ESCAPE ROOM REVIEW – THE QUICK AND DIRTY
Play if… you’ve ever wanted to explore an ancient Mayan tomb.
Avoid if… you remember that ancient civilizations were advanced with mathematics and maps… and you’re not good at either.
Rush Hour Live Escape Games:
Address: 1, Towne Centre Blvd #3100, Fredericksburg, VA 22407 (click address for Google Map)
Contact and Website: 540-684-6695
The Room – Tomb of the Red Queen:
Description (from the company website): A voice from the grave commands you!
As a team of archaeologists, you are studying the ancient Mayan ruins of Palenque. Shortly after entering the dig, you find the entrance locked behind you. King Pakal commands you to complete the burial rituals to allow the soul of his beloved wife to join him in the heavens!
Can you find your way out of the temple before he arrives to have his revenge?
Time Limit: 60 minutes
Cost: $25 per person
Party Size: 6-8 players
Staging Area: There is a huge lobby with plenty of couches to relax before your experience. There are also lockers for your convenience to store your stuff while you are in the rooms.
Metro Access/Parking: Plenty of parking since the location is in a shopping center.
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: You find your party split into two different antechambers with weird sigils on the walls.
Understanding of the Mission: To find your way to the mummy of King Pakal’s Queen, complete the burial ritual that will free her soul from her mortal body, and escape the ruins before the ghost of Pakal arrives to seek his revenge.
Did We Escape: Yes
Time Remaining: 8:05 remaining
Our Suggested Party Size: We had 7 and that may have been 2 too many (but our team was all pretty experienced so enthusiast teams would probably do better with 4-5 and novice teams would probably be able to work with 8 quite well).
Did the room challenge the entire team? Yes
Members of our team (other than the ERG): Brittany, Heather, Tara, Steph D, and Eric
Worth the time and money? Yes
Where to Eat/Drink Before/After: We didn’t have time to grab food or drinks, but you’re in a shopping center, so you have plenty of options.
|Overall Expectation (Summary)
|This was room 2 in a double header. Having just completed Something Wicked, I had some pretty lofty expectations of what to expect, visually at least, from this room. But I was more than happy with what I found. Overall, I know I bitch a lot about PI rooms (again, that’s Paranormal Investigator rooms) but I haven’t gotten to the point where I’ve grown tired of Egyptian-type rooms… and this was not the one that put me over that hump by far.
I was also extremely on in this room. There were multiple times where everyone else was ready for a clue. I was like, no, I haven’t given it a stab yet, and successfully solved the puzzle in a moment. So score me, I win.
Btw, one of the things RHLE does right is weave you a story. No one-liners, and the briefing videos go into more detail than I’m actually used to.
Note: I’ve previously referred to King Pakal as a Pharaoh, so I’ve corrected that pre-publishing. Any references to Pharaoh in Mike’s part of the review refer to that. 😛
|We had been invited down to Rush Hour Live Escape Games to try out a few of their rooms. After having completed Something Wicked, and having a lot of fun with it, I was looking forward to Tomb of the Red Queen (for those of you Resident Evil or Alice in Wonderland fans, this is NOT the red queen from those genres).
During our initial conversations with Paul (the owner), we were able to choose two rooms from the offerings from Rush Hour Live Escape Games. This is the one I was most excited about. I love a good ancient tomb room when it’s well done, so I had some high expectations that this would be fun based on our experience completing Something Wicked.
|The King has long been dead (obviously) but after his wife’s death her burial ritual was interrupted and her soul never made it to the heavens to be with her husband. He has been restless for millennia and, as a team of archaeologists who stumble upon this (new to us) tomb, we are trapped! (Shocker, I know.)
That said, we must traverse the tomb all the way to her final resting place (read burial chamber) and complete the ritual to send her soul to the afterlife to be with her husband. All the while the King is watching over us and, if we fail, we will be doomed to an eternity trapped in the tomb until the next poor souls arrive to try again.
|We are a group of archaeologists investigating a hidden tomb. Upon entering the tomb, the doors sealed behind us and we’ve become trapped. To this point, it’s the story for almost every tomb room we’ve done.
