The Vampire’s Tomb

6.2 Overall
Room Quality
Puzzle Design
Fun Factor
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The Vampire's Tomb

  • Played October 2019
  • Buffalo, NY

  • 60 minutes
  • 4-8 players
  • $100 for the room

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We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again… a trip to Buffalo is never complete without a visit to our good friends at Lock & Key Escapes. No matter how many times we’ve gone to visit them, there’s always a new room waiting which speaks to the creativity and production madness that we’ve come to know from the owners and designers of their rooms. Up to bat this time was The Vampire’s Tomb, which took the place of the former House Of Secrets room. Coincidentally, this was our favourite rooms from Lock & Key, so Dracula’s Lair already had its work cut out for it, if it wanted to impress us as much. But again, we’re getting ahead of ourselves. Read on to learn more…

Due to building issues at their new location, Lock & Key returned to operating out of just its original building instead of the split location it had expanded into. The signage is a bit hard to notice at first, and you will need to travel down a short alleyway to get to it, but aside from that it’s fairly easy to find. Roadside parking is available. Once you enter the building, you’ll walk down a small flight of stairs, then a small hallway. For some this may not be an issue, whereas others may need to inquire if there are options for those with mobility issues. There’s a cozy lounge area with some visual distractions, couches, and warm café style lighting while you wait for your room and interact with the staff. The folks at Lock & Key are friendly, and each time we’ve visited we’ve found ourselves more and more impressed with their hospitality. The room introduction is delivered in a first generation style of having it verbally explained, which wouldn’t be noteworthy if it weren’t for it being less commonly used within the industry nowadays. While it may not be the flashiest of pre-room experiences, we can truly say that Lock & Key are among the best at somehow bringing it all together with a smaller budget, and they manage to make their guests feel at home…

The room quality is somewhat in line with what we previously experienced within House Of Secret (a good news, rough news sort of divide). The beginning of Vampire’s Tomb is fantastic! The study which serves as your prison feels as close to a study as one could want. The props, furniture, and everything inside is well made, sturdy, and for the most part, visually impressive. Without giving too much away, the design quality drawback comes a bit later on in the game when unfortunately there’s some physical space issues that prevent the continuation of what starts as a great design. They’ve cleverly managed to include and ‘’build around’’ these limitations by incorporating them thematically, but you’ll still notice them. Again, it doesn’t make the beginning of the game any less impressive, it’s just when considering the whole space used it somewhat balances out, and will probably have most people favouring the design work of the beginning…

The room’s immersive aspect is where we found the most diversity in our opinions (as usual). Some of us enjoyed the sights and sounds of the first room so much it left a lasting impression throughout the whole game and kept us feeling engaged. There’s also a few clever prop and puzzle integration aspects that kept some of us feeling connected to what was happening. At the same time, others felt the barren room design in other parts of the game, alongside the lack of story progression within the game itself gave them a feeling of just going through the motions. One thing we ALL agreed on however was this room has the most memorable soundtrack we’ve ever experienced! At one point a song was played within the room which had the perfect combination of being catchy, odd, and simple enough for it to be repeated and drilled into our heads. For the rest of the day we couldn’t stop singing it, and we even found ourselves having it playing in our heads over and over even when we weren’t singing it. Kudos to you Lock & Key team! You’ve replaced ‘’Baby Shark’’ with a new cult classic the Toronto ERA team will sing at all future get-togethers.

This leads us to what we felt was the room’s best strength… the puzzles. The motto here is quality over quantity. There weren’t a lot of puzzles, but the variety of types, the creativity used, and the integration into the game were all well done. Things that could’ve been spruced up a bit would’ve included adding some team building puzzles (although the puzzles were generally inclusive), and perhaps a couple more puzzles just to ensure all people get involved in a task (there were a couple times our team of four had one person without anything to do). There was one task-puzzle only requiring one person to complete which was a shame because it was probably the highlight. Something that could be improved upon here is the hint system. To keep costs low and things simple the Lock & Key staff have opted to go with slips of paper under the door when you’re stuck, and although their timing is really good, we’re hoping they can find a more fun and creative way to implement hints so that the ‘’outside world’’ doesn’t interact with what’s going on inside the room. Nonetheless, the puzzles were still well designed, nicely integrated, presented a good level of challenge, and from our perspective, were something we appreciated.

And what does all this mean in the end? Did we like Vampire’s Tomb? Would we recommend it, and if so, to whom? Well… yes most people will certainly enjoy this escape room. From the hypnotic sound track, to the well designed first room, to the one cool task later performed, there was enough in Vampire’s Tomb for us to enjoy. Some may not feel this to be the case if they picked apart individual aspects of this game, but this is one of those cases where the sum is greater that the collection of individual parts. It’s a well balanced game for 3-5 people (depending on your escape room experience level and preferred amount of interaction with the puzzles). It’s safe to say we have a slight bias towards those rooms that manage to put together a good experience with a lower budget. When we’re talking to people within the escape room industry we often use Lock & Key as an example of a company that may not have the resources to wow people with fancy hi-tech things, but they usually manage to put together a balanced room that satisfies enough to get your money’s worth. Would we say it’s a ‘’must see’’ for enthusiasts? Well no, we wouldn’t go that far, BUT if you’ve got a mixed group of friends, family or co-workers, and you don’t need to have the latest tech or a massive sized facility, then we truly believe Vampire’s Tomb is a good choice.

We want to hear your thoughts! Be sure to comment in the section below or send us a message via ERA’s email, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, or Twitter… As always, happy escaping!

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