So This is What It Feels Like to Be a Sardine – Room: Abandoned Submarine – August 6, 2017


Play if… you love underwater thrillers like The Abyss or Leviathan.

Avoid if… you dislike dark, creepy, and eerie places.



Address: 353 New Leicester Highway, Office Suite F, Asheville, NC 28806 (click address for Google Map) – look for the red door

Note: Check out our interview with Kyle, one of the owners of A-Escape, for some more background on the design and what thinking went into the development of this room.

Contact and Website: 252-621-0341

The Room – Abandoned Submarine:

Description (from the company website): Approximately three days ago  the U.S.S. Fortitude failed to check in at its scheduled time. What followed was a series of eerie communications from the submarine, followed by complete silence. The sub has gone dark, and the status of its crew is unknown.

Your team is being sent down to investigate. Just remember: In the deep, no one can hear you scream.

Difficulty (1-10): not rated

Time Limit: 60 minutes

Cost: $15 per person

Identifier: R1

Party Size: Up to 8 people

Staging Area: A lobby with a few chairs and some puzzles on the walls. They have puzzles on the bathroom walls as well.

Metro Access/Parking: It’s in Asheville, so you’ll need a car.


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: Your initial room (and part of the mission) is to travel  down to the abandoned sub in an underwater craft and dock with it.

Understanding of the Mission: Enter the submarine, SECRET MISSION POINT 2, find out what happened to the crew, and SECRET MISSION POINT 4.

Did We Escape: Affirmative

Time Remaining: 18:29 – number 2 on the Leaderboard!

Our Suggested Party Size: 6 was perfect

Did the room challenge the entire team? Yes

Members of our team (other than the ERG): Corey, Brittany and Heather

Team Disturbed Friends (Corey, Brittany, Heather, Jason and Mike) solved the mystery of the missing submarine and made the leaderboard at A-Escape in Asheville, NC!

Worth the time and money? Yes

Where to Eat/Drink Before/After: Lots of places in Asheville, so Google it.

Our Scoring:

Overall Expectation (Summary)
You should know by now that anywhere I go for more than a day I will be forced to do an escape room. (TWIST MY ARM, WHY DON’T YOU?!?!?) So Asheville (for mah birfday!) was no different. Along with all the hiking and drinking, there was an escape room to do (again, duh).

This one sounded cool from the description on the site (copied above) and I liked that they do NOT put you with strangers. If you book any number of slots for the room, only those people will be in the room, so you’ll know everyone with you. I like that. And this place is the cheapest location I’ve ever been to. (And I was pleasantly surprised with how awesome it was.)

And I have a feeling this is going to be a hard review to write without giving away too much information.

We ended up going to Asheville, NC for Jason’s birthday, so – OF COURSE – we had to do an escape room while we were there. We didn’t know too much about the local companies, so Jason picked this one, which had a cool description, good reviews and was well-priced.

We’ve done a number of military/spy missions before, so this seemed really interesting. Other than that, i had no expectations. 

Story (Rating)
A nuclear submarine has gone dark and you’re sent in to investigate. And that’s just the description they give you on the website. When you get there, more detail is given via pre-game briefing and you are set on your way.

Rating: 8/10

A high-tech, classified sub missed its check-in three days ago, and the last communication you received was a bit… strange. Now all communications have gone dark, and the powers-that-be have sent you 5,000 feet below the surface in a small craft to dock with the sub and figure out what the hell is going on.

Rating: 7.5/10

Mission (Rating)
Once you’re in the sub, there’s a video communiqué that gives you other objectives to follow. Which kind of intrigued me (both the missions themselves and the way they are delivered). It’s quite ingenious. Obviously, high marks for multiple objectives, but what they are, and how you find them…Fantastic.

Rating: 10/10

You have a multi-part mission… the first of which is to figure out a way in the sub once your craft docks with it. You get additional mission parameters after that point, so I’m not going to spoil them for you here. However, I will say that I LOVED the mission for this room, especially since you had a ton of things to do.

Rating: 10/10

Puzzle Diversity (Rating)
I can only imagine the brainstorming session that went on to figure out what to put in this room.

