Outbreak: Find the Cure

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Mastermind Escape Games is located in south Johnson County, right off of 69 Highway and 151st Street. They’ve set up shop in the bottom floor of a We Buy Gold store, which makes it a bit tricky to find. Signage is limited to the doors and window, so trust your GPS and be on the lookout for the “We Buy Gold” sign! Once you’ve found it, head in the building and down the stairs.

The lobby of Mastermind Escape Games is very spacious and cleverly decorated. Visitors will have the standard lobby chess set and hands-on puzzles to entertain them, but the highlight of the room is the Wall of Locks that you solve in succession. You start on the left and work your way down the wall to the final box to unlock. It’s a refreshing way to get your practice in before the real work begins!

Our Game Master was professional, friendly and welcoming. We shared the lobby with a large group and the single employee handled each group with full control and organization. He took us to our room, and we were greeted with a bright, open science lab surrounded by colorful flasks, beakers and test tubes. Every part of the room was on theme and nothing seemed out of place.

One new aspect we found with Mastermind was the innovative clue system. Instead of our Game Master giving us clues when requested, we were given an iPad with several icons, each correlated to a particular puzzle. Each icon gives you the option of an Easy Clue (pretty much telling you exactly how to solve it) or a Hard Clue (a bit more cryptic but helpful hint to point you in the right direction). You are given 100 points to spend, with Hard Clues costing 10 points each and Easy Clues costing 20. While we were thoroughly intrigued by this new format, we did see some drawbacks. The first was when entering the final code to exit the room, we had to pause our excitement and input the same code in the iPad to stop the clock. This took down our “We Escaped!” thrill a notch from our having to stop the clock ourselves. Also, as the hyper-competitive group we are, we would have liked to see some incentive for not using our points. It doesn’t seem to matter if you escape the room with 90 points or with none. We can take pride in our own scores, but it would be beneficial to track that balance when recording records. All that aside, we truly appreciated the innovation and ease of the clue system.

As the Escape begins, our lab door closes and immediately our video informs us that a virus has been accidently released, and we must find the cure and escape the lab! Unfortunately, that was the only really mission-oriented aspect of the room, so it didn’t create enough of a sense of urgency and panic. Our main goal wasn’t to “find the cure”, but simply to find the final code and escape. A few atmospheric changes would be helpful to remind players of the danger and intrigue behind the theme. After the initial video, our group quickly forgot our “mission” and focused mainly on puzzle solving.

Aside from that, the puzzles were thematic, challenging and utilized a wide variety of skills. Your team will need math, logic, problem solving and critical thinking. Our experienced team is well aware of our strengths (and weaknesses), and we love rooms where everyone’s skill is utilized. There were some high tech locks that we had not seen before, so a quick lock tutorial at the start may have been beneficial but we figured it out in the end. While most of the puzzles were right on with the science/lab scenario, there were a few that were a little out of place and random (I call these “puzzles for puzzles’ sake”), but these were few and far between.

All in all our team had a great time in Outbreak. There weren’t any big “wow” moments like other rooms at Mastermind but the variety and challenge of the puzzles were enough to keep us motivated. We wouldn’t recommend this room for a group’s very first escape room (there are rooms with lower difficulty at Mastermind), but if you want a well-constructed challenge to test your whole team, add Outbreak: Find the Cure to your list. It is a great room for 4 – 6 intermediate or experienced Escape Room enthusiasts.

Visit Mastermind! Drinks are for Winners!

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