ESCAPE ROOM REVIEW – THE QUICK AND DIRTY
Play if… you like beating your friends at any sort of game.
Avoid if… you’re a sore loser.
Laurel’s House of Horror:
Address: 935 Fairlawn Ave, Laurel, MD 20707 (click address for Google Map)
Contact and Website: 240-278-4545
The Room – Good vs. Evil: RETIRED
Description (from the company website): “Good vs. Evil” is a brand new escape room that challenges groups to race each other. The winning group will be rewarded a special prize at the end: a gift card! Join us for this 45-minute game and find out…who is the smartest group?
Difficulty (1-10): not listed
Time Limit: 45
Cost: $25 per person
Party Size: Minimum of 6; max of 8
Staging Area: It’s in an old movie theater that is supposedly haunted, so pretty damn creepy.
Metro Access/Parking: Not metro accessible at all. The theater is in a strip mall so there is plenty of parking.
This is the video we took before we entered the room:
This is the video we took just after we completed the room:
Description of the room: Each team starts off divided into 2 groups with a shared wall between them. You have to help your teammates get out of their room while they help you do the same. The opposing team has the same types of puzzles, but different solutions.
Understanding of the Mission: Get through to the final room to secure your own exit. And let your opponents out if you feel so obliged.
Note: Because we paid to do the other three rooms, and had a lengthy discussion about who we are and our thoughts on the rooms, the GM (this time that’s General Manager…) wanted to get our take on the competitive room and allowed us to go through it for free, provided we give him feedback at the end. We ended up pointing out a few issues with the Evil set of rooms that would have delayed or prevented the team in that room from completing the mission altogether.
We also feel that it is not fair to do the standard rating scale on this room, since each of the different teams would have different experiences, but we have provided our feedback on the experiences in those categories below.
Did We Escape: Jason’s team did (and eventually let Mike’s team out)
Time Remaining: The experience lasted about 35 minutes until Team Good solved the last puzzle and won the game.
Our Suggested Party Size: We had 8 (2 teams of 4). That was pretty perfect.
Did the room challenge the entire team? Yes
Members of our team (other than the ERG): Alphonzo, Mark, Katheryn, Eric, Eric.
Team Good: Jason, Eric, and Alphonzo
Team Evil: Mike, Eric, Mark and Katheryn
Worth the time and money? Yes, especially if you’ve got a group that’s done a few rooms before and is really competitive. Like ours.
Where to Eat/Drink Before/After: We’re not familiar with Laurel, so we’re going to have to leave you to Google for a recommendation. But we did go to a Five Guys for lunch beforehand that’s 2 blocks away.
|JASON SAYS:||MIKE SAYS:|
|Overall Expectation (Summary)|
|We had looked into this, but had not planned on doing it. At all. After talking with Travis (the manager of Laurel Haunt) at length about the other three rooms, he said he was going to have it set up (no one was scheduled to do it that day) and he’d let us run through it in exchange for our thoughts and a review.
Uh…YES PLEASE. (Thanks Travis!)
Mike obviously chose the Evil side; I got what’s left. We roshambo’d to see who chose teammates first, chose said teams, and got started.
|We had not originally planned to do this room, but we were offered the opportunity to try it out, and WHO could say no to that?
The team decided that each team would have to be captained by each of the Escape Room Guys (that it would be unfair to have us both on the same team), so Mike chose Evil (well-assigned and appropriate) and Jason ended up being Good for the afternoon (*snickers*).
|While technically no story to this room, the story as I made it was: Beat your opponents. Choose to let them out.
That was incentive enough for me.
And no, Mike. Evil doesn’t start in an elevator. Love does…at least according to Aerosmith.
|No story, but each group would have a different but similar experience with the same types of puzzles but different solutions. Evil started in an elevator, and Good started in a phone booth.|
|As Mike said, the teams are separated into 4 rooms (2 per team). You have a shared wall to talk to your teammates through (there’s actually a phone on each wall to use, but they weren’t working at the time) and you have to help each other figure out how to get out. Don’t worry about shouting and being heard by the other team; your clues to them will be irrelevant.
After getting out of the first pair of rooms, you meet your teammates in room 2 of 3 and have another puzzle to solve. When you exit that room, 1 final puzzle to open the cage to get a key to release you from the first room (you have to go back to get out). It’s at that point you can choose to let your friends (?) out.
Additionally, that third and final room…HAS A WINDOW. You can see your opponents struggling (or beating you).
|Your team is separated into two rooms in the first section to start. Work together to have half your team escape their first room, and open the door from the outside for the rest of the team, complete room #2, and then room #3. Once you’ve completed room #3 (which has a window into your opponents’ room to add to the urgency), rush back to the beginning and grab the trophy (a la Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire’s portkey). Then let the other team out if you wish.|
|Puzzle Diversity (Rating)|
|The nature of this room required some really creative thinking on their part to create puzzles that would be equal for both teams but completely irrelevant to hear the other teams clues to each other.