First, I’ll get out of the way that there were a bunch of locks, but (a) it wasn’t overkill and (b) it worked. It wasn’t combo lock for sake of combo lock;  there were also pad locks, etc. Again, it worked.

There were all sorts of things in here that we’d not seen before; some very creative things. I can’t say much without spoiling, so I’ll just stop.

Rating: 9/10

Okay, so this room was really well designed in terms of the diversity of the puzzles. There were some combo locks (of which were to be expected), but there were a ton of other things to figure out and put together, or decipher, or figure out the inner workings of. Nothing was repeated and there was a great mix of complex and easy clues, all which contributed to the flow of the room.

Rating: 8.5/10

Puzzle Complexity (Rating)
Nothing was terribly difficult, but there were just some very creative puzzles. Sometimes we were looking for some electrical components, other times we were looking for something to decipher a coded note. Great mix of difficulties (not everything was easy/hard), everyone had something to do at all times. And we actually followed all of our rules for once!

Rating: 8/10

So, as I mentioned, there were a lot of puzzles and things to figure out, and there was a good mix between hard and easy, which kept the room moving during the hour we had to complete the mission parameters. The first one we solved in about 30 seconds, but we all spread out in the sub and were able to work independently and on small teams to try and solve other items. We did a good job of backing each other up here, and in allowing other members of our team to cycle in on puzzles that may have stalled other team members. I won’t say that anything was overly complex, but the puzzles built on complexity so that at one point we were all trying to figure out some of the final puzzles.

Rating: 8.5/10

Flow/Cohesiveness/Uniqueness (Rating)
In my opinion, this Submarine was one of the few rooms we’ve done (this one is mid-40s) where everything fit into place. The room itself was believable (other than the fact that a sub would be narrower, but I guess we were on the bridge essentially, so nevermind) and I totally believed the mission was real and we were actually on said mission.

All of the puzzles were well designed, well crafted, and well executed.

Rating: 10/10

The room was extremely well designed… so much to the point where it reminded me of Escape Room Live in Georgetown or Immersion Escape Room in Charlottesville (which has some of the best set designs we’ve seen). I really thought that we were underwater on an abandoned submarine. The creepiness of working in the dark (remember that the sub went dark three days ago) and working with flashlights only added to the experience.

Everything was put together really well. Some of the mission points that I can’t speak about were well-integrated into the story and the experience that added to the urgency of the ticking clock.

Not only were you racing against the clock and the fact that the sub was mysteriously abandoned, but trying to figure out what happened to the crew more than 5,000 feet below the surface was a bit… unsettling.

We had a team of 6 in the room, and that was pretty perfect for our experience. We all worked in different areas, teamed up at times, and then everything came together for an great conclusion. No linear room here!!

Rating: 10/10

Fun/Amusement (Summary)
I had a blast with this room. I am absolutely going to try the other rooms when I get back to Asheville (whenever that is). Absolutely loved the room. I don’t know if it was the room, our team, or a combination of both, but everything just seemed to click and we ran through the room and actually made the number 2 spot on the leaderboard.
Game Master (Summary)
As Mike said, I don’t want to give too much away, but the same way we were briefed was how we were given clues (and asked for them). You’ll have to check it our yourself. There is a twist with the GM in this room, but it absolutely fit the theme, was really cool and that’s all I’m going to say.
How Helpful Were Any Clues Given, if any (Summary)
We asked for some clarification, but no actual clues. We asked for clarification on one point here, and we had already figured out what we needed to do by the time the clarification was given.
Anger Level Score ERG (pronounced URG, as in “we should have known better”) Score
I’m going to have to look through all our reviews and see how many have 0-Fist reviews because this is another one.

Rating:  — Fists – 0/5

I didn’t feel stupid at all. I felt awesome and psyched… and a wee bit creeped out.

Rating:  — FacePalms – 0/5


Final Thought: Not knowing anything about A-Escape, we were extremely pleased and surprised at how great an experience this was and how great the room was in its story, mission and overall design and flow. It was one of the highlights of our weekend vacation, and we all left pumped and in a good mood after doing the room.