ESCAPE ROOM REVIEW – THE QUICK AND DIRTY
Play if… you’re a jock… or a princess… or a brain… or a criminal… or a basket-case… or were a goody-goody in high school who never had to sit in detention and now want to know what you missed.
Avoid if… sitting in detention will bring back horrific high school memories.
Address: 201 Royal St. SE, Ste. F, Leesburg, VA 20147 (click address for Google Map)
Contact and Website: 703-777-4710
The Room – Escape Detention: RETIRED
Description (from the company website): Everyone gets in trouble at some point. What you do when you find yourself locked in a classroom with the other unruly students is up to you. Here’s the thing though, in an hour the monitor will return and chances are you will Never. Get. Out. Whether you are a brain, an athlete, a basketcase, a princess or a criminal, it is up to you to start a ruckus and escape detention.
Difficulty (1-10): 7/10
Time Limit: 60 minutes
Cost: $29 per person – Use ERGUYS15 to get 15% off per person when booking your reservation for any of their rooms
Party Size: 2-10
Staging Area: EXIT Plan has a great reception area (two, actually) with lots of chairs. There is a large flight of stairs to reach the main lobby.
Metro Access/Parking: This spot is in downtown Leesburg in the historic district. Lots of street parking, and there is a small lot right behind Macdowell Brew Kitchen.
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: A classroom from the 1980s, complete with teacher’s desk, overhead projector, terrarium, and a chalkboard.
Understanding of the Mission: Solve the puzzles in the room and find out how to escape detention before the monitor returns in 60 minutes, or stay trapped in Detention for eternity.
Did We Escape: Yes
Time Remaining: 4:35
Our Suggested Party Size: 4 was good, but can easily accommodate 6-10. We would recommend 6 if the group has done rooms before, and the full 10 if mostly ERVs (Escape Room Virgins) or novices/noobs/newbies.
Did the room challenge the entire team? Yes
Members of our team (other than the ERG): Heather and Steph
Worth the time and money? Yes, but get in there before it’s retired in early April.
Where to Eat/Drink Before/After:
- Macdowell Brew Kitchen – restaurant and bar right below EXIT Plan (the Hog Wings were awesome!)
- Fire Works – wood-fired pizza
- Delirium Cafe USA – restaurant and brewhouse (about half mile away)
|JASON SAYS:||MIKE SAYS:|
|Overall Expectation (Summary)|
|Exit Plan has been on our list for quite some time, and considering how close it is to our favorite vineyard, I’m still kind of surprised it took a shout-out from Escape Room Herndon to get us to go here. Kathryn saw our review of Herndon’s Cursed Crypt and reached out to us to come try out S3R1AL, but then mentioned that Detention was being retired soon. So, being the opportunist I am, I suggested we come out and sit in Detention before they close it. And that’s how I ended up in Detention for the first time since elementary school.||We had recently done The Cursed Crypt out in Herndon at Escape Room Herndon, and wanted to do some expansion in this area. When EXIT Plan’s owner saw the review, she checked out our site and invited the ERG to come out and try a room or two. We looked at the website and saw that Escape Detention was ready to be retired, and we asked if we could do that one (since once a room is retired, it’s gone and so is the opportunity to ever live that experience… unless it’s sold LOL). I had some great back-and-forth correspondence, so it was really easy to set up a time for us to come out and see if we could Escape Detention.|
|The background for this room was relatively simple. You’re a bunch of kids stuck in detention (some for the first time ever). The Principal was there giving you a lecture about how worthless you are or how disappointed he was in you for even being there. He tells you that you’ve got basically the next hour to find a way out of detention or get stuck in an endless loop of weekend detentions, which sucks because, at some point, you won’t be a high school student anymore. So, F that, let’s make like a tree and GTFO. Many pop-culture references later, we began our escape.
|You and your misfit friends have been been locked into detention, and have an hour before the monitor comes back… and if they do, you’ll likely get stuck for another week… and another week… and for the rest of our natural lives. Can we find a way to find our escape before that happens? We’re high school students for crissakes! We have stupid and crazy shit to do!
So, you’re about to see something from me on this rating that you RARELY see (or maybe have NEVER seen) because it was just so well done and funny.
The video (link to it above) that they showed us before the time started just set us right into the experience and gave additional story and detail. I felt fully immersed and LOVED the pop culture references.
