Better “Safe” Than “Dead” – Room: The Heist – May 26, 2017

THE QUICK AND DIRTY

Play if… you’ve always wanted to re-enact that scene with Catherine Zeta Jones in Entrapment (get your mind out of the gutter… THIS scene… well, on second though… maybe not ALL the way out of the gutter).

Avoid if… you are claustrophobic or get freaked out by Russian criminal masterminds.


THE BASICS

Brain Storm Adventure:

Address: 312 Victory Drive, Herndon, VA 20170 (click address for Google Map)

Contact and Website: 571-375-1123
email: brainstormadventure2016@gmail.com
www.brainstormadventure.com

The Room

Description (from the company website): An extremely dangerous, criminal mastermind and his crew have stolen Johnny’s – my top client – very valuable diamonds, gold, and more. Johnny has given us the information necessary for you and your team to complete this operation…

Dimitri Chechenkov:

  • Wanted by all International Security Agencies
  • Considered Extremely Dangerous
  • Professional Thief/Assassin:
    • Historic Art & Jewelry
    • Precious stones, diamonds, and gold
    • Classified Documents
  •  Beware:
    • Travels with highly trained bodyguards
    • Many connections
    • Security on Premises

WARNING! THERE HAVE BEEN MANY AGENTS BEFORE YOU THAT HAVE BEEN UNSUCCESSFUL. ALL HAVE FAILED THE OPERATION TO RETRIEVE MY CLIENT’S STOLEN ITEMS.

Protocol:

  • Assemble your team
  • Report to location

BE PREPARED • BE DILIGENT • BE FOCUSED

Be ready:

  • Find the clues
  • Solve the puzzles
  • Search all rooms
  • COMPLETE EACH TASK AS DIRECTED!
  • Don’t set off the silent alarm
  • Find all stolen items
  • Follow THE directions
  • Be careful of the lasers

Difficulty (1-10)not listed, but no one (to date) has ever successfully escaped with all 10 items

Time Limit: 55 minutes

Cost: $30 per person up to 4, and slight price breaks after that. We paid $26.88 each for 8 people. If you pay full price, you are eligible for the prize money if your team is the first to complete the room. Otherwise, you can search their website for a hidden code that will give you a discount off the price when booking the room (and, no, we didn’t find the code, but we didn’t really look, either). [Update: Jason found the code right after completing his part of the review.]

Identifier: R1 (but this room has the clues and puzzles reset every week, allowing you to come back and try again)

Party Size: up to 10 (max), but at least 6 is suggested

Staging Area: This is located in an indoor game room facility (indoor golf simulator, anyone?), and has plenty of seating on couches and chairs. Restroom is right next to the seating area. Food and libations are also available in the Bar-n-Lounge area.

Metro Access/Parking: Not metro-accessible, but it’s out near Dulles Airport and easy access from the Dulles Toll Road.


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:

Logistics:

Description of the room: You start in your mission briefing area outside of Dimitri’s house with your handler (handlers for this mission, not Game Masters). After your briefing, you enter the first room…

Understanding of the Mission: Go through Dimitri’s house and accomplish the objectives for each room, solve the tasks assigned, avoid security, make your way to the safe room, and find and escape with all 10 of your boss’ stolen items within 55 minutes. If your time runs out, you get captured and executed (even if you have found some items). Otherwise, you can abort your mission and escape with what you recovered.

Did We Escape: Well, we escaped (aborted said mission) with two items, so we didn’t exactly fail, but were told that the client was pissed that we didn’t recover everything. However, we did make the leader board in recovering 20% of the stolen items and escaped with those.

Time Remaining: 10 seconds

Our Suggested Party Size: We had 8, but we’d probably recommend 6 since it got a little crowded (and loud) at points.

Did the room challenge the entire team? Hell, f#$&ing yeah!

