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Month: August 2017

Escape Cape – Pharaoh’s Tomb

Escape Cape – Pharaoh’s Tomb

Room Name: Pharaoh’s Tomb

Business: Escape Cape

Location: 1231 Broadway St., Cape Girardeau, MO 63701

Date of Visit: Aug 21, 2017

Number of Players: Up to 8 (as few as 4 may book as a private room for an additional fee)

Our Group Size: 3

Escape Cape
Escape Cape

Official Description: The recent discovery of a pyramid, presumably the resting place of a long-forgotten Pharaoh, has set the world’s imagination afire. Rumors of a mysterious Pharaoh and an ancient curse have been circulating in the media. Whether these rumors are true or not, you have always been fascinated by ancient Egypt, so you assembled a team of leading archaeologists to join you on your mission to reach the inner tomb and discover the identity of this forgotten Egyptian king. Many teams have ventured into the pyramid before, but none have escaped. The mysterious disappearance of these explorers has supported the rumors that the Pharaoh had his burial chamber cursed. You must discover the inner tomb, identify the Pharaoh, and escape within 60 minutes, or else you too may fall victim to the Pharaoh’s curse!

Difficulty (official): We were advised that this is their hardest room.

Difficulty (experience): Medium

Time to Escape: 45:01

Escape Cape
What’s behind the door?

Review: We traveled to Anna, IL to view the solar eclipse and after finding that the town was lacking in entertainment, chose to head to Cape Girardeau, MO for the day to try an escape in a different city. Although we were unfamiliar with Cape Girardeau, we were able to find the building easily. Despite it being a busy day with only one person working there, we were greeted warmly and had a few questions answered while she monitored groups in the other rooms (kudos to that great time-management skill!)

The room itself is divided into the former team’s campsite and the pyramid. We enjoyed a lot of the decorative touches, particularly in the campsite room. The attention to detail there made that area really feel like a makeshift campsite at an archaeological dig. We also enjoyed the pyramid setup (complete with sand on the floor), but there was a visual element that was anachronistic enough to take away from the overall ancient pyramid aesthetic. However, we enjoyed some cleverly hidden pieces.

The puzzles are somewhat linear, but there are enough of them that all three of us were busy working on different elements of them so that each puzzle came together with everyone’s help. We enjoyed the variety—there wasn’t an abundance of combination locks, and no answer was flat-out given to us. The clues were easy to follow, but challenging enough to keep us entertained.

There were two puzzles that we didn’t enjoy as much as we thought we could have. One we had been alerted to earlier as the most difficult puzzle of all three of their rooms. The idea was very clever, but there were no starting points or indications on solving it. The second was a late-act puzzle, which we felt was clever in design but didn’t quite match the rest of the room in execution.

Overall, we really enjoyed our experience at Escape Cape (we even made our first Leaderboard here!) and wished that we lived closer to the area to try out their other two rooms. The amount of love and enthusiasm put into creating the room was evident, and we would love to see how that translates into their other escapes.

Escape Cape Leaderboard
The Leaderboard after we left.

Hints Used: One prompted, three unprompted to ensure we were on the right track

Clue Quality : Clues were very clear and we easily figured out to which puzzle they pertained.

Puzzle Creativity: This room had several clever moments and their puzzles tied well into the theme, aside from the aforementioned frustrations.

Rating: 4.5 /5

Fear Factor: None

Escape Cape - CSI Academy
CSI Academy poster

Things to note: Escape Cape is accessible by street parking on Broadway or in the neighborhood adjacent as well as parking lots nearby. Two of the rooms are handicapped-accessible, but the nature of Pharaoh’s Tomb and its location in the basement of this building make this difficult/unsuitable for those who require mobility aids.  Also, we feel that while you can book up to eight for Pharaoh’s Tomb, the entrance section to this room may become cramped for such a large group. We would suggest this room with a group of up to five participants. This room is family-friendly with one mildly-intense moment.

Escape Haus – Library of Secrets

Escape Haus – Library of Secrets

Room Name: Library of Secrets

Business: Escape Haus

Location: 1671 Interstate 35, New Braunfels, TX 78130

Date of Visit: August 13, 2017

Number of Players: 6-12

Our Group Size: 12

Official Description: A famous English detective wishes to retire and is trying to find someone his equal to succeed him. He has placed the best candidates in his Library of Secrets where not everything is as it seems. You must use your powers of observation and deductive reasoning to unlock the door and show that you have what it takes to be the next great detective.

Difficulty (official): Medium

Difficulty (experience): Medium, some clues very easy

Time to Escape:  51:53

Review: We’ve been wanting to do the Library of Secrets since our first time at Escape Haus. We had peeked into the room before and found the decor and theme to be interesting. Our group purchased five tickets, and we were joined by a family of seven, most of whom had never done an escape before.

