THE QUICK AND DIRTY
Play if… you can focus amidst a lot of distractions.
Avoid if… you don’t sing even while in the privacy of your shower.
Escape Adventure DC
Address: 12280 Wilkins Ave., Rockville, MD 20852 (click address for Google Map)
Contact and Website: 202-538-7963
Description (from the company website): You will be escorted on a tour of the dreaded Zombie Lab where the out break of the virus was first discovered, You will be taken to the very spot that Doctor Oxy has isolated the strain of the zombie virus and was working on the only vaccine.
Prepare to be locked in a room with up to 11 other people and a zombie that is chained to the wall! Hidden in the room is a key that will unlock the door to your freedom. To find the key, you must locate numerous clues and solve riddles. Every five minutes the hungry zombie’s chain will be released another foot. Within an hour, the zombie will be able to reach you. You have 60 minutes to the find clues, solve the puzzles, unlock the door and escape the room without getting eaten! Are you smarter than a zombie? Find out!
Difficulty (1-10): Not rated, but we were told it only has an 18-20% escape rate.
Time Limit: 60 minutes
Cost: $30 per person – BUT, use ERG45 when booking your tickets to get 45% off per person!
Identifier: R2 (this is actually Trapped in a Room with a Zombie – Still Hungry!)
Party Size: up to 12 people
Staging Area: You are escorted from the parking lot by your host, who takes you back to the Professor’s office to sign your waivers. A short film and an explanation later, you are taken through the building to a hidden elevator. Don’t worry! There are restrooms to stop at on the way to your experience.
Metro Access/Parking: Twinbrook Metro Station in Rockville is about a 15 minute (.8 mile) walk away. Otherwise, you can drive. There is ample parking in the lot, but follow your GPS closely as the address is kinda tricky.
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 start off in a small office where you are given some details about the room, and watch a short video while the Professor tries to sedate the zombie. Then your host takes you through the building to a hidden elevator where the Professor meets you and takes you down an elevator to the basement where the lab is located. The doors open and your adventure begins.
Understanding of the Mission: You have been invited to the Professor’s lab to learn more about zombies. Unfortunately, as soon as you enter the lab, something goes wrong and a self-destruct sequence is triggered. You now have 60 minutes to escape the lab by opening the locked door, saving yourselves, the brilliant (but sometimes nutty) Professor, AND the zombie (it’s a prime specimen that they don’t want destroyed). However, as you search for the way out, the zombie’s sedative wears off and it starts to come after you… with its chain getting longer every 5 minutes.
Did We Escape: Yes, but barely!
Time Remaining: 57 seconds
Our Suggested Party Size: The room holds up to 12. We had 8 and that was probably enough (if all are experienced). If you’re new to escape rooms, the maximum should work (the room is DEFINITELY big enough – at the beginning at least – for that many people).
Did the room challenge the entire team? Yes
Members of our team (other than the ERG): Eric, Brittany, Tara, Mark, Corey, and Heather
Worth the time and money? Yes
Where to Eat/Drink Before/After:
- 7 Locks Brewing – we stopped in for what turned out to be some great beers after we did the room.
|JASON SAYS:||MIKE SAYS:|
|Overall Expectation (Summary)|
|One of the things Mike and I do when we are either bored or home sick or what-have-you is randomly browse the internet (just like the rest of you, I’m sure; after all, that is how you found this blog isn’t it?). For me, I like to go on Kickstarter and Indiegogo and find random shit to fund or buy. Occasionally I will stumble across an escape room and add them to the list. But this one was actually Mike’s find, and a good one at that.
When it comes to escape rooms, however, one of the things we’ve not been able to find in the DC area was a live zombie room. We found one in New Orleans, which has yet to be written up, but this was the first one we found in area, Rockville to be specific.
So, we said screw it, let’s get our group together and go. And this was more then an escape. It was an experience. Read on to find out why.
|Escape Adventure DC has been on our list of locations to check out for a few months. After some initial inquiries, the owner Kevin, aka Hook, contacted us and invited us up to check out the room. It took us a few tries to get the room scheduled and a team together, but we were intrigued by the experience starting before you enter the building and with a different take on the whole “zombie escape room” theme.|
|You’ve been brought into a lab to help learn about and help conduct some research on zombies. This is the only facility the government allows to work on zombies, and their supply is limited. If it gets you, you end up becoming inventory, so don’t get bit.
Alas, problems abound, and we were forced to try and escape to save ourselves from the labs self-destruction! Luckily for us, there’s a Notebook chock fill of helpful data in the lab, so we were told that was the first thing we should look for.
This escape started well before we entered the room proper (you’d know this if you watched the pre-room video, so go watch it if you haven’t already). There was only one thing missing from the briefing room, and I suggested it after we escaped (more of an aesthetics thing), but it didn’t take away from the experience. There is so much going on here other than the room that it really is an experience.