Here’s where it goes in a different direction: our party has been trapped in two different antechambers and the King (ahem, not the Pharaoh because that would make this an Egyptian room vs. a Mayan room) named Pakal is haunting this temple and has been for many, many, many years because his wife’s burial ceremony was interrupted by invading forces. With the burial ritual not completed, her spirit is trapped in her body and cannot join him in the afterlife.
I really enjoyed the backstory behind this theme because it was something different from others we’ve completed. The owner told us afterward that some of the inspiration for this room was taken from an actual Mayan temple (the Temple of the Jaguar) from Tikal, Guatemala. I thought that was awesome to have it based on an actual place vs. something completely made up.
|As said above, reach the burial chamber and find everything to complete the burial ritual to send the Queen’s soul to the afterlife to be with her King.
Easy peasy! At least, it was for me. 😉
Like I said above, I was ON in this room. I will remain objective, however! But man it was awesome solving things like that. Only thing I can compare the feeling too were the 2 rooms in CA I did by myself. I got to play with everything here.
|King Pakal commands you to complete his wife’s burial ritual so her spirit could be released and join him in the afterlife OR be sealed in the tomb FOR-EV-ER. To that effect, we would have to find our way out of these antechambers, traverse through the temple, find the burial chamber of the Red Queen, and then complete the burial ceremony to release her spirit.
So, I liked the fact that we had our marching orders from the beginning, which seems to give you a number of parameters you have to resolve in order to escape the tomb… but it’s given in a way that is just generic enough so you don’t get the full picture at the start of the experience. It was also an original take on a tomb room, which is sometimes hard to do.
|Puzzle Diversity (Rating)
|Let me see if I can run down the list…
Ok, so, I thought that would be a little longer of a list, but you can see there was nothing typical about this room. Yes there were enough padlocks but the puzzles to get their combinations were far from ordinary and really, that’s the most important takeaway.
Regardless, the puzzles therein were well done. As I’m sure Mike will say, the one thing I will knock it for was the padlocks in a tomb. Just from aesthetics, we all know those didn’t exist back then but I’m currently at a loss for how you would lock things away without those right now other than magnetic or rfid. Ok so I guess magnetic and rfid locks would do it, nevermind.
|If you watch the interview we did with Paul (the owner), you’ll find out that a number of the puzzles are based on Mayan culture (obviously), but what you find out in the room is HOW the Mayans in THIS story used technology, map making, and mathematics and other skills to create this little death trap of theirs. Think BRAINS more than BRAWN (well, never BRAWN in the sense that you have to force something open… just saying that you use your mind a lot more than physical manipulation to work the puzzles in this room).
Aside of the list that Jason mentioned, you also have to understand measurements, use your observational skills, be detail-oriented, good at searching, and really be able to communicate from different areas of the room.
I really enjoyed the ones I got to work on and – while Jason may have been “on” – he wouldn’t have been able to do them all himself so he had to rely on his team for at least a few of the puzzles (nevertheless, I will concede the he was on his game that night and solved two of the puzzles before I even got to look at them, which kinda sucked because they looked like fun). There is one where he and I figured it out and got us through a stumbling point, but our team was on point too.
And I do like how you had to complete the burial ritual. Some new cool things there too.
|Puzzle Complexity (Rating)
|I’m going to start with the range since its easier to put down. Nothing was easy, so let’s get that out of the way. Well, except maybe the very last thing to do. But regardless, I would put the range at 4-8. So not terribly mixed but certainly not easy. There was some translation needed on just about everything (and not the way you’re thinking, as in text translation) and it worked. You’re in an ancient Mayan tomb after all, so you need to figure out how things work.
