ESCAPE ROOM REVIEW – THE QUICK AND DIRTY
Play if… you had psych as a GenEd in college.
Avoid if… being restrained is NOT your idea of a good time.
Insomnia Escape DC:
Address: 2300 Wisconsin Ave NW, #200B, Washington, DC 20007 (click address for a Google Map)
Contact and Website: 202-600-0419
Room – The Patient:
Description (from the company website):
Detective thriller in a psychiatric hospital.
Investigate the mystery, but don’t lose your mind…
The early 1970s. You are a group of journalists sent to investigate strange things that happen around St. Elizabeth Psychiatric Hospital…
An unsettling atmosphere of a mental asylum and unexpected scenario twists in the new thriller detective escape room “The Patient.”
Difficulty (1-10): 9/10
Time Limit: 60 minutes
Cost: $29/per person
Party Size: 2-8
Staging Area: The staging area was basically a lobby with a few couches and a coat rack. Note: this part of their location is located DOWNSTAIRS to the left of the main entrance..
Metro Access/Parking: The nearest Metro stop is either Tenleytown or Woodley Park metro (and then a bus), so it’s likely easier to drive/cab/Lyft in. There is street parking and one or two garages nearby.
This is the video we took before we entered the room:
Description of the room: A small office in what appears to be a mental institution.
Understanding of the Mission: Using our journalistic investigative skills, figure out what’s happening at St. Elizabeth’s Psychiatric Hospital.
Did We Escape: Yes
Time Remaining: About 4 minutes.
Our Suggested Party Size: 4 if you’re all experienced; otherwise, 6 will work fine.
Did the room challenge the entire team? Yes
Members of our team (other than the ERG): Ethan, Steph D., and Heather
Worth the time and money? This room is billed as their best and hardest room, and it was challenging (but not impossible).
Where to Eat/Drink Before/After:
- Old Europe. Authentic German food a few minutes walk. Been there twice.
- Glover Park Brewery – A good brewery with a nice selection of beers. No food, but they cycle in food trucks so you can get some grub.
|JASON SAYS:||MIKE SAYS:|
|Overall Expectation (Summary)|
|Mike had found out that they were opening a new room at Insomnia Escape and asked me if I wanted to go try it. Naturally I said yes. Duh.
When we arrived we spoke with the owner for several minutes before entering the room. He expressed that while The Alchemist (which we’d just recently completed… a few months after The Patient), is their best and hardest room, he hoped this new room would overtake that as their new number one room.
Only time shall tell, and hopefully not time spent in a mental institution.
|We had not done a room at Insomnia Escape for about two years, and not because of anything to do with the rooms, but because we simply were too busy to get back into DC to try it out. However, we both follow their social media accounts pretty religiously.
Jason had found some contest or opportunity to playtest their new room (The Patient) and contacted the company to see if we could get in to try it out. They accepted, we got a team together, and the rest is history.
There wasn’t a lot of information on the website as to the backstory, so we had to go by a simple description on the website.
|As an investigative journalist, you decide it’s in your city’s best interest to get into the local mental hospital and try and find out what’s going on with people going in and never being heard from again.
Not much to it. Honestly, I’m tired of the investigative journalist bit. I think 5 of the last 10 rooms I did had that as a starting point. Why not be a local good ol’ boy whose twin brother was wrongly convicted of a crime and sentenced to psychological evaluation and has since disappeared before being discharged? Or maybe you’re a retired cop and your son, also a cop, has gone under cover to investigate possible wrongdoing by one of the doctors? (Guess I should just create those rooms…)
|In your role as an investigative journalist, you’ve been hearing strange things about St. Elizabeth’s Psychiatric Hospital, and your assignment is to figure out the weird happenings.
Again, not a lot of detail here, and the mental institution is a common theme, but the journalist aspect and having to infiltrate the hospital was an interesting take on it.
|From what I was able to glean from the short briefing we had before entering the room, you essentially have to go in and figure out who’s been mucking around with the patients.
The rest of the story unfolds as you progress, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but we were just sent in kind of blind. Chalk it up to being a play-test? Sure, why not.
|A simple mission: infiltrate and find out what is happening to the patients in the mental hospital.
The mission provides an intermediate level of challenge, but – again – is not fully original. The clarity of the mission develops a bit as you go through the room, so you’re not told everything upfront, which is okay in this way because of how you progress.
|Puzzle Diversity (Rating)|
|For the size of this room, it was surprisingly packed with stuff to do. For a room that’s about 8×8, it’s impressive.
This escape was extremely tech heavy. There were a few papers and a filing cabinet, but everything else was tech. Probably the most interesting thing I’ve seen in an escape room: the way they set up the patients rooms (basically doors with “windows” that were live screens of a patient in each of the rooms). Cool stuff.
Not a single thing was repeated, and there was one type of combination lock that I’d not seen before (an have seen only once since, in another Insomnia room). Additionally, the entire room was just puzzles we’ve not dealt with before, so kudos.
One last thing I will add: The lock type mentioned previously…I don’t like it. You’ll probably be able to figure out why.
|On the surface, it doesn’t look like there is a lot to this room, which appears to be an office in the psychiatric facility. There are two locked patient rooms leading from the office that come into play as the room progresses.