Also, two words: Professor Schmidt.
|As soon as you start walking towards the building, your host rushes out and tells you that you shouldn’t be lingering outside and ushers you into his office. Bloody handprints on the walls, a simple desk, and a chair with restraints are the items that stand out. Your host shows you a short film of the zombie, and tells you that the Professor is trying to sedate it so you can check out the laboratory where they are conducting research on the undead. He radios the professor and then takes you to a secret elevator, where the Professor meets you. While you descend into the depths of the building to where the lab is located, the Professor provides you with some instructions, and then the elevator door opens… (story to be continued as part of the mission – see below)
So, this is the first location that starts the experience prior to your arrival. I received both an email with instructions and a text message, asking to contact them when we arrived so they could start the experience before you even leave the parking lot.
This is a higher score than I normally give here just because you are immersed in the experience from the very beginning, there is a nice twist on the story, and there is a lot of detail that is given to you prior to starting the experience.
The only reason why it’s not a perfect score is because the story is slightly different from the website and the ticket booking description (and the name of the room is slightly different in a few locations).
|Our mission was simple: find the Notebook (which we were to use to help solve most of the puzzles), solve said puzzles, and find a way out of the room before getting eaten by the zombie. Or zoom-bie as the Professor pronounced it.
I know, I know. Sounds simple. It wasn’t. Just because the given mission sounds simple enough does not mean it is. And we experienced this problem first hand.
Oh and we didn’t want to be touched by the zombie. And by touched I mean bitten. And by bitten I mean eaten. And by eaten I mean dead. D. E. D. Dead.
|As soon as you enter the lab, the door closes and suddenly an auto-destruct sequence is triggered. You now have 60 minutes to figure out how to escape the room without being incinerated, and need to save yourselves, the professor AND the zombie… without being eaten by the zombie.
THERE is the twist! You have to save the zombie too because of the research that is being done to find a cure. This is a great spin on the zombie room because your mission is always simply trying to find the cure. The self-destruct really does help with the immersive factor since you are truly racing against a ticking clock.
If you are touched by the zombie, you are placed in a 5-minute time out where you can’t touch anything, but can help verbally (this isn’t new to zombie rooms).
|Puzzle Diversity (Rating)|
|This is one of those rooms where the abundance of pad and combo locks can be overlooked because the experience was so much more unique that it didn’t need fancy locks and such. (And as Mike said, how some are triggered also add an additional level of…whatever…to the experience.)
As we found out later from Hook, the majority of the props were store bought, off the shelf. Nothing was created with fancy hardware or ridiculous wiring. One of the props I even recognized as an old kids toy from the 90s (but don’t ask me how it works because I honestly still don’t even get it; wish I could remember the name, not that I’d tell you anyway). And the fact that you can build a room of this caliber the way they did with off-the-shelf parts is one of the things that make this room unique.
Did I mention there was a live zombie in the room?
Without giving too much away, the puzzles ranged from riddles to math to black light and back. Throw some water in there for good measure too. There was definitely a good mix of puzzles, and definitely, *definitely* multiple paths for everything. We didn’t know until after we escaped just how many ways there were to escape. (Read: Hook told us.)
|HOLY CRAP… there are a shit ton of puzzles in this room and all are completely different. Some require you to mentally focus, others require some logic, some challenge your physical dexterity, and others see how good you are at following directions, or firing certain… things.
We all went into the room and started just searching and solving, so there are things that I didn’t get to see (but got to hear about in the debriefing afterwards).
There is a good mixture of the types of locks in here too, and how they are opened and triggered. Definitely a lot of fun in trying to figure things out.
I even had to wear a headset, and NO, it wasn’t because I wear a retainer (although it did bring back some uncomfortable memories from my teen years).
Oh, and I hope you can stay focused while a hungry zombie occasionally lunges at you. A quick hint is to try and solve or pull everything you can that is located closest to the zombie at the very beginning of the room. Otherwise, you’re going to have issues unless you can figure out how to calm the zombie down.
|Puzzle Complexity (Rating)|
|I’m going to start this off with a tip: P. (If you get that joke, more power to you.) But no, really. Here’s your tip: When you get in the room, get started looking around IMMEDIATELY. Our zombie was “sleeping” when we entered the lab, and your mileage may vary, but it’s in your best interest to run around that room and look at EVERYTHING before s/he wakes up. Yes, you may have more time than we did (as we’re “professionals”, they deliberately didn’t sedate the zombie well).
That said, the best thing about rating this part of the room was that just about all of the puzzles were multi-part and didn’t require you to be involved in every part to solve them. You could jump in if someone called you over because they know something specific is your forte.
There was an excellent mix of simple and complex, and the way they were distributed through the duration of the room was well done. (I say this specifically to point out that the harder puzzles weren’t necessarily all toward the end of the hour.)
|Overall, this room has some pretty complex puzzles, but also a good mixture of easy ones that were solved and eliminated really quickly (but so quickly that others tried to figure out what they were). Lots of them require multiple people working on them, while others can be solved by only one person. You really need to assign roles in this room so you have a shot at success.
We did a good job, but we didn’t communicate as well as we should have. I blame being distracted by the zombie and the noises that kept being piped into the room.
