No One Said Anything about Minding Our ‘Manors’… – Room: The Manor – February 18, 2019

ESCAPE ROOM REVIEW – THE QUICK AND DIRTY

Play if… you like science, creepy old houses, and a sense of fleeting dread.

Avoid if… you scare easily, or always get the feeling that you’re being watched in a dimly lit room.


THE BASICS

Hellscream Haunted House and Escape Rooms:

Address: 3021 N Hancock Ave, Colorado Springs, CO 80907 (click address for Google Map)

Contact and Website: 719-633-8252
https://hellscreamhaunt.com/escape-hellscream/

The Room – The Manor:

Description (from the company website): You and seven other people are trapped in a room. As you look around you start to notice strange messages and clues hidden around the room. Can you and your team solve the puzzles, find the key, and get out within an hour?

Difficulty (1-10): Medium or Hard

Time Limit: 60 minutes

Cost: $28 per person, but use ESCAPE2018 when booking to save 50% off your escape room adventure on Thursdays and Sundays

Identifier: R1

Party Size: Up to 8

Staging Area: You have to get through part of the haunted house to get to the room, so there’s not much space to hang around until you get to the briefing room, so don’t plan on getting there super early.

Metro Access/Parking: Just drive there.


OUR EXPERIENCE

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.

Logistics:

Description of the room: You start off in a very small library with a TV and two other doors. It’s dimly lit, and you get the strangest feeling that you’re not… alone.

Understanding of the Mission: Lord von Helton, a sinister doctor, has trapped you in his mansion and YOU have become part of his next experiment. He’s giving you a sporting chance, though, to see if you are smart and cunning enough to find a way out of his Manor in the next 60 minutes. If you don’t, you’ll become part of his experiments… some of which you will meet in your quest to escape.

Did We Escape: Yes

Time Remaining: 3:32

Our Suggested Party Size: 4-6, but we’ll let you know when the room reopens.

Did the room challenge the entire team? Yes

Members of our team (other than the ERG): Heather, Steph D, Marco

Worth the time and money? It was, yes.

Where to Eat/Drink Before/After:

  • It was late so we just headed back to our AirBnBs.


OUR SCORING:

JASON SAYS: MIKE SAYS:
Overall Expectation (Summary)
This was the last of the Escape rooms for me to do at Hellscream, and Mike’s first. We were also going to be the last group to ever go through, as they were shutting the room down for a revamp the following day. That said, we decided we should do it on the hardest difficulty and the highest scare level, to really see what they do and to let the actors have some fun.

I’ve been to Hellscream twice before and I was really looking forward to this room. We had just gone through their Valentine’s Day haunted house the night before, so I think Mike now had a little better of an idea of what to expect than he did from my previous reviews. I think we were all just really in for a treat.

As you know, I love haunted houses, haunted forests, etc. etc. etc. So, when we had the opportunity to do an escape room here at Hellscream during their Valentine’s Day haunted house experience, I was all in. We had done the haunted house the night before, so I got to see some of the scenery. Honestly, however, I was trying to enjoy the haunted house. I wasn’t really trying to do reconnaissance on the room (I wouldn’t have had any idea as to what rooms in the haunted house were part of this escape room anyway). Jason had been here before and raved about this location, so I had some pretty high expectations.

What I thought was really unique about this location was that they adjust the experience on two different factors. You could choose the level of scariness (scary or not scary), and the level of difficulty (medium or hard). Difficulty wasn’t… well… difficult to decide on (we chose the max). Scary was something we had to discuss since one of our party doesn’t, um, enjoy haunted houses as much as the rest of us. However, she was a really good sport and agreed to do the scariest rating too.

We found out later that night that we were the only team to attempt the hardest level of difficulty and the scariest setting, so we were ALL about completing the room and becoming the first group to do so.

Story (Rating)
Dr. von Helton, the Lord of the Manor and mad scientist of sorts, has taken you and locked you in his manor. There are many items scattered throughout the Manor so you may try and find your way out. If you don’t, in 60 minutes, you’ll be given a dose of fentanyl, and turned into one of the doctor’s crazy experiments.

You have no idea what those experiments may be, or what you’ll be turned into, because everything you come across is either dead or inanimate. I guess those might be your options. Better try and get out…

Rating: 7.5/10

The mysterious Lord of the Manor (also known as DOCTOR Von Helton) has a knack for experimenting on those who find themselves in his house. However, he believes in testing his potential subjects by giving them a fighting chance to avoid becoming permanent residents in his manor.