Members of our team (other than the ERG): Tasha, Tara, Mark, Eric, Matt, and Steph

Team Disturbed Friends (Tasha, Tara, Mark, Eric, Mike, Matt, Jason, and Steph) recovered only two stolen items, but escaped without being captured. The client was pissed, but at least we got him back something!

Worth the time and money? Absolutely

Where to Eat/Drink Before/After: Try Google. We headed back to Alexandria (our home base for most of the Disturbed Friends) for drinks at Portner Brewhouse.

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7 Sins; 7 Doors… Mmmm… Sin-ful-icious – Room: 7 Deadly Sins – May 7, 2017

THE QUICK AND DIRTY

Play if… you have any vices whatsoever, or loved the movie “7even”

Avoid if… you are a church-going, God-fearing person.


THE BASICS

Laurel House of Horror:

Address: 935 Fairlawn Ave, Laurel, MD 20707 (click address for Google Map)

Contact and Website: 240-278-4545
http://www.laurelhaunt.com

The Room

Description (from the company website): “Seven Deadly Sins” is the most unique, and easily the most challenging escape room experience we’ve ever created. In five and a half “ancient” and elaborate rooms, you and a group will be tested to your absolute limits to overcome intricate puzzles, time-sensitive obstacles, and a difficult environment. More intense than our original rooms, all of your senses will be tested to escape the seven sins.

You enter through Pride (the first room) – will you leave with Pride, or be Envious of the ones that escape?

Difficulty (1-10)not listed

Time Limit: 45 minutes

Cost: $25 per person

Identifier: R1

Party Size: Up to 8.

Staging Area: It’s in an old movie theater that is supposedly haunted, so pretty damn creepy.

Metro Access/Parking: Not metro accessible at all. The theater is in a strip mall so there is plenty of parking.


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:

Logistics:

Description of the room: You walk into a circular room with a table in the center, at TV on the wall, and 7 doors (including the one you walked in through).

Understanding of the Mission: Solve the puzzles to figure out how to get out with your Pride intact.

Did We Escape: Yes

Time Remaining: Exactly 11 minutes.

Our Suggested Party Size: At least 6 (1 for each door)

Did the room challenge the entire team? Yes

Members of our team (other than the ERG): Eric, Eric, Alphonzo, Mark, Katheryn

Worth the time and money? hell,yes

Where to Eat/Drink Before/After: No idea, other than the Five Guys nearby. (There’s a Chuck E. Cheese next door, if you’re into that sort of thing. And like terrible pizza. And annoying, bratty kids… and creepy animatronic mice)

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We’re the Bomb! – Room: Save the White House – March 20, 2017

THE QUICK AND DIRTY

Play if… you are addicted to Designated Survivor or harbor fantasies of being a hero.

Avoid if… you dislike politics.


THE BASICS

Room Escape DC:

Address: 3949A University Drive, Fairfax, VA 22030 (click address for Google Map)

Contact and Website: 703-865-4178
info@roomescapedc.com
https://roomescapedc.com/escape-rooms/save-the-white-house/

The Room

Description (from the company website): A radical group has hidden a bomb in the Oval Office in an attempt to assassinate the President. You and the rest of your Secret Service team have intel that the bomb is set to go off in one hour. If it detonates, it will devastate the capital and fling the Free World into chaos. There is only one problem: lockdown has been initiated before you could get the President to safety.

Now, you are all trapped in the Oval Office together. Your only hope is to find the bomb and disarm it. To unravel this enthralling puzzle, you will have to rely on clever strategy and collaboration. Look carefully. Look closely. Everything in the Oval Office is a clue.

The President’s life, and the fate of the United States, rests in your hands. Do you have what it takes?

Difficulty (1-10)2 of 3

Time Limit: 60 minutes

Cost: $27 per person plus tax

Identifier: R1

Party Size: 2-10

Staging Area: Room Escape DC has a lobby with multiple tables, couches/chairs, vending machines, a sign-in station and two restrooms.

