Thames & Kosmos Exit: The Sinister Mansion

Review of Thames & Kosmos Exit: The Sinister Mansion
Escape Room in a box

You are invited to be a guest at a palatial mansion, but upon arrival, you find yourselves forced to take part in a macabre game. The clock is ticking, and there is not much time left to solve the puzzles. Can you escape the mansion before it’s too late?

This escape-room-in-a-box is a far departure from the experience of being in a room.  They’re more like a board game experience that you can’t use again. And with the Exit series of boxes, you destroy elements of the game in the process so that it can’t be used again even by someone else.  Though we weren’t exactly in love with the Deckscape escape-room-in-a-box experience, we were at least able to pass it on to a friend to be enjoyed again.

The story line was clear but a bit shallow – you’re trapped and now get out!  But there are lots of interesting things to learn from in this room – so why not expand on it?  Let us learn more about our host to enrich an experience that is quite literally two-dimensional already.

The physical quality is decent.  There’s definitely more involved in making this than a Deckscape escape room.  Again, it’s sadly a single-use product.  Such a shame because it is well-made and clearly took a lot of thought and they are generally more expensive.  The destruction of the game does add a unique depth to it, I just wish there was a better way!

We played this with four players but really, in our experience, two is plenty. With more than two players there is at least one person unable to contribute at any given time because only so many of you can hold onto the clues and cards at once.

Overall, it was fun and challenging and worth a shot if you don’t mind sending all that material to the landfill once you’re done.

Review of The Magician’s Assistant Escape room

Review of The Magician’s Assistant
at Escape Manor in Hamilton

Shrouded in mystery, his assistant has vanished. All fingers are pointed at the magician. He is standing trial and time is running out. Can you uncover the real story?

This is one of three rooms at the Hamilton Escape Manor.  Once again the room starts off with an excellent presentation of the story by a team member who then shows you into the room.  The staff member did a great job at not giving us hints without us asking and the hints are delivered remotely as to not break the experience.

The environment is fairly well set up although there are a few elements that could use the slightest touch-up to make the start of the experience just right.  The story is clear throughout and items that you find reinforce the theme.  There are some fun but frustrating puzzles in this room.  We found that they weren’t all quite as well thought out as in the other rooms here and the number of puzzles was a bit lower than other rooms.

Overall the environment is well thought out and fun to play in though and gives a magical mood that is naturally enjoyable.  The room is a solid medium and could accommodate six players comfortably.

Review of The Tomb Escape Room

Review of The Tomb
at Escape Manor in Ottawa

As you enter, you note the abandoned excavation site. “Someone left in a hurry” you think. You step forward when a horrible chill runs down your spine. “What was that voice?”

Once again Escape Manor’s story-tellers are some of the best around and they set the scene and establish the storyline before you enter the room.  Inside of this room you’ll find a very detailed and well-crafted facade filled with ancient treasures.  You understand why you’re there which helps to boost the overall immersion.

Though there is sign of ware in this older room it doesn’t harm the experience too badly (but it is due for a good fix-up!)  The puzzles are fairly clear and well thought out though I think some of them also suffer from age having been created in the days over overthinking puzzles.  The staff tips via walkie talkie are fitting for the room and the giant sand hourglass is a fitting timer for the room (except it was broken.)

Overall, a good medium room that would benefit from having four to six players present.

 

Review of Dr. Byward Escape Room

Review of Dr. Byward
at Amaze in Ottawa

Dr. Byward a PhD in Quantum Mechanics, brought forth the idea of Quantum Realms. He proclaimed that the space-time continuum can be bent to men’s will and used to create worlds beyond our imagination. After one of his experiments ended in a catastrophe he was banished from the scientific community, his research was deemed too dangerous.

You are given a warrant to infiltrate Dr. Byward’s Sanctum, your goal is to investigate and end his research the research of this mad scientist once and for all.

Amaze in Ottawa is located in a small standalone building down a bit of a hidden alley close to Byward market.  It can be easy to miss!  Your first puzzle is to find their location!  Once inside the young woman was very kind and friendly and helpful but the location was quite cold (it was -6 outside) and certainly didn’t have the same welcoming vibe other locations do.

But, on to the room!  It was also quite cold.  The immersion factor is hard to measure because there isn’t a very relatable environment when it comes to quantum realms! However, I liked it.  The octagonal room with the octagonal table in the centre was a passable portal to other realms.  There were unique environmental aspects here that we enjoyed.

Unfortunately, there were a couple of elements that didn’t quite work right and required the staff member to come into the room to assist which always harms immersion.  It wasn’t their fault though as it seems some repairs are needed inside the room.