Additionally, their safety and rules video was also awesome.
|The mission was simple: Find a way out of detention. If you don’t, you’re relegated to a lifetime of weekend detentions, which, again, I don’t think is fair because one is not always a student. So, don’t get caught stuck in detention!
[On a side note, I think it’s time to revamp this rating (and the Story rating too); I’m tired of giving such low scores for them.]
|Figure out how to escape the detention room in under 60 minutes before the monitor comes back and catches you in the act.
I DO NOT recommend or advocate that you do this, however, because – despite what ou may believe at some point – everything you need to escape is in the room itself.
I will say that you should read this blog post carefully and you may gain additional insight on what you need to do as part of that escape.
|Puzzle Diversity (Rating)|
|This room actually had quite a bit of different things in it. Yes we always say “stuff I never saw” or “stuff I have seen”. But again whenever you change the theme you leave yourself an opening to be creative. If you can think it, you can probably build it. The only challenge that you may face in the Escape Room business it’s figuring out how to build it and make it work, automatically.
Yes, you did have your tried and true mag-lock to open a door and several combination locks (that were on props where you would normally see these, so totally ok), but it’s not necessarily the items themselves that are used (unless you have 50 combination locks in the room) over how you use them. (When did this review turn into a giant sex joke…?)
One thing I particularly liked was the fact that any time we opened a lock we didn’t just get a progression clue, we got a partial clue to solve a bigger puzzle. As we always say, we prefer when it takes multiple clues to solve a single puzzle. This was definitely present in the room. (This is also how the ERG tend to design their own rooms, but more on that at a later date.) The only problem, however, was that slow start I mentioned earlier.
|Damn… I had a real blast playing this room. There were some locks to open, but they totally fit the theme of the room and where they were located. We were able to work independently and then together at points as we did a lot of searching.
Not one type of puzzle was repeated, and the initial puzzles were so well hidden that it took us about 8 minutes before we solved the first challenge.
From there, you’ll have to go back to all that stuff you learned in high school that you never have thought you’d use again, and that MAY help you at points in this room.
|Puzzle Complexity (Rating)|
|The listed difficulty for this room is a 7 out of 10. I would go along with that rating. Again, we stumbled in the beginning but once we got going nothing seemed overly difficult. Yes, we over-thought quite a bit, and I think if we had had one, maybe two other people with us, we would have gotten out a bit sooner. Of course, no offense to our teammates. This is more of a pride issue with Mike and myself.
That said, nothing, in hindsight, seemed overly difficult. One thing we worked on was relating to a game board in the back of the room, and Heather and I blatantly overlooked the solution to this puzzle (I kind of brute-forced it). When showed to us later I said, oh. Should have caught that.
Additionally, and this is by no means a bad thing, I would definitely not recommend coming out to play this room before it closes in April if you’ve not done at least five rooms before..
|The puzzles themselves were a mix of easy and hard, but I don’t think they were overly complex. However, I can tell you that everything that is used in the room is in there for a reason, and what you may think is a red-herring may actually be the start of the path to solving one of the puzzles.
We got stuck 4 times and ended up asking for 4 clues (which put us out of leaderboard contention), but I think it was the room design on this one that threw us off more than the design of the puzzles themselves.
The final puzzle IS BRILLIANT. ‘Nuff said.
Look closely at everything and don’t get distracted by the obvious. Read things multiple times to ensure that you understand what they’re trying to tell you. And maybe don’t remove EVERYTHING from its original location (after you’ve checked something, put it back once you figure out if it’s part of a puzzle or not).
That’s all I’m going into on this section because otherwise I’d start giving things away.
|We started off this room kind of slow. That seems to be a trend that I’ve noticed the last few Escape Rooms we’ve played. We’ve been starting off pretty slow and struggling to get past that first puzzle hurdle before things pick up the pace. We did manage to get a couple things going pretty quickly after that first puzzle was behind us.
Being that this room was a classroom, that lends itself to a different set of ideas and props that you can include and build and work against, so that is what made this room particularly unique. If there was something you would expect to see in a generic classroom, it was there. Desks, textbooks, bookcase, chalkboard, overhead projector. Hell, there was even a class pet. Maybe even two of them.