What I enjoyed most was just how well created the puzzles were. As I said in the review of Something Wicked, it felt like they were all home grown in a way that doesn’t make them cheesy. They fit well, there are multiple ways to solve them (with only one way being correct), and they required a modicum of teamwork. Nothing overly complex, but definitely tricky.
|While there was a good mix of “solve quickly and move on” vs. “find stuff and think about how this works together,” I think the most complex thing about this room is how intertwined everything was (and I’m not talking about progression of the story… that’s the next section).
There were some challenges. Being separated to start the room immediately sets you up for having to be patient and really communicate, which can immediately add to the complexity of the puzzles you have to solve. However, our group generally does a good job communicating, so we didn’t see this as much of an issue. There was a point, however, where we stalled and people were just hanging around either waiting for us to solve a puzzle to allow us to move forward, or to get a clue as to what to do next.
There is a lot of subtlety here too, so make sure you pay CLOSE attention to the items you are manipulating. That cost us a clue, which was a face palm for me once we got the hint.
The puzzles themselves weren’t overly complex, but neither did we really have any “gimmies.” In this instance, one of the challenges we had was a take on something Jason and I had seen somewhere else, so we adapted that knowledge to this room and were able to move us forward again (this time with better success… the last time we saw that puzzle it was the last one and we failed to solve it and ended up failing the room).
|You start out broken into 2 teams separated by a wall and have to work together to get out of your respective rooms and into the main room. From the moment you start, however, the theme is apparent and appropriately constructed in the rooms. Nothing felt out of place (other than one item, and only really slightly).
There were multiple times that part of the team broke off into a corner as there were several things that could be started/done simultaneously. You may not have been able to fully solve everything at once but you could get started easily on multiple puzzles.
That said, I was able to figure out one of the puzzles with access to only half of the requirements for it, so take that as you may.
|We had a good group playing this room with us. We split into guys in one room and gals in the other to work together to get out, and then everyone split up and tackled the rest of the room’s puzzles as we went through it.
The room had a great flow to it, and I think is properly rated for the number of players (6-8) because there is a lot to do, and the room doesn’t become linear until the last part.
Overall, the decorations and build of the room are phenomenal. Probably some of the best I’ve seen in a tomb room in a long, long time.
Everything did work well together in terms of puzzles fitting the theme and story line, but I will have to say that combo locks in an ancient tomb is one of the smallest critiques I have to give in this review. I fully understand that they make an escape room an escape room, but you can accomplish some of the same with a cryptex or maybe disguise the lock a bit better (or work into the story line that grave robbers from the present went missing which is how your group found the tomb, and that’s why you’d find some of these items in there.
|I had a damn good time in this room. I was able to figure things out rather than asking for a clue, so I was happy about that and saved us from being clue people (I prefer to be clueless lol).
|I loved playing this room. It was simply fun and I had a great time.
|Game Master (Summary)
|I don’t really know because we didn’t need any clues so we didn’t talk to her.
|Our GM was great. She stayed pretty much off the radar until we asked her for some help.
|How Helpful Were Any Clues Given, if any (Summary)
|We asked for two clues… one which helped steer us in the right direction (overlooking something a bit obvious) and another the allowed us to figure out that we weren’t operating one of the puzzles correctly.
|ERG (pronounced URG, as in “we should have known better”) Score
|Big fat 0!
Fists – X/5
|Only two here… one because we overlooked something and the second is that we should have been able to figure out how the one puzzle operated before asking for help.
Rating: FacePalms – 2/5
ESCAPE ROOM GUYS’ OVERALL SCORING: 8/10
Final Thought: This was a great room that was simply a hell of a lot of fun to play. The design of the game was well done, and the decor did really put you into the feel of the game from the time you walked into the room. We loved the fact that they used things that the Mayans would have used to not just plan the theme of their room, but integrated that into how the puzzles worked or the skills needed to solve them. We’re looking forward to checking out their other rooms!