ESCAPE ROOM REVIEW – THE QUICK AND DIRTY
Play if… you remember blowing on the old game cartridges to get them to work.
Avoid if… you don’t know Mario from Luigi (or their last name) or who Donkey Kong is.
Escape Room Herndon:
Address: 404 Elden Street, Herndon, VA 20170 (click address for Google Map)
Contact and Website: 506-306-2279
Room – 8-Bit Escape:
Description (from the company website): Your friends have come over to play your newest video game, but once you get to the basement you see your mom has locked up all your gaming gear until you finish your homework. You and your friends have 60 minutes to find all your gear and put it back together before your mom kicks them out and they all go over to Wade’s house.
Difficulty (1-10): 7/10
Time Limit: 60 minutes
Cost: $28 per person
Identifier: N1 (Replaced The Cursed Crypt)
Party Size: 4-6
Staging Area: A pretty large lobby with a few bar tables and chairs, and a lounge with couches and chairs and tables.
Metro Access/Parking: It’s in Herndon so you’re better off driving. However, this place is in a shopping center so 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:
Note: The ERG were given the opportunity to try out this room for free, with the understanding that we would continue to provide an honest review and follow the same process we’ve used on all of our other ratings.
Description of the room: It’s the basement from what was likely your parents’ house back from the early 80s, with shag carpeting, wood paneling, and an old, comfy couch. There are tons of different toys around and a few gaming systems. [There is literally the same wood paneling from my basement growing up. -Jason]
Understanding of the Mission: You didn’t do your homework, so your mom dismantled your new game system. Figure out how to re-assemble it before your friends arrive; if it’s not “ready, player one,” they’re gonna go over to Wade’s house. (And seriously, screw Wade.)
Did We Escape: Yes
Time Remaining: 7:25
Our Suggested Party Size: 4-6 (their recommendation is spot on)
Did the room challenge the entire team? Yes
Members of our team (other than the ERG): Heather, Valerie, and Steph D.
Worth the time and money? Yes
Where to Eat/Drink Before/After:
- Not Your Average Joe’s – casual bar cuisine
|Overall Expectation (Summary)
|As Mike said, my sister was in town and she wanted to do a “good” escape room. The previous year when she was in town, we did 2 rooms in DC that are now closed, but good lord was that place a huge let down. Since we’ve come to know the crew at ER Herndon, we’ve learned that we can expect a high quality build and a great theme, so I owed it to her to take her here, especially for this particular room.
When we first were told about this room opening up, most of us were immediately excited since it sounded like it was going to be a throwback to 80s and 90s gaming and culture. There was plenty of speculation among the team as to what would be in the room, relating to games and movies, etc. What we found upon entering was both expected and not, but based on the story provided on the website, the room itself was created perfectly. Read on to find out why.
|Jason’s sister, Valerie, was in town for her birthday, and we wanted to take her to do an escape room… a good escape room (we didn’t have the best luck in rooms last year when she came to visit). I had suggested Escape Room Herndon because of the great experience we had doing Cursed Crypt, and the Mystery of Room 213.
I, personally, was excited to do this one because – being a child of the 80s – everything about this room was going to take me back to a time when Link, Mario, Luigi, Samus, and Simon (Belmont) dominated my afternoons and weekends.
|You just got home from school with a couple of your friends in tow and you are all looking forward to playing your brand new video game console. What you found, however, was that your Mom is forcing you to do your homework before you can play any games with your friends in the basement. As such, she has taken all of your gaming equipment and hidden it away (everything but the physical arcade cabinet).
I don’t know whose mom this was, but mine would never have done that. LOL (Then again, I always did my homework…)
|You TOTALLY got this rad new gaming system, and have invited your friends over to play (and maybe to just gloat a little bit). Your house is going to be the new hangout place and replace Wade’s (yeah, that dork Wade is always trying to buy his friends by allowing them to play his new gaming sys… um, yeah, stupid Wade).
Unfortunately, in your excitement, you forgot to do your homework and your mom has dismantled your gaming system and hidden it.
Your friends are on the way and will be here in an hour.
You will be the laughingstock of your friends if they arrive and can’t play the new games… and that will drive them back over to Wade’s place.
So, I RARELY give this high a score on this section because places often forget that it’s the story that really places you into the experience. However, this one is completely unique, provides a lot of detail to get you psyched about it, and really gets you into the experience.
|You have 60 minutes to uncover the locations of all of the games, controllers, system, etc., and put it all back together and hook up to the TV before your friends get bored and go over to Wade’s house.
I don’t know who this Wade character is but he can go f- himself. These are MY friends.
|Find the pieces of your gaming system and re-assemble them before your friends arrive…
Or get your homework done and maybe your mom will give them back to you (*snickers* yeah, right).
Again, I’ve never seen this theme before and it provided a unique challenge. What we had to do was pretty clear, but how we got there was part of the experience of the room itself.
|Puzzle Diversity (Rating)
|One of the things I’ve always enjoyed through all the rooms we’ve done at Escape Room Herndon is the vast range of things we find. I’m literally struggling to think of puzzles that I have seen in more than one room, or even props for that matter. It’s a testament to their dedication to their craft.
That said, you have to realize that, as this is an 80s themed room, it’s not going to be as technologically advanced as something you would find that is based in the future or even current times. Going back to the 80s and 90s, you have to take into account what was available at the time, the kind of equipment and paraphernalia there would have been, whether it be electronics or wall decorations.