Our team consisted of people who have all done at least 10 rooms each, so we were pretty confident going in with 4 people less than the maximum rating… and our host told the Professor that we had some experience with escape rooms, and not to give us any clues. That made it even more challenging, but we were getting a bit nervous once we dipped below the 5 minute mark.
We hit a snafu towards the end and actually had what we needed to escape the room, but Jason then opened something while we were discussing said solution and item, so we thought he used it up. Turns out, it was just a weird timing issue on an unrelated puzzle. Otherwise, we would have gotten out with more than 5 minutes remaining.
|As I said up in the “Story” section, this escape started well before we entered the room. Professor Schmidt was in character the entire time (in and out of the room, even during our INTERVIEW with Hook, as you probably saw). <sarcasm>That in no way helped. At all. </sarcasm>
But seriously, there was so much going on in that lab that it’s hard for one person to keep track of all of it. I was supposed to be our leader, but Heather kind of took over because she was the one with the Notebook.
Ah, the Notebook. I mentioned it before, didn’t I? During the briefing prior to actually entering the lab, you’re told to find the Notebook, as it would help you solve many of your problems. What they don’t tell you until you’re in is about how hungry the zombie is. Now our zombie happened to be female, and as we are escape room veterans, Hook asked the Professor not to sedate the zombie too much; to leave her hungry and feisty for us when we got in the room. This would prove a little cumbersome, to say the least, as she really did get in the way. And the longer you take to exit the room the more ground she can cover. (3 feet of chain every 5 minutes.)
Everything in the room fit for this being a zombie lab, so nothing to take away from them there. The fact that the Professor was in the room with us helped a little (but why wasn’t she trying to eat him I wonder…?) and added a little to the fun factor, because he was obviously in character.
|This was probably the best “lab” room we’ve done. All the details and decor are carefully thought out and executed during the experience and you truly feel like you’re in the basement of some secret research lab.
We saw a lot of unique stuff in there, and that probably goes towards Hook’s (the host and owner) experience with mechanics, robotics, and other machinery. I loved one of the puzzles I had to work on (they ask for someone who has a particular skill during the pre-room briefing, so I volunteered immediately).
What is also really cool is that there is no one way to solve every puzzle and get to the end… there are multiple hints and ways to get the solutions, which means that there is nothing linear about this room until you start getting close to the end. We were told afterwards that there are more than 8 paths through the room, so you’ll be guessing and piecing things together through your whole experience.
I don’t think that I saw anything that would have been out of place in a lab, from the decor and puzzles and props. And, you need to pay attention to certain things and how the zombie’s behavior is affected. Not telling you anything more than that.
Having two live actors in the room was also different from any other room we’ve been in before. We’ve been in a room with a zombie before (or one other live actor), but never a zombie AND the GM, whom you didn’t always know if you could fully trust.
|As I said, having Professor Schmidt in the room with us added something to the experience, as did the live zoom-bie. But the room itself was just well done and everyone had a good time, whether we were shouting, singing, or solving (the 3 S’s of escaping a zombie room, as the case may be).||There were times that I was frustrated and anxious (with the time counting down), but wasn’t really scared (maybe startled at points when I was working on something and saw the zombie lunging towards me). Overall, however, I had hell of a lot of fun in this room.|
|Game Master (Summary)|
|The Professor was our in-room GM, so there wasn’t any need for walkies or a tv screen. (For the timer, there was an actual countdown clock on one of the walls.) While I don’t necessarily think every room needs an in-room GM, it works for this one and he was fun to have around.||Our Professor (Shane Schmidt) was in the room with us and would provide slight indications if we were on the nose in solving something or if we were trying to solve something that had already been eliminated (multiple paths, remember). However, there were times when I think he was as much of a distraction as the zombie, which we were warned about. It’s up to you to figure out if he’s sane or slightly off at that particular moment in time.|
|How Helpful Were Any Clues Given, if any (Summary)|
|The Professor told us early on how he would give us nudges. Were they helpful? Yes. (Albeit very subtle.)||I don’t think we asked for any thing specific.|
|RAGE Meter||ERG (pronounced URG, as in “we should have known better”) Score|
|I’m going to with a 1 of 5 here solely because there’s a lot of data in that Notebook that needs to be shared, and doing so can become a chore.
|I’ll give this a 3 because we overlooked parts of the notebook and didn’t communicate as well as we normally do, and we did break Rules 1 and 2 (having to move stuff around away from the zombie did cause a bit of confusion as to what others solved and what still was needed).
Rating: FacePalms – 3/5
ESCAPE ROOM GUYS’ OVERALL SCORING: 8.75/10
Final Thought: Zombie rooms are quite popular and we’ve done a few of them; they rank among some of our favorites. However, Escape Adventure DC provides a twist on the genre of this type of room, and turns it on its head. Having to save the zombie as part of the experience is counter to any other room we’ve done. In addition to the mechanics of the puzzles and locks, and the overall diversity of what you needed to do, this room is probably going to be one that we remember for a long time. Additionally, keep in mind that this isn’t an ‘escape room’ as much as it is an EXPERIENCE. (Experience was written 13 times with respect to this being an experience.)