Bolingbrook, IL · Escape Hour Room · Escape Room · Private Room · Reviews

Unsportsmanlike Conduct @ Escape Hour Room

Date played:  Saturday, September 12, 2020
Number of players:  2
Max number of players possible for this room: 6
Public or private game:  Private
Outcome:  Did not escape

First Impressions
The business is in a strip mall in a nice outdoor mall called The Promenade. The lobby is small and pretty plain and there wasn’t much to it. The staff was nice though.

Setup
The Game Master walked us down the hall and went over the rules and the scenario in the hallway outside the room. It’s always a little frustrating when you’re asked how many rooms you’ve played and you explain that you’re a seasoned player, and then you still have to listen to 5 minutes of super basic guidelines. I wish there was a badge you could carry around that would certify you as an enthusiast and let you skip that part.

The story for this room on the website is as follows:

“EHR HS has had a great football season.  We are undefeated so far on the road to the championship.  We play you guys, the Rival HS Escapers, for the championship and are looking forward to the challenge. 

However, our mascot didn’t want to play fair.  He stole the Rival HS playbook.  We don’t think that is right and don’t want to win that way.  So, we are going to let you into our locker room.  We believe that he has hidden the playbook somewhere in there.

You need to find your playbook and get out!  Our mascot is a shifty guy.  I’m sure it won’t be as simple as getting in and finding it just laying around.  You’ll certainly have to figure out some things to find it.

Here’s the catch.  You only have 1 hour to find it while the team is out practicing.  If they catch you in our locker room, they will think you broke in to steal our playbook.

Game Play
This was the first room I played since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. We booked the game kind of on the spur of the moment when trying to think of something to do and I felt a little unsure about it at first, but it was great. We wore masks in the lobby (as did the staff) but then took them off while playing, since it was only us, and it was clear that everything had been well sanitized.

This room had some cool stuff in it! I liked the mix of different kinds of puzzles; there was a great amount of variety and I think there would be something for everyone if there was a big group playing together. I also was impressed by a few special effects/technology tricks and puzzles that were present that made for some fun and surprising moments.

In general I would say I was pleasantly surprised by this room and company. I think because it was in a strip mall I wasn’t expecting much, but it was a good room and totally on par with other places I’ve been to. And one of the best side effects of this pandemic is that all these escape room companies are FINALLY making all rooms private by default! I really hope things stay that way after the world returns to normal.

One downside to the room was that sometimes we would solve a puzzle and something would open or unlock, but it wasn’t super obvious what it was. Luckily there were only 2 of us in the room and it was fairly quiet so we could usually hear a latch open, but if there had been more noise it would’ve been hard to tell that we had successfully solved something at times. I will say that the Game Master did give us an explicit heads up about that, so it helped that we knew to be ready for it.

We did not escape this room with only 2 of us playing. The Game Master had asked us beforehand if we wanted nudges and I didn’t want too much help but we said that would be ok. I had said that I wanted to be sure we saw the whole room and had asked to make sure we got enough help if needed to make that happen. I think the GM maybe didn’t quite understand what I meant because there was a good amount of steps remaining after our time ran out. I was really bummed that we had missed out on a few things after I found out what they were, and I really wish they had helped us move along faster so that we could have done a few of those things. Let’s face it: an escape room is expensive for only one hour and you want to feel like you got your money’s worth. But oh well I guess.

Final Touches
Our GM walked us through the remaining steps in the room that we hadn’t gotten to, and that was about it.

In conclusion…

Play This Room If…
-You have any size group (I think 2-6 would work well, as they state)
-You really like sports (But it’s still fun even if you’re not)
-You’re new to escape rooms, as I think it could be a good beginner room

Skip This Room If…
-You live far away (I believe other rooms would be more worth the trip, but if you’re nearby this is fine)
-You have young kids (I think it might be a little boring for them)

Overall rating:  3.5 out of 5

Company website: http://www.escapehourroom.com

Escape Room · Hatch Escapes · Los Angeles, CA · Private Room · Reviews

Lab Rat @ Hatch Escapes (Los Angeles, CA)

Date played: Wednesday, January 22, 2020
Number of players: 5
Max number of players possible for this room: 12
Public or private game: Private
Outcome: Escaped

First Impressions
Hatch Escapes is kind of in the middle of a residential area. It seems like a house that has had the windows removed and has been turned into an escape room. Since we were visiting from out of town, it would’ve been nice if their location had been near some other things that we could walk to, but it wasn’t really. I don’t remember what their sign outside the door said, but I do remember liking the sense of humor it portrayed. The employees we encountered were all super nice and friendly.

