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Cipher Escape Rooms – Captive

Cipher Escape Rooms – Captive

Cipher

Room Name: Captive

Business: Cipher Escape Rooms

Location: 1735 Westheimer Rd, Houston, TX 77098

Date of Visit: October 21, 2018

Number of Players: Up to 12

Our Group Size: 4

Official Description: He said he’ll be back in 60 minutes. That’s when your game is over, and his “game” starts. He’s even started a timer to torment you. As you watch the last hour of your life slowly tick away, your mind races as you ponder all of the horrifying things about to happen at the hands of this…person, this…monster. How are you are going to spend the time you have left? You can cry. You can pray. You can write a goodbye letter. You can scream for help. Or you can ESCAPE!

Don't Be Scared

Difficulty (official): Our operator told us this was their most difficult room.

Difficulty (experience): Medium

Time to Escape: Around 55:00

Review: The Houston Arcade Expo had come and gone, and our group wanted one last hurrah before heading back home – so why not do an escape?

Cipher’s signage wasn’t easily seen from the road, but the building is pretty easy to find thanks to the bright yellow artwork on the exterior. The lobby area is large, but was pretty empty compared to the other escape businesses that we’ve visited previously.

Cipher Entrance

The staff members were all quite friendly and helpful, and our room operator gave us a very detailed explanation of what to expect in the room and was happy to answer all of our questions. We went into the room, handcuffed and in high spirits—

—and then we walked into the dungeon that would seal our fate.

The room is divided into two sections—the jail cell and the torture chamber. Cipher clearly had a lot of fun devising the decor in both areas, and filled the room with props that made the room feel more real, such as items belonging to different victims. The jail cell encompassed a small area of the room, and while it wasn’t crowded in the room with just the four of us there were just enough puzzles in there to keep us all occupied until we managed to open the second area. Had our group been much larger, though, this area might seem a bit spare with tasks to accomplish and could begin to feel claustrophobic if the upper room limit of 12 players is met.

My memory gets a little fuzzy with the torture chamber, as two of us were focused on one time-consuming puzzle while our other two team members solved most of the new area. They did report that there were a couple of particularly clever puzzles, and one particular prop interaction fit perfectly into the room’s atmosphere. We were disappointed that the puzzle that we were attempting (which required two people to complete) took up so much time, and our room operator told us afterwards that puzzle was a sticking point for most groups.

This was the first time we had a room operator deliver hints in-character—the creepy Madame DuBois would call into the room regularly to taunt us or offer advice to help the room move along. She had an impeccable sense of timing and never gave us much of a hint unless we asked for clarification. She did, however, easily dispense insults and aggravation onto our group.

Ultimately, we were able to reason out one clever and well-integrated puzzle to make our way out of the serial killer’s lair before we met our demise.

Leaderboard
We didn’t quite make the board this time…

Hints Used: We called in for hints on two occasions. Our hints were clear and easy to follow, but didn’t include so much information as to spoil the puzzles.

Clue Quality : The clues were delivered in very creative ways, and it gave us an insight into Madame DuBois’s twisted mind. There were a couple of clues that felt too vague, but then fit nicely into the solution. Many revelations in the room brought excitement to our group despite the macabre tone of the escape.

Puzzle Creativity: The puzzles had many elements that we hadn’t seen before – no worksheets or overly-complicated direction puzzles were present. While we did get stuck on one puzzle for a very long time, the execution of it was very creative and one prop interaction in the room is delightfully twisted.

Rating: 4.5 / 5.

Fear Factor:  Mildly intense themes, includes a few moments that could be upsetting for young children. We recommend participants be at least thirteen.

Things to note: There is no dedicated parking lot for Cipher and the escape room is across the street from an extremely popular cafe making parking on the main street difficult. Parking is allowed in the neighborhood around the business but may be hard to come by, especially during brunch hours on the weekend. Plan to arrive early just to ensure you can park and walk to Cipher on time.

