Boat Break

5.8 Overall
Room Quality
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To celebrate Black Friday, some members of our Toronto ERA team decided to set sail for a new destination. This time our adventures took us into Columbus, the heart of Ohio! With each new city we visit we’re curious what we’ll see, what we’ll learn, and what the escape room community is like. Our first stop was Amaze: The Columbus Escape Experience! The name alone caught our attention which is good. Take note this company shouldn’t be confused with the Amaze franchise that originated and expanded from Montreal, Canada however.

As we pulled up there was visible signage from the road, but later discovered their main entrance and parking is at the rear of the building. We entered into a nice open lobby with a tv displaying some fun trivia games, and a full staff with open arms and big smiles. Merchandise was displayed for sale, but there weren’t any refreshments, snacks or many options for seating. A bit of a mixed bag compared to the norm of what you’d find at most places…

The room quality showed signs of it being made by a new designer but with equal signs of promise and potential. Most of the props were high quality, sturdy, and made with wood, rope, and metal. The rooms themselves needed a fair bit more work on their design, and a couple objects worried us with how fragile and/or fidgety they could be. Again, it was a good starting point for their first room, just a tad less developed you’ll see in most escape rooms nowadays…

The immersion of Boat Break was the one part we were most concerned about. Because the room design didn’t have a lot of thematic presence on the floors, walls, and ceiling, we didn’t feel like we really left the ‘outside world’ behind us. Other concerns included wall mounted phones and a tv monitor at eye level which felt out of place and had us constantly worried for that inevitable moment when an ill-intentioned group comes in and decides to just pull it all down, wires included. The story development came exclusively in the beginning, which isn’t uncommon, but we’re hoping as time rolls along, Boat Break will add some story development within the game experience. In fairness, immersive design isn’t easy for new designers, and the staff at Amaze were eager to take some of our suggestions so we know things will be changed and improved before this review even makes it to the ERA website.

The other side of the coin comes with their puzzle design. We were very impressed with the amount, variety, and creativity of the puzzles. Many of them were in theme and context of the room, and for the most part had all of us feeling engaged at all times. The puzzles in Boat Break hit all the right spots of what we like to see, and aside from the absence of flashy tech, story integration, and more team building, we REALLY enjoyed the puzzles. When we walked through the room with the designer/owner afterwards, we kept commenting on how impressive they contextualized the puzzles and how we felt engaged in the puzzles throughout the whole game.

So in the end did we have fun, and would we recommend this room? It depends. If you’re a travelling escape room enthusiast who wanders North America looking for the best rooms that will blow your mind, then no, this isn’t the type of room you’re looking for. However, if you’re relatively new to escape rooms, have some people in your group who are new to escape rooms, or live in the Columbus area and want to see what Amaze is like… then yes, check out Boat Break. The puzzles alone make it fun, and the staff are enjoyable to interact with. We’d recommend a group size of 3-6 players depending on the level of engagement you want. Keep in mind the folks at Amaze are new kids on the block and still just getting their feet wet in the industry, but unlike some new owners and designers who don’t seek to improve their understanding of escape rooms, the team at Amaze impressed us with their desire to learn, improve, and grow at every opportunity. We have no doubt they’ll soon be among the best companies in the region!

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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