ESCAPE ROOM REVIEW – THE QUICK AND DIRTY
Play if… you enjoy screaming ‘bloody murder!’
Avoid if… the Zodiac Killer still haunts your dreams.
Get A Clue Games:
Address: 8019 Corporate Dr Suite J, Nottingham, MD 21236 (click address for Google Map)
Room – The Zodiac:
Description (from the company website): You finally got a lucky break as a journalist when you received a tip about the whereabouts of an active serial killer with a passion for the arts, especially photography. You’re eager to confirm this lead, warn the authorities and write an amazing follow up story. But you know this type of work proves beyond dangerous, so you chose not to go alone. Turns out your gut feeling was right. You weren’t the only one tipped off. The killer has been taunting the police and the press for years with unsolved riddles that lead nowhere and now you’re stuck right in the middle of it. After running through the forest for hours, you finally stumble upon what appears to be a cozy cabin. However, once inside, you realize you made a mistake. You hope your instincts can save you in time. Will you be able to find the right clues and get out before the killer returns?
Difficulty (1-10): n/a
Time Limit: 60 minutes
Cost: $28 (+ tax per person)
Party Size: Up to 10
Staging Area: Small lobby area with space for photos; conference room where room briefings are done.
Metro Access/Parking: This is over by White Marsh in a strip mall. Plenty of parking, but no metro access.
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: Starts out as the outside of a cabin in the woods; then moves inside and looks like someone’s house.
Understanding of the Mission: We were to break into the house and find evidence to corroborate the lead we found.
Did We Escape: Yes
Time Remaining: 4:45
Our Suggested Party Size: We think the room can be done with 6-8. We had 6 with two Escape Room Virgins (ERVs)
Did the room challenge the entire team? Yes
Members of our team (other than the ERG): Eric, Devon, Heather, and Ress
Worth the time and money? Leaning toward no on this one. Read on.
Where to Eat/Drink Before/After:
- We stopped at Chick-fil-a but there are a good number of sit down and fast food restaurants nearby.
|Overall Expectation (Summary)
|Having just completed the Chocolate Factory, and having made a long enough drive to warrant a double-header, I went into this one hoping for a good story and some good execution (pun not actually intended).
|We booked two rooms because the drive is a bit further out from DC than we normally go. But, having such a great experience doing The Chocolate Factory, we felt that it would be good to balance all of those emotions by doing a room based on a serial killer.
|There’s a serial killer who’s been at it for years and has yet to be caught. Throughout those years, he’s been leaving riddles as to his whereabouts and the Police aren’t clever enough to figure them out. You decide to take things into your own hands…
|You are a group of investigative journalists who are trying to make names for yourselves (hello, Pulitzer!!). You’ve been tracking a serial killer called Zodiac who has been taunting police with clues and riddles for years. You’re now tracking down a lead and find yourselves in the woods where you stumble upon a cabin.
|Break into the cabin, find the smoking gun (evidence), and call the Police to alert them of your location and said evidence.
|Find a way to break into the cabin, scour the place for evidence as to the killer’s identity, and call in the police to secure the scene. However, you only have 60 minutes to do so because the killer is playing with you to see if you can actually figure it out. If you fail, you become his next victims.
|Puzzle Diversity (Rating)
|The start of this reminded me of the Michael Myers house at Laurel Haunt in Escape the Movies (merely in terms of aesthetics).
There were some clever electronics and some physical puzzles (and I don’t mean feats of strength, but things you had to physically manipulate), which I enjoy (and have been starting to enjoy more as we’ve gotten through so many of these now). Nothing was repeated, also good; and I do not recall many locks (definitely good).
|There were a lot of really cool puzzles in this experience. We actually stumbled in the first part of the room because we overlooked some subtle pieces of the puzzles that connected the two parts of the experience. Not a lot of locks, but a good mix of actual things to put together and others to figure out how they operated. One other part where we hit a roadblock had to do with observation, which we glossed over. There were some things that we also had to physically manipulate in order to get them to open, so that was a good switch from it all being mental puzzles.
