An Escape Enthusiast Abroad: Seattle Day 1
Today was our first marathon day in Seattle. We did six rooms. Six very puzzle heavy rooms. I. AM. TIRED.
Canadian Bumpkin Status: 30%
I know, boring, right?! The truth is we spent the majority of our time inside escape rooms so “culture shock” wasn’t really a thing to happen. It still snuck through though.
We managed to get through the border fine. I also managed not to freak out at my friends who were joking about concealing drugs. They only joked right before and right after, but who knows when America is listening?! (We also did not have drugs)
The McDonald’s in the US continue to not have green tea. Instead they have “fresh brewed sweet tea” in a giant vat out front. It vexes me.
The Seattle McDonald’s also had an option to add a “Canadian flavour” to your sandwich. This involved tomato and mozzarella. I am trying to decide how these two ingredients are uniquely Canadian, but apparently it’s a thing.
More mountains! And boats!
Drivers on the west coast are legit crazy. Legit.
I will say right now we had too many people for most of the rooms we played. This was completely our fault as we invited anyone and everyone to join us. It was worth it to be able to meet and geek out with fellow enthusiasts.
We started our day off at Hourglass Escapes to try out their latest Evil Dead II room. I myself have not seen the movie (I have seen the first and the third)., but others in our group had.
Even not having seen the second movie specifically, this was a fun room. Fans of the movies will appreciate the easter eggs hiding inside. Those who love a nice logical puzzle and a campy, creepy atmosphere will still have a blast.
They also had all players choose a role in the room such as the Skeptic, the Ghost Hunter, and the Psychic. Each role got to use a different tool. It wasn’t always consistent but it was neat to see how everyone’s tool contributed to the room. Errol had to be the Ghost Hunter because it had the most fun gadget, naturally.
Then we went to Epic Team Adventures where we did five rooms in a row! It was intense. Jennifer, the owner, normally does not open on Mondays, but she offered to do so for us since we were only in town for a couple of days and even let us order take-out between our many escapes! It was super nice of her and we appreciated it a lot. Thanks, Jennifer!
Most of the rooms we played at ETA were different than what I am used to playing. The games were far more puzzle centric and it was very non-linear. At first I felt a bit overwhelmed by the sheer number of puzzles surrounding us, but managed to get into a groove. All of the puzzles were definitely on the more difficult side though. By the end of six rooms our brains were all but melted.
What made two of the rooms (Quest for Excalibur and Raven and the Red Death) very unique is that they were both on the same space! Props and video screens were switched but otherwise it’s the exact same room. It was something I had not seen in an escape facility before. I can see that being effective as a business decision.
The use of video technology was also very impressive. There was some really neat mechanics in the game that took advantage of this.
Maze of Games, an Alice in Wonderland themed room, had some great attention to detail in their props. Even with so many players, our tired brains needed extra time to plow through the multitude of puzzles in the room.
The Vault of the Volcano Gods was more of a puzzle room with a thin veneer of a theme on top. The more puzzles you solve, the higher a score you get. It was fun but chaotic for myself and not really my preferred style of game. The puzzles were more like paper/pencil puzzles than escape room puzzles, and I often got stuck with puzzle styles that were not my forte. There was also a bigger tech failure but our GM, Amber, did a great job of handling it. It was still entertaining though.
By far our favourite room of the day was the last we played: The Sparrow Files (ETA has a thing with birds and I love it). It is a film noir themed room which is a bit more linear and much more narrative based. It was by far our favourite room of the day.
I adore old school mysteries and this one did a fantastic job evoking the atmosphere of a gritty detective novel. The puzzles all made sense to the world, the narrative was solid and easy to follow, and it had a fun and satisfying conclusion. It did not hurt we had fewer players and that it was the easiest room after the gauntlet of difficult puzzles. I hope we see more rooms like that from ETA.
Overall we really enjoyed the puzzle difficulty and use of video from ETA. I am still a bit biased toward a more linear, narrative driven room, but some of the puzzles I got to solve in these rooms were really satisfying and that counts for a lot as well.
One of the highlights of this trip so far has been the people we get to connect with from the community. Today we got to hang out with so many awesome enthusiasts!
Justin: Justin is a good friend of ours. We first met him at an escape trade show. For those who don’t know, Justin Nevins is the creator of the cryptex! Although we have been chatting online for years, this is the first time we got to hang out in person for longer than five minutes. He also was the one to help organize most of this trip. Thanks so much, Justin!
Julie: Julie is Justin’s wife. She is one of the nicest people I have ever met. Not only was she great to laugh with in an escape room, she picked up our food! We love Julie.
Jon and Dina: Jon and Dina are both enthusiasts we met through our slack channel. Their son, Evan, even joined us for the last game. He was extremely eager and helped with all the puzzles we got too tired to try. It was awesome.
Emile and Michelle: We met Emile through our podcast. He brought his wife, Michelle, for one of the games. It turns out he has a podcast as well! (which I need to remember to ask him the info for again).
And I am tired again. Ugh. This took too long to write. Tomorrow is more Seattle!