Metro Access/Parking: No metro access, so you’ll have to drive or Lyft/Uber. But there’s plenty of parking in adjacent garages.


OUR EXPERIENCE

This is the Facebook Live video before we entered the room:

This is the Facebook Live video just after we completed the room:

Logistics:

Description of the room: You enter an L-shaped room with the front part mimicking the Oval Office. There is a desk, a long table (for Cabinet meetings?), some other furniture and artwork and photos on the walls.

Understanding of the Mission: Find the bomb and disarm it before time runs out and the entire political landscape is irrevocably changed.

Did We Escape: Yes and damn proud of it

Time Remaining: 4:14

Our Suggested Party Size: We decided to see if we could do this room on our own, so we only had the two of us. We suggest 5-8 if you have a mix of newbies and veterans (the more veterans  you have, the less the number of overall people we think you’ll need).

Did the room challenge the entire team? Um, yeah… we were challenged out the wazoo (there were only two of us in a room that holds up to 10). It was literally a lot of work.

Members of our team (other than the ERG): Zip, zero, zilch, nada.

The Escape Room Guys (Mike and Jason) took on this room on their own and found the bomb! Photo courtesy of Room Escape DC.

Worth the time and money? Oh yeah

Where to Eat/Drink Before/After:

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Crime Doesn’t Pay – Room: Perfect Crime – March 16, 2017

THE QUICK AND DIRTY

Play if… you loved playing Clue while growing up.

Avoid if… crime scenes make you uneasy.


THE BASICS

PanIQ Escape Room Washington DC:

Address: 3283 M St NW, Washington, DC 20007 (click address for Google Map)

Contact and Website: (202) 735-0485
https://paniqescaperoom.com/washington-dc/escape-rooms/perfect-crime
dc@paniqroom.com

The Room

Description (from the company website): An aristocratic family member has been murdered. Some are calling it the “Perfect Crime”. You and your group of brilliant investigators made a new discovery that has led to a hot pursuit which might shed new light on the truth. Maybe it wasn’t the perfect crime after all?

Difficulty (1-10)4 of 5

Time Limit: 60 minutes

Cost: $24-36 (+ tax per person) (varies based on number of players)

Identifier: R1

Party Size: 2-7

Staging Area: First, ring doorbell to gain entry. Rooms are on the 3rd floor of the building. Small waiting area with couches and water cooler. Enough space for 1 team to hang out while they wait, but additional seating in stairwell area.

Metro Access/Parking: Rosslyn metro and then a .9 mile walk across the Key Bridge. It’s Georgetown, so parking can be difficult (so definitely carpool and use the parking garage for Georgetown Mall (at Wisconsin and M, head down the hill towards K Street). We suggest Uber or Lyft.


OUR EXPERIENCE

This is the Facebook Live video before we entered the room:

This is the Facebook Live video just after we completed the room:

Logistics:

Description of the room: You start off in a small room that is wallpapered with newspaper clippings and advertisements.

Understanding of the Mission: Solve the murder mystery by finding the murderer, the date the murder occurred, where the murder occurred, and the murder weapon, and then get the key to escape the room.

Did We Escape: Yes

Time Remaining: 17:10 remaining;

Our Suggested Party Size: We had 7, which was pretty perfect.

Did the room challenge the entire team? Yes

Members of our team (other than the ERG): Tara, Eric, Dalia, Mark, and Katheryn

Team Disturbed Friends (Tara, Eric, Dalia, Mike, Jason, Mark and Katheryn) solved the murder and escaped the room! Photo courtesy of PanIQ Escape Room.

Worth the time and money? Hell yes

Where to Eat/Drink Before/After: It’s Georgetown, so there are tons of places to have dinner or grab a drink.


Our Scoring:

JASON SAYS: MIKE SAYS:
Overall Expectation (Summary)
The description on the PanIQ site didn’t give much background, and I still don’t know why it’s called the ‘perfect crime’ other than that’s part of the story. More on that later.