Are You Game

 

Escape Hunt Houston – Houston We’ve Had A Problem

Escape Hunt Houston – Houston We’ve Had A Problem

Room Name: Houston, We’ve Had a Problem

Business: Escape Hunt Houston

Location: 125 W Gray St Suite 100, Houston, TX 77019

Date of Visit: October 20th, 2017

Number of Players: 6-12 (hard minimum)

Our Group Size: 9, we recommend as many as you can get.

The well-decorated and inviting lobby at Escape Hunt Houston

Official Description: The most realistic Escape room in the U.S. patterned after the Apollo 13 Lunar Mission that has been called ‘the successful failure’. You and your team will be awed by the realism and fun of this escape room. Working under pressure, your team will need to help your astronauts return home safely from space. You have 60 minutes to save the crew.

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

Difficulty (experience): They weren’t lying.

Time to Escape: Failed with thirty seconds left in the final puzzle 🙁

Something tells me their murder mystery room is as well-decorated

Review: We were in Houston for the Houston Arcade Expo, so of course we had to experience an escape that the city had to offer. After a long day of driving and pinball madness, we headed to Escape Hunt. We’re not that familiar with the city but were able to find the building easily.

Escape Hunt’s lobby is reminiscent of your grandmother’s parlor, the one that you weren’t allowed to sit in unless it was a special occasion. We were greeted almost immediately and found the staff members to be extremely polite and friendly.

Prior to entering the room, we were told the story of how the room was built to mirror exactly how Mission Control looked during the Apollo 13 mission, with the puzzles mimicking the challenges that the astronauts faced. We had read the incredible Ars Technica article about the authenticity of the room and were even more excited to experience an escape that wasn’t quite an escape (and while we both survived, our friends weren’t so lucky).

The room’s set design is incredible, and the use of vintage electronics and early 70s touches (such as cigarette props and a chalkboard instead of a whiteboard for puzzles) showed its commitment to providing an authentic atmosphere.  Escape Hunt took great care in this room to conceal more modern wiring, and necessary items such as the countdown clock were built into the consoles. We kept discovering little touches in the room that made it all the more fun to experience.

The room is divided into Mission Control and the space shuttle, and once the astronauts enter the shuttle, communication can only be done by one person from MC. The rest of us were tasked with solving various puzzles and tasks to try and get our astronauts back on Earth.

Seeing as the room is more of a simulation than an escape, this is definitely a room for the more math and science-inclined as the puzzling leaned more towards analyzing and logic than codes or wordplay. I still had a great time in the room—the puzzles were linear but there was enough of them that we could all work on something except for one bottleneck.

Communication is absolutely key in this room – potential players should make sure that they are with an experienced group who clearly and concisely communicate their actions during the game. The game is less about puzzles and more about time management.

You failed to save the astronauts. Wouldn’t you prefer a nice game of chess?

Hints Used: Two – one for a puzzle, one for what we thought was technical failure.

Clue Quality : Clues were easily present, there was little searching needed. They were presented in a manner that explained the next steps in the puzzles, but were vague enough that they required critical thinking to understand.

Puzzle Creativity: Most of the objectives weren’t necessarily puzzles – a step-by-step plan is presented immediately upon room entrance. The objectives fit incredibly well into the room; there were no anachronisms that pulled us out of the room for the sake of adding puzzles to the escape.

Rating: 5 / 5. – Aside from some frustrations with certain puzzles, we all enjoyed the experience and recommend it to Houston players. The frustrations don’t outweigh the excellent design and unique experience created here.

Fear Factor:  None outside of the horrible dread of reaching the hour mark and realizing you just killed all your friends.

Things to note: There is no parking lot at Escape Hunt, street parking is available. We would not recommend this room for children under 13 due to the difficulty of the puzzles. Certain areas of the room required physical agility (such as crawling).  As of this writing, Escape Hunt does not have a Groupon available.