ESCAPE ROOM REVIEW – THE QUICK AND DIRTY
Play if… you’ve ever wondered who Jack the Ripper really was.
Avoid if… shows about serial killers give you nightmares… or ideas.
Odyssey Escape Game:
Address: 1111 Alderman Drive, Suite 210, Alpharetta, GA 30005 (click address for Google Map)
999 N Plaza Drive, Suite 111, Schaumburg, IL 60173 (click address for Google Map)
Contact and Website: 770-559-7548 (Alpharetta, GA), 847-285-1281 (Schaumburg, IL)
Description (from the company website): It’s November 9th, 1888. You are Scotland Yard’s finest detectives and you’re responding to a crime scene at 13 Miller’s Court in London’s Whitechapel district. You step inside the boarding room of Mary Kelly, the Ripper’s latest victim. Your objectives are to search for clues, collect the evidence and end the Ripper’s reign of terror. After returning to Scotland Yard, you must piece together the evidence, contact eyewitnesses and determine the true identity of England’s most notorious serial killer. You only have 60 minutes before the Ripper flees London forever, depriving Great Britain of the truth…who is Jack the Ripper?
Difficulty (1-10): N/A
Time Limit: 60 minutes
Cost: $28, but use ERG15 to save 15% off when booking online at either of their locations
Party Size: Up to 8
Staging Area: In the GA location, they have a nice-sized waiting room with lots of comfortable seating, a check-in desk, bathrooms off the lobby, and a party/conference room for private parties.
In the IL location, they look like they just opened. It’s a large, open floor plan. There’s a check-in lobby, then there’s a waiting room, plenty of seating, and a conference room.
Metro Access/Parking: We drove (in both instances).
This is the video Mike took before he entered the room:
This is the video Jason took before they entered the room:
This is the video Mike took after he completed the room:
This is the video Jason took after they completed the room:
Note: The ERG were given the opportunity to try out this room in each location 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 start off in the boarding house room of Mary Kelly, Jack the Ripper’s latest victim. It’s a humble abode, sparsely decorated, with indications that a murder has recently taken place.
Understanding of the Mission: Investigate Mary Kelly’s room for clues, make your way to Scotland Yard to gather investigative tools, and piece together the clues to give you the true identity of Jack the Ripper before he catches on that you’re on his trail and leaves Great Britain forever.
Did We Escape: Mike: Yes; Jason: No.
Time Remaining: Mike: 31 seconds
Our Suggested Party Size: 4+
Did the room challenge the entire team? Yes
Members of our team (other than the ERG): Mike was by himself; Jason was with Steph D
Worth the time and money? Absolutely
Where to Eat/Drink Before/After:
- Alpharetta – it’s in an office park, but there are restaurants within a 5 minute drive, so use Google. But Mellow Mushroom was recommended to me.
- Schaumburg – It’s right by a mall, so there were plenty of places there.
|JASON SAYS:||MIKE SAYS:|
|Overall Expectation (Summary)|
|Unbeknownst to me, Mike was already scheduled to try this room out in Georgia while on a work trip. Independently, I had found this room in Illinois and thought it sounded like fun. I told Mike and he let me know he had already booked it for himself. Naturally, I had to ask if I could try. Now, this would end up being the first time Mike and I would do the same room but in different locations. (First time for everything, amirite?) It sounded like it would be an interesting room and we weren’t let down.
Oh, and “JTR” stands for “Jack the Ripper” henceforth.
|I was in Atlanta on a work trip, and scheduled to go north to Alpharetta for a day as part of my responsibilities. I found myself in the hotel on a very rainy day (which switched to snow later… snow… in Georgia… yes, it sucked), and was a bit bored with what was on the TV. I contacted Odyssey Escape Game (which was 10 minutes down the road) to see if they would allow me to do a room solo if no one else booked the room.
I REALLY wanted to do their Jack the Ripper room. They initially said that Jack the Ripper (henceforth referred to as JTR, borrowing from Jason) was almost impossible to do on your own (and completely impossible for physical reasons), but I could come by and check out their location and play a room with another group, or try another one of their rooms solo. I was disappointed because I LOVE the JTR story, but their other rooms looked cool too. They invited me to come in after my work finished the next day and before I had to leave for the airport.
So I did.
And I had great conversation with the owner, Mike, and manager, Kyle, (check out the video interview here) and Mike asked if I was ready try a room. I asked what room he would recommend, and – to my surprise and absolute fucking delight – he said he really wanted me to attempt Jack the Ripper.
And so I did.
And all was right with the world.
|You are a detective at Scotland Yard, hot on the trail of JTR, but you’ve found that you have only 1 hour until he up and leaves London, taking the mystery of his identity with him.
Do you have what it takes to investigate this latest crime scene, put all the pieces together, and determine the true identity of the legendary serial killer?
|Jack the Ripper has struck again! You are a detective from Scotland Yard and are investigating the murder of his latest victim, Mary Kelly, in a seedy little boardinghouse in Whitechapel.
