Mr. Jenkins Basement

6.1 Overall
Room Quality
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Mr. Jenkins Basement was the second of two rooms we reviewed at Nut House Escape Rooms in Rochester, NY. The staff were noticeably shy and uncomfortable at first, but once we got chatting and learned more about their company we could tell they were easy to get along with. The Nut House lobby is spacious, well designed, and has lots of seating. There’s a lack of refreshments and entertainment options to keep you busy while you wait, so if you plan to arrive early be sure to bring a good book or a willingness to talk with the staff. Our experience was positive playing through Cabin in the Woods, so we approached this second room searching for little things that would set it apart. And right from the start we noticed the transition from the briefing room to the escape room was slightly better. Why so? Blindfolds! We’ve always been curious why something so simple isn’t more commonly used in the industry given the advantages to the immersive experience for the players. In any event, it was a good start thanks to the audio track used in the introduction and the blindfolds to keep us guessing at what was coming next…

The room quality was a bit more of a mixed bag. The room had noticeable misaligned, screwed-in, drywall panels creating a couple large gaps in the wall where outside light and sound entered into the room. This, alongside some cheap plastic props, took away from the room’s other strengths. On the plus side, several other props, the tech used, and even the creative plumbing impressed us. In the end it averaged out to be a fairly standard room quality so we really can’t complain nor rave too much.

The immersion somewhat followed in line with the room quality. From the beginning we felt immersed into the room because of the transitional use of the blindfolds and audio track. As the experience went on we felt gradually more disconnected however. The slight flaws in room quality and puzzle design also prevented us from fully engaging in the room’s story and being in the moment. But again, it was never so bad that we didn’t enjoy certain aspects of the room’s ability to make you feel trapped and hopeless (we mean that in a good way)! There was a moment in time our team felt reenergized in our interest of what was happening because of something fun we revealed, but it didn’t happen until later in the game, so we were left hoping it would’ve happened sooner. Again, our immersive experience had a blend of ups and downs which created a fairly average overall experience.

The puzzles created more debate amongst us. Some of our members felt the creative use of tech was enough to make the puzzle sequence really enjoyable and memorable. Others felt there were one or two puzzles that involved leaps in logic, requiring too much explanation in order to be considered intuitive. Both of these observations are accurate, and it may just boil down to which puzzles you end up interacting with more. There’s a decent amount and variety of puzzles in this room. Aside from a clever beginning, there aren’t any teambuilding tasks or puzzles, but some of the puzzles you’ll encounter are inclusive. What holds back the experience from being above average is how some puzzles lacked direction and being the stubborn bunch we are, we waited until we got frustrated before asking for a hint. One thing we that would also help this experience is a more thematic and immersive hint system. As it is now, each time a hint is requested you’ll end up having a conversation through a speaker taking you out of the moment.

Leading us ultimately to the amount of fun we had… Most of us felt the room starts off strong but gradually becomes more of a struggle to feel engaged and focused on the tasks at hand. There’s so many contingencies and questions affecting each player’s impression of this room: Which part of the room did we interact with more? Which puzzles did we interact with? Did we manage to avoid relying on the hint system?… etc, etc, etc. Because of this, we wouldn’t recommend this room for experienced enthusiasts, but we do think Mr. Jenkins Basement is a good choice for those who haven’t played too many escape rooms, or any at all. This room will allow you to enjoy what it does well which is making you feel despaired and trapped (again, that’s a good thing here). The crew at Nuthouse Escapes are somewhat new to the industry and definitely won’t stop improving as they go along. There’s a good chance they’ve already made some minor changes allowing for an improved experience. For that reason, we’d suggest giving them a shot with your friends or family who haven’t done an escape room yet. One thing to keep in mind is you don’t want a group size of more than six people; other than that, go check them out and enjoy. Who knows? Maybe you’ll discover you’re not alone in your addiction after all…

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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