The Professor’s Quarters at Breakout Escapes Cambridge

Review of The Professor’s Quarters
at Breakout in Cambridge

This week, Professor Pettywood is away at a conference, so you decide to sneak into his Quarters and see what he’s hiding. His secretary will be returning from her break soon, so you must uncover his secret before she returns and finds you snooping around; which is grounds for expulsion!

Similar to other rooms at this location the immersion is fairly light.  While this room contains several areas to explore it feels very linear and forced to fit the space rather than being purpose-built.  It has some wear to it with some damaged decor.

The puzzles were good with the exception of one which the staff member admitted there was no way to tell rather than guessing.  This is the phone number puzzle and we recommend adding a signifier like a different number of stars on each card to explain the order in which the numbers must be entered. Other than that the puzzles were a nice range of styles and a decent challenge.

The introduction is via a video which we watched within the room after some short technical challenges.  We’d encourage the host to make sure everything is working before leading guests in. Hints are also delivered by the display within the room but waiting for the hint to appear or change caused us to waste time as it’s manually triggered.  The staff member was friendly but wasn’t following COVID protocols and didn’t wear a mask despite having to enter the room a couple of times.

Overall, the experience was enjoyable and is good for 2 to 6 people though the location charges for a minimum of 3 people.  It’s a good longer room that is good for a variety of skills.

DiFrancesco’s Diamonds at Breakout Escapes Cambridge

Review of DiFrancesco’s Diamonds
at Breakout in Cambridge

DeAngelo DiFrancesco, a wealthy Italian heir and pro footballer, has just been signed to your team; Romano FC. It is well known that DiFrancesco has a penchant for gambling. You recently made a bet with him and won! But he HATES having to pay up.

DiFrancesco’s Diamonds was actually a fairly interesting room considering it’s quite small physically.  The atmosphere is pretty good although it’s fairly easy to recreate a locker room in a commercial space.  It would be nice to have some ambient audio like stadium sounds in the room.  Rather, we had the sounds from the neighbouring room to keep us company.

I think the puzzle quality was one of the best parts of this room.  We were only stumped by one puzzle and think it would be helpful to have a sign on the wall with the hint “Please return the balls to the rack.” This would solidify that one puzzle.

The staff member was friendly but we have a few points to note.  The introduction is read hastily from a sheet of paper without much engagement with the players. The hint was given as an answer to the puzzle rather than a nudge in the right direction.  And, now that I think of it, the host wasn’t following COVID protocols and wasn’t wearing a mask, despite having to enter the room to give hints.

Overall, the experience was enjoyable and is good for 2 to 4 people though the location charges for a minimum of 3 people.  It’s a good quick room that is good for beginners but is not a very immersive experience.

Review of The Pirate’s Code Escape Room

Review of The Pirate’s Code
at Jigsaw in Ottawa

Something feels amiss and as you walk across the wooden floors, a whisper in the wind tells you a tale of a ghost pirate who plundered the Seven Seas taking riches beyond anyone’s dreams. Once a month on the Full Moon that ghost pirate comes to life and can walk among the living again.

This was one of the best rooms I’ve ever been in.  Pirate-themed rooms have really stepped up their game over the years.  This room is full of modern technical integrations that enhance the room without breaking the immersion.

The puzzles are a great blend of styles and difficulties from physical, to riddles, to spatial and memory-based. It is a very new room (as of 2020) and everything is in excellent condition still.

The staff and location are fantastic and you’ll want to get there early and enjoy a beer with your friends.  This room would be great with four people but can work with as few as two.

You’ll definitely want to book right away and make this a stop while in the Byward market.  Really – don’t miss this one!

Review of Victorian Vampire Mystery Escape Room

Review of Victorian Vampire Mystery
at Unlocked Ottawa in Ottawa

The Vampire Patrick Bones was found dead in his living room and authorities are stumped as to what happened to him. It is up to you and your team to explore his home and look for evidence that tells you who committed the crime, what weapon they used, and why.

