GAMES vs ROOMS:
Since we started reviewing escape room games, we had to slightly modify our rubric and ratings. So you should NOT compare the ratings we give games against the ratings we give actual escape rooms (only compare games to games or rooms to rooms).
You can tell the difference by looking at the post title which will tell you ROOM vs. GAME, or by using Geographical Location category drop down, and selecting “Anywhere (Games).”
ESCAPE ROOM GRADING:
Determining a relevant grading scheme was probably the hardest part of putting this blog together. There are so many things that go into an Escape Room and we did our best to keep the grading concise while trying to cover all the bases (and not giving away any spoilers).
So, without further ado, here’s how we grade.
- Identifier (Room type):
- R1 = Original Room
- R2, R3, etc. = Original Room theme, but updated/revamped (number signifies which version)
- T1 = Temporary theme
- N1 = New Room (replaces an original)
- Level of detail – Was there enough detail to make the story compelling and make you actually WANT to complete the room, or were there gaps that required you to do some “suspension of disbelief?”
- Originality – How original is the story/theme from others we’ve done before or does it put a totally different spin on a common theme?
- Immersion – Did the story transport you into the experience and was it threaded through the experience as you progressed through the room(s)?
- Clarity – What are you supposed to do and how are you supposed to do it? (Are you just looking for a key to unlock a door or do you have to find something and radio out for an evac?)
- Challenge – Was the mission challenge appropriate for the theme and the rated number of players?
- Originality – Was there something different about this mission, or was your challenge to simply “escape the room?”
- PUZZLE (and LOCK) DIVERSITY
- Puzzle Types -Were all the puzzles in the room of a similar style (i.e. that you had to read tons of items for the one word or phrase that stood out, or did you have to do multiple ciphers, or solve multiple riddles), or were the puzzles a mix of mental and physical (i.e. manual dexterity) challenges?
- Lock Types – Was everything a lock that had to be opened with a combination or key, or was there a mix of RFID, magnets, pressure-sensitive plates, etc.?
- PUZZLE COMPLEXITY
- Complexity – How complex/difficult were the overall puzzles, did they require multiple pieces that you had to put together to get the ultimate solution, and did they fit the difficulty rating of the room (if one was provided by the company)?
- Mixture of Difficulty Levels – Did the puzzles have a mixture of difficulty that allowed for some quick wins and but also some stumpers, and was the complexity level appropriate for their maximum rating of players?
- Flow – How did the design of the room fit the progression of the overall experience? Did the individual puzzles work together to solve a larger puzzle? Was the room correctly sized (was it rated for up to 10 people but was it so linear that people were just standing around)?
- Cohesiveness – Did everything in the room (from puzzles and locks to decorations and props) fit the overall theme, story, and mission?
- Uniqueness – Did the room show us something we haven’t seen before in terms of a type of puzzle or way of solving a clue or something that contributed to the overall experience?
SUMMARIES (no actual score, but we give our thoughts on the following items)
- Overall Expectation
- What were our thoughts going into the room, or why did we choose to do that room?
- Was the room FUN??? DID WE HAVE A GOOD TIME?!?!?!
- Game Master
- Was the briefing they provided relevant?
- Were they of any use?
- Were they quick to respond to your questions?
- Were the given clues useful or confusing?
- How did they communicate? (Walkie-talkie, in-room phone, camera/intercom, TV screen)
- Were they engaging… did they psych up our engagement?
- How Helpful Were the Clues Given, if any?
- Were the clues helpful in guiding us past a roadblock?
- Did the GM provide clues that we didn’t ask for?
We also thought it pertinent to have one or two items specific to each of the Escape Room Guys to grade the room on.
- RAGE METER: How angry and/or frustrated did he get with any of the puzzles or clues? Scoring based on the number of Fists in a 5-point scale. Scale is further broken down as follows:
- 1 – Miffed
- 2 – Annoyed
- 3 – Angry
- 4 – Pissed
- 5 – Enraged
- ERG Score (Escape Room Guys… ERG… URG – see what I did there?): Essentially, were there any points where he felt like something was obvious that the group didn’t figure out quickly enough… essentially, what was the stupidity factor. Scoring based on the number of FacePalms in a 5-point scale. Scale is further broken down as follows:
- 1 – oops
- 2 – aw, that sucks
- 3 – How the HELL did I miss that?
- 4 – dammit, I’m better than this
- 5 – WTF – I’m a blithering idiot and deserve to smack myself repeatedly in the face
- Less than 5 – Don’t waste your time.
- 5 – 6 – There are some major issues with the room that need to be addressed (or completely missing items in our rubric) – we would generally not recommend unless the score was missing items from our rubric (as mentioned in the review). Proceed at your own risk.
- 6 – 7 – Some potential issues with the room or missing some small sub-elements of the rubric, but still a room you should probably check out.
- 7 – 8 – Now we’re getting somewhere… all pieces of the rubric are present and the overall experience was enjoyable with minor tech or experience or rubric issues.
- 8 – 9 – Great room and experience. Hit all the main points and really enjoyable or challenging to play.
- 9+ – YOU HAVE TO DO THIS ROOM! Top of the line and practically flawless. All items of the rubric and sub-categories are well done and the immersion was phenomenal.