Setup
Our game master explained the rules outside the room, and there was a place just inside where we stored our personal items.

The story for this room on the website is as follows:

LAB RAT takes place in a laboratory where giant rats are doing experiments on human beings, specifically you! The somewhat unhinged Ratkenstein, a doctoral student in the field of human intelligence (or, in his estimation, the lack thereof), has tasked you with completing a series of tests and puzzles. If you succeed, he can finally write his dissertation. If you fail, he’s going to put you and your friends in the old test-subject chipper (like a wood chipper, but for test subjects!). You’ll have one hour to complete the tests and attempt to get out of the laboratory for good, before Ratkenstein turns you into mulch!”

Game Play
I thought the premise of the room was a great, original idea. The design and decor matched the theme well, too. This was the first room I had ever played with any kind of theme that set you in an environment where you were made to feel small around lots of big things, and I would enjoy playing something similar again.

I cannot imagine playing this room with the maximum of 12 people that the website lists. At some points there might be enough for everyone to have something to do, but at others I think many people would end up just standing and watching. I think 5 people was a great amount, although we had 2 people who were much less experienced in our group. But more than 6 would feel like too many in my opinion.

This room had some very unique puzzles in it, and I liked the creativity of the creators. There was one part in particular that I found very fun, where different people in the group had different tasks to do but were still working together. The way it’s done in the room was surprising, and I thought it was great. That might be my favorite type of puzzle in an escape room, where everyone gets to feel included and know that they are adding to the solution, and where it takes everyone doing something together to move forward.

I also enjoyed the use of video in the room, and this is something I wish more rooms would do. There were video clips that played throughout the course of the room, and the countdown timer stopped as these were playing. Why not include a little more story like this, to add to the total experience time a little? It worked very well here, and other rooms should take note.

One thing I would have liked was a little more “flow” to the game. We felt lost at numerous points, and it felt like we needed help too often. Our game master said we hadn’t actually asked for that much help, but he might have just been being polite? Or maybe we did do more on our own than other groups. Either way, it would have been a little more fun if we had been able to solve something, and have that lead us to the next thing, and have a clear path on what to do next. There were some points like this, but overall we felt like we kind of stuttered through the game.

We escaped with 1:02 left on the clock, if I remember correctly. One of my favorite things about this company was that their website noted that they would automatically prompt players with hints, to ensure that they were able to experience the entire room. It doesn’t mean that everyone always wins, but they at least help you along so that you don’t stay stuck at the beginning the entire time. I think this is how all escape rooms should be structured by default. Escape rooms are meant for fun, and the players should be assisted at least enough so that they can see and try all of the puzzles, even if they don’t complete everything. So a big kudos to Hatch Escapes on that!

Final Touches
Our game master took a group photo at the end of our game, even using professional lighting when he did! That was impressive. And he was just so super nice and willing to talk to us about the game and our experience. They really have great employees at this company!

Overall I would say this room was good, but that it didn’t have a “wow” factor for me. Based on the good things I pointed out above, I do think this company could definitely create a “wow” type of room in the future.

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In conclusion…

Play This Room If…
-You have a group with kids and/or adults
-Customer service is very important to you, as theirs is great
-You have a group of 6 or fewer

Skip This Room If…
-You only have time for one room in the LA area (I say this with some reservation, because I haven’t played any other rooms in the area, but I think there might be a company in a better location that would fit a visitor’s trip a little better)
-You’re brand new to escape rooms, as I think some puzzles would be too challenging

Overall rating: 3.5 out of 5
Company website: http://www.hatchescapes.com

60 To Escape · Escape Room · Gurnee, IL · Private Room · Reviews

Museum @ 60 To Escape (Gurnee, IL)

Date played: Saturday, December 28, 2019
Number of players: 4
Max number of players possible for this room: 8
Public or private game: Private
Outcome: Escaped

First Impressions
Skipping again, since we had been here several times before. 🙂

Setup
The story for this room on the website is as follows:

“A priceless jewel just turned up in a local museum. Your Team has someone on the inside who rigged the place so you could get in and rob it. But things aren’t so simple. You are going to have to hack the security system and extract that diamond out of a high-security vault before the Guards get back. Will you pull off the heist? Or will this be the job that finally lands you behind bars…”

Game Play
I thought this was a good room overall. It didn’t have a “wow” factor for me but I thought the design, decor, layout, and puzzles were all pretty good.

