ESCAPE ROOM REVIEW – THE QUICK AND DIRTY
Play if… you enjoy one whiskey, one scotch, one beer.
Avoid if… you hated Back to the Future or think time travel is stupid.
Amazing Escape Room:
Address: 2 Monmouth Avenue, Freehold, NJ 07728 (click address for Google Map)
Contact and Website: 732-333-0448
Room – Wild West:
Description (from the company website): Step on through the swingin’ doors and transport yerselves back to the late 1800’s town of Santa Fe. The American frontier held much promise for those who could make their way to the other side of the Mississippi. Survival of the fittest is the law of the land in these here parts. But something feels off in the Old West. Figure out what ain’t right and skedaddle before time runs out. Ready those quick reflexes and that sharp wit, ’cause this duel at high noon ain’t yer normal showdown.
Difficulty (1-10): Not rated
Time Limit: 60 minutes
Party Size: Up to 8
Staging Area: The lobby has a bench, a water cooler, and a handful of locks on the wall with a story that somewhat teaches you how to use them.
Metro Access/Parking: It’s in NJ. Drive or get a cab/Uber/Lyft.
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: The room looks like a saloon, wanted posters and all, but is severely lacking in bar-room furniture (other than the 3 bar stools).
Understanding of the Mission: Find your way into a mad scientist’s lab and disarm a bomb. (Wait, what?)
Did We Escape: Yes
Time Remaining: Under 10 minutes (watch the videos)
Our Suggested Party Size: No more than 4. The room is rated up to 8, but really you can do this with 2-4 easily.
Did the room challenge the entire team? Not particularly.
Members of our team (other than the ERG): Val
Worth the time and money? Yes and no
Where to Eat/Drink Before/After:
- There are a bunch of restaurants nearby (Japanese, Chili’s, tex-mex); Google Maps to the rescue!
|Overall Expectation (Summary)|
|It’s been over a year since I’d been to this location. It was a Thanksgiving or 2 ago when I went to do their magician’s room with my family, so I knew the build quality of the rooms. I do not recall much of the story from that room, but this one was…well, I’ll get to that momentarily.
As my sister and I were walking from the car to the rooms, we were passed by 2 people who had said that their GM wasn’t paying attention to them. I hoped this was not indicative of what we were to encounter.
Based on the image on their website of this room, I expected it to be well decorated, etc. While it mostly was, I now know that those pictures on their website are all CG.
|The first thing I’ll say about this room is that I was totally disappointed in the complete lack of continuity between the website and the in-room briefing. The website says that you’re in the Wild West, in a saloon, and something feels off. You need to figure out how to “skedaddle” before something bad happens.
The story given by our game master in the room was that you stole a time travel device, went to the old West, and are having a good time getting drunk and partying when a mad scientist breaks into the bar shouting something about world domination and blowing up the Wild West. You then have to figure out how to get into his lab to stop the West from blowing up and saving everyone in town (and your future self).
The background she gave was completely unexpected. I think I said as much to her before she left (that what she said was completely different from the website, I mean). She then quipped that the story in her head was better than that on the site. Well, it shouldn’t be for, what I think, are obvious reasons. So color me disappointed, and somewhat confused.
|Again, having disparate stories between the website and the Game Master really took something away from the mission here (and a LOT from the immersion factor, story-wise). The website, again, says something feels off and you need to figure out how to leave, while our Game Master said you need to figure out how to get into the lab and stop things from blowing up. Frankly, I don’t think either one was sufficient.
Technically, getting out is not a requirement, as the game stops when you disarm the bomb. So there was really only one objective. Everything leading up to the lab is essentially filler in this room and does nothing to actually progress any sort of story (other than defusal rules). Had they just focused on the mad scientist plot, this could easily have been a sci-fi themed room. I can think of a bunch of ways to change this that would keep it Wild West-themed. Maybe I’ll get a phone call or email…
|Puzzle Diversity (Rating)|
|Being that this was an Old West room, having lock boxes and combination locks is perfectly fine. There were several magnetic locks as well, in addition to some things from your madman from the future (so a little out of place, but then again not because of that damn time travel bs).
The majority of the puzzles were based around physical items and dates. Now, this was the first escape room I have been in that used date based combination locks, so it’s got that going for it.
