ESCAPE ROOM REVIEW – THE QUICK AND DIRTY
Play if… you love English history, or Monty Python and the Holy Grail.
Avoid if… you are useless in a hostage situation.
Escape Quest Inc:
Address: 1127 King St, Alexandria, VA 22314 (click address for Google Map)
The Room – King’s Ransom:
Description (from the company website): You and your friends are locked inside the King’s royal chambers, tasked with finding a hidden coffer of gold and saving the King from certain death. His chambers are riddled with secrets and hide his most valuable assets. See their video trailer below.
Difficulty (1-10): 8/10
Time Limit: 60 minutes
Party Size: 2-10
Staging Area: Lobby has a lot of space to sit on couches and chairs, and the tables have a few puzzles to work on and get your mind revved up before starting your room. The front desk attendant will also offer a small bottle of water. Restrooms are right next to the lobby.
Metro Access/Parking: King Street metro w/ a .4 mile walk (or take the free King Street Trolley to N. Payne St.); street/garage 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: You walk in and there’s a giant table in the middle, a throne, fireplace, and other items relevant to the time period.
Understanding of the Mission: The King has been kidnapped (gasp!) and it’s up to you and your friends to figure out where the gold is hidden to pay his kidnappers for his safe return.
Did We Escape: Yes
Time Remaining: 25:33
Our Suggested Party Size: 5-6 should work fine if you all have done rooms before.
Did the room challenge the entire team? Yes
Members of our team (other than the ERG): JJ & Kristy, Sara & Eric, Mark, Alphoso, Margaret, Eric
Worth the time and money? Yes
Where to Eat/Drink Before/After:
- Eamonn’s A Dublin Chipper – a great place to stop for some fish ‘n chips, and a nice cold beer.
- Vermillion – stop in for a drink and some appetizers.
- But, it’s Old Town and there are tons of places to eat and drink.
|JASON SAYS:||MIKE SAYS:|
|Overall Expectation (Summary)|
|After completing the 4th (and previously final) room, Black Widow, we were waiting with baited breath for their new room to open (that’s this one in case you were confused). There is a level of detail we have come to expect from Escape Quest and this room did not disappoint.||It’s been almost a year since we’ve done a room at this location, so when we heard that their new room opened in the Spring, we quickly added King’s Ransom to our list.|
|The King has been kidnapped! Kidnapped? KIDNAPPED! Stashed away in his chambers is a loot-box that we need to find and raid in order to pay his kidnappers.
|It’s sometimes definitely NOT good to be the King. Our liege has been kidnapped and unless we can find his secret stash of treasure in his chambers, the kidnappers will go all Marie Antoinette on him (yes, I know that Marie Antoinette’s beheading was likely hundreds of years after the time in which this story is set).
|This King is apparently not employing the best and brightest of guards as he was kidnapped. Our job, should we choose to accept it (and we did, we paid for this experience, after all) was to get into his chambers (medium), find the secret hidden stash of treasure (hard), and pay his kidnappers for his safe return (easy). Only one of those is an actual objective, just FYI. So, we did.
But seriously, this is ‘Murica; we don’t negotiate with terrorists.
THE KING IS DEAD! LONG LIVE THE KING!
|You would think that the King would have MUCH better protection, being in a whole separate country and holed up in his castle. Well, his guards must be the predecessors to the Keystone Kops… meaning completely inept at their jobs.
Well, the damage is done. He’s been kidnapped and we’ve received a note saying that he’ll be killed if we don’t find a way to pay the ransom fee.
The Queen, however, is a much smarter cookie since she’s hired us to find the treasure trove hidden in the King’s chamber. It appears as if His Highness needed some quick cash on hand for unexpected expenses (wink, wink) that wasn’t in Ye Olde Royal Treasury. Good for him for setting it aside, and all we have to do is find it and get it to the kidnappers so he could resume his kingly duties.
Can we find the treasure, ransom the king, and avoid a civil war?
You bet your ass, we did!
|Puzzle Diversity (Rating)|
|There was something for everyone in this room. There were 3 ERVirgins with us that night, but they held their own, thankfully. Some history, physical stuff, logic (well, what I deemed a logic puzzle), oh, and one of my favorite kind, too! (Thought I was going to tell you what it was, didn’t you? FOOLED YA!) There were hardly any locks, too, which was good.
But seriously, one of the puzzles stumped us for a while, but it was more a case of “We did that already and it didn’t work, we all tried it. HEY GM, ARE WE DOING THIS RIGHT? We Are? WTF?”
Oh, and who puts a reading comprehension puzzle right in the beginning? I’m implying they did, but I wish they hadn’t. Huge turn off for me.
Rating: 6/10 (Had to dock a point for that.)
|This was a pretty large room, so we decided to have a large group do this one, which included a few newbies, and either three or five Escape Room Virgins (ERVs).