I was pretty impressed with how much they were able to cram into this small room and it’s up to you to figure out what is needed vs. what is there solely as decoration. There are some puzzles that you need to figure out (process of elimination) using things you find in the room, and there are some others that are pretty tech-based… tech I’ve never seen before and found out later that the owner custom-designed.
One of the puzzles requires multiple things to solve, so make sure you are good at following directions. If you need help setting up your stereo system or putting together IKEA furniture, for example, you may need to let someone else take point.
So, the overall diversity of the things you find in this room and the types of locks you have to open is pretty well done.
|Puzzle Complexity (Rating)|
|This room was tricky. I chose that word deliberately. Reflecting back on the room, after having figured everything out, it really is the proper word.
We sped through the room pretty quickly in the beginning, funneling down to a point where we were just flat stuck. (This does not include the time we opened the filing cabinet and started rifling through documents when our GM came on over the intercom and asked us to stop b/c he’d forgotten to reset the lock on it. He stopped us right away, apologized profusely, reset it, and ran out of the room.) This is one of those rooms that has multiple paths for people to group up and work on, culminating in a big reveal. That’s the way I like my rooms (uh huh, uh huh).
There were some clever tricks employed to throw you off the correct answers, not necessarily red herrings, though. Just enough to trip you up and make you second guess yourself, which we don’t see enough in rooms. (I, personally, don’t think there’s anything wrong with a full blown alternate path that leads nowhere, but that’s just me, not that that’s what this was.)
Puzzle difficulty, I would say, went from 4-9. A good range, and kinda hard.
|So, for a small room and with the diverse number of types of puzzles and locks (see previous section) this room was deceptively challenging and lots of challenge is hidden underneath the surface of what appears to be simple doctor’s office.
Nothing is what it appears to be… there are some curveballs thrown as you are working on the room and a few of the puzzles you have to read or look at very, very carefully or you’ll get off track.
We seemed to be really cruising through the room until our GM came in and apologized for not correctly re-setting the room because we found things earlier than we should have, which kinda threw us for a bit of a loop since we were trying to figure out how they applied. He took those items back, locked them away, and then set us back to where we should have been before we got stuck. We did have to ask for a hint at one point because we did just reach a point where we didn’t know how to proceed.
There also was a measure of difficulty to the puzzles across the room, and I will say that nothing was completely simple. We had an Escape Room Virgin (ERV) in the room with us, and we all had to work together to solve the puzzles. He had some good suggestions coming from someone who had never done a room before, so there was nothing to overthink.
|There were some good looking props, items that really worked for the time-frame and location. The main prop in the room was a great (useful) addition to the room; my only suggestion for it would be to center it in the room. This would cut the room in half and make it harder to get around, but based on where you are, that would work perfectly.
The other patients make the whole scenario totally believable and keep you wondering throughout what they’re going to say. The use of older-looking electronics (the clock on the wall, for instance) lend themselves very well to the aesthetics. Additionally, I felt like the tchotchkes around the room were created very carefully and are used well.
|Lots of cool shit in this room, and I admit that I spent a few extra minutes inadvertently admiring some of the tech we found.
The decoration of the room was well done and all the props fit the scene of a doctor’s office from the 60s-70s, and all of the items fit that time period as well.
The flow of the room was very well done. Multiple paths for people to work independently (or in small groups) and then coming together to do the big reveal.
The design of the room was well done too because you are fully immersed in the experience and I think my heart even jumped a bit when we found out the big reveal. That doesn’t happen a lot, so when it does, I have to call it out and appreciate it.
|It was a pretty good room, not going to lie. (Why would I, anyway?) I do wish, though, that the chair was…live…||There was a lot of cool stuff in this room, and there was a general mix of urgency and fun so it wasn’t really lopsided (favoring one over the other).|
|Game Master (Summary)|
|Our GM was available over a speaker, so the disembodied head effect (as I’m going to now start calling it) was in full force.||Our GM was good, and only really got involved when we asked, or when he realized that we were looking at things that we weren’t supposed to. LOL|
|How Helpful Were Any Clues Given, if any (Summary)|
|I don’t remember what we got a clue about, but I do recall it was after much debate.||The clue was extremely helpful because I think we just overthought one of the items to the point where we really had no way to progress.|
|RAGE Meter||ERG (pronounced URG, as in “we should have known better”) Score|
|Going to go with 1 here because I really REALLY wanted the chair to be live…
|I did feel stupid once we got the clue on how to move forward. We had started down that path and then got distracted and never returned to that point.
ESCAPE ROOM GUYS’ OVERALL SCORING: 7.85/10
Final Thought: This room was deceptive. We walked in and thought that we’d cruise right through this experience since the room was small and there seemed not to be a lot to have to search through.
We were wrong.
The room was cleverly designed and provided a challenging, yet fun, experience. Definitely check it out if you’re looking for a challenge. If you’re looking for an experience that is more on the fun side, check out The Mafia (Cosa Nostra) or The Alchemist.