If you can figure out how to escape, you earn your life. If you fail, you get drugged, and become a permanent resident as the subject of one of the doctor’s experiments… some of whom you may encounter while trying to escape.

I liked the premise of this story because it adds some complexity to the “escape the haunted house” themes I’ve seen before. By adding in live actors who mess with you through the dark and creepy experience, you do get a feeling that if you don’t get out, you’re not going to like what is left of your life (if you can even remember who and what you are).

Rating: 8/10

Mission (Rating)
The mission of this escape was pretty simple: search the manor for clues and puzzles, find and solve them, and get out, unless you really wanted to become an experiment. I don’t know about you, but I am ok staying as I am.

This is their second hardest room; well, it was. As I said earlier, this was the last day this room was open as they were shutting it down to tear down and rebuild it as a newer version of the manor.

And not to toot our horns, but we were the one and only team, of 100 teams, to try “scary and hard” and actually escape. So yeah, we retired the room as the record holders.

Rating: 7.5/10

Overall, your main goal of this room is to escape the manor alive. What makes it a bit more difficult is that there are… um… people? in the room who are there to distract you, potentially scare you, and overall just fuck with you a bit. They played with my mind on one of the puzzles to the point where I was doubting my own sanity.

I also loved the fact that you could choose the degree of difficulty and scariness for the room, which contributed to how difficult it would be to resolve the mission. We attempted the scariest level and most difficult, and we were the only group to escape that combination.

Rating: 7/10

Puzzle Diversity (Rating)
There was a hell of a lot of stuff to do in this room. Not to mention the fact that it was pretty damn dark, and we only had two flashlights, that one of the actors took from us at some point (one of them at least).

There was so much going on I’m having trouble remembering a lot of it. I do remember there was some geography involved. I also remember that we were told by our GM, Jesse, after completing the room that we were also the only team to ever find every single red herring that was in the room. Anything that could have distracted you from solving a puzzle, we found it. I’m still unsure if that’s a good thing or a bad thing, but hey it’s what we do. We are nothing if not thorough.

Admittedly, there were numerous combination locks, but the puzzles that set them up were well constructed. Nothing felt like it was a combination lock for the sake of a combination lock. There were also other puzzles that were heavy on observation and logic, as well as the hidden in plain sight type. We honestly missed both of those when we started those puzzles. It took us quite a while to actually realize what we were doing wrong and that it was, in fact, that simple.

Rating: 8/10

There is no spoiler here in that there are obviously multiple rooms as part of this escape (it’s called the Manor… not the Library, or the Kitchen). There are a great many different types of puzzles here that will have you going from room to room as you find bits and pieces… just make sure you hold on to your bits and pieces since there are creatures in the rooms that may decide to… ahem… remove your access to some of the items you’ve already found.

This experience will have you searching your ass off and you may find some red herrings that will throw you temporarily off track. We, of course, ended up finding all of them, and were told afterwards that we were the only group to ever do so. And, of course, this likely affected our time remaining… still the record holders though!

Because the rooms are dark, your normal observational skills will have to be ramped up to solve some of these puzzles… and you will need a few brave souls on your team to search the dark depths to try and find parts of clues to move you forward.

There were a fair number of combination locks, but this truly didn’t bother me until I was trying to input a combination and my SO was having trouble holding the flashlight steady (we’ll call it nerves 🙂 ).

I absolutely loved the final puzzle in this room. It made me giddy when I saw it and figured out how we needed to solve it. I MAY have claimed it as mine by just standing in front of it, and proceeded to jump a bit when I was finally able to open it.

Rating: 8/10

Puzzle Complexity (Rating)
The only easy puzzle we encountered in this room was the very first one. Well, it was easy to me at least. There is also the fact that I jumped ahead and found a key that we were pointed to two or three puzzles later. Oopsie.

Most of the puzzles required multiple eyes and brains for us to solve them. There were several instances of dramatic realization as well as multiple screams created by the live actors in the room. Which, to me, is always hilarious. Of course, I was the first one to jump at anything when I opened a door and was greeted by a live actor (not the scary part) with an old metal horn (the jumpy part).

Difficulty wise, I’d give a range of 3/4 – 9.