It took us some time to find the place initially, as well. It’s not a storefront; it’s more a gated alleyway. Which kind of added to the intrigue. Ryan, our GM (who doesn’t like being called that), met us outside and walked us up.

This was a new location for us, so I really had no major expectations. However, I will say that I hadn’t heard of this company before and only found them after seeing a Groupon deal, which we purchased.

Finding the location took a few minutes. It’s behind a wrought-iron gate that has a buzzer, so that was initially our first challenge (how to actually get into the location!).

The theme itself sounded interesting, but nothing that made me want to choose this room over another. We’ve done a number of detective-themed rooms, so it was a “meh, it’s another room to do.”

Again, I’ll recall the adage to never judge a book by its cover… I was pleasantly surprised.

Story (Rating)
Some high-falutin so and so has been murdered. Allegedly, the plot was so well crafted that it’s the ‘perfect crime’.

We know it’s the 1900s. We know we didn’t do it but we’re there to figure out who did. And all I have is this pencil…

Rating: 7/10

You are a team of detectives called to a aristocratic family estate sometime in the 1900s (this was stressed multiple times by our GM before we entered the room) to investigate a murder! Man, can’t these rich people settle their arguments over polo, 25-year old single malt scotch, and cigars like normal, civilized people?

Anyhoo, murder rarely pays, unless you don’t get caught… and unfortunately for the murderer, Team Disturbed Friends was called in based on our excellent track record.

Game on!

Rating: 7/10

Mission (Rating)
Holy multiple objectives Batman! We were tasked with the following:

  1. Find out who the murderer was
  2. Find out when the murder occurred
  3. Find the murder weapon
  4. Determine the location of the murder

Once we figured those things out, we just had to make our way out of the room (my favorite, a key to unlock a door!). And I mean that, just having to find a key to unlock the point of egress is literally my favorite objective.

Rating: 10/10

Your mission – should you choose to accept it – encompasses multiple objectives (oh,yeah, baby!!) where you have to find out:

  • who the murderer is
  • the exact date of the murder
  • the location where the murder occurred
  • and the murder weapon

Once you determine these items, you will find a key that will allow you to escape the room.

Hmmm… we’re in an isolated estate and have to find out who the murderer is, where it happened and with what weapon. This seems familiar?

If you are a faithful reader of this blog (*cough, cough* become a follower *cough, cough*), then you know that a room with multiple objectives is like crack to me * and I LOVED how many things we had to figure out here.

Rating: 10/10

*  DISCLAIMER: Mike absolutely denies ever having tried crack, and is only drawing a parallel to say that multiple objectives in an escape room releases endorphins in his brain mimicking a natural high (kinda like a runner’s high, which he’s also never experienced because he’s not a runner… unless someone is chasing him… with a weapon).

Puzzle Diversity (Rating)
*Wipes tears from eyes*

I…We…They…

The only thing missing from this room was a secret freaking passage.

Seriously though, this room had so many things that we hadn’t encountered before in ANY other escape rooms. There was chess, maps, mazes. Hell, even a freaking stress test (that’s what I’m calling it; you’ll understand when you do this room). I think I was still giddy when we got out of there.

Why doesn’t this rating to go 11…? Oh right, this isn’t Spinal Tap.

Rating: 10/10

Um, wow. I was initially unimpressed, but then something happened and all was right with the world. It was like Christmas, my birthday, St. Patrick’s Day and Oktoberfest all rolled into one. I think I actually gasped.

So. Many. Types. Of. Puzzles!!!

We’ve seen some of these used in other rooms, but there was not one puzzle type that was repeated, and some of them were brand new experiences for the ERG.

The puzzles also hit two of my hobbies (spoiler below in white text, so highlight if you want to see it), so it was pretty awesome. Kind of like it was tailored to my own interests.