Once we got going, everything seemed to fit pretty well with theme of being in detention in a classroom. Even the pre-room briefing was custom recorded and appropriate (and Awesome). As I said in the videos, I kind of felt like it was something from The Breakfast Club and the preview video showed a little bit of that. (And as you may see from the interview with the owners, deliberate.)
The only thing I can knock, and in retrospect I can’t even really knock it, was what turned out to be a red herring. So, well done. (I won’t say “You got us”, but we were hella curious wtf we were supposed to be doing with that stuff.) One other thing I will note, however, is that we probably could have saved 10 to 15 minutes by opening a particular lock on a major prop much sooner…
Probably the easiest flow rating I’ve ever given.
Additionally (after reading Mike’s review in this section), I totally forgot about the ambient noise. Now, I didn’t notice it until probably halfway through, but damn, NICE. TOUCH.
|My god. I thought I was having a flashback to high school English when I walked into the room (and before my snarky friends say anything… I went to high school in the ’90s, so I wasn’t too far removed from really “living” this room). All the furniture and decor were legit.
When we were doing the room, we didn’t find anything that didn’t fit the theme, story, or the mission. There was even ambient noise being piped into the room, such as people walking through the halls and lockers slamming. This really helped keep you in the experience.
There is also a point (and they tell you this, so it’s not a spoiler) that there may be occasional announcements that come over the speaker, so you should stop what you’re doing and listen to them in case they applied to you (just like when you were in school!).
The way we had to ask for a clue was fun (but I’m not going to tell you how), but the clue was given over an appropriate method of technology.
As this is one of the first classroom-themed rooms, everything was pretty unique from what we’ve seen anywhere else and I loved having to interact with the items in the room just as a student would be expected to.
The room flowed really well, and it did become linear at some point, but it handled our group of 4 pretty well, so that we could operate independently and then work on stuff together.
Finally, I just want to say that I think it would be cool to use bells to indicate a 10-minute, and then a 2-minute warning. As we did escape before time ran out, we don’t know what would have happened if we would have failed.
|I think I said this to the Herndon guys, but I’ll say it again here: this is probably some of the most fun I’ve had in an Escape Room in a long time. Very detail oriented (and they said in the interview that’s one of their philosophies), so I’m looking forward to doing S3R1AL and the other rooms soon.||I had a blast in this room and loved the whole premise and how much through and detail went into it. It was just FUN to play.|
|Game Master (Summary)|
|Chris, who was also the Principal in the preview video, was the one giving clues in the most appropriate manner. (Bueller…? Bueller?) Go check it out or we’ll have to update this review after April 6 once it’s closed.||We overlooked a few things (stupid things on our behalf) and ended up asking for 4 clues. We felt pretty stupid a time or two. But, the GM was pretty great in only offering the clues or nudges when signaled for one.|
|How Helpful Were Any Clues Given, if any (Summary)|
|4. 4 of them! Blast it! The clues given (and the way you have to ask for them) were well done and they even confirmed we had a combination correct when we couldn’t get the lock open.
And Mike, egos? What egos? I’d prefer eggos at this point. HA!
|I would like to say that the clues were helpful, and they were… it was just that we were pointed to something really obvious once or twice. We failed on being really detail oriented and that bit us in the ass.
The EXIT Plan team did tell us that we blew through a lot of the stuff that sometimes takes time to solve (or we approached how to solve it quickly), so that was a nice salve to our egos.
|Anger Level Score||ERG (pronounced URG, as in “we should have known better”) Score|
|While I want to say that I felt kinda stupid not being able to figure out some of the clues (and I did), they also did a good job of not making us feel stupid when providing the clues. So, only a 2 on this one.
Rating: ?? Fists – 2/5
|Yeah, this one is high because we overlooked really simple things and had to ask for clues on them. This is a big ole’ max facepalm.
Rating: FacePalms – 5/5
ESCAPE ROOM GUYS’ OVERALL SCORING: 7.85/10
Final Thought: Even though EXIT Plan offered us to do one of their later generation rooms, we’re really glad we did this one because it blended a bit of nostalgia, a well-designed room, and a lot of persnickety details to make for an overall great experience. It was FUN, and we hope that even though they are retiring this room, they consider resurrecting an Escape Detention 2 room in the future… maybe with nods to “Not Another Teen Movie,” “Pretty in Pink,” “Sixteen Candles,” or “Clueless.”