Nothing was repeated; there are things I wouldn’t have even thought of if I designed the room, and some things I would have liked to see over some things I did see. (For example, I would have rather seen Sonic the Hedgehog than the Legend of Zelda. But I’m a Sega fan not a Nintendo fan, so that’s just personal preference and bore no effect on the rating.)
|An escape room where you either play games, or solve puzzles that are related to your all-time favorite video game characters… sign me up. And I. LOVE. THE. LEGEND. OF. ZELDA!
The puzzles in this room were phenomenal. There were video and board games, dice games, and action figures and old toys. There was even an awesome red herring that was meant to suck you in (and play on that nostalgic feeling of the room).
There were even some manual-type puzzles to play, so get ready to roll up your sleeves and go for gold.
One of the final puzzles in the room was so freaking cool and I’m amazed at the tech done to create it.
The locks in the room were diversified… from combination locks to magnetic and RFID locks. Escape Room Herndon is well-known for some good design and some great tech, so nothing is ever as it seems, so pay attention to the slightest detail.
|Puzzle Complexity (Rating)
|There were a few things that hung us up, mainly due to issues with observation and, at times, too many cooks in the kitchen (specifically too many people working on one puzzle at the same time). There were six of us, which is generally our strongest team size, but I think we felt that there were more things to find or to be working on at times than there was, as well as vice versa (read: at times we didn’t know what the hell we were doing).
There were one or two things that were significantly more difficult to figure out than other puzzles, and, again, several things we overlooked. The arcade cabinet is not just an arcade cabinet: the game that is on it is required as part of the experience, but it’s difficult. You have to understand its relationship to the room itself. (How’s that for a hint without a hint? Hahaha)
Going back to my range of puzzle difficulties, I’d say anywhere from 2 to 8, so a decent range of things to figure out.
|The puzzles ranged in complexity, and were constructed to use all parts of your brain.
I wouldn’t say that anything was too challenging… but they did test your stick-to-it-ness.
I think, perhaps, the two areas we got stumped were finding the right things to go with the associated puzzles and solving some manual puzzles (I stepped in on one and hit the jackpot on the first try).
|This room really did have a little bit of everything. From a full size arcade cabinet down to an old cassette player, I do not recall there being anything out of place. (There was even an old, corded touch-tone phone on the wall.)
It absolutely looked like your parents basement. There was even the same wood panel walls that I had in my basement growing up!
There was plenty to do for the group and things somewhat flowed together, but the separate paths through the room felt a little disjointed to me. And while the ending was fun, and it was a surprise that seemed awesome at the time. However, reflecting back on it, I fail to see how it brought the room together. After all, we were just supposed to be looking for our gaming console.
|The decoration of the room is PHENOMENAL. From the actual construction of the room (I think 90% of households had that color shag carpeting and installed that wood paneling), to the props (I could have just hung out in that room and just examined the props and taken a trip down memory lane). This room was completely unique and is geared towards those who grew up in the 80s, but is designed well enough that those who were adults by then or weren’t even born yet (I will admit to dying a bit inside when one of our group members asked what certain props were) can play and really enjoy the room. Some of the puzzles even hearkened back to some of the other things in the 80s that have either been forgotten or are coming back into style.
EVERYTHING fit in this room… and I really looked to see if there was anything out of place. There was even a family photo on the bookcase (which we later found out was the owner and his brother) from that same room back in the 80s. It gives a wholly authentic feel, and a great way to relive a piece of your childhood.
The SOUNDS in this room really complete the experience, and I’m not saying anything else so you can be pleasantly (and geekily) surprised.
This room provides a totally unique experience and should be played on a day when you can let go of everything else around you, and simply BE in the moment and enjoy the experience for what it is.
|If this were a rated section, it would be a 10. The nostalgia factor was high and we all were tickled at finding certain things. The toy box? What great finds in there.
Playing the games to figure things out was fun and a nice little touch for this room as well.
|I loved every minute in this room, and I would even go back to play it again even though I know how to get through it… and I’ve NEVER said that about another room before.
|Game Master (Summary)
|They know us there well enough now to leave us be until we are either stagnant in progress or actively ask for help.
|Our GM was great. He knows who we are and was pretty radio-silent until we requested some help.
|How Helpful Were Any Clues Given, if any (Summary)
|The clues were pushed through an old school Apple computer on a desk in a corner of the room. Such a great little touch. And yes, they were helpful. Lol
|I think that we asked for two hints, and they were well crafted and delivered.
|ERG (pronounced URG, as in “we should have known better”) Score
|The room was a little too Nintendo heavy for me, being the Sega fan that I am.
|I did feel stupid once or twice because I felt (as the oldest in the group) that I should have known better on some of the hints we were given.
ESCAPE ROOM GUYS’ OVERALL SCORING: 8.7/10
Final Thought: We greatly enjoyed this room, both from the gaming aspect (we host a regular game night for our friends) to the 80s childhood theme. We’ve come to expect a lot from both the production value and the overall game design from Escape Room Herndon, and clearly they did not disappoint. We recommend you grab your friends, and report back on what memories came rushing back to you as you played the game. You’ll be glad you did and we’re interested to hear about your experiences.