The Bank (retired)
- Played April 2016
- 45 minutes
- 2-8 players
- What People Say
ERA was invited to review Escaping Renfrew’s newest room The Bank. So we packed the car, set out for the open roads, and then asked ourselves: “Where exactly is Renfrew anyways?” All kidding aside, we were happy to make the trip from Toronto to Renfrew, about 50 minutes west of Ottawa. Although one might ask why make a trip to such a remote location, we think of it as an excellent ‘escape room tour’ opportunity that could include Peterborough’s Escape Maze, Kingston’s Improbable Escapes, or even Ottawa’s Escape Manor and Jigsaw Escapes, depending on which direction you’re coming from… But back to Escaping Renfrew!
The town itself is easy enough to find, but the company address and sign were a bit trickier to see (tip: look for a converted church building right across the road from the Tim Horton’s / Wendy’s). Aside from this minor stumbling block we were impressed with how our experience started once we arrived. The welcome we received reminded us this is a family run business with small town hospitality at the core of their values. Companies like these always make us smile… Ideally we would’ve liked a bit more of a pre-room experience during the room’s introduction, but you’ll soon understand why this didn’t concern us too much.
The Bank’s room quality was impressive. The moment we walked in, we felt transported to an early settler’s bank complete with teller’s booth, vault, safe and all the little nuances you’d imagine of that time period. The props and building design were well done and aside from some minor nitpicking, it’s hard not to appreciate the effort that was spent making this set design look & feel authentic. The Bank’s greatest weakness in design is probably it’s lack of overall space and not being able to give us even more of a good thing!
And now onto the areas where The Bank really shines… The immersion in this room is fantastic! Again it is clear that Escaping Renfrew has placed a high priority on player experience. There’s enough trappings, props and absence of “do not touch” stickers to make you feel swept up in the theme. If you’ve read any of our recent reviews you’ll know how we’ve slowly become more critical of story formulas. Most escape rooms, including The Bank typically use a formula where you’re given the whole story and objective at the beginning of your adventure. This is by no means a fault as it’s pretty much the standard formula for 90% of the rooms in North America. Instead, we’d like to see escape room companies start implementing stories that are unravelled as you go along with a possible surprise, twist, or choice that occurs at some point. This would change the objective you originally had and create an ending you couldn’t have predicted. The experiential difference is similar to watching a movie where you know the ending vs. watching one where you have no idea what the ending is. Both are enjoyable experiences, but one keeps you more engaged throughout the process. Aside from this general critique of escape rooms as a whole, people are bound to enjoy the immersive experience in this room.
In addition to the impressive immersion, this room offers equally impressive puzzles. We particularly noticed most of the puzzles were inclusive and semi-linear which allowed everyone to be included at all times and in different physical areas of the room. Enthusiasts who play with alpha personalities on their team will testify as to how nice it is to not be forced to watch others go through the puzzles. The Bank could use some more team building puzzles, and perhaps a little more variety of puzzles, but this too is a common critique we have about most escape rooms we review.
So do we recommend this room and who should check it out? The first part is easy. Yes, The Bank is a good solid room experience that is certain to please most people. Beginner and intermediate players in groups of 3-6 people would probably enjoy it the most, but as mentioned earlier some enthusiasts might find the inclusive nature of this room refreshing and want to check it out for that reason alone.
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