RATING: 3 Keys RESULT: Win REMAINING: 9:00
Though the plot and visuals were unfulfilling at best, Black Out delivers a killer experience that no other venue in Charlotte offers.
Stop a serial killer! The city of Charlotte is in fear after a string of unsolved murder cases. There is suspicion that a manipulative serial killer resides in South End. In this psychological thriller, you and your team must break into his residence and discover his next victim…before he returns.
I must start off by saying that the folks over there at Black Out really go out of their way to create the best guest experience possible given what they have to work with. We had just played a less than stellar game at another Charlotte venue and it left us wanting more so we quickly got online to see what the other options were. Black Out was less than ten short minutes away, but the last open game time was beginning in less than five. I immediately got on the phone and explained our situation and before I could finish asking they told us to come on over, they would block out the slot for our group. From a customer service point of view, this was a great move on their part considering it was the last slot of the night and was already getting very late. But after all, we are in South End and if you are familiar at all with Charlotte, you know this millennial hotbed isn’t sleeping anytime soon.
We arrived shortly thereafter, walked upstairs, and into a cozy space with a few chairs and sofas, music playing in the background…a very chill vibe. The owner, DC, dressed in her undercover agent garb, quickly greeted us and then got us going with some simple waivers before we began our adventure. When it was time for the game to begin, we were introduced to our “mission operative”, who reminded us of a bouncer you might see outside a South Beach nightclub…we could tell this guy meant business. He led us into a small room wherein we quickly devised a team name and were handed a briefcase, which included a dossier, some two-way radios, and a small flashlight. Once we got our mission briefing, everyone was blindfolded and led into the secret hideout that the South End Psycho was using to torture and kill his victims. Just as a side note: the blindfolding was done mainly in part to keep you in the experience since we had to walk back through the lobby area to get to the game room, but it was effective. Although from a story perspective, we might say that we were blindfolded to keep us “in the dark” in the event we were caught and questioned.
As was stated earlier, the scenic design in this game left so much more to be desired. The venue is called Black Out for a reason. For the entirety of the game, we played in a dark, candlelit room that was probably a little over a hundred square feet.
There were some obvious windows in this former office space that were covered with black drapes/plastic. There was some very minimal décor, but rightly so, as this is a psychotic killer’s hideout.
What really killed it for me (get it?) was the poor use of bloodstains and the cheesy props you might find at a Party City. I understand budgets aren’t ever unlimited, but I think a little more effort here would have gone a long way. With that said, the buildup with the costumes and the characters before entering the room really overshadowed the lack of scenic design.
The gameplay itself, while it had some of the more typical types of puzzles we had seen before, wasn’t bad and honestly fit with the story of this deranged killer. There was quite a bit of search and discover as well as some color association-type puzzles hidden on several props around the room.
The use of the 2-way radios really worked well here, as we were “agents” communicating directly with our “mission operative”. Normally with 2-ways, it can be very hard to understand the person on the other end due to interference and distance, but since their venue is so compact it works to their advantage.
Your time left in the game, shown on a digital clock, is represented by how far away the serial killer is from the hideout (i.e. when you begin, he is roughly one hour away, and you are given story-based updates throughout the game as to his whereabouts.)
As stated earlier, your mission is to find out who his next victim is and get that information to your mission operative before time is up and the killer finds you in his hideout. We were able to do this with about nine minutes left. What I would have liked to see is a physical puzzle or two that required the entire group’s effort. Many times in this game, a few of us were standing around with nothing to analyze or solve, which leads me to believe that maybe this room is better for four or five players, not seven as we had.
I would definitely recommend Black Out to both experienced players and those new to escaping. For me personally, I think this was the eight game I had played so needless to say I had seen both good and bad up to this point, and much more so in hindsight as I write this review.
To reiterate, what I liked about it most is probably the fact that you can tell the owners are really passionate about what they are doing here and really take that to the next level with their superior customer service and the fact that they are literally in character while on the clock.
After the game, not unlike other venues, is the opportunity to take a group photo (sorry I don’t have one to show here) complete with costumes and props to round out the Black Out experience. Go book a game today and tell DC and Adam that we sent you!
Venue: Black Out
Location: Charlotte, North Carolina
Number of Games: 3
GAME SPECIFIC INFORMATION:
Duration: 60 minutes
Capacity: 6 people
Group Type: Public / You may be paired with strangers.
Cost: $28 per person weekdays / $30 per person weekends