Mad Scientist

7.3 Overall
Room Quality
Puzzle Design
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Mad Scientist

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Our last and certainly not least stop in ERA’s visit to Chicago led us to Vault Escape. Located in Riverside, a suburb of Chicago, we were happy to discover an easy to find storefront, visible signage, and lots of available parking on the surrounding side streets. As we entered we were greeted with a big smile and a heartfelt welcome, not only to the company but as visitors to Chicago itself. The lobby was fairly basic with some seats, lockers, and a desk which the game master sits at. All in all, a decent start.

The room quality definitely had elements of a first generation room experience. It was a fairly basic one room design with nothing negative nor overly impressive to speak of. Everything was solidly built, but there were a few out of place props to accommodate the puzzles used. We appreciated the use of actual glass vials and objects, but also foresee this being a problem for those who don’t have the social conscience to refrain from breaking items. As far as first generation room designs go, we considered this a good one… sometimes simple is better!

The immersion followed suit with the lobby and room quality – pretty good but not designed for wow factor. As is the case with many companies (probably most companies) the story is mainly explained and experienced during the introduction, but quickly fades as unimportant by the end of the experience. There were brief reminders of the story as we went through, but this was definitely the area we most hoped to experience “more” from our time in the room. One thing we really did enjoy was the hint/clue system used. The game master interacts through a tv monitor tucked away in the corner as to not distract from the environment, but also allows for some fun interplay with an “unseen partner” that’s easily incorporated into the overall theme and story.

The puzzles, now THIS is where we really felt this room shined! It was odd because typically puzzles aren’t the strong point of a first generation room that has a fairly average pre-room and room quality experience. In this case we loved the puzzles. There was a near perfect mix of different puzzle types, difficulty levels, and inclusive designs. Again, it’s always nice to see rooms like this that understand how to focus on the player experience inside the room. Now will the puzzles give you a “wow factor” that you’ll be talking about for years to come? No, probably not, but we can definitely say there’s a high chance you’ll enter this room either as an enthusiast or a new player and feel like you are able to participate and enjoy the experience! Very few rooms have the ability to boast this as they often reflect what the designer wants to experience in a room instead of catering to what customers want to experience. If we haven’t been clear, the puzzles are great!

So was it fun? Yes! This is one of those times we’re quite happy to tell people that this is an average room you’re going to really like! What makes this room even more likeable is the intentional design to include players of all experience levels. For those who feel a good escape room needs a high wow factor to be enjoyed, we challenge you to try this room… We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again, sometimes simple is better!

We want to hear your thoughts! Be sure to comment in the section below or send us a message via ERA’s email, Facebook, or Twitter… As always, happy escaping!

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