ESCAPE ROOM REVIEW – THE QUICK AND DIRTY
Play if… you enjoy horror, being spooked, and/or The Conjuring movies.
Avoid if… you jump easily, don’t like being scared, or are claustrophobic.
Panic Escape Room:
Address: 990 Grand Canyon Parkway, Hoffman Estates, IL 60169 (click address for Google Map)
The Room – The Conjuring:
Description (from the company website): A desperate cry for help falls on deaf ears as you and your group take up the challenge to save this poor girl. Your journey begins in the infamous Warren’s Occult museum as you search for clues as to what was taken and what has caused the neighbors and their young daughter vanished without a trace . Remember everything in the Warren’s is possessed or cursed so avoid taking anything with you!
Difficulty (1-10): Not listed, but has a 26% escape rate as of this writing (as per the website)
Time Limit: 65 minutes (Note: When this room was first booked, it was listed as 75 minutes. After that, I was told it was 65, as now listed. When we got there, we were given 60 minutes, plus a few extra, as you’ll read.)
Party Size: Listed as up to 10, the booking page says minimum 3, but once you click Book, you are told minimum 4, max of 12. If you have less than 4, I’d recommend calling.
Staging Area: The location is (appropriately for the theme) in the basement of an office building. There’s a bench in the corner and a water cooler. Standing room otherwise.
Metro Access/Parking: This room was not in our home location, so we drove everywhere.
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 at a discount, 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: The initial room this escape starts in is cramped. Pretty much to be expected if you’ve seen the movies, as you’re supposed to be in the Warren’s Occult Museum.
Understanding of the Mission: Find the stolen items and figure out why the neighbors and their daughter have disappeared.
Did We Escape: Nope.
Time Remaining: 🙁 Even with the extra time.
Our Suggested Party Size: 4-8, though 8 will be a tight fit.
Did the room challenge the entire team? Yes
Members of our team (other than the ERG): Steph D, Aaron, Andrea, Mary Jo, Liam, and 3 others whose names I have, unfortunately, forgotten.
We did not take a photo after this failure. Not that we didn’t want to, but we weren’t asked.
Worth the time and money? Yes and no.
Where to Eat/Drink Before/After: We didn’t go anywhere after (nearby), so no recommendation here. Sorry.
|Overall Expectation (Summary)|
|I was super excited to find a local room while we were travelling that was based on The Conjuring. If you’ve not seen the movies, and you’re a horror fan, do yourself a favor and stop reading, go buy/download a copy, watch it, then come back here. I’ll wait.
Ok, glad to have you back. Anyway, I do enjoy a good horror room, so like I said, I was surprised to find one based on this series on the outskirts of Chicago (at least, I assume this was the outskirts; I really don’t know). Our original group was 4, then we were up to 7, and back down to 5, but the owners were exceedingly accommodating and we very much looked forward to escaping a room this day, as we’d (Jason and team, that is) failed the previous one just hours earlier.
|The story we were told was brief. The neighbors and their daughter had gone missing, as something from the Warren’s occult museum had been stolen (and presumably the spirit/entity had to have its revenge).
That was it. I was a little taken aback because what we were told was exactly what was on their website (and don’t get me wrong, I’m grateful it was the same; I wholeheartedly dislike being told one thing online and another on-prem) but I was just disappointed by the lack of story here, given the fact that this was based on a movie franchise with a relatively rich history to go off of.
|But we had multiple objectives, right?!? Find the stolen artifact and figure out what the neighbors had to do with it.
I can honestly say that not finishing the room probably had more of an impact here because we didn’t get a chance to see the outcome of the room. More on that later. However, all we were told was find an item then solve the puzzles. Read on.
|Puzzle Diversity (Rating)|
|There was a lot going on here, and that’s both good and bad.
As I said earlier, this experience was originally billed at 75 minutes, then I was told 65, and when we got to the room, it was 60 (plus the extra 3 they gave us). I’m not sure why all the changing, but what I can tell you was that it really brought the experience down right from the start. Even the “what not to do” briefing was a bit of a struggle. Once you got into the room (and subsequently out of it), you saw why this was originally 75 minutes. The extra 12 minutes probably would have helped us. That said, there was plenty to do regardless of the timeframe.