|Puzzle Complexity (Rating)
|Puzzles in this room ranged from stupidly simple (but hard to solve) to annoyingly obvious (but just as hard to solve). (I think I just found my new rating scale…)
I can’t say anything was super difficult, but I also didn’t get my hands on everything in the room (which is happening more often than I’m comfortable with). I think my favorite one was the map, though. That’s all I’m going to say about it.
|There was a really good mix of how hard the puzzles were. Some were obvious and solved quickly (remember that we even had two recently de-virginized Escape Room Virgins (ERVs) with us, and they took their experiences from the Chocolate Factory and tried to apply that knowledge to this room too). Others did require a bit of teamwork in order to solve them and some good ole’ noodling. Now, I will say that we failed to follow our double-check rule #3 at least three times because we hit a few roadblocks. So, don’t go into this room thinking that it’s going to be easy. I think that some of the puzzles will stump other groups that may not have a lot of room experience because even with seeing some puzzle types we saw in other rooms, we still had a hard time figuring out a few of the solutions. Again, I’ll say that even with a lot of room experience, you may know HOW the puzzle is supposed to work, but you still need to figure out WHAT the solution is.
I will say that I liked the second half of the experience more. I was able to solve a few things on my own fairly quickly, which I always kinda like because it makes me feel that I’ve contributed to the overall success (and I’m not one who really likes asking for help on things I’m trying to figure out).
|Aesthetically, I wish the first part were a little more…realistic (like the Friday the 13th room in Georgetown). The second part, though, was totally believable. Whenever I get a house built, I’m putting all kinds of wacky shit it in (passageways if it’s large enough, kick plates that trigger hidden drawers, etc.).
That all said, from what I remember the puzzles were mostly linear (no bueno for this size a room and theme) and the end result was totally anticlimactic. (If I recall correctly, when we solved the room, we all were like, was that it? (You know, things you don’t want your s/o to say after a long night…))
|I think that the decoration of the room was well done… there was a definite creep factor to the first room, which made you want to “escape” the woods and get into that damned cabin. The decoration and the puzzles and clues all fit the overall theme: You felt that you were in the cabin of a creepy serial killer who is just sitting there plotting his next crime.
The flow of the room went pretty linear about a 1/4 of the way in, which could work if the group isn’t that big. There were parts where some of us were just standing around while others were crowded around a puzzle.
One thing about the room itself was that only one person really got to experience the final victory where you are notified that you’ve completed your mission. I had to look up at the rest of my group and say “hey guys, we won… that’s it.” Not the best ending I’ve seen, but by far from the worst too.
|After we got into the second room, the fun picked up. We stumbled quite a bit on something ridiculously stupid in the beginning.
|It was tough going in that first part, but we had to ask for a clue to solve something that we totally overlooked. However, I did enjoy sleuthing in this room. Maybe it’s because my undergrad was in Print Journalism (and I’ve even had some investigative journalism classes/assignments).
|Game Master (Summary)
|I do not recall, so I will defer to Mike.
|Our GM was good. Attentive but not obtrusive. I know that we had to ask for at least two clues, but I think we asked for three.
|How Helpful Were Any Clues Given, if any (Summary)
|I really need to start taking notes right after the room (or writing up these reviews a helluva lot sooner…).
|The first two were for things that we stupidly overlooked. The last one was helpful in putting together a final connection.
|Anger Level Score
|ERG (pronounced URG, as in “we should have known better”) Score
|Other than the thing I mentioned right up in the beginning of the room, I wasn’t that angry about stuff until the anticlimactic ending.
|Simply because we overlooked two stupid things, I’m giving this a fat ole’ 4.
ESCAPE ROOM GUYS’ OVERALL SCORING: 7.3/10
Final Thought: This room had the appropriate amount of creepiness and a pretty cool story and mission (it was a nice take on the serial killer theme). We had a newer team with us, so we may not have gotten out as quickly as we would have liked or using as many clues as we did, but it was a challenging room to take on. The only thing that we’d suggest Get a Clue to look at is the ending, so that everyone could find a way to experience it.