I did like that every puzzle and clue was of a different type. Some required some logical thinking, others required some intense study and decryption before the solution appeared, and yet others required teamwork to solve.
Overall, the room had a nice mix of puzzle types, and the locks themselves ran the gamut, with only a few actual padlocks to open. And there was one puzzle that is among my favorites in the room, but I can’t tell you what type that is without ruining the experience (but you can probably figure out which one once you go do the room).
|Puzzle Complexity (Rating)|
|Puzzles ranged from 4-8 (that’s a 1-10 scale of difficulty that I decided to employ as I’m typing), coupled with 1 GIANT facepalm (remember Eric? (the shorter Eric)) and another set of “WTF are we doing wrong here?” (remember…Everyone? lol [See above]). That last bit really annoyed us (well, me, at least), but what grinded my gears more was the fact that Eric and I totally missed the one glaring thing that would have tipped us off to the other puzzle we were facepalming about.
Additionally, if I recall correctly, it had already been a pretty long day for me, so the fact that I had to do a bunch of reading (and then not being able to figure it out) got on my nerves. But as I already took a point in the previous rating for that, I will not double-dip (couldn’t think of a better double-something there).
All in all, as far as puzzle difficulty goes…
|With such a mix of newbies, ERVs and some of our expert team members, there was a lot to do in this room and there were puzzles that appealed to a wide range of skills.
Some of the puzzles we recognized right away, so we knew what we “had” to do, but not “what” to do. We even solved a number of the puzzles by working on them without the accompanying clue as to how to solve it.
I paired up with some of the ERVs and we worked the puzzles together, and it was a lot of fun to see when the puzzles and their solutions “clicked” with them.
I believe we only asked for one hint, and that was because we were all stumped. Once we got the hint, however, we solved the room pretty quickly (and it wasn’t because the puzzle was overly complex… but because we overlooked something).
|The thing I liked the best about this room was the fact that there were multiple paths to start off, all converging in the middle to end of the game. That’s how, in MY opinion, these things should be done, and exactly how Mike and I develop our games.
Additionally, the room looked the part (since we’re talking medieval times, here). The story went pretty smoothly (there were more snippets as you progressed), and the final few moments sneak up on you. When we finally got the treasure, we all breathed a collective sigh of relief. Then we all went for beers!
|I really loved how the room was designed. It really looks like a king’s chamber in an old historic castle. All the clues to the puzzles fit the historic theme and the language of the things you had to read was even a nice touch to take you back to old timey days.
The locks to the puzzles themselves were also pretty awesome. You could picture an old wizard constructing the locks, giving you a sense of combining alchemy with some hints of magic. And I loved that you have to try and see things from all perspectives…
And, finally, this room is perfectly designed for the number of people it is rated for. There are multiple puzzles that can be worked on at the same time by individuals or small groups, and then everything comes together at one point to get to the ultimate conclusion (in other words, NOT A LINEAR ROOM!!!).
|Honestly, there were parts I hated (the beginning), parts I loved (the middle/end), and the facepalms. OH GOD THE FACEPALMS. I predict a 5/5 on Mike’s URG rating.||I had a good time in this room. It wasn’t overly complex, but it was put together well, and I really enjoyed watching some ERVs get into doing the room.|
|Game Master (Summary)|
|Our GM was good. Very clear listing of rules on the outset of the game (there’s a pre-game lobby, like Xbox Live Matchmaking) to ask any final questions and such.||Our GM was pretty good. Very hands off while we were in the room itself, but really set up the experience for us in the pre-room briefing and got us all excited to complete the mission.|
|How Helpful Were Any Clues Given, if any (Summary)|
|I believe, and Mike will correct me if I’m wrong, that we asked for 1 clue towards the end (again, Eric, GROAN), then a WTF are we doing wrong clarification.||We asked for one after being stumped (after questioning the puzzle and then getting distracted by another), so – yeah – it was helpful.|
|Anger Level Score||ERG (pronounced URG, as in “we should have known better”) Score|
|One of the few times I want to take Mike’s facepalm rating. I will just give an equivalent number of fists.
Rating: 👊👊👊 Fists – 3/5
|Yup, I felt pretty stupid in this room on the one spot where we got stumped even AFTER a few of us SAID that it looked like XXXXX, and then got distracted by something else. Should have taken some Ritalin.
Rating: FacePalms – 5/5
ESCAPE ROOM GUYS’ OVERALL SCORING: 7.2/10
Final Thought: This was a really fun room to do with a number of newbies and Escape Room Virgins. If it had been our regular team, I don’t think it would have been as fun, as we tend to go right in and solve the room versus really experiencing the room from a different perspective. It’s kinda nice to sit back occasionally and take it all in.