Unlocked is a nerd’s delight.  There is just something about this place that screams “I’m here to solve problems.” There are brain teasers and games in the waiting area to keep you busy while waiting for your room.  The staff are pleasant are friendly.

The Victorian Vampire Mystery story takes place in two different “locations” – your office and the crime scene.  Moving between these naturally breaks the immersion.  It would be nice to see that office redressed as an “on-site command post” or something like that so you feel like you’re in the same location.

This space is a good size and can handle a larger party of 4 to 6 people.  It was just a bit too difficult for the two of us to complete but three people should be able to complete it within the time.

There are several “streams” of puzzles that are color-coordinated to help you connect the dots between clues.  This definitely harms immersion and I’d prefer to see either a more subtle way to connect the various puzzles or have fewer puzzles so that they can be connected more easily.  A benefit to having the paths laid out like this is that 6 people could be working on different streams at once.

The puzzles were, for the most part, straightforward and of the right difficulty. One exception is towards the end (the order of pressing the light pentagram) which the staff admitted had people trying to solve it the wrong way regularly.  This puzzle needs to be reworked because right now it doesn’t make enough sense.

Overall, a good experience, especially for a larger group of newer players who all want to contribute something without getting overwhelmed.

Review of Parliament’s Bomb Escape Room

Review of Parliament’s Bomb
at Amaze in Ottawa

Guy Fawkes of the Gunpowder Plot, a man known for plotting the assassination of the English King by means of destroying the parliament. In 1604 was involved in a radical movement targeting the overthrow of the Royal Family.

At first, this room is quite intriguing. A lot of elements went into the spaces that make up this room.  The puzzles are very intelligent and well laid out.  However, there is more to making a great atmosphere than an abundance of props.

We visited in the winter and the space was very cold.  It is already in a very hidden location down an ally and it would be nice to feel a welcoming vibe on arrival.  Although the staff attendant there was great, the bare, cold, and dim environment doesn’t make you excited to have arrived.

That being said, clearly, a lot of thought has gone into the puzzles themselves.  This room can handle a larger group of 4 to 6 people and indeed probably needs more than 2 as we were unable to complete the room in the time provided.

 

Review of The Recruit Escape Room

Review of The Recruit
at Escape Manor in Ottawa

The Syndicate is back and this time the threat is real. Can your team of fellow recruits rise to the occasion or will your first day be your last? Solve your way out, and into a career in cyber security with the CSE.

I can’t help but start Escape Manor reviews by praising their staff.  They’re always so friendly and are a key part of setting the atmosphere.  This is a physically large space that can easily handle a larger party of 4 to 6 people.  It is a challenge to get through it with just two – we were close but didn’t quite make it!

There are several unique spaces in this room that each provides its own immersive experience.  The puzzles here are very mentally challenging with little to no physical puzzles.  Good spatial awareness and memory will you greatly here!

Despite having attempted this room already, I’d love to give it another shot and see if we can make it the rest of the way through.  It’s a fun challenge.

Review of Psycho Escape Room

Review of Psycho
at Escape Manor in Ottawa

Your investigation brings you to Vincent’s office. As you comb through the evidence you begin to feel uneasy. Are you now part of his twisted game?

Escape Manor has a lot of really great rooms.  I think this is one of their older rooms and has been reconfigured over the years.  There is definitely wear on the room and the props.  A good bit of touching up the physical experience would go a long way to improve this experience.

The room makes excellent use of the spaces around the office that you’re in and you’ll want to wear your step counter despite the seemingly small space.  The staff at this location are amazing storytellers as we’ve mentioned in other reviews.  The need for them to step in because of issues in the room was unfortunate but necessary only because of the age of the room and wear and damage.

Overall this was an enjoyable experience with well-thought-out puzzles but not one of their better rooms.

 

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.