This is a pretty cool backstory and was the first JTR escape room I’ve come across. I love detective rooms (having minored in Justice in college), so when I say I was psyched to do this room, I was all ready to put myself right into the story.
|Investigate the scene of the latest murder by JTR, then get back to Scotland Yard and put all the pieces together to uncover his real identity, among other, more minor details.
When I say investigate, I mean investigate. Put yourself in the shoes of a detective and really give it a go. You have to use everything in the room to determine the who’s, when’s, and where’s, so you can (literally) call witnesses and get more information. It’s incredibly clever.
(After talking to our GM, we were told that people who struggle in this room generally do quite well in their Prison room, and vice versa. So I took some comfort in knowing I’d most likely do well in the Prison room…)
|You need to investigate this latest murder, collect evidence, make your way back to Scotland Yard to gather investigative tools, review potential suspects, and pore through evidence left at former crime scenes. Can you discover the true identity of JTR before he discovers that you are on his trail and leaves Great Britain… leaving all of his crimes unsolved?
This mission is pretty detailed and you know exactly what you have to do when you go in (until the very, very end on how to complete the game). I love multiple mission parameters and this room was RIGHT up my alley. In another life, I think I would have been an investigator of some sort.
You would think that a room that tells you it’s about JTR that –OF COURSE– you’d need to find out who he truly was… but this room challenges the way that you do so.
You TRULY play the role of a detective. You investigate the crime scene, search for clues, review evidence, and make some educated guesses (or leaps of logic). Then you have to make your way to Scotland Yard where you try and connect the dots using your analytical skills, the tools of a detective from the late 1800s, review and reject potential suspects, and do a whole lot of old fashioned research and tracking down leads (one of the ways you do so is really ingenious and fun and another is what you’d expect you’d have to do with a series of murders).
|Puzzle Diversity (Rating)|
|Let’s start with the fact that there are a few keys to open things (note, no combination locks). It’s the 1800s, so expected. There’s some RFID (read in the 1800s as “magic”), some deduction, and even the aforementioned telephone (which is bolted to the desk, so don’t try and move it like we did). And a big ass map on the wall of the Whitechapel district. You’ll need that at some point.
No puzzle type is repeated (within a room or even between rooms; they made it a point to tell us that no puzzle is repeated across the 4 rooms they have). Having said that, there is a lot of reading (you’ve been warned). You will have to put things together, mentally, often. And you might have to backtrack. Keeping a mental inventory of everything you see will definitely help you, but the GMs are good with nudges for that stuff. We had to find a all digits of a number, and had found the first one well before the others. When I was like, wtf is the last one, he nudged us to it because we’d already found it.
|So many different puzzle types!! My god, it was amazing. This was only the third room I’ve ever done solo, and that freaked me out a bit because you don’t have a teammate you can depend on if there is a particular puzzle type that you’re not the best on. I was just lucky that a number of puzzles in this room played to my strengths.
You’ll need to use your observation throughout the entire game, and do a lot of reading (so hopefully you scored really high on reading comprehension in all of those standardized tests in school). Are you good at finding what is out of place? Can you draw connections between one item and another when there might be slight nuances that could lead you to one suspect or another?
I loved the fact that you had to examine evidence and use the tools of a detective, and even get down on your hands and knees to do some searching and investigating.
The research part was really cool in how you began to eliminate suspects from being JTR.
And, are you able to remember the things you saw maybe only briefly to bring everything together?
All of this would normally be great, but the fact that everything is pretty much in plain sight and not hidden behind a bunch of random combination locks was truly amazing.
Finally, I did need the GM’s help at one point with a physical puzzle, which was really cool too, and provided my entry to the next stage of the game.
And no puzzle type was repeated…
|Puzzle Complexity (Rating)|
|This room was HARD. I don’t admit it often, but this one hurt the ego a little bit. Mike said he completed (on his own) with like 30 seconds to spare. It took us (2 people!) a full 3 minutes longer (and that was with extra help). So kudos to him.
There were few easy things in this room, if any. Really only the initial search. And even then I felt a little stupid. We needed a nudge within the first 5 minutes (at least not a hint, since we were on the right track just didn’t put 2 and 3 together to make the requisite 5 (and that’s got nothing to do with anything, I’m just turning the phrase)). The entire escape is based on investigating the 5th crime scene then getting back to Scotland Yard to put it all together. I knew immediately how we were going to “get back to” Scotland Yard but didn’t make the actual “how” any easier.
