RATING: 4 Keys RESULT: Loss REMAINING: X:XX
Mixing some of the best aspects of a haunt with a great escape room, this experience pulls away from the pack and is going, going, Gone.
You and your friends love exploring abandoned and hopefully haunted houses for fun. “Ghosts aren’t even real,” you exclaim in the car ride to your next destination. Your friends’ laughter swells as you reread the web article that brought you all here…
Many people went missing in the summer of 1986. Gripped with fear, the Harpers stayed inside their home trying to remain safe but despite their effort, tragedy struck. When their little Abigail went missing just days before Christmas, it was too much to bear. Both parents are presumed dead after manhunt turned up nothing” the newspapers reported … Could the little girl haunt those time-faded walls of her childhood home? What really happened here? Where have they all … gone?
One of our personal favorite recipes for the perfect pastime includes the combination of two main ingredients: 1) a great haunt and 2) a great escape room. We found both in Exit Strategy’s newest offering at their South location: Gone. Here we find ourselves headed to explore an abandoned house where the unexplained disappearance of a family still remains unsolved. On top of the mysterious circumstances, it also happens to be the perfect setting for ghosts to thrive. Let’s just hope they are the friendly kind.
This room is a perfect example of story immersion done right. Everything in the beginning, middle, and end are all about propelling the story forward and plunging players deeper into the mystery at hand.
Aesthetically speaking, the first room since this venue released The Ruins was a bit of a step back scenic-wise. But, The Ruins was a next-level room in the theming department – so we’re still in the realm of some pretty good visuals and well-themed decorations.
While we wouldn’t say this experience is scary per se, it certainly nails the spooky aspect. It is chock-full of nice little moments that surprise and delight you, but more in a creative, storytelling way rather than a screaming-in-your-face way.
The lighting, sound and visual effects throughout relate nicely to the tone of the story, especially once players make their way into the house. Before you can start exploring the interior of the house, you’ll get a glimpse of its disappointingly plain exterior. You also get to check out your means of transportation, which is an interesting and unique start to an escape room for sure – something we certainly don’t see every day. Several areas seem to have a slight smokiness for added ambience, and there are some creative uses of special effects that breathe life into the haunted adventure. A few delightful surprises enhance that oh-so-wonderful creep factor and encourage the hairs on the back of the neck to stand up.
Overall, the whole atmosphere and setting are quite satisfying and spooky, but not overbearingly frightening by any means. A certain level of standard special effects are expected in any haunt-themed room, and this experience did not disappoint. But, don’t worry. You don’t need a really strong stomach or a steel backbone to handle anything you encounter, just an appreciation for the cool factor of the supernatural variety.
The puzzle tech and gameplay utilized in this haunted adventure stay completely true to the storyline. A few tweaks could be made regarding the game’s progress cues – those clearly audible or visual events that are an important indicator that the current challenge has been completed. Despite this minor hiccup, this quest moves players along an interesting journey to solve the mystery at hand.
A few of the challenges present a fresh take on some staple tasks of escaping, such as finding a key or uncovering a hidden clue. We are always pleasantly surprised that even after playing so many rooms, we can still encounter something we haven’t seen before. Originality, especially in escape rooms, can really go a long way.
Another task creatively challenges the senses and players’ ability to pay attention to details. This trial, combined with a creepy effect, definitely put a smile on our faces. Closer to the finale, we encountered what was our personal favorite moment of the game: when we found ourselves posing this question: “Should we really do this?” In fact, we asked ourselves this not once, but twice. While the fear of breaking something (props and tech excluded) or self-maiming is rather daunting, we sometimes find that if the answer is “yes” to this question, we could very well could be rewarded.
A little coordination was needed here and there to complete the assignments along the way, but it’s nothing we couldn’t handle and didn’t have fun doing. Teamwork and communication are a constant thread throughout this storyworld, and if you remember that when you play this game, you’ll be high-fiving each other in no time.
Exit Strategy continues to evolve and advance their offerings, and this room was another fine example of how the owners are always striving to raise the bar in the quality and presentation of the player experience.
If the horror genre is not your thing, don’t let that keep you from enjoying an hour of true entertainment. While only those 16 years and older may participate, it doesn’t “creep” far high up on the scare scale overall.
What it does offer is just the right amount of mystery and excitement to keep players enthralled all the way to the end. This is a new room, but don’t wait too long to plan a visit and end up missing the chance to experience an excellent room before it’s gone.
Venue: Exit Strategy
Location: Charlotte, NC
Number of Games: 9
GAME SPECIFIC INFORMATION:
Duration: 60 minutes
Capacity: 2-6 people
Group Type: Public / You may be paired with strangers.
Cost: $25.00 per person