RATING: 3 Keys RESULT: Win REMAINING: 8:56
A very average jail cell hides an incredibly personalized puzzle moment we won’t soon forget.
We have been arrested for attempting to steal a national treasure. Because of the high profile nature of the crime, it is likely we’ll receive a lengthy jail sentence. Deputy Warden Jackson has left the area, leaving us with an opportunity to escape. Not only must we break out of jail, but also crack into the computer system to erase our arrest records, find and take the evidence and get out before he returns.
It’s no secret that we’re a bit tired of the rather overdone trope of “escape the jail” – prominently listed among our Four Unforgivable Themes™. That being said, we always stress that just because a theme is cliché needn’t immediately disqualify the experience from being enjoyable.
Escape Countdown does something we love in Jail Break – by having a very personalized puzzle that literally makes us part of the story. With our mug shots taken prior to entering, those arrest records we need to erase from the warden’s computer bear our own actual pictures. It’s an incredibly cool way to engage every single player in a very personal, intimate way.
In truth, scenic more than anything is what sees Jail Break land at a 3 Key score rather than the 4 many of Escape Countdown’s other offerings achieved. We don’t expect elaborate decor when we walk into a prison-themed game, but Jail Break felt especially modest.
In a sense it was a matter of the bare minimum one could include to have a space read “jail,” nothing more, nothing less.
The subsequent space that found us in Warden Jackon’s private office was equally minimal, without the clutter and sense of occupation a “lived-in” space would have in real life.
Jail Break, from start to finish, flowed smoothly thanks to intuitive puzzles. Escaping our cell came rather quickly, with the majority of this game’s experience focused on getting into the Warden’s office and hacking his computer system.
Without a doubt the most memorable moment came when we found our own mug shots saved into his system amid other criminals. Deleting them – and thus deleting our criminal records felt rewarding on a level few jail games have achieved before it.
We did have a bit of a speedbump with the final puzzle – or, should I say, the final solution. We had no trouble at all solving the puzzle – though once we did we weren’t entirely sure what the outcome was until we were guided toward the exit door.
Walking in, we expected Jail Break to likely not be our favorite game at the venue, and as such we were not at all disappointed. It certainly had some quality game play moments, capped out with its highly personalized finale payoff that worked well from both a game and narrative perspective.
And while that was certainly a pleasant surprise, we are inherently drawn to more unique experiences we haven’t seen many times already elsewhere. Games like Mad Hatter and An Evening in Paris really catch our attention for not only doing something unique but doing it well. But, we also recognize that to the less experienced players, there is a certain appeal to the Jail Break scenario, and as such without question understand its inclusion into their line up.
Escape Countdown provides a much higher than average guest experience that makes this venue easy to recommend to our readers. Regardless of which game you choose, you’re destined to have an enjoyable visit.
Venue: Escape Countdown
Location: Tampa, Florida
Number of Games: 5
GAME SPECIFIC INFORMATION:
Duration: 60 minutes
Capacity: 8 people
Group Type: Public / You may be paired with strangers.
Cost: $29.99 per person