The puzzles themselves were technically brilliant, again, this was literally a requirement for this type of room. (And now I want to design one myself.) A good combination of things to figure out, too, and the use of items flowing between rooms was a nice touch (but not actually necessary, as we found out).
|The puzzles, locks and clues here were not repeated and were pretty cool. We saw some items we haven’t seen used in other rooms, which was a testament to the design. Our one team member recommended the use of the “brute force” rule (not physical force, but rather that if you know the first three digits of a combo lock, to just spin and try the rest of digits on the last dial in order to open it up… instead of searching for the last number). Some of the puzzles were hidden in plain sight, so search well.
|Puzzle Complexity (Rating)|
|I honestly didn’t expect this to be that difficult a room, due to the nature, of course. However, I found myself struggling more in the first room than the second or third. Alphonzo and I basically got stuck and relied on our teammates to talk us through everything they saw in their room and tried every combination we could think of until one worked and we were able to get what we needed. Then our teammates were able to get out as well and unlock our door.
We, fortunately, didn’t get as stuck as Team Evil. I do believe they got into room 2 before we did, but that’s basically as far as they got. Though, we did end up brute-forcing the main puzzle in room 2, but we made it out, so whatever.
|My team escaped the first room rather quickly (in about 5 minutes), and then got stuck in the second room for the remainder of the experience. We actually were doing what we were supposed to, but we failed to try all solutions (we discounted the one and only solution based on a small issue, which – in hindsight – we probably shouldn’t have done).
With no Game Master or hints, it got incredibly frustrating after about 25 minutes of not being able to solve one puzzle (this was a FULLY linear room), so that essentially ended our game experience. At one point, we all just sat on the floor and kept trying to figure out where we were messing up and what we were doing wrong. It wasn’t a pretty sight.
A recommendation here is to actually have a Game Master and assign a time penalty (like the Amazing Race does) if a team has to ask for a clue. It would have made the experience a bit better for Team Evil since we sat around for 30 minutes on one puzzle, which is the longest we’ve spent on a puzzle in a room that we’ve done.
|This was an entirely linear room, which we usually hate, but it’s mostly out of necessity here. There are only so many things you can do in a competitive room, and I’d love to see more like this pop up, but it really REALLY needs to be tested. (Not saying theirs wasn’t; just saying in general.)
As Mike says, after Team Good let Team Evil out, we switched and looked at the puzzles our opponents had to do. We got into Evil Room 3 and I noticed that the final puzzle was impossible to solve. So, had they made it that far, there’s no way they would have gotten out, unfortunately. We walked through it with Travis after and pointed this out and he agreed it needed to be fixed. Hey, this is what we do!!!
|I really liked the concept and the explanation of how the room was supposed to progress.
However, once the experience ended, we did get to see how our counterparts went through the room and what they had to solve. It’s a small technicality, but our solution wasn’t quite on par with the one our counterparts’ had. But, hey, they solved it and we didn’t by using the aforementioned “brute force” rule.
We did go through the rest of the second room and finally into the third room, where we discovered that there was a fatal flaw in what would have been our final puzzle, which would have prevented us from getting the last solution and opening the main door. As we discovered this after the experience, it would have only made a difference if it came down to a neck-and-neck race, so I’ll officially offer Team Good my congratulations on a race well run.
Great job, Team Good!
|I was honestly freaking out that I was going to lose, but had faith in my team that we’d pull through and exit victorious. The feeling of winning would only have been sweeter had Mike and his team been in that final 3rd room so we could watch them LOSE.||Had a great time at first, but then it downward spiraled into being just frustrating. I was actually pissed at the end when our counterparts wouldn’t let us out right away because I was fed up with being stuck where we were for almost the whole experience.|
|Game Master (Summary)|
|There was no GM in there; only a timer that we didn’t notice was above the rooms until after we’d all exited. I like this setup, specifically for a competitive room.||None|
|How Helpful Were Any Clues Given, if any (Summary)|
|No clues available.||Not available, but a time penalty would have been something that we would have embraced after being stuck for 30 minutes on the same puzzle.|
|Anger Level Score||ERG (pronounced URG, as in “we should have known better”) Score|
Rating: Fists – 0/5
|I felt stupid when I was in the room, but not once I realized what the solution was (again, we threw aside the solution based on a small alteration). However, I will rate this
Rating: ?♂️ ?♂️ ?♂️ ?♂️ ?♂️ FacePalms – 5/5
ESCAPE ROOM GUYS’ OVERALL SCORING: Remains unrated due to the different experiences had by each team, but read the final thought below.
Final Thought: Loved the concept of the room and adding the level of competitive spirit in a race to the finish. We look forward to designing our own competitive room because this was an overall great and unique experience.