Mike’s Hobbies:
Genealogy & Travel

Also, you need to make sure you have someone with a steady hand with you, and that’s all I’m saying. You’ll know what I’m talking about when you do the room. What a nice nostalgic touch!

The puzzle solutions themselves led to a number of key locks and combination locks. I think there were 7(?), but maybe only 5 – I had trouble counting (one plus two, plus one, plus one – HAHAHAHA).

Rating: 10/10

Puzzle Complexity (Rating)
This room had a great range of puzzles, difficulty-wise. There were one or two that were easy, yet time consuming; others required all hands on deck (both time-consuming and not). That’s the way it should be and they really took it and ran.

I was so impressed with how well thought out they all were that I was just shocked for a few seconds. Walking in and seeing some of them was a giant WTF moment (in a good way) and also made me go MINEMINEMINE on 2 of the puzzles. 

Rating: 10/10

So, we had no newbies with us this time, and we still needed time to get through some of these clues. They had a few easier ones  in the beginning to whet your appetite and we did have about a 3-4 minute delay when we didn’t follow our Rule #3 again, so we spent time looking for a combination that we already had. Great job, Mark for double-checking!

Then they brought in the big guns. I think that Jason and I may have accidentally run over a few of our teammates on the way to one of the puzzles (hey, they all signed liability waivers and knew what they were getting into… hmmm… DID they sign liability waivers for us? Note to self: get them to sign liability waivers), and I stubbornly went back to one of the puzzles because I couldn’t just let it beat me. SUCK IT, UNNAMED PUZZLE!!

One puzzle was so difficult that we ended up solving it, but we reverse-engineered it to get the solution. I think we actually surprised our GM that we didn’t solve it in the conventional way. Another thing to remember is that certain items are put in the room for a reason. If you get stuck, try and use a prop. I can’t believe that we missed this, but it worked out in the end anyway.

Rating: 10/10

Flow/Cohesiveness/Uniqueness (Rating)
The room was broken into 2 rooms (we were told this at the beginning, so I don’t feel bad telling you here). The bulk of the work is in the second room, but getting there was pretty fun. We had a small Rule #3 snafu (which I blame on everyone but the person that tried that particular combination, including myself), but we got in, regardless.

The second room was extremely well thought out. The bulk of the puzzles all led into other puzzles that funneled their solutions to the final puzzle to find the 4 pieces of information listed in the Mission rating above. Absolutely loved it. Brilliantly put together.

***APPLAUSE***

Rating: 10/10

I don’t think we’ve done a room where everything JUST FIT together as well as this one did. Everything fit the theme, and it was worked so well into the storyline that I am still nodding my head in satisfaction.

The decor, at first, seems confusing, but that all changes about 10 minutes into the experience. Then, you feel like you’ve been transported to this estate and are investigating a crime scene (the outline of a body is a very nice touch).

Lots of unique stuff to the room that also fit well with the theme, and all the puzzles and clues just flowed into a final climax… which can give you delayed satisfaction if you’re not 100% correct (giggity).

I have no critiques here. Absolutely stunning in how it was put together.

Rating: 10/10

Fun/Amusement (Summary)
Nope. Thought it was just terrible. (I’m kidding, obviously.) BEST. TIME. EVER!!
Game Master (Summary)
As I mentioned before, Ryan prefers not to be called a ‘game master’; he preferred to be called ‘Ryan’. So we went with that.

He was a little rushed through the background story. But he was on top of his game while we were in the room, asking if we needed help here and there (no, we didn’t) and was responsive on the walkie-talkie.

Ryan was our GM and he added to the enthusiasm with the story outline and mission briefing. When we asked a few questions, he raised his eyebrow (which is one of my habits) and said that it was a great question that no one had ever asked before, which he followed up with “how many rooms have you done?”

He seemed a bit rushed in the beginning, but that could be because he was trying to get two groups into two different rooms (and was the GM for both of us at the same time). I’ve not seen this before (we always seemed to have our own GM specifically for our time block) but I can’t say this for sure..

