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Breakout Games Plano – Runaway Train

Breakout Games Plano – Runaway Train

Breakout Logo

 

Room Name: Runaway Train

Business: Breakout Games – Plano

Location: 2301 N Central Expy Suite 285, Plano, TX 75075

Date of Visit: 3/22/2019

Number of Players: 2-7

Our Group Size: 3

Breakout Dallas

 

Official Description: You’ve booked the trip of a lifetime: a cross-continental journey on The Breakout Express. As the train winds through beautiful countryside, news spreads of an uproar in the locomotive car. Radicals have taken control of the conductor’s cabin, planted explosives, and the train is racing towards a non-stop destination in the heart of the city: Central Station. Gain entry to the conductor’s cabin, stop the train, and free the passengers before time runs out. Can you engineer a last-minute escape?

Difficulty (official): The front desk staff stated that it was on the difficult side, but not the most difficult room.

Difficulty (experience): On the higher side of medium – we don’t recommend this as a first-time escape.

Time to Escape: 50:10

Runaway Train - Breakout Dallas

Review: While in the area for the Texas Pinball Festival, we found ourselves with more time to kill than we had originally planned for—so of course, this was a perfect time for an escape room! We decided on Breakout, which wasn’t that far of a drive from our hotel. The business is located on the second floor of a two-story shopping center and is well-marked.

The lobby was divided into two halves, reception and waiting/post-game photos. While the surroundings were pretty sparse, the staff member on duty was extremely friendly and we spent our wait time chatting with her – she gave some excellent recommendations for more escape rooms the next time we’re in the area. All of the staff members we spoke with were extremely friendly and helpful – no complaints about customer service here.

We were escorted to our train, which was a room divided into the train car and the conductor’s cabin. We were immediately impressed with the attention to detail in the room – there were three LCD screens which displayed different views of our trip through the mountains, and train announcements would go off on occasion over the rumbling sounds of the train on the tracks. There were points where the room really felt like it was moving! There were also plenty of small details that were integrated into the puzzles that fit into the idea of a luxury train through the country. We were especially fond of the conductor’s intercom having its cord cut by the villians – that was probably our favorite small touch.

The puzzles themselves were fairly streamlined and logical, but they had enough processes and steps that while we were usually working on one puzzle at a time, there was enough work to do that it didn’t feel like we were being bottlenecked. There was one particular puzzle which we were warned beforehand could result in several unnecessary steps, which thankfully we realized before too much time had elapsed. That puzzle was actually a clever bit of logic, but it required the same meticulous attention to detail that all of the other ones had.

Overall, we had a fantastic time! We loved the last-minute reveal; the room designers had done a great job disguising it. The room had something for everyone, although I did feel it was a bit heavy on mathematical puzzles. As we wrote earlier, this is definitely not a room for a first-time escape, but veterans will find it enjoyable.

Breakout Dallas

Hints Used: We didn’t need to ask for any, but our room operator did nudge us to locks that we had already discovered the solutions or keys for and hadn’t put them in.

Clue Quality: There were several very clever clues in the room, including ones that we simply thought were flavor until we stumbled across their puzzles. They did a great job at keeping the laminated sheets to a minimum.

Puzzle Creativity: While I still groan at the amount of math, there was a lot of thought put into the puzzles, and I loved the solution to two of them in particular. There were several different types of puzzles to challenge a variety of skills and thought processes.

Rating: 4.5/5

Fear Factor:  Low. No major scares. One intense moment.

Things to note: This business is on the second story of an outdoor strip shopping center. The stairs are near the establishment and there are elevators on the far side of the building.

Breakout Dallas

Lupin’s Great Escape Room

Lupin’s Great Escape Room

Room Name: Lupin’s Great Escape Room

Location: Pop-Up Escape at Ushicon 14 in Round Rock, TX

Date of Visit: 2/16/2019

Number of Players: 10

Our Group Size: 10

Official Description: It would seem that Lupin and his gang have stolen the Heart of Texas Diamond from a local museum and Inspector Zenigata has tracked them down to this hotel. Can you outwit Lupin and gather the evidence needed to put him behind bars before time runs out?

Difficulty (official): Easy-Low Medium

Difficulty (experience): Low Medium

Time to Escape: No official time. We ran right up to the time limit but were given the chance to complete the last puzzle due to prop failure.

Review: Ushicon is a small 18+ anime convention in Round Rock that we look forward to every year, especially to meet up with friends that we rarely get to see. This year, we noticed that there was an escape room on the schedule, which prompted several questions from us – namely, what does it take to create an escape room for one day in a space which cannot be physically modified in any way?