As with the previous game we had played, I felt like we just couldn’t gain momentum in this game. We did solve some things on our own but there was a lot of stopping and not really knowing what to do next. We would get a clue, it would help us do one thing, and then we would immediately be stuck again. Since this happened in both games, maybe that proves it was our group just having an off day, but it felt like the puzzles didn’t get us into any kind of game flow. There were things that I think we could have/should have been able to figure out, so it was at least partially us, but there were also things that I would have never thought to do.

If you have bad vision, you might feel excluded from a bunch of things in the room. Since the game is set in a museum, there are a bunch of item descriptions to read, and the text is very small. Without a flashlight to shine directly on the words, I had to strain a little to read things.

There was a cool puzzle that we needed help with, but even still, there was a cool effect that was fun to experience. I love any kind of sensor technology in a room, so that got points from me.

We escaped with about 8 minutes to spare, so I guess even with our struggles we did alright. I just would’ve liked more momentum in the game play so that we could’ve done more things without needing to stop for help.

Final Touches
This was our last game to play at this location. (Technically we never played Bomb Squad, but we had no interest in the theme and heard it wouldn’t be as worth it after we had already played their other, newer games.) I kind of wish I had played Hidden Temple last of all their rooms, because that one was so good that it’s hard to follow it with anything and have it compare. But in general this company has done amazing things and has gotten so many things right that I expect they’ll be around for a long time. One employee mentioned that they will soon have a new location in Milwaukee I believe, so good for them! They will definitely be on my list of places to recommend!

In conclusion…

Play This Room If…
-You have a group of about 3-4 people (I think even 5 could feel like too many. I almost wish we had played with only 3.)
-You have kids in your group
-You’ve played at least a few escape rooms before

Skip This Room If…
-You have poor vision and trouble reading small text
-You want more of a “wow” factor type of room

Overall rating: 3.5 out of 5

Company website: http://www.62escape.com

60 To Escape · Escape Room · Gurnee, IL · Private Room · Reviews

Containment @ 60 To Escape (Gurnee, IL)

Date played: Saturday, December 28, 2019
Number of players: 4
Max number of players possible for this room: 8
Public or private game: Private
Outcome: Escaped

I’ll skip the first impressions, since we had been to this location several times before. 🙂

Setup
The story for this room on the website is as follows:

A Top Secret government facility has mysteriously lost power and you are the only ones qualified to fix it. The generators are running but everyone in the facility is dead. It is going to be up to you to restore power before the generators die. If they do, whatever is contained here with be released into the world and the generators won’t be the only thing dying today…
Note: Containment does feature low lighting levels and may not be appropriate for players who are sensitive to darkness or low lighting.

Game Play
First of all, this game comes with a low lighting warning, as seen above. I think 60 To Escape handles this perfectly. I am someone who would have more difficulty than others seeing in the dark, so I appreciated the heads up, but also, the light was a GOOD low level. It added ambience, it fit the story, and it was still definitely possible to see. We did have flashlights and we needed them to see details, but it wasn’t so dark that you couldn’t see in general. Well done.

I would say virus/pandemic/outbreak storylines are not my favorite type of room because I get grossed out by fake blood, fake dead bodies, etc, but I can do them. I still don’t like to be the one to touch things most of the time though. I’d say this room had enough other things to do that if you’re like me and you’re with at least a few other people, you’d be fine. The rooms were well designed and decorated to match the theme.

I thought the room in general was good. There were definitely puzzles we needed help on, and to me it felt like we needed too much help overall, but our Game Master was surprised when I mentioned that at the end. Maybe I’m being too hard on us, and maybe most or all groups need that much help, but it seemed like we had to keep asking for a nudge. I think an escape room is most enjoyable when the puzzles can spark you into knowing what goes together and what to do next, and if you have to keep stopping, there’s no momentum and it’s not quite as enjoyable. The puzzles weren’t impossible or anything, so maybe we were just having an off day, but I would certainly not recommend this room for beginners.