There is a clear and present storyline throughout.  The puzzles were a little easy for us – we’ll give it a medium rating here.  Four people should easily clear this room within 30 minutes.  It is big enough to hand 6 people.

Give it a try and let us know what you think down below!

Review of Wonderland Escape Room

Review of Wonderland
at Escape Manor in Ottawa

You tumble down a rabbit hole and you find yourself stuck in Wonderland! As you search for a way back home, you eat some crumpets that make you gigantic. The only way to shrink back to person-size is to grab the Queen of Heart’s tarts from her kitchen. Be quick, the Queen will soon return from her croquet match and if she catches you… OFF WITH YOUR HEAD!

Wonderland is a really cool room that is fun and youthful and a nice break from the typical pirates, mummies, and horror.

Escape Manor seems to have hired all the best story tellers in the industry and they really set the atmosphere from the start.  I can’t speak highly enough of the staff at the locations we’ve visited.

The story and purpose for you being there is very clear and you know exactly why you’re there and what you need to do.

The room has great props and build quality but there’s something about it that makes you feel like you’re in the furniture section at Toys R Us.  It’s probably the tiny furniture…  I think that lowering the ceiling in this room would help it feel like you’re really big in a tiny world.  There are also things that they could do to make you feel small in a big world, but I wont talk about it much here because I don’t want to ruin anything.  Looking back at this room, what they did with the fork and spoon was really quite clever.  You’ll see what I mean.  There were some exposed technical elements that also hurt immersion a bit here.

The puzzles themselves are good!  We didn’t encounter any bad puzzles or things that were broken or even really worn out for that matter.

Overall it was a lot of fun.  This room is good for all ages and is a medium difficulty that can accommodate 4 to 6 people easily.

Review of Shipwrecked Escape Room

Review of Shipwrecked
at Unlocked Adventures in Ottawa

You and your team have been searching for the ancient Red Rock ship for decades.

Legitimate archeologists are on the way, but you don’t want to share the treasure. Get into the ship and take as much as possible before they arrive.

The worker at Unlocked was great.  She was kind, friendly, helpful, enthusiastic, and a good story-teller which helps set the atmosphere when going into the room.  The storyline was clear and present throughout the game.  In fact, this is the only room we’ve done (at the time of writing this) where your score is not just the time left, but the amount of treasure you managed to retrieve from the ship.

The puzzles are good for the most part with a variety of skills required including math.  There was only one puzzle that we’d consider a bad puzzle.  We consider it a bad puzzle when there’s an element that just doesn’t make sense.  Typically the host will say “yeah, we get a lot of people thinking that.” Well, it’s time to fix it then!  This one tricky puzzle can be the difference between you making it out or not.  Otherwise, the puzzles are great and lots of fun.

Unlocked uses colours or symbols as a sort of built-in hint system to help you associate puzzles.  We found that the room had almost too many locks, but, since part of the scoring is the amount of treasure you retrieve, it makes some sense.  We think this room should ditch the colour stripes.

While not the most mind-blowing “ship” we’ve been in they did a good job building this room and it is believable as the belly of a ship with lots of immersive pieces.  A paper and pencil are provided in this room for note taking which is more appropriate for the space than the magnetic note boards or boogie boards provided in other rooms.

Overall the room is enjoyable and fun.  We found ourselves sitting cross legged on the floor doing puzzles together frantically as the countdown chased us.

This is a medium difficulty room and you will benefit from having four players.  More than six players may be a little too cramped.

 

Review of The Final Crusade Escape Room

Review of The Final Crusade
at Lift Lock Escape in Peterborough

Can you find the Holy Grail and keep it out of the clutches of evil?

Lift Lock Escapes makes some really interesting rooms.  The thing that got us today is how they fit so much in a relatively small space. They have some really unique doors use motors to lift, turn, and move items for dramatic reveals.

The rooms are quite immersive but do have a slight commercial-space feel to them at times. There are little to no “do not touch”: signs and the story is present throughout.  You understand why you’re there and what you need to do.  They have great intro videos that don’t rely on cheesy deep voices to explain the mystery.

The hint system uses a doorbell (which we’ve seen in other places) which means that the staff member needs to enter the room to give you the hint which is definitely a break in the immersion.  I do really like their hint system, however, which requires you to find hint “tokens” throughout the room that you can trade for hints.

This room is well put together with a lot of props and items to use (or not use) and requires some unique methods of exploring the space.

We would encourage you to check out this room next time you’re in town. It’s a medium-difficulty room that would be fun with a group of 4 but may be tight with more.