The room was set up in the con suite (a standard hotel suite which was used for some of the convention functions.) Despite the limitations of using the room, the game designers had done a good job of integrating the puzzles into the space (and were even able to hide a puzzle that one of our friends had a blast solving!) A few lockboxes were immediately apparent, but just like any episode of Lupin, we were about to learn that not everything was what it seemed.

Our GM introduced himself as Inspector Zenigata, a character from the show intent on catching the titular thief. He kept his explanations brief – all but one or two of our group had done at least one escape room, so he placed us in ‘hardcore’ mode which resulted in no hints unless we directly asked for them.

The room was divided into sections with puzzles that referenced each of Lupin’s gang members. Most of my concentration was on the Fujiko puzzles, while Moose was focused more on the Goemon puzzles. Each puzzle section started off with a note from Lupin and helped delineate what belonged to which puzzle. We enjoyed the variety of puzzles offered. When we spoke to the game designer afterwards, he told us that he had decided to create puzzles that would allow everyone to highlight their skills, including one physical challenge. Everyone had a chance to solve something, and we were never short on things to do. The puzzles were also fashioned in a way that would give nods to the series, but did not require any knowledge of Lupin trivia to understand or enjoy the game.

We were extremely impressed by the game’s sense of timing. There were just enough puzzles to keep us busy throughout the game, there was no endgame puzzle-loading that we’ve found in other rooms. As promised, our GM only stepped in when we explicitly asked for a hint or when there were some technical issues that were preventing us from completing puzzles after we had found the solutions.

While most of the issues stemmed from prop wear (we were the last group to experience the room), we both agreed that one of the clues was misleading for anyone with some knowledge of the Japanese language, and another puzzle was difficult to decode; which could have more easily been solved by printing it in color. We also ran into an unusual situation where certain props in the room had more than one clue on them being used in more than one puzzle unlike most games which have you remove clues once you’ve followed them to an answer, but once all the pieces were located completing these puzzles was a breeze. Overall, we really enjoyed the room and applaud the designers for making a room with so many constraints!

Hints Used: We were given unprompted hints for an alignment issue we ran into because of a visibility issue given the hotel room lighting and another when we had all but solved the last puzzle that we had overlooked a part of the clue. All other clues requested were clarification on how certain mechs worked or if an item was still needed.

Clue Quality: Some clues were direct and led us to the solution to a lock or portion of the escape. Other clues were hidden in interesting places with a number of different methods for revealing them and were very thematic. Some classic and some unique; for a home-brew game this was quite good.

Puzzle Creativity: There were some unique puzzles for us to complete in this room including one with a working cell phone and additional hardware that we had not seen done before. We did have a logic puzzle which admittedly was fun and fit the theme, but almost felt like just a worksheet that need to be completed. There were some common types of puzzles, but they were implemented in interesting ways particularly in a pop-up room.

Rating: 3.75/5. For a pop-up room there was a good variety of clever puzzles and an entertaining experience.

Fear Factor:  Outside of the horrors one would expect of an adults-only anime convention, none.

Things to note: This room was for a single event and may return in a future year, but may be different if implemented at all. The room this year was free with purchase of membership for the event.

Project Panic – End of the Line

Project Panic – End of the Line

Room Name:  End of the Line

Business: Project Panic

Location: 4403 Guadalupe St., Austin, TX 78751

Date of Visit: June 30th, 2018

Number of Players: 4-8

Our Group Size: 8, we recommend 6-8

Official Description: For years there have been rumors that the city’s trusty and seemingly innocent subway system has a darker underbelly – it is home to a number of notorious crime gangs. It’s now time to put these rumors to rest! Acting off a tip that a now closed subway line could lead to a coveted hideout, you and your highly trained team decide to take matters into your own hands and begin an investigation of an abandoned station. Will you take the fast track to deliver justice or take an unexpected detour on the way?

Difficulty (official):  Our host stated that this is the harder of their two rooms. The website lists its official difficulty as 7.5/10.

Difficulty (experience): Medium

Time to Escape: 39:00

Review: 

We finally had the time and money to do a new room, and our Escape Room RNG pointed to Project Panic, an offshoot of Austin Panic Room and one of the newest escape experiences in Austin. The location was easy to find (signage for the location is on the glass, not the building itself) and had a small parking lot attached behind the building. We were very thankful for this; parking in Austin on the weekends can be difficult, and pricey, in some locations.

The new location is brightly lit and welcoming, however there were AC issues on our visit which made us somewhat uncomfortable. Our game master greeted us immediately and gave a simple but funny explanation of basic game rules before leading us into the game space.

