ESCAPE ROOM REVIEW – THE QUICK AND DIRTY
Play if… you’ve ever wanted to experience being in a padded cell (without being actually committed).
Avoid if… you are all thumbs.
PanIQ Escape Room Washington DC:
Address: 3283 M St NW, Washington, DC 20007 (click address for Google Map)
Contact and Website: (202) 735-0485
The Room – Insane Asylum 2:
Description (from the company website): The year is 1956. You have been kidnapped by the CIA and are being used as a guinea-pig for their mind control program known as MK-ULTRA. Doctors have held you inside a padded room for weeks now.
There was an emergency at the other side of the institution, so the staff is gone for a while. Probably this is your last chance to escape before they completely brainwash you.
Difficulty (1-10): 4.5 of 5
Time Limit: 60 minutes
Cost: $24-36 (+ tax per person) (varies based on number of players)
Identifier: R2 (Note: this says Insane Asylum II, so we’re giving this room the revamped room identifier, even though we did not do Insane Asylum I)
Party Size: 2-7
Staging Area: First, ring doorbell to gain entry. Rooms are on the 3rd floor of the building. Small waiting area with couches and water cooler. Enough space for one team to hang out while they wait, but additional seating in stairwell area.
Metro Access/Parking: Rosslyn metro and then a .9 mile walk across the Key Bridge. It’s Georgetown, so parking can be difficult (so definitely carpool and use the parking garage for Georgetown Mall (it’s open 24 hours) at Wisconsin and M, head down the hill towards K Street). We suggest Uber or Lyft.
This is the video we took before we entered the room:
This is the video we took just after we completed the room:
Note: The ERG were given the opportunity to try out this room for free, with the understanding that we would continue to provide an honest review and follow the same process we’ve used on all of our other ratings.
Description of the room: You enter a padded cell. Clearly the person who inhabited the room has gone a little loco.
Understanding of the Mission: Solve the clues and figure out how to escape the cell before the asylum’s staff returns. You are close to being brainwashed and this is your last chance to escape before they succeed and you become a mindless drone in their spy program.
Did We Escape: NO! [Insert word cloud of expletives here]
Time Remaining: Less than 0.
Our Suggested Party Size: We had 6 and that worked well. We could have added a seventh and it would have been fine. We don’t suggest any less than 4 because there is a lot to do.
Did the room challenge the entire team? Yes
Members of our team (other than the ERG): Eric, Alphonso, Liz and Jill
Worth the time and money? Hell yes, even though we failed.
Where to Eat/Drink Before/After: It’s Georgetown, so there are tons of places to have dinner or grab a drink.
- Old Glory BBQ – BBQ and a variety of beers w/ a full bar
- El Centro D.F. – upscale Mexican cuisine – we stopped in for chips and guac, tacos, and margaritas to drink our sorrows away.
- Clyde’s of Georgetown – right across the street
|JASON SAYS:||MIKE SAYS:|
|Overall Expectation (Summary)|
|Having never been in any sort of facility for mental issues, I wasn’t sure what I was walking into (literally).
However, having done the Perfect Crime at this location, I was looking forward to a good story, good puzzles, and some good old fashioned team work.
What I left with were a few more things to add to the mental checklist I keep for what to look for/do in escape rooms. So, that, at least, was an additional bonus.
|After we did PanIQ’s Perfect Crime room, we had such a good time that we really, really wanted to go back and do the hardest room at this location (in fact, we were briefly tempted to attempt the room that night since Ryan said that the Insane Asylum was open if we wanted to do it right then and there… sadly, not all of our party could stay).
Because the first room we did here was so well done with the puzzles (highest rated room to date), it made doing the rest of them a no-brainer.
The premise of this room was really intriguing, and – I will admit – that I snuck a peek when we were there last time when the door was open and was REALLY interested in what seemed to be a simple padded room.
And looks can be deceiving, as we all well know with these experiences.
So, yeah, I had really high expectations and they obviously didn’t disappoint because we didn’t get out. This was also the first room that we failed the worst… we had 4 puzzles remaining. The other two rooms we failed we were on the last clue.
I don’t know which situation is worse.
