- Played November 2016
- Bloomsberg, PA
- 60 minutes
- Up to 6 players
- What People Say
Located in Bloomsberg, Pennsylvania you’ll find one of North America’s newest escape company offerings called Can U Xcape? It’s owned by three escape room enthusiasts who travelled the USA and eventually decided to try their hand at design and ownership. ERA’s friend and guest reviewer Rey had informed us about this company and insisted it become part of our trip through the region, so we not only took her advice, we also invited her to join us! Did the passion of these enthusiast-turned-owners present itself in their most recent room: Upside-Down Room? Or did the ERA team leave feeling that good intentions are sometimes best left as good intentions? Read on…
The pre-room experience was a mixed bag of sorts. The building is small and we could tell that a focus on the pre-room experience wasn’t where the Can U Xcape? team decided to put their efforts. On the surface one might see a partially unpaved parking lot, in a remote area of a small town, with a less than attractive building exterior. The lobby is small, there aren’t refreshments available, and only a few small puzzles were available to keep people occupied. Seemed a little rough until we looked deeper… Lamp covers made completely of keys, chair cushions with locks and keys on them, interesting works of art on the walls with creative escape room imagery…. We could go on, but you get the idea. It’s a mixed bag of rough first impressions but increasingly impressive little details the more we looked around. We were mostly impressed by the staff however. There are times we feel honoured to meet good people who go beyond acting nice, and demonstrate a genuine care for the people they interact with. The ERA team strives to recognize not only strong companies, but also great ownership and staff who have a bigger vision than simply being a good company. The Can U Xcape? team was among the best in this regard, so it was mostly a good start.
From good people, to incredible room design…the room quality of The Upside Down room was unreal! If you can’t imagine what life would be like living in an upside down world, you need to see this room. The attention to detail was incredible. We were expecting to see tell-tale signs of this being a sparse offering of Ikea furniture being bolted to the ceiling with visible signs of things being kept in place. Not the case at all. The amount of space used, the items within the room, and the consistency of quality set design kept us in awe for the full 60 minute adventure. If there was one negative here it’s that there isn’t enough of a good thing being that it’s a single room experience. Don’t let this dissuade you however, there’s enough in this one room to make it feel like a much bigger adventure.
Immersion was another mixed bag experience. Although mostly interesting, there were some aspects of the immersive experience we wish were slightly improved. A common thread you’ll hear from the ERA team is the need for companies to remember that a story is best experienced when there is suspense and a development of the story as the room progresses. There were some aspects of this in the Upside Down Room, but for the most part there’s not much story attached to it. As you would expect from reading about the room quality however, whatever is lost in story is more than gained in the immersive quality of the set design. How many companies out there take the time to properly design all six sides of their room with thematic detail (not just the four walls, but the ceiling and the floor also)? Other senses were appealed to with an impressive soundtrack and lighting which fit perfectly with the scenario. All in all a very strong immersive experience even without the suspense of a strong story which is a rare comment from us.
The puzzles were a bit harder to judge for a few reasons. We’ll do our best to explain without giving spoilers. Some people enter an escape room simply to do puzzles. It doesn’t matter whether they do it as a team, it doesn’t matter if there are too many locked boxes, and it doesn’t even matter if the puzzles fit the theme or story, they simply want puzzles. The Upside-Down Room will satisfy people in that frame of mind. Those who look for puzzles to fit within the story or puzzles that don’t rely on travelling from locked box to locked box may not enjoy the experience as much. At the same time, there are a lot of puzzles here and it’s important to note that with our team of three adults and one child, we didn’t have enough minds brainstorming and/or working on puzzles because they were always 2-3 puzzle paths at play within the room. Ideally you’d want 5-6 players working together in this room as a cohesive unit, which makes it great for those who want puzzles to incorporate a sense of team building and variety of options, like yours truly. Although there were a number of locked boxes, there was good variety of puzzle types and some unique puzzles that caught our attention.
One of the more interesting features about the rooms at Can U Xcape? is the bonus mission feature. At some point in the room you’ll encounter the option to complete another puzzle path, which grants you three minutes removed from your time-score. Do you go for it? Do you estimate it will take more than three minutes to complete? Although it didn’t play a huge role in the outcome for us, it was a fun mini-debate we faced as a team while we were in the midst of trying to escape because everyone had varying desire levels to which they wanted to go for it.
In the end what you probably want to know was if it was fun, and for whom would we recommend this room? Definitely lots of fun, but it’s not ideal for everyone. Kids, young teens, and those who have never been to an escape room before might want to take a pass on this one. There are a couple frightening images used, and we found it to be a fairly challenging room. Not bad, just challenging. On the other hand, for anyone who has done an escape room before, or a bunch of them, or for anyone who wants to find one where teamwork is essential, or one that has incredible set design, or great puzzles, or just an impressive attention to detail….THIS room is for you! This is an enthusiast lover’s room for sure. Built by enthusiasts, for enthusiasts and soon to be enthusiasts also! As we were told by our favourite guest reviewer in Pennsylvania, this company, and in particular this room, is a must see on your way to surrounding destinations!