Rating: 9/10

I would say that there is a nice range of difficulty in the types of puzzles you’ll encounter. We started off solving a few easy ones, and then got socked with a difficult one right off the bat which had us scratching our heads. We apparently found it early, which disrupted the overall flow of the experience.

I liked how distraction was used in the room because it made some of the simpler puzzles more difficult (i.e. in trying to remember a combination or a series of clues to help you open a lock). You walk a fine line between engaging with what you find, vs. being too engaged and distracted by… what you find.

Our team had all done a number of rooms before, so we didn’t have a learning curve that would GREATLY be interrupted by live actors and darkness, so that worked pretty well.

We did get stuck a few times, and I SWEAR that we searched high and low before asking for a hint.

Rating: 8.5/10

Flow/Cohesiveness/Uniqueness (Rating)
The story progressed nicely from room to room and puzzle to puzzle. The story elements feel more vocal in the beginning than towards the end, but the actors in the room help move it forward as well, while they try and set you back.

One thing that got in our way was the darkness of the room, even with the flashlights. There were 5 of us, only 2 flashlights, and at some point, as I said earlier, one of the actors took one when it was set down somewhere. (Ass lol)

One of the many things HellScream does right is how their actors…act…in the room. We’ve experienced a few live actors before, zombies or otherwise, and they were sort of just there and didn’t add anything to the room (well, specifically the non-zombie actors). But these guys went all out for us. Nothing will best the machete incident from The Pen, though…

Oh, and I only jumped ONCE, Mike…

Rating: 10/10

This experience is really well designed. As I mentioned before, it starts you off in one room and then you progress from there. Adding in the darkness and live actors are very nice touches to the experience (even more so because I got to see the normally-stoic Jason jump at some of the scares).

I do like that you have to progress from room to room, but then also backtrack as you find new and interesting things and clues… and this is a big area to cover.

The live actors were phenomenal. If you try to ignore them, they seem to escalate their performance. If you focus too much on them, they do what is needed in eating up a lot of your time. So, part of the experience is finding the right balance of interaction. I formed a particular bond with one of the actors because we have something in common. So, even through I KNEW it was a distraction technique, I still fell for it for a minute or two. Well done, Mikey… well done. And my favorite color is still GREEN, dammit.

The decorations are fantastic. You feel as if you are in an old house that is just rife with things that may not be what they seem. Having these rooms do double duty as part of their haunted house is pretty brilliant because it cuts down on costs and you get double the creep factor.

Also, since this doubles as a haunted house, you’ll see things here that may not typically be seen in a standard “scary” escape room. Hellscream is one of the best haunted houses in Colorado and the country, and they do it right, so you’re in for a treat.

Rating: 10/10

Fun/Amusement (Summary)
The rooms here have always been in my unofficial top 10 (since we only rank the top 5) and I can’t wait to try out the R2 version of this room. I had fun interacting with the actors and watching everyone else get scared. The atmosphere of this room and how it was constructed around an excellent escape room experience really upped the ante on future scary rooms for me. I’m hoping that they re-open this one up soon so I can try it out again when I’m back in Colorado Springs.
Game Master (Summary)
Jesse was our GM for The Manor (same as The Pen) and he again spoke clearly over the walkie-talkie and was helpful when asked. Jesse was fantastic. He essentially left us alone (as was our request) until we radioed that we needed a hint. He did tell us about 20 minutes into the experience that if we completed the room, we would be the record holders (because no one had ever completed it at scariest and most difficult, even with hints). So, that was some great motivation.
How Helpful Were Any Clues Given, if any (Summary)
I believe we asked for 1, maybe 2, clues in this escape and they were, as usual, annoyingly stupid. :-\ We asked for two clues… and both were things that we overlooked, so that was supremely annoying.
RAGE Meter ERG (pronounced URG, as in “we should have known better”) Score
I’m going with a 1 (miffed) here only because I didn’t want a clue because I knew it would be stupid and I was right.

Rating: 👊

We overlooked two items and that required us to ask for two hints, so I’m going to go with a 4 on this.

Rating:  (4) FacePalms

ESCAPE ROOM GUYS’ OVERALL SCORING: 8.35/10

Final Thought: Being at Hellscream’s Haunted House the night before didn’t give us an edge when we went in to do The Manor. The experience had some great scares, fantastic actors, and a great flow to the overall story. We look forward to more thrills in their other rooms.

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