They made good use of the space, but as I said, it was a bit cramped for the majority of the game. There were a good number of locks (pad and combo), but I don’t recall there being anything terribly sophisticated in the movie other than a lock on the door, so I’m not going to take points off. The puzzles varied from use of doubloons, to a sort of Classic Concentration style puzzle (or if you’ve ever had a Mickey’s malt liquor, the pictograms under the cap (or just a pictogram)), to a math equation. I believe there were some tarot cards as well. Pretty sure I incorrectly used a rod of some sort to steal a key from a witch, too. On the other end of all that good stuff was the fact that there was just too much to do and too little time. Again, going back to the 75->65->60 minute thing. Not one to beat a dead horse, I’ll just leave that alone for now.
|Puzzle Complexity (Rating)|
|This experience certainly had its ups and downs, but even the easiest puzzle was not without it’s troubles. We found that several of the puzzles were open to interpretation, with the only interpretation that was correct being the designers. Makes me wonder how the play testing went.
Anywho, as I said, the simplest puzzle threw us for a bit of a loop, as all 8 of us worked on it at one point, but it really was just a literal interpretation that ended up being correct (and the fact that apparently ALL of us were having trouble counting, though that’s partially due to the Darkness level). The range was good; I would put it 4-10 (10 because we were so stumped at times that we didn’t complete the room*).
The puzzle that drove me the MOST insane (which isn’t really hard to do these days) is the last one I was working on, and not because it stumped me, because it really didn’t. What got me was the fact that the way it was represented (in terms of layout) was different than how to solve it. It was technically a math equation, and that’s all I will say about it.
*The reason I am calling this out as a 10 is because usually when we fail a room it’s because we’re on the last puzzle, refused to use or have run out of clues, and run out of time. Never before have I actually been so far behind that there was no way to complete the room, even with extra time. Though, again, if we had the full 75, maybe… (And if you haven’t played The Darkness (1 or 2), that I linked to above, do it.)
|Here’s where things went south for me. From the moment we entered this room, 3 things were apparent:
1 – This room was CRAMPED. There is no way this should be for 10 people because the starting room is TINY to the point it was difficult to move around.
It felt like every other item we touched in this room moved in a way it really shouldn’t have. Even the pen that was left for us at one point to write stuff down was broken! (Not to mention it was hidden under one of the stove top burners in the kitchen. I assume it should have been on the pad of paper that was there, so I’m not saying SPOILER ALERT on that. Thankfully I always carry a pen…) I guess they could say it is because of the entities in the room, but let’s not.
I also can’t find much in way of segues between puzzles, items, and sub-rooms short of the Occult Museum actually being in a house. That was the only thing that made sense to me. Items in the rooms were used for puzzles with no rhyme or reason as to why. For instance, part of the solution to a puzzle in the kitchen was written in blood in the bathroom, but the only thing that clued them together was the rough shape of the layout. You could very easily throw in some narrative that could state something like, ‘The previous investigators found a finger in the sink and the print matched the missing adult male. The blood was a DNA match for him, and before he went missing, there were sounds coming from the house at all hours of night, indicating he did this to himself, awake enough to know it hurt but not enough to stop.” (That actually brings up another point: If we’re in the Warren’s occult museum, in THEIR house, why are we looking for the neighbors in it and not in their own house? There was nothing to indicate one or the other, just that you were in a child’s bedroom at the end.) There was just no story progression past the entrance until you got into the final area and the last few puzzles (which, as I said, we didn’t even complete).
Did I mention it was also exceedingly dark? We were given a lantern that was more form than function, more decorative than anything. One of the 3 from the other group had a flashlight on him so we ended up using that instead when we started getting frustrated.
Other than that, the sights to be seen fit in well, but the whole mesh was a broken web.
|As I said in the Post-Room FB Live video, I was more disappointed with this missed opportunity than anything. So far, I’ve found that any room themed after an actual…THING…has brought me disappointment. I’m talking, TITANIC disappointment. (See what I did there…?)|
|Game Master (Summary)|
|I honestly couldn’t tell you. I know we asked for clues, but they were either less than helpful or in some way obvious (and not in the “well, dammit, I should have thought of that” way). When we were exiting the room, someone who I *thought* was our GM came up to us to ask if we had any questions and I said yes, expecting him to know where we’d screwed up. He was not the person GMing us. I was extremely confused.|
|How Helpful Were Any Clues Given, if any (Summary)|
|RAGE Meter OR ERG (pronounced URG, as in “we should have known better”) Score|
|As I said, more disappointed than anything, but leaving this at 3 fists for “angry”.
ESCAPE ROOM GUYS’ OVERALL SCORING 6.2/10
Final Thought: I went into this room with some really high hopes and came out with shattered dreams. No, just kidding. I really wanted to like this room, and if it were closer I would absolutely give them a second chance. If you like The Conjuring (the movies), give it a shot. And if there’s something wrong with the room, feedback is where it’s at.