I think this room might have actually broken Jason. Only time will tell.
|The story told was pretty much the same story that’s listed on their website. You’re a guinea pig in their mind control program and while you’ve been unconscious, there was an emergency at the other end of the island the facility is on. You woke up while they were all gone and now have got about an hour until the doctors and staff get back, so might as well make the most of it and try to get out.
|PanIQ doesn’t go through a lot of frills with their stories and missions. They’re pretty straightforward, so it’s assumed that they just want to get you into the experience. I can totally respect that.
You have been kidnapped by the CIA and taken to an undisclosed location and placed in a mental asylum, where they are injecting you with drugs to break down your will and make you a brainwashed spy.
After the last dose, something happens on the other side of the facility and the staff leaves to take care of it. You wake from your drug-induced sleep and… take the clue, Jason… you know you want to
|While the doctors are away, the insane will play! You’ve got plenty to do in your padded cell. Not gonna lie, it’s pretty creepy in this escape room, but it was still awesome. You’ve got to get out one way or another and what you don’t know in this one can literally harm when when time’s up (figuratively speaking, of course).
Solve the puzzles, open the doors, get the hell out before you lose your mind. Or start to…
|…shake off your drug-induced sleep (this is stressed), use what mental faculties you have left, solve the puzzles and find a way to escape the room and reclaim your life… or lose your free will and become a brainwashed automaton a la the Manchurian Candidate… ask for help, Jason… it doesn’t make you less of a man…
So, this mission is freakin’ creepy. There is nothing that scares me more than the loss of free will, which is why I added the “horror” tag to this post.
And, there are other instances where the horror flows in… kinda like you are on a journey to insanity where every clue gets progressively harder to do once your mind starts breaking down.
Truly well done, but only one mission objective so I’m not rating it as high.
And, is it wrong that “Insane in the Brain” kept playing through my mind while we were doing this room? Gotta love some Cypress Hill, but their hallucinations are induced by an entirely different drug! LOL
|Puzzle Diversity (Rating)|
|This one was good. Again. PanIQ doesn’t waste any time with their puzzles and games, so it was a blast; well, while we were actually figuring things out…
More things we’ve never seen before and things we have seen used in new ways. I was impressed again. Wait…no, I’d never seen any of the puzzles in there before; I take that last part back. It was all new stuff. Right? Dammit, did I actually go insane in there? SOMEONE GET ME THAT STRAIGHT JACKET AGAIN!
|As with Perfect Crime, this room didn’t disappoint with the different types of puzzles and clues. Lots of new stuff here in terms of both puzzles and clues and lots of new props! The combo locks we did see here are what I would have actually expected to see in a room with this theme.
Actually, I’m really impressed with the number of new things we saw. There was even a puzzle that was uniquely suited for Alphonzo’s profession, so it goes to show that a diverse team may bring different perspectives.
Now, I will only say that there is a mix of the types of puzzles… not all are mental… break your own rules, Jason...
|Puzzle Complexity (Rating)|
|If I had to rate every puzzle on a scale of 1-10 in this room, I’d say only one was under a 6. However, there was one puzzle (and, honestly, you can’t really call it a puzzle; it’s more like a physical challenge) that we spent WAY too much time on.
Additionally, as our 2-time GM Ryan (again, he doesn’t like being called a ‘Game Master’ for whatever reason, but I’m still calling him one (Sorry Ryan)) told us, the record was something around 40-45 minutes, but with 9 (yes, not a typo) clues. We can only assume that one of these 9 clues was to let them bypass the challenge. And that bothers me. But not as much as going crazy. WHO SAID THAT?
Rating: 9/10 (-1 for that physical challenge/puzzle)
|We asked what the record for this room was before we went in, and Ryan told us that it was held by a team that got out with 15 minutes remaining, but they asked for 9 clues. Being very anti-clue, we went into this very adamant that we would beat the record (maybe not for time, but for the number of clues requested).
We should have asked for more clues, obviously.
The complexity starts almost immediately and continues through the whole experience. I mentioned before that it seems like you go on a downward spiral in your path to madness.
Lots of puzzles and it really challenged the entire team… sometimes to the level of frustration where we were waiting to jump in.
But that’s the perfection of how the room is designed.
