ESCAPE ROOM REVIEW – THE QUICK AND DIRTY
Play if… you like being distracted, getting dirty, and enjoy loud noises and the smell of death.
Avoid if… you’re easily scared/creeped out, or are a germaphobe.
Address: 3021 N Hancock Ave, Colorado Springs, CO 80907 (click address for Google Map)
Contact and Website: 719-650-4483
Room – The Pen:
Description (from the company website): YOUR FELLOW PRISONERS ARE BREAKING OUT OF THE PENITENTIARY. THEY DIDN’T SAY HOW THEY ARE DOING IT, BUT THEY DID LEAVE BEHIND SOME CLUES. TO MAKE MATTERS WORSE, IN ORDER TO LEAVE, THEY NEED TO BLOW UP YOUR CELL! YOU HAVE 60 MINUTES TO GET AS FAR AWAY FROM THE BLAST AS POSSIBLE.
Difficulty (1-10): Medium and EXTRA Scary (you have the option of choosing Medium or Hard, as well as Scary or Not Scary, but this is their hardest room)
Time Limit: 60 minutes (and you will need every second)
Party Size: Up to 6
Staging Area: This whole place is also a haunted house, so there’s a queue outside where everyone can line up then they bring you in. Once you get in, there’s a small area where you get the briefing before they start your game.
Metro Access/Parking: Drive or get a Lyft/Uber
I totally forgot to do any Facebook Live video’s for this room and I’m totally bummed about that. We rushed in because we were so excited and I just completely forgot after.
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 in a jail cell that is tiny, grimy, and disgusting. Perfect!
Understanding of the Mission: The previous resident of your jail cell wants to destroy the jail. Problem is you’re still in it. He tells you that if you can get to the control room, you should be able to create another small explosion so you can get out safely before the whole building goes KA-BOOM.
Did We Escape: Yes
Time Remaining: 56 seconds remaining (LEADERBOARD) and used only 3 of the 4 available clues (ALSO LEADERBOARD… they have multiple boards)
Our Suggested Party Size: 4-6
Did the room challenge the entire team? Yes
Members of our team (other than the ERG): Marco, Steph, Dillon
Worth the time and money? HELL. YES.
|Overall Expectation (Summary)|
|Having had completed The Elevator two days earlier, I was extremely interested, and overly excited, to see what The Pen had to offer us.
Judging by the build quality seen in The Elevator, and the attention to detail that they have, I figured we were in for either a pleasant surprise or a rude awakening, with the latter being said with the best of intentions.
Granted, of course, we have done at least one other room that was billed as a penitentiary. I had confidence that this would blow the others away.
All I can say is this: It’s hard being right all the time. ?
|You are the brand new inhabitant of a jail cell! Congratulations!
Upon entering and settling into said cell, you are shown a video. A video recorded for you by the previous inhabitant of that cell. He goes on to describe his absolute hatred for the prison and then describes to you, in detail, what he plans on doing to it. Unfortunately for you, your entry to the cell has triggered his plan.
“In one hour, The Pen will be nothing but ash.”
Even though he has sealed your fate, and considering that he doesn’t “know you“ (his words, not mine), he wants you to play a game and see if you can let yourself out.
This was a very well done, slightly creepy, video. While we were watching it, the actors were already messing with us…
|As he says in the video, if you can make it from the cell to the control room, he’s left you a remote to detonate a small, controlled explosive that will create a way out for you. So, break out of your cell, traverse The Pen to make it to the control room, find the remote, and explode your way out of The Pen.
|Puzzle Diversity (Rating)|
|I said in my review of The Elevator that I felt that this room had more to actually do in it than The Elevator did, even though this was only one floor. I’m not entirely sure that’s an accurate statement anymore. Perhaps it just FELT like there was more to do because there was that sense of urgency that I love in a room in THIS room. It wasn’t very prevalent in The Elevator. Yeah, let’s go with that. (Perhaps also that the puzzles were a tad harder, too? This is their hardest room, after all.)