The room itself is, like the other Escape Haus rooms, decorated to the theme (this one being Sherlock’s library). We were disappointed that the walls and floor didn’t quite tie into the Victorian library theme; they felt too modern. We realize this is kind of a nitpick, but after seeing the care put into the designs in rooms like Cursed Ship and Cabin Fever, we’re growing used to full immersion. We would have liked to have seen more nods to the literary Sherlock, like a journal or references to some of his cases.

This room had one electronic lock (not quite Victorian), but used a couple of interesting manual ones that we have not yet come across. Some of the clues were also quite clever, and we enjoyed the twist at the very end. We did appreciate the solution to a cipher in the room, but were disappointed when the clue revealed had already been completed, which rendered the code unnecessary.  

Like the other two rooms we’ve done here so far, several puzzle devices were reused. We were hindered by a lock that, while we had entered the correct code twice, were not instructed prior to starting the room how to manipulate it. It was only after the room operator heard me calling the correct numbers that we were told how to open the lock. She also seemed unsure of the puzzles and item locations in the room (after completing the room, we asked about the location of a piece we were missing and she had no idea where it was.) This was unusual, as the other two operators we had at this location were very knowledgeable about their rooms.

While we enjoyed the room in full, this could really be improved by different locks and slightly trickier clues. Most of the time spent was us running around trying to match code to lock versus figuring out puzzles.

Hints Used: Two unprompted (one for the aforementioned lock, one for a clue location.)

Clue Quality: The clues were very clear, perhaps a little too simple. There were way too many of the same type of combination lock, and a room dedicated to Sherlock provides a wealth of opportunity for interesting clues and lock variety.

Puzzle Creativity: For the library belonging to the master of deductive reasoning, there was very little to deduce. Most of the riddles and clues had solutions that were outright handed to us with no overarching puzzle or real moments of frustration or deducing. We were hoping to piece together a major puzzle throughout the room.

Rating: 3.25/5. The flavor was great, but the puzzles were lacking. This feels like it should be someone’s first or second room to get one’s feet wet in the world of escape rooms.

Fear Factor: None. The room is large and easy to move around in, even with twelve people in the room plus the operator.

Things to note: This room is very family-friendly. Parking at Escape Haus is plentiful, and as of this writing they do not have Groupon. They do offer a $5 discount on tickets for groups of five or more.

Austin Panic Room – Cabin Fever

Austin Panic Room – Cabin Fever

Room Name: Cabin Fever

Business: Austin Panic Room

Location:  1205 Rio Grande St, Austin, TX 78701

Date of Visit: August 5, 2017

Number of Players: 4-10

Our Group Size: 10

Official Description: A fierce blizzard has hit your secluded ski resort! So much for that relaxing trip. Caught in the snow, you and your friends were forced to take shelter in a nearby cabin. But beware! The old wooden structure can only stand the brunt of the storm for so long. Can you find a way to save yourself and your companions? Or, will you succumb to the fury of the blizzard?

Difficulty (official): Medium, according to our room operator

Difficulty (experience): Medium (hard for the last puzzle)

Time to Escape:  51:06

Review: Happy birthday to me! This was both my birthday celebration and our first experience with teaming up with strangers to solve a room.

We did not have a hard time finding Panic Room Austin; there is a clear sign on the front of the building. We were greeted quickly and led into the small waiting room. We did not see any of the warmup puzzles or riddles found in other escape rooms.

We then met our room operator, who gave us a good explanation of the room including the difficulty level and was available via walkie-talkie throughout the experience. She did a great job of helping us when we needed it, but we did have a couple of first time players in our group and there was no basic explanation of how these games work.

The room itself had incredible decor. Panic Room has done a terrific job of turning a room into a winter cabin for people who are not used to winter. We loved all of the touches in the room that made us feel like we were taking a ski vacation, despite us being in the middle of summer in Texas. The clues were very well integrated with the decor except for one, and we had a great time exploring.

The majority of the puzzles weren’t difficult to figure out, but they did require deductive reasoning and finding several pieces scattered around the room ( even a week after finishing, we are still talking about one particularly clever puzzle). One particularly fiendish puzzle kept us occupied for nearly twenty minutes, which did get to the point of being too frustrating. There were a couple of red herrings in the room, which is something that we haven’t seen prior to this.

The only real negative for this room was the puzzle we spent so much time on. We’re probably a little salty as this puzzle cost us breaking the room record, but even with ten people focusing on it, it took us quite a while and hints from our operator to solve it.

Hints Used: Three (two for the aforementioned puzzle).

Clue Quality: Very clever. There were a couple of outright clues, but most of them required puzzle solving.

Puzzle Creativity: Most puzzles fit very well into the room; there was one that didn’t seem to fit the theme at all. However, it was still a nice little challenge.

Rating: 4.5/5

Fear Factor: None. This room is technically two adjoining rooms, and was easy to maneuver at max capacity.

Things to note: Panic Room offers a very limited parking lot (a permit is required but can be obtained by an employee) and some street parking. We recommend carpooling. This room is family-friendly but is probably more enjoyed by teenagers than younger children due to the puzzle difficulty. Groupon is available.