Review of Seven Dwarfs: Mining Mission Escape Room

Review of Seven Dwarfs: Mining Mission
at Improbable Escapes in Kingston

One year has passed since the seven dwarves helped Snow White defeat the evil queen, and now they’ve retired to a quiet cottage deep in the forest. But happily ever after is never that easy, and evil is rising once again! The evil queen’s followers plan to use the poison apple to bring about her malevolent return. Snow White has tasked you to destroy the devious fruit once and for all, and rumour has it that the only way to rid the world of its evil is to cast it into the very centre of the earth.”

This room is one of the most immersive rooms we’ve ever done – similar to their other room Neverland: Heist at the High Seas.

The puzzles are generally very good requiring a variety of skills and using some unique pieces. Though technology is abundant in this room the designers have balanced it out with dark and rugged puzzles intermingled throughout.  There was only one item in the room that made us frustrated because it came down to individual interpretation of an item and it cost us a lot of time.

This is where the hint system comes into play. We really like the button on the wall that displays a hint on the screen.  It ensures a balanced system for all, it doesn’t break immersion by having a person enter a room, BUT, it does mean you can’t get personalized help. We used two of our three hints and ultimately went over time because of a colour we saw differently than the maker – and that’s a bummer.

There is no staff involvement in this room but we do wish they’d stepped in earlier to say “you understand how the puzzle works but you’re seeing the colour differently than us.” That is a bit on them to say “you’ve got the puzzle figured out, but…” So, we had to dock a point for that.

The overall immersion is excellent.  It feels like you’re in a cottage and it feels like you’re in a dwarf mine.  And overall it was a lot of fun but took some effort to not let that frustration get to us!

Still, definitely a room to check out.  We’re salty over just one problem in fantastically well made room, in a great facility, with great staff.

We rate this room a medium-hard

Review of Neverland: Heist on the High Seas Escape Room

Review of “Neverland: Heist on the High Seas”
at Improbable Escapes in Kingston

The notorious Captain Hook has captured your group and locked you in the brig, deep in the bowels of The Jolly Roger. When dawn breaks the nefarious villain will make you walk the plank, but a new friend has offered you a way out… and she knows where Hook keeps his treasure map. While the crew sleeps you’ll take control of the ship, set a course for the second star to the right and head straight on ‘til morning! You have 60 minutes to dodge Hook’s clutches, find your way to Neverland and escape with riches untold.

This room, and indeed “Seven Dwarfs” Mining Mission redefines the word “immersive.”  I almost feel like I need to re-review other rooms because the bar has been raised so high.

The puzzles were excellent.  There is a wide variety of puzzles involving different skill sets and though processes.  It wasn’t repetitive and it wasn’t predictable.  They were just good, tricky puzzles.

The environment is incredible. The use of audio and lighting and physical products is near-perfect.  There are elements in the room that I have WISHED in the past that others would include and perhaps they just weren’t brave enough to potential spoiler: (to include real sand in rooms that should have sand.) There was only .5 docked from overall immersion for one puzzle that overused technology for the environment (in my opinion) and one mic visible and I would make one tweak to the exit door.  But they’ve done such a good job everywhere else these are really nit-picky things.

The staff have limited involvement here because the hint system is a button on the wall that displays the hint on the screen – we didn’t need any hints in this room! The involvement he did have at the beginning was flawless and set the scene for the room.  The staff are incredible at this location.

We’d rate this room a medium and it will accommodate four players comfortably.

The overall fun was incredible.  We were absolutely blown away by this room and encourage anyone from Montreal to Toronto to Ottawa to make the trip to this location and book a double-header.  It’s worth it!

Review of New Haven Orphanage Escape Room

Review of “New Haven Orphanage”
at Confundrum in Burlington

“The cold case known as the “New Haven Orphanage Disappearances” is infamous in your town, Havenport. The mysterious disappearance of the kids that used to call it home has been said to be the work of a demonic force. As up and coming police officer’s you’ve been tasked with solving the case. Will you solve it or simply become the next to go missing?”

New Haven Orphanage is one of the better horror-themed rooms we’ve done and when you choose the hardest difficulty along with the cast interactions, the quality and immersion really go up a notch.

The storyline is very clearly laid out and you know what your goal is from start to finish.  All the puzzles relate perfectly to the storyline.  The environment is really good visually, and with audio, and through lighting.  However, the room is older and has seen its share of abuses.  There are a lot of detached props and, let’s face it, the sight of glue on a detached piece of the room definitely breaks the immersion.

The medium-hard room is excellent and you should do it.  4 to 6 players in this room is perfect.

However, Confundrum, you need to take a day to turn all the lights back on and fix everything that’s detached in your rooms.  Your success has caused your rooms to get worn down!