RATING: 6 Keys RESULT: Win REMAINING: +7:00
Teddy Roosevelt achieves the impossible by proving a sequel can be actually even better than the original.
The Roosevelt Room starts where The Great Houdini Escape Room left off and answers this critical question: Why?
The Houdini Room is a challenge to the cunning, courage, and creativity of eight of the greatest innovators of all time – Thomas Edison, Alexander Graham Bell, Henry Ford, Charlie Chaplin, John Philip Sousa, William “Buffalo Bill” Cody, Helen Keller, and Luther Burbank. But WHY did Houdini build such a novel attraction and why did he pick the innovators that he did?
The Roosevelt Room reveals the greater purpose and takes the experience to the next level. Teddy Roosevelt, the exceedingly popular former President in 1915, was behind it all. But why? You’ll have to play to find out!
Palace Games again embraces their historic location to engage guests into a bygone era. In a way we’ve seen few other venues achieve, they successfully link their second game to their incredibly popular original, The Great Houdini Escape Room – playing out in the guise of a sequel fit for the silver screen.
The Roosevelt Room perfectly builds upon the story woven in The Houdini Room, continuing the compelling trend with yet another “Could this maybe be true?” tale. As it turns out, there was no coincidence to the eight brilliant inventors Houdini gathered together, nor did he do it on his own. Behind it all was Teddy Roosevelt, the inspiration and motivation for Houdini’s tests of skill.
Here in the sequel, we learn just what purpose Roosevelt needed those brilliant minds gathered, and the impact it had on our nation – offering a satisfying narrative payoff to an already stellar experience. Importantly, it should also be noted that although this game is the sequel, it and The Great Houdini Escape Room can easily be played in either order and still be enjoyed to the same level.
The Roosevelt Room starts off in a large open parlor with turn of the century decor and furnishings that instantly evokes Teddy Roosevelt’s adventurous spirit. This giant open room, anchored by an immense antique fireplace that’s stood since the building’s construction more than 100 years ago feels easily large enough to house an entire game, and as such, that was exactly my expectation upon first stepping foot within.
Admittedly, I was secretly a bit disappointed that The Roosevelt Room “would turn out to be” a single room game – but hey, if it had to be so, at least it’s confined within a super cool space overflowing with history. And then to my surprise, we found the second room I had no idea existed. Then we found the third room. Then we found the fourth room – and every one of them as ornately detailed as the first.
The truth is I ultimately lost count how many different rooms this game spanned – and all of them fairly large. At the end of the day, The Roosevelt room occupies a massive footprint that when joined together creates one of the most impressive escape game layouts we’ve ever seen.
Clever transitions from hidden walls to tunnels to even one a bit more physical that we don’t want to spoil really adds magic to this ground-breaking experience, truly setting the bar for the pure scale and grandeur that an escape game can achieve.
The Roosevelt Room has an impressive collection of milestone based puzzles – an important fact in such a massive game so as to give clear indication that progress is being made. It’s one of the only games designed to last a full 90 minutes, and the truth is you’ll be hard-pressed to finish it in that amount of time just the same.
Puzzles in The Roosevelt Room absolutely demand teamwork. In fact several of them require multiple sets of hands in order to simultaneously trigger sensors in properly deciphered order. It literally cannot be achieved by a party of two alone.
Beyond those sensor puzzles that demand it, the simple fact is the sheer number of puzzles the Roosevelt Room packs into its many hidden rooms would be more than a bit daunting for smaller groups. This is the rarest of occasions where a game actually does manage to have enough to keep everyone busy, regardless of how large your group may be.
Every single step from start to finish was completely logical. Our steady flow thanks to its intuitive design still hit several roadblocks due to some truly challenging puzzles – but unlike other games, those roadblocks felt entirely satisfying to our progress. Even more importantly, each one ended with an epic “ah ha!” moment that all games strive for but frankly few ever achieve.
Puzzles range from brain teasers to physical steps and every combination in between creating a world that is guaranteed to satisfy every style of player and every level of experience from novice to expert. And of this game’s full hour and a half of puzzles, each one feels stand-alone and unique, making each step an entirely new discovery.
The Roosevelt Room is an attraction both smart and fun, resulting in an overall experience that simply and instantly becomes a benchmark for the escape game genre as a whole.
What can I say about The Roosevelt Room? No, honestly, I’m not entirely sure. Even months later my brain is still attempting to process the grandeur and scale this game manages to achieve, but one thing is certain – it’s simply one of the best escape rooms I’ll likely ever see.
We experienced The Roosevelt Room as a team of two – which is quite literally impossible given the design of the game. The Palace Games staff went much more than above and beyond the call of duty to ensure we were able to receive the complete experience, by literally popping into the room whenever we reached a puzzle that required more than four hands. At the start, one or two of them would lend their assistance – but towards the end, as the puzzles got larger and more complex, we found ourselves combined with literally their entire staff.
In a sense, that blew me away more than the game experience itself – which, make no mistake – absolutely blew me away all on its own. I’ve been fortunate enough to travel all over the world and see a lot of really cool things – but in all of those experiences it’s inherently rare to find a staff of employees so kind, so enthusiastic and so accommodating that they’d literally make their own days of work more complicated by finding the time to help out our team, solely so they could ensure we’d be able to see their product as it was designed to be seen.
On another hand, it’s not entirely surprising that they’d share this level of dedication; Palace Games is the very definition of a family run business – with literally every member of their family involved in the day to day operations. It’s clear they’re proud of their product, and given its quality, they absolutely should be.
The team at Palace Games takes things a step further than most venues and even provides a unique and fascinating additional service well after your 90 minutes within the walls of The Roosevelt Room has completed. Each team is directly emailed a detailed report of their gameplay, breaking down the time it took their group to complete each and every puzzle within the game, reach specific milestones, and even goes so far as to show how these times compare to other groups that have completed the room.
But there’s one bit of guest service that perhaps blew me away more than all others. I’ve been very clear that The Roosevelt Room’s sheer scope may be too much for average players to achieve in the allotted 90 minutes – and to the more competitive of you reading, that may seem like a make-or-break aspect for a potential visit. Well, Palace Games has got you covered! Groups are always invited to continue play beyond their allotted time if they wish to finish the game – in fact it’s built into their schedule as an absolutely free service to all guests.
So how do I sum up Palace Games? Incredible games. Incredible staff. Incredible experience.
Venue: Palace Games
Location: San Francisco, CA
Number of Games: 3
GAME SPECIFIC INFORMATION:
Duration: 90 minutes
Capacity: 10 people
Group Type: Private / You will not be paired with strangers.
Cost: $400 per team
We thank Palace Games for inviting us to review this game. Although complimentary admission was generously provided, that in no way impacts the opinion included within this review.