That said, we all started together in a cell. Getting out of the cell was the easiest part of the whole experience. And even IT was hard! They make great use of thinking like an inmate (hrm…) and I suggest you do the same. (Where would you hide things if you were in jail?) After we escaped the cell itself, that’s what I started to do.
After the cell, as you progress to the control room, not a single puzzle type was duplicated (though there were combo and pad locks). This room wasn’t overly (obviously) tech-heavy either, but what was there was put to good use. There were…<stops to think>… 8 totally different puzzles (at least that’s all I can think of) between the cell and the next to last section before triggering the explosive so it really speaks towards their design.
|Puzzle Complexity (Rating)|
|As I said, even getting out of the starting cell was a challenge. And it didn’t get any easier. I will give you 2 hints right off the bat.
1 – Be. Observant. (Be-Bee-Observant!) </jazzhands>
Every item you find in The Pen has a purpose. And the fucking zombie-clown inmates kept messing with us. Keep track of things in this escape. Trust me on that.
There are going to be things in this room that will annoy you. They will also frustrate you. Make you feel stupid. And the actors will only add to that. (That’s also probably because Marco requested “extra scary”, so your mileage may vary.)
Overall, this shit was hard. No kidding it’s their hardest room. Before we got there, the record time was 15 seconds remaining. We beat that record with roughly a minute remaining. (LEADERBOARD, whut whut?!?) Also, the puzzles ranged from difficulty 4-10. Yes, I said 10. Leave me alone.
|From the moment you start trying to escape the cell, there are multiple distractions occurring to keep you… un-focused. I’ll tell you my favorite one in the “Fun/Amusement” section below but for now suffice it to say there’s a great combination of misdirection (note not red herrings) and distraction from the actors. While we were watching the video, they were messing with us from outside the cell door. It was great. I won’t say any more about the actors until I do.
The set pieces were excellent. From the make up of the cells to what the surveillance/control room looked like, you’d think someone had first-hand knowledge of a prison here. (I didn’t ask and I suggest you don’t either.)
Moving from room to room, they do a great job of keeping you focused yet distracted, and Dillon setting off an alarm multiple times kept scaring the crap out of everyone. This escape kind of reminded me of one of the rooms we did in New Orleans (review yet to be published). It was well designed, progressed well, and kept you guessing. It was grimy, dimly lit yet easy to see, there were sufficient surprises, and the actors added to the entire experience.
|This was an exchange we had with one of the actors:
“I want to play a game!” We ignored him for a minute or two. “I WANT TO PLAY A GAMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMEEEEEEEE!!!!!”
While this didn’t literally kill us, it figuratively did. We were dying, laughing so hard. It came out of nowhere because the rest of the banter with this guy was all over the place. I assume your mileage will vary with the role-playing, but I do hope someone who’s read this review will get through the room having heard this line.
|Game Master (Summary)|
|Jesse (whom we did this interview with) was our GM this time (via walkie-talkie) and he was very deliberate in his wording to us and enunciated well. There was absolutely no issue hearing him clearly with everything going on. He waited for us to clearly confirm we wanted help from him. I would only suggest speaking a tad faster as this is their hardest room and you do need the entire hour.|
|How Helpful Were Any Clues Given, if any (Summary)|
|We were able to clearly understand everything he told us and we were able to quickly progress with the pointers provided.|
|Nothing negative to report here. There are a few items that require really good observational powers (and outside-the-box thinking), so just a final heads up in that regard.
Rating: 0 of 5
ESCAPE ROOM GUYS’ OVERALL SCORING: 9.6/10
Final Thought: I had a really rough time writing this review, as I was trying to be constructive with some criticism as well as praising the overall experience. (You can see which side of that spectrum I ended on.) They do have a third room (The Manor) that I will be checking out in the future. However, if you try and escape this room, and I HIGHLY suggest you do, you will see, as I did, the love and pride that Hellscream Haunts puts into their rooms. I’ve mentioned before that I would love to create a new take on a Sherlock room and, if I could, these are the guys I would choose to do it with. When you get there, tell them The Escape Room Guys sent you!