM (though I did earlier) because your hints/help came in the form of Leonard via a tablet. You could ask questions, etc., and he would also give you some more background story that helped a little.
|There was a spin on this one too. Your GM communicates with you through a tablet as Leonard, your point of contact in taking down Silver Lining and Locus. It was a pretty cool way to interact, but a hint is to use the voice-to-text feature instead of typing so you don’t waste precious seconds.
|How Helpful Were Any Clues Given, if any (Summary)
|I don’t remember what was a clue and what was background story. I do remember asking Leonard a couple questions (such as how many incorrect safe combination entries would lock it), but not specifically clues.
|We asked for two hints, and Leonard was great about prodding us (versus giving us the outright solution, something which I really like), so we still felt that we did the room using our own abilities.
|Anger Level Score
|ERG (pronounced URG, as in “we should have known better”) Score
|None. This room was great and I highly recommend it.
Rating: Fists – 0/5
|Yeah, only one small point where half the team overlooked one small item, which cost us a few minutes.
Rating: ?♂️ ?♂️ FacePalms – 2/5
ESCAPE ROOM GUYS’ OVERALL SCORING: 8.4/10
Final Thought: While not on our original list, we found Immersion Escape Rooms and had a great experience doing the first room in the series. We highly recommend that you do the three rooms of the story line in this order: House Arrest, The Lion’s Den, and A Nightly Reminder. The story is woven together so well through the rooms that we’re looking forward to going back in August/September when they open up their new room which takes place in-between House Arrest and The Lion’s Den, where you end up in Leonard’s laboratory. The guys from Immersion were also really friendly and we enjoyed hearing about the background of why they created the rooms in this format.