We escaped with about 1:20 left on the clock, which was great.

Final Touches
Our GM was very nice and open to answering our questions, but I don’t think we had any (which is a good sign for a room.) We took our picture and then we were ready for our next room (continued in the next post!)

In conclusion…

Play This Room If…
-You have a group of at least 4 people (I think 4-6 would be good, but even 8 would be ok)
-You don’t mind a more low-tech room
-You’re into outbreak themes

Skip This Room If…
-You are new or still fairly new to escape rooms
-You only have time for one room at 60 To Escape (I recommend Hidden Temple instead)

-You are easily grossed out by blood, dead bodies, etc.

Overall rating: 3.5 out of 5

Company website: http://www.62escape.com

60 To Escape · Escape Room · Gurnee, IL · Private Room · Reviews

Hidden Temple @ 60 To Escape (Gurnee, IL)

Date played:  Saturday, September 7, 2019
Number of players:  4
Max number of players possible for this room: 8
Public or private game:  Private
Outcome:  Escaped

I am skipping First Impressions and Setup, since we had been to this location before and things were the same (and great!) (You can read about them here if desired.)

The story for this room on the website is as follows:

“You and your team of explorers have been hired to uncover the mysteries of an ancient, Hidden Temple. Your employer believes there are incredible treasures to be obtained from this lost location – but only you and your team have the skills required to extract them. Can you raid this Hidden Temple successfully? Or will you be lost like those who came before you?”

Game Play
I am going to start out by laying all my cards on the table: I absolutely LOVED this room! It is now my second favorite room out of all the rooms I’ve played (see the Hall of Fame for more info!) and the best room I’ve played anywhere in Illinois. Not only that, but it knocked a game out of my top 3 that had been there since March 2018 (Prison Break at The Escape Game.) Talking with my group afterwards, we could not find anything bad to say about this room. 60 To Escape really did a fabulous job with this!

The scenery/decor/props were all perfect. Everything looked and felt realistic and authentic, and I definitely felt immersed in the world. They used a lot of different things that all stayed within the theme but had variety between the different spaces. And they really used the space well! I loved that there was more than one reveal in this game.

Along those same lines, this is my favorite theme of any room that I’ve played. I love fun adventure themes and movies like The Goonies and Indiana Jones, and this fit right in with those things. I think the name “Hidden Temple” had me thinking of something more Egyptian themed, so I wasn’t quite expecting this theme and I was very pleasantly surprised. I’m pretty sure I was grinning the entire time we were playing!

The puzzles were great. They fit in SO many different kinds of puzzles that I think there would be something for everyone to enjoy, kids and adults included. And I even think they got more enjoyable as the game went along! I thought that our group of 4 was the perfect size that allowed for everyone to be pretty involved in just about everything we did. A few more people wouldn’t hurt, though.

Without giving any spoilers, there is one part of the game that I just have to mention. There was one reveal about halfway through the game that just blew me away! Not only was there a very well-decorated and cool-looking space, but I got to be the person who completed our next puzzle and I LOVED it! That moment in particular is a huge highlight out of all my escape room experiences so far and I was just in heaven. Many, many kudos to 60 To Escape for creating that puzzle and that experience!!

We escaped with only 6 SECONDS left on the clock, and it made for an incredible ending!

Final Touches
I mentioned it in my last post, but our Game Master was truly FANTASTIC! He was our same guide for their Mystery Manor room, which we played right after. I could feel his enthusiasm for the game and he was clearly excited for us and enjoyed talking about things with us. He knew exactly the right kind of hints to give us when we needed help, and he just did an amazing job. He even came in halfway through (a different person had brought us into the room), so it’s even more impressive that he was as invested as he was in our game! I would say he is the best Game Master we have ever had in a room, for sure!

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In conclusion…

Play This Room If…
-You have a group of about 4-6. I thought 4 was perfect, but if you had some players who weren’t very familiar with escape rooms, it wouldn’t hurt to have a couple more people and they would probably enjoy this as their first room.
-You have kids or adults in your group
-You like adventure and Indiana Jones-type themes

Skip This Room If…
-There is no reason to skip this room! PLAY IT!! 🙂

Overall rating:  5 out of 5

Company website: http://www.62escape.com/