We’ve played a game from this same company (last year’s Cabin Fever), and like Cabin Fever, this space outdid themselves in decoration. The room is divided into station and subway, and they did a great job creating a derelict station with a cleaner subway car. We really appreciated that the decorative touches all fit seamlessly into puzzles, nothing seemed forced or out of place.

End of the Line is notable for its use of technology; all wires were hidden and puzzles that dealt with technology use were integrated extremely well into the room. This was particularly noticeable with one late-game puzzle on which we all enjoyed working.

While the room was very linear, which can cause problems with a large group, there were enough puzzles that needed to be worked on simultaneously that everyone was always busy. The room was very teamwork oriented; each puzzle had at least two people attempting to solve it.  We were happy that while the room had several escape room staples, they included clever twists. This is one of the few rooms where I’ve had to wait to find all the clues before finding answers.

The biggest drawback we felt was the theme implementation. Without giving too much away, we felt that the premise of the room really wasn’t executed well and the experience ended abruptly without really addressing the scenario again —changing the premise to an urbex adventure or a secret subway could add more to the theme.

Hints Used: Three unprompted (one due to a slight technical failure) and one verification of a “Do Not Touch” sticker. Our host was excellent in his hints; he managed to keep us on track without giving us answers.

Clue Quality : Clues within the game were worked extremely well into the room, only one screamed out as an obvious clue.

Puzzle Creativity: Puzzles were very clever, and while we recognized a couple of pathways from having done several rooms and being puzzle hounds in general, there was enough different about them to keep them interesting.

Rating: 4.75/5

Fear Factor:  None, a few moments of very mild intensity.

Things to note: There are several light and color puzzles, colorblind players should probably avoid this experience.

Escape The Room San Antonio – Western Bank Heist

Escape The Room San Antonio – Western Bank Heist

Room Name: Western Bank Heist

Business: Escape the Room San Antonio

Location: 315 E Commerce St #100, San Antonio, TX 78205

Date of Visit: Saturday, September 23rd, 2017

Number of Players: Up to 10

Our Group Size: 9, we recommend 4-6

Official Description: Black Bart, the Dalton Gang and Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid all were famous for their daring robberies. Now you and your accomplices have 60 minutes to make the biggest score in history. Do you have what it takes to join the notorious?

Difficulty (official): The staff stated this is their easiest room.

Difficulty (experience): Easy-Medium

Time to Escape: 58:00

 

This black and white theme spans all of Escape The Room’s Locations

Review: We had been excited to do this room after a friend recommended trying Escape the Room, as the photographs on the website showed that the room was richly detailed. As we knew we would have a large group, we chose this room in particular due to the space we saw in the aforementioned photographs.

The place was easy to find as downtown San Antonio isn’t too difficult to navigate. We arrived fifteen minutes early and were greeted by…

…well, no one, actually. We assumed that the staff was busy setting up the room as it was the first of the day, so we tried to amuse ourselves with the available time-wasters (which consisted of board games) in the lobby. As our group trickled in, the front desk staff finally appeared, but didn’t greet us or seem to acknowledge our presence until immediately prior to the game starting. She was quite friendly and helpful, however that first interaction soured us a bit on their customer service.

 

Jenga! Jenga! Jenga!

The room matched the website photos perfectly; there was a lot of care and thought put into it to make it feel like a bank in the Wild West. We appreciated all of the decorative touches, such as the antique safe and the wanted posters on the wall. These and other fun surprises in the room contributed to a full immersion in the room’s theme.

Unfortunately, we can’t quite say the same about the puzzles. The room is very linear, and we kept running into bottlenecks with such a large group as there was only one puzzle to really work on at a time. The inputs really didn’t follow any logical thread, and we wasted a lot of time trying to find inputs for codes and where each code went. We’re not fans of just guessing at the answers to puzzles, and we felt this was more of a brute forcing game than a puzzler’s game.

We would still like to go back and see what other rooms are on offer, as we were told that the other rooms at this location are more puzzle-based and not as linear.

 

Escape The Room

Hints Used: We asked for two or three, but were given several unprompted as is the room’s policy to keep players on task.

Clue Quality: Clues were delivered via video, monitor, and microphone. We received the same hint several times, which caused frustration. The clues felt muddy and hard to follow at times.

Puzzle Creativity: Most of our praise for the room comes from the visual aspects and small surprises that came when solving a puzzle, but the puzzles themselves weren’t incredibly memorable.

Rating: 3.25/5

Fear Factor: None

Things to note: Escape the Room San Antonio does not have a dedicated lot, but there is a paid public lot behind the building and some street parking, though the road is busy. Western Bank Heist is family-friendly. As of this writing we did not see any advertisements on Groupon.