Our new addition to the escape room series is the Escape Hunt franchise company. I probably passed it a dozen times and didn’t realize it was an escape room company. Located on the first floor of the Al-Bida’a restaurant strip.
According to their brochure and website there are 3 rooms available only: Mystery of the Silk Cottage, Steel Mill Meltdown, and The Elemental Dragon. When we got there; however, we were told there’s no dragon but there’s a vampire instead. Frankly I wanted the dragon, but in the end we went into the Steel Mill Meltdown.
The reception area looks like Rococo style on steroids. Too many colors and embellishments for my taste but the staff was really friendly and the seating area was surprisingly comfortable. Before entering, we were asked to put our things in our lockers and remove our digital watches. Unlike the other rooms I’ve tried, this one you need to flash a CLUE card at the camera when you need to and they’re nice enough to give you a note pad and a pencil before entering.
The puzzle room itself was really small which opens into further smaller rooms. We were only four people and it was a little uncomfortable rummaging through the place. I can’t imagine how it would be if we were in our full group of seven. The music was too loud and distracting but perhaps that’s intentional.
We found ourselves locked into a 1960s US steel workshop or warehouse by a looney employee. He sets the place on fire and it’s our job to escape within 60 minutes before the meltdown. The puzzles were average and we escaped in 28 minutes.
Everyone was impressed with us. We’re experts after all. We decided to impress them even more by going into their most difficult room- their Vampire.
We went in and we SUCKED!
Similar to the previous room, the space was really limited which made it seriously frustrating to focus on anything. If you’re claustrophobic this is the worst place to be in. It was also dark and the sound effects were eerie. I don’t usually get scared in spooky themes unless there’s a real person/actor inside the room then it’s a completely different story for me. In that room; however, I was at the edge of my seat and I think it’s because of the narrow space. I felt suffocated.
As for the puzzles, that’s a different issue. I think there’s a clear distinction between a puzzle being ‘difficult’ and ‘absurd’. The puzzles in the Vampire room were absurd. I noticed whenever the room is not a franchise, they try to be too inventive for their own good. The puzzles were mostly riddles and they made absolutely no sense. It wasn’t fun, it was annoying.
I believe that a good puzzle game is well thought out and strategized to strike a good balance for the player. If the theme of the game is horror, then usually the difficulty is lowered a tad bit in order to facilitate playability without being too distracted or feeling overwhelmed. Additionally, the sequence of how clues are laid out in a well designed puzzle fluctuates. It doesn’t always maintain the same tempo to avoid boring players. This is especially common in difficult rooms. It’s player-friendly. It portrays the message that, “yes the puzzles are difficult but achievable”. I felt there was no balance in Vampire. It’s like a mixing pot with so many things thrown at you and you need to figure it out. I felt the objective of the room was to convince you it’s hard and that’s it.
Having said that, we did enjoy our time in the first room. I would definitely go again for their third room but I wouldn’t recommend the vampire room.