We also asked what the leaderboard (the best time) and he said it was 18:00 minutes remaining. As we were tearing through the room, he would make comments every now and then about how fast we were moving.

How Helpful Were Any Clues Given, if any (Summary)
No clues needed! None were needed. Ryan actually radioed in and asked if we wanted help when we were trudging through one of the puzzles, and Jason (who had the walkie talkie) said “nope… we’ll radio you if we need you”

And note: he’s not allowed to give you any clues for the first 10 minutes, so keep at it if you get stuck initially.

Anger Level Score ERG (pronounced URG, as in “we should have known better”) Score
The only thing I can even say negative about this room is that I wish the story were a little better/more involved. That said…

Rating: 0/5 Fists

Just a small facepalm when we realized that we were searching for something we had already found.

We need to start remembering to follow that damn rule so we don’t keep making the same mistakes that keep us off the leaderboards.

Rating: 🤦‍♂️🤦‍♂️ FacePalms – 2/5

ESCAPE ROOM GUYS’ OVERALL SCORING: 9.4/10

Final Thought: Can’t say anything more than we already have. The best we’ve seen so far. Good job, PanIQ Escape Room DC. We look forward to returning to do Insane Asylum (which the GM said was harder than Perfect Crime).

The Joke's On You – Room: Survive the Joker's Trap – November 17, 2016

THE QUICK AND DIRTY

Play if… Whips and chains (particularly chains) excite you..

Avoid if… They don’t and you are afraid of clowns.


THE BASICS

Room Escape DC:

Address: 3949A University Dr, Fairfax, VA 22030 (click address for Google Map)

Contact and Website: 703-270-0377
http://roomescapedc.com/jokers-trap-room/

The Room

Description (from the company website): You and your task force of detectives have spent months chasing the infamous criminal clown known only as Joker. Your investigation has brought you precariously close to capturing this clever crook, and you’ve grown confident: sure that this final chase will land Joker in ‘cuffs and custody. You were right on his tail, and then… It was a trap!

You and your team awake disoriented, in a disturbing basement, chained to chairs. Joker, indulging in the dramatic, has hidden a bomb set to detonate in one hour. The minutes are counting down fast. You and your team will have to rely on collaboration, and your investigative prowess, to free yourselves, disarm the bomb, and escape with your lives.

Harness your courage to decipher this trap… Otherwise, this will be your last blast!

The game begins with you and your team chained to chairs (YES, WE REALLY MEAN IT. IF THIS CONCERNS YOU, CONTACT US) in a creepy basement.

Difficulty (1-10)3 of 3

Time Limit: 60 minutes

Cost: $27 per person

Identifier: R1

Party Size: 4-8 people

Staging Area: Lobby includes several tables/benches, sign-in counter, vending machines

Metro Access/Parking: No metro nearby, but plenty of parking.


OUR EXPERIENCE

Logistics:

Description of the room: A dingy and DARK basement with chairs and chains and some deranged clown-themed and graffiti artwork.

Understanding of the Mission: You’re kidnapped by the mysterious Joker and locked up in his basement. You have 60 minutes to free yourself from your chains (literally) and escape before the bomb detonates.

Did We Escape: YES

Time Remaining: about 13 minutes

Our Suggested Party Size: 6-8

Did the room challenge the entire team? Absolutely

Members of our team (other than the ERG): Stephanie, Brittany, Corey, Tara and Eric.

Team Disturbed Friends (Mike, Jason, Stephanie, Brittany, Corey, Tara and Eric) escaped the evil clutches of the Joker! Photo courtesy of Room Escape DC's Facebook page.
Team Disturbed Friends (Mike, Jason, Stephanie, Brittany, Corey, Tara and Eric) escaped the evil clutches of the Joker! Photo courtesy of Room Escape DC’s Facebook page.

Worth the time and money? Yes

Where to Eat/Drink Before/After:

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