However, there is one puzzle (that we were told afterwards that only 6-7 groups solved to completion without help) that really stuck us. And we asked for clarification as to whether we were solving it properly. We just had to keep at it and our own bullheadedness may have been our undoing… the failure, Jason, the failure will live with you…
|Oh, this room was good. I wouldn’t say it was linear, but there were definitely times where the puzzles we split up to solve pointed us back to one grander puzzle, which I think is awesome. For example, there was a group of puzzles that led you to made you look;made you look; I’M NOT TELLING YOU, which in turn led to FOOL’D YOU AGAIN, HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA, so we were all occupied pretty well.
Additionally, the puzzles actually fit to make you think you were slowly going nuts. That’s really what made the room for me.
|The room was superbly done with the decoration and the props. I really felt like I was in a padded cell in a mental asylum. There are also things that occur while you are in the room that add to the experience to make you wonder if you are truly going insane (did those really happen, or did I imagine it?).
All the clues and puzzles fit well and the props were definitely perfect in how they played into the theme, the clues or the puzzles themselves, and I absolutely love it when you can work in different areas and then have to all come back together to work on the next, big puzzle (kind of like a funnel).
At one point, I think my hands were shaking as I was trying to solve a puzzle, which made it infinitely more difficult to try and solve in a darkened room. Very, very well done. However, the one puzzle we had the most problem with makes me wonder how it tied in.
And, finally, you come upon something once you solve a puzzle that just blows everything up. I’m not saying anything more, but it’s the first time we saw this and it could really affect how you handle this room… Or, is this all part of my master plan, Jason?
|Crazy? I was crazy once. So they put me in an asylum. I had a dog there. Then I died. They planted flowers on my grave. Some grew up. Some grew down. One grew right up my nose. It drove me Crazy. Crazy? I was crazy once. So they put me in an asylum. I had a dog there. Then I died. They planted flowers on my grave. Some grew up. Some grew down. One grew right up my nose. It drove me Crazy. Crazy? I was crazy once. So they put me in an asylum. I had a dog there. Then I died. They planted flowers o||I had a hell of a great time in this room, was incredibly frustrated at some points, but it was a really challenging room. I may have left part of my brain back there… Maybe there is only supposed to be one Escape Room Guy…|
|Game Master (Summary)|
|Ryan was fun to work with again. He was a little stressed, though, because the previous group in the Insane Asylum went crazy enough that they broke something and he had to fix it. It delayed our group, as well as the group trying to solve the Perfect Crime.||Ryan is literally a trip (truly: he literally tripped over a fan four different times we were there… his office is really small, though). He has a great attitude and a lot of patience. Are you still hearing my voice, Jason?|
|How Helpful Were Any Clues Given, if any (Summary)|
|.flesruoy gnirewsna trats uoy fi melborp a ylno si flesruoy ot gniklat, raews I
.si ti, nosaJ, thgir s’tahT.
…thguoht I tahw tsuJ. nosaJ sknahT
|The clues were really helpful and I think that we asked for 3 real clues (the rest were clarification that we were doing something correctly), and it’s made us actually rethink our “anti-clue” stance. We could have asked for a few more clues and possibly have gotten out. Clues are good, Jason... remember that for the next room.|
|Anger Level Score||ERG (pronounced URG, as in “we should have known better”) Score|
|All joking aside, while I enjoyed this one immensely (and writing this post up was fun, too), my biggest gripes were 2-fold.
1 – the main puzzle in the beginning. I should have known better.
Rating: ???? Fists – 4/5
|The room was challenging, so there weren’t too many times where I felt stupid. I’ll say only once when we read a solution wrong… Or I have you committed, seize control of ERG and will re-write all the rules! Muah–ha-ha-ha!!
Rating: ?♂️?♂️ FacePalms – 2/5
ESCAPE ROOM GUYS’ OVERALL SCORING: 9.0/10
Final Thought: It’s rare when the ERG do not complete a room, but we tip our hats when those instances occur. We also rate the room on its merits and not immediately penalize it when we lose. We’re secure enough in our escape room abilities to realize that it’s bound to happen to us guys every now and again, and it’s only a temporary thing.
THANK GOD!! (Isn’t there some type of pill for this… or is that how we got into this whole mess in the first place?)