- Played November 2018
- Canton, OH
- 60 minutes
- 4-10 players
- $25/weekdays, $20/weekends
- What People Say
Canton, Ohio is an interesting city. Traditionally most small cities in North America have been established as commuter midpoints between major cities, or they’re located near natural resources, but neither of these apply to Canton. In fact the city is oddly located on the outskirts of Akron, Ohio (a slightly larger small city), and off the beaten path as a waypoint between the two nearest major cities, Pittsburgh and Cleveland. As you can guess, it didn’t take much to motivate the ERA team to go check out this odd, sleepy eyed city and see what escape rooms are available. This lead us to Escape Rooms at the Nest, headed by a couple of owners and designers new to the industry.
Escape Room at the Nest’s location definitely qualifies as unique. They’re partnered with and located in the same building as The Canton Brewing Company, a small local pub that offers a good selection of draft beers and pub food. The location is easy to find, and paid parking can be found in nearby parking lots, or on city streets when available. Be mindful the signage is more visible for the pub than it is for the escape room, so keep your eyes open for The Canton Brewing Company. Once you know that, it’s easy to find. We were warmly greeted in the lobby of the pub and taken upstairs to their escape rooms via an elevator. Once upstairs we were given a verbal introduction to their Speakeasy room which is unfortunate because far too many companies have a Speakeasy room nowadays. Verbal introductions are also becoming quickly outdated with companies implementing more entertaining pre-room introductions like high quality videos and/or dramatic presentations… Having said this, our game master did a pretty good job of putting himself into the story which captured our interest more than just reciting from a clipboard. There were also some impressive hand drawn murals advertising The Canton Brewing Company outside of the rooms, which was nice to see. Overall the pre-room experience is a bit lower than what you’d find at most companies, but the option of having a pint, some food, and an escape room all in the same place is nice.
Speakeasy’s room quality was probably the weakest of the areas we looked at, but let’s start with some of the positives. The room design was decent. The props and furniture weren’t super high quality but they were solid enough to handle some wear and tear. Another impressive mural on one of the inside walls also demonstrated some detailed work on aesthetics. Where Speakeasy’s room quality is hurt is mostly found in its first generation design weaknesses. Each of Escape at the Nest’s rooms are small and connected by non-soundproofed walls. Due to fire code restrictions the ceilings are open allowing for even more sound leakage and visual breaks in immersion. Numerous screws, seams, and cracks were visible in the walls and frames which further added to some of the blemishes we noticed… definitely not the worst we’ve seen, but enthusiasts should set their expectations accordingly.
Our team felt the immersion of Speakeasy was a step up from the room quality, but still could’ve used a bit more attention. We were fortunate to be the only group playing at the time, but we imagine it would be much harder to concentrate once several groups are in each escape room with the level of noise. Some further work decorating the walls, and providing a false mock ceiling would’ve also helped greatly (we’re told this is in the works so it may already be implemented). There was good use of a soundtrack and some of the props were cleverly used in ways we haven’t seen before. A common critique of many escape rooms is the need to develop the story within the room, and Speakeasy could benefit from this upgrade also. Overall the pros and cons of immersion come up just a bit short of most escape rooms, but there’s enough especially for newer players to still enjoy the atmosphere so long as there isn’t too much noise coming from other rooms.
For us the puzzles were the best part of the experience… When you take away the exteriors of everything surrounding, you’re left with a good amount and variety of puzzles. Several were creative, fun, and had just the right amount of challenge. We were also impressed by how the space was used to either conceal or integrate puzzles throughout the room forcing us not to take anything for granted. There were a couple of intentional time wasting puzzles which is a faux pas within the industry, but these could easily be overlooked because the majority of the experience was fun. The final puzzle and hint system could use a bit of tweaking also, but this too will probably be refined as Escape Rooms at the Nest continues to grow with time and experience.
And the most important question of all… did we have fun? You might think with a first generation room, some underwhelming build quality, and moments of broken immersion we probably didn’t… but you’d be wrong. There was something about this room we enjoyed. Whether it’s the clever puzzles, or the fact that we could appreciate the company’s first attempts at an escape room, there’s something about this room that worked for us. We need to add context to this thumbs up however. We wouldn’t recommend this room for groups larger than four, or for groups where build quality and immersion needs to be at industry standards or higher. What Speakeasy provides is a fun night out for a small group of friends who want a puzzle room to go along with a few drinks afterwards. It’s geared towards new players, but some enthusiasts may appreciate some of the simple things it provided like we did. Speakeasy certainly won’t make anyone’s top rated list, but just like in the days of prohibition, sometimes you manage to just get by unscathed.
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