There is a lot of deduction with little-to-no hand holding in this escape. There’s some sleuthing, you need to know how to read a map (and follow contextual clues), and if you have a loud bunch, I suggest you tell them to keep their voices down in the second half of the escape. There’s even a teensy bit of remembering because you ARE going to forget where you saw that last item…
As for the spread, I wouldn’t put it too wide. I’d say the difficulty ranged from 5-9; definitely on the upper limit.
|So, I’m just going to say that this room is challenging, and would have been challenging even if I wasn’t alone. There are a lot of small details that can be easily overlooked. I did get a few nudges as I was headed in the right direction (or searching for something for a few minutes and then given a general direction), and I did ask for 3 hints (I think they normally give you three, but I was offered 4 because I was on my own).
I was also told that the first stage of the experience normally only takes people about 10 minutes, so if you don’t progress at that point, then you can consider yourself behind schedule to complete the room. I was sweating when it got to be 6 minutes, and then I “unlocked” stage 2. The advancement is a nice touch.
If you are unable to navigate anything without Google Maps, then you may find some difficulty in this room.
And, I’m very, very, very happy that they give you a journal with a pencil so you can take notes. This came in extremely handy for some of the more detailed puzzles you find.
One of these puzzles also tests how logically you think, and maybe apply a bit of basic math skills too.
There is also a good mix of “quick wins,” puzzles that make you think or search for a minute or two, and others that will take you 5-7+ minutes to solve.
But, I’ll also say that I don’t think there was anything that was so complicated that couldn’t be figured out after spending some time with it.
|I keep touching on the fact that this room is meant to simulate a police investigation, but it’s with good intent. To truly understand what makes this room unique, you need to put yourself in a detective’s shoes. There’s so much this room does right it’s disgusting.
The first half is the crime scene investigation part; the second half is putting it all together to find out who Jack the Ripper really is. Even after finish the story, I still hadn’t made all the connections until our GM (Charles) poked and prodded us along when he was in there when we were done. It’s just really well done. Both halves look the part, and play the part, and you really just have to have some appreciation for detective work.
There’s a very decisive moment when you finish the investigation (I thought) but ask you keep doing the math, you end up backtracking more than I was expecting (and I LOVE backtracking in rooms, no joke there). So when you think you’re done, you’re not.
Saying more would just be doing a disservice, so I’m going to shut up.
|I knew that I only had an hour, so doing the room solo was a bit nerve-wracking as I got started. But, once that door closed, the adrenaline kicked in and I was on the go until I completed my mission. I was mentally and physically drained at the end of this, but completely happy about the experience. I was also a bit sad that it ended, and that, my friends, is what a great escape room is all about.
Even though this room is not linear, there are things that you have to do in sequence at stages in the room to move the story along, and then a group of you could investigate different things before coming back together towards the end for the big reveal.
In terms of decoration, Mary Kelly’s room looks exactly like the photos you’d find of the real crime online. It’s that authentic and that immerses you even more into the story. All the props, puzzles, and “locks” you find are appropriate to the timeline.
There are types of puzzles you’d find in most escape rooms… and I saw quite a number of new puzzles here which were directly related to the mission/story.
I did find out beforehand that the Georgia room is only slightly less authentic than the Illinois room in terms of physical elements of the construction of the room (just based on the overall space devoted to the room).
The smallest details here are not overlooked (even down to certain photos you might find), so – other than asking for those hints – I truly felt like I was solving a crime.
|I was quite frustrated through a lot of this experience, but I wouldn’t blame the game for that. It’s more my nature/personality. This escape is tough!||I loved this room… the puzzles, the subject matter, the decorations… everything. I was on an adrenaline joyride the whole time I was in this room and had differing emotions of panic, inspiration, and excitement. Can’t ask for more than that.|
|Game Master (Summary)|
|We talked before starting about how to handle clues and agreed on clues if asked, nudges if…needed.||My GM was great. He knew who I was, but kept me on the right track with some nudges here and there when I was in the “hot” area of the “hot, warm, cold” game. I did ask for three hints.|
|How Helpful Were Any Clues Given, if any (Summary)|
|I think 3 of them were good; the 4th we still needed another kick in the pants for.||They were absolutely helpful. Aside from the nudges, he did act as my teammate when there might have been something that I found and examined in the other room and left there, but needed in the other room to solve something I was working on (just so I didn’t exhaust myself running back and forth every few seconds).|
|RAGE Meter||ERG (pronounced URG, as in “we should have known better”) Score|
|I’m going to go with a 4 here (which means “PISSED”), and again, as I said in the Fun/Amusement section, not because of the game, but because I get frustrated easily. So, yeah, ok maybe it was because of the game. 😀
|I didn’t feel that I blindly overlooked anything or didn’t understand how things connected, so I’m gonna give this a big fat ZERO.
Rating: 0 Facepalms
ESCAPE ROOM GUYS’ OVERALL SCORING: 9.3/10
Final Thought: Even though we had separate experiences at two different locations (the first time this has ever happened), we still ended up liking a lot of the same things in this room, earning Jack the Ripper at Odyssey one of our highest ratings. It’s well designed, everything connects, and the puzzles are phenomenal. Hopefully we’ll be able to get back to either the IL or GA locations again.