Then there were the puzzles in the ”lab”. Don’t even get me started. Ok, I’ll start. If you’ve ever played Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes, then you’ll have somewhat of an idea of what it was like defusing the bomb (if not, look it up; it’s like $15 on Steam). But the few puzzles that were in that room were just… weird. And once you get the first one, the rest are easy. I don’t know how else to explain it without giving anything away.
|Puzzle Complexity (Rating)|
|With the exception of the last of the lockboxes and one padlock, nothing was difficult at all. Everything was able to be found in the room, though we may have overlooked one or two things that required some backtracking later on.
The combination to that final lockbox is mostly ambiguous, because nothing points to the actual solution. It’s somewhat assumed, yet also unassumed, knowledge that you can glean from something in one of the other boxes (that I had to ask for a pointer on).
As for the padlock we had trouble with, we had to ask for help opening this one because it was not a standard padlock and, without prior knowledge of how it works, there is almost no way to open it. Additionally, this is one of those locations that has a string of locks on the wall in the lobby, so you can learn how to use them all. This padlock was not there, so not only does it require prior knowledge, but nowhere in the facility is it shown to you.)
As I said in a previous review, I thought I might want to rate the difficulty of the puzzles themselves. So I will. I would say the puzzles in this room range from a 1 to about a 5 or 6.
|Probably the Saving Grace of this room.
You do feel like you’re in a saloon. So it’s got that going for it. The decor was on par. The wanted posters were a nice touch, and also used during the room. No red herrings that I recall, however, there are some things that you will find that are not used until way late in the room. So more a monkey wrench than a red herring.
As I touched on earlier, there are things that felt a little bit out of place, including the entire bomb scenario. I think I’m still a little bitter because of the difference in the website description and the Game Master briefing. Had I known it was completely different, I may have chosen another room, as there was another one that I had wanted to do at this place.
Thankfully, the puzzles did flow together… however in a mostly linear fashion. As there were only the two of us, had I gotten the requested help earlier throughout our Escape, we might have even made the leaderboard with it just being two people. However, as you’ll see in a moment, that was just not meant to be.
|I’m kind of torn on what to put for this. I had an okay time in the room, but I think I was more frustrated than anything at multiple points during this Escape. At various times throughout, I was asking for either clarification or a clue, and was responded to with crickets (read: silence). This definitely detracted from the room itself, and my sister and I were getting increasingly angrier as time ticked down. (And you can see the difference in my demeanor between the pre- and post-videos.)|
|Game Master (Summary)|
|Based on the way the rules briefing went before we entered the room, as well as the briefing in the room by our game master, I thought we were going to be in for an overall good time. However, as I said multiple times already, our questions to the camera were greeted with silence. We were specifically told to wave to the camera and ask our question and we’d get our answer on the TV screen. We did that. Multiple times. At times for several minutes. One of my attempts to get help I timed at close to 5 minutes while we were stuck waiting for an answer because we had already found everything we could; we couldn’t progress until we opened that padlock.
We lost quite a bit of time because of this inattentiveness and at one point I opened the door to look out to the lobby for someone and saw no one. I started to shout and finally received a reply on screen of “what’s wrong?”. Had you been paying attention for the last 5 minutes I would not have gotten frustrated and we would have gotten out sooner. But I digress…
|How Helpful Were Any Clues Given, if any (Summary)|
|The first clue we got instructed us to do something we’d already gone, so it was obvious that no one was paying attention. The subsequent two clues we received (one of which was actually a clarification not a clue) were to the point enough that I didn’t get frustrated for the few subsequent minutes.|
After we left, or rather escaped the room, we were in the lobby and took our pictures, and then promptly ignored after one of the employees belched from the other room. No one even bothered to say goodnight or goodbye (it was after 11pm at this point). So that ticked me off. There’s usually a little bit of conversation about the room, but no, not this night.
Additionally, as I stated in the beginning, when we entered we heard two people complain about how they were ignored by their game master, and I totally understand that now.
ESCAPE ROOM GUYS’ OVERALL SCORING: 6.2/10
Final Thought: I tried really REALLY hard to like this room and things started out on a high note with the briefing but quickly devolved into everything I hate about Escape Rooms. From inattentive GMs to the story being more of an add-on than part of the build process, this room has a lot to offer but just fell flat on things that shouldn’t have been problems. There was one other room I wanted to do here, but now I’m not even sure I’m going to. :-/