I have to admit that the ‘prison break’ escape room is not particularly attractive to me. It’s well overdone for the scope that such a theme can offer, but being Escape Reality we were hoping for some creative expansion on it.
We had a few hours to spare on a Saturday evening, so in trying to book a last minute escape room, they were the only local place that had any availability. We booked Alcatraz and the storyline is exactly as you’d expect, but seemingly set in 1934, and you’re trying to escape while the warden is distracted.
We were hoping for a real challenge, because it’s advertised at their highest level of difficulty, but I think it would be better advertised as a high level of frustration. You begin separated in cells and are dependent on group co-operation to help each other out of the respective cells. It’s a bit basic though – for example, the code written on the wall that you can just shout out (with “your cellmates might need this” written next to it)!
The difficulty level was set into just three particular puzzles. One could be done only by the first two team members out of a cell, which meant the rest of us just sitting on our cell bunk waiting for them to complete. The second was ambiguous and a little nonsensical. So….. we used the clue system at a cost of 5 minutes to our time. And behold – the answer was for the puzzle right next to it which we had solved ages ago. The clue system really is Escape Reality’s biggest downfall.
Anyway, somewhat frustrated, two continued with the puzzle, whilst the rest of us hung around watching. Once solved the next door opened. This went into a nicely themed area, with good props, and sadly, completely pointless puzzles. They were of such a lazy design – quite literally, one of us would walk up to it, solve it in a couple of seconds, and shout the code answer for the next lock to be undone. So, in spite of good quality surroundings, the area was somewhat flat and disappointing in offering almost no challenge whatsoever. Until….
Here we go…. The final puzzle, to restore power and open the door. The tech guys go first, back up guys go next, I then step in as they’re all losing patience. Check the clock everyone…. What’s the problem? Then all 5 of us huddled into the 2’ square space trying to deduce the circuit solution. We couldn’t do it. Check the clock… general agreement that we’ll forfeit another 5 minutes for a clue. Scanned the clue and oh my god! The clue repeated the instructions on the sheet we were holding. Expletive time for everyone. The hardy souls continue trying, the others sit down and wait. Finally, we relent, and ask for the intervention.
In comes the Games Master, having no idea at what stage we were at. We had to talk it all through, what we’d already tried, and so on. He shows us the start of a solution that none of us would even have thought of in our wildest dreams based on the instructions given. “What?” we all say, “say that again”! All of us, just staring at him as though he was making up something unimaginable. Thirty seconds later the puzzle was complete and the door was open. We were all still looking at each other in bewilderment and shaking our heads at the ‘escape unreality’!
The GM tried to cheer us up and jolly us on. I walked off – there’s only so much frustration I’m willing to take in a day – as the others tried to put forward the case for improving the puzzle design and the obliteration of the infuriating clue system.
I’m not sure who to recommend this room to. I’m hoping they will rethink some of its design flaws, or at the very least, adjust the three main puzzles. Then the room could be marketed at a lower difficulty level and attract a different type of public audience who may gain more satisfaction from it.
See other reviews for Escape Reality HERE
Don't bother using the scan clue system