Grim Stacks

8.2 Overall
Room Quality
Puzzle Design
Fun Factor
Users (0 votes) 0

Grim Stacks

  • Played July 2019
  • Denver, CO

  • 60 minutes
  • 2-6 players
  • $29 (all rooms are private)
  • not recommended for children due to the complexity and difficulty of the room

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Denver Escape Room is one of eight locations of The Puzzle Effect company (currently all in the Western US). While this is the first Puzzle Effect room we’ve played, ERA has visited other multi-location companies across the country. From those visits we’ve found that shared room designs generally lead to better quality, better flow and a better overall experience. Denver Escape Room fits this description quite well!

Northglenn Colorado is about halfway between Downtown Denver and Downtown Boulder—the drive is easy from both starting points. We used GPS and instructions posted on the Denver Escape Room website and had little trouble finding the ample parking lot. There is helpful signage when you reach the office park in case you are unsure if you’re in the right place. Denver Escape Room was one of the first escape room companies to open in Colorado and they’ve continued to increase their floor space to make way for more games. They currently house seven different scenarios, which means there is something for everyone and plenty of opportunity to go back! The lobby area is large, clean, and comfortable with some merchandise for sale (including some awesome play-at-home escape games) and large posters teasing the different themes. We noticed some physical puzzles to warm up your brain while you wait for others to arrive. This pre-room experience is buttoned-up example of what you’ll find in many escape companies. Similarly, the rules speech and scenario presentation were standard. We were intrigued by the Grim Stacks backstory and were eager to see if the room would live up to our building expectations.

It’s tough to design a transition from a lobby into a room without losing immersive momentum. In this experience, when the door closed we felt like we’d been transported to a new location. The set design was impressive and was immediately appreciated by everyone on our team. Most of the furniture and props were high quality and matched our expectations of a mysterious bookshop. We could have done without the laminated messages and we had trouble seeing a reveal towards the end of the game, but most of our other critiques were minor and the Denver Escape Room team was already planning to upgrade them. Outside of the incredibly intricate and expensive room designs we’ve seen on occasion in other companies across North America, Grim Stack’s design is top notch.

We also felt positively about the puzzles. They were strategic, well-organized, and ranged in difficulty from moderate to very difficult. Most of the puzzles required many steps to solve, but somehow Denver Escape Room avoided making them tedious. That said, we would have liked if the solutions and reveals were more “magical” to fit in with the theme. Many companies have fallen into the trap of over-using electronic locks to make their rooms seem more modern. In Grim Stacks we would have liked more of them (or more vintage locks) and fewer combo locks. This didn’t affect the quality of the puzzles, but the solution can often be as fun as figuring out the clues. The room was fairly linear and didn’t require a lot of teamwork or a lot of scavenging — a larger team would just make some of the answers come faster. We’d recommend 3-5 people depending on your level of experience and we’d probably suggest another Denver Escape Room for brand new escapers.

ERA consistently says that immersion is the hardest of our scoring categories to do well. Even the most complex rooms of the highest quality miss the mark getting players to think they are somewhere else… not to mention the difficulty of progressing the story. Grim Stacks was a fantastic immersive experience. Sure, we didn’t like all of the standard locks and we heard some noise from another room, but we thoroughly enjoyed that the plot kept up with the flow of the puzzles. The design of the first area did a great job transitioning from the pre-room into the gameplay. There were a bunch of small details that kept us in the world of a mystical bookshop. We really appreciated that the time clock was integrated into the room design and that many of the puzzle elements made sense in the setting rather than being placed in an awkward location. Grim Stacks proves that immersion doesn’t require a lot of money; it’s more about planning and understanding the flow of the experience.

One way we judge overall fun is to consider if we would want to play another room at the same location. The ending of Grim Stacks was a bit anti-climactic for us, but we were all very eager to stay and see what else Denver Escape Room had to offer. There were even a couple of “loved it” remarks from our team. We enjoyed the challenge. We enjoyed the set. And, we enjoyed the immersive experience. This all combined for a great time and a high recommendation.

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