Escape Hour is one of my favorite escape room companies, and their Gig Harbor location is incredibly impressive. The hospitality, creativity, immersiveness, cleanliness, and excellence are up to Disney World standards. Their storylines are clear and creative. Their puzzles are intuitive and well-connected to the story, and the room designs are meticulously crafted to immerse players in the world they are created to portray.
Their spacious lobbies are impressively designed to introduce players to the story before the room begins. In the lobbies, there's a store with a lot of branded merchandise, a clean restroom, and a nice backdrop for post-room photos. The hosts obviously love their jobs. They are proud of their company, and they are excited for people to get the opportunity to experience their rooms.
Escape Hour has one of the best escape room websites I've ever seen with beautiful artwork, intuitive navigation, and a lot of information about each room. They are very active on social media, and they do a great job of staying connected to their fans.
Their puzzles and supplies work every time, and hint giving is clear and generous. They do use a lot of generation one locks, but their generation two locks are strategically placed to add immersion where the generation one locks remove it. Their rooms are too dark for my taste, but they do provide flashlights/torches.
The hosts who tell you the story of the room aren't incredibly dynamic, but the rooms themselves do a good job of telling the story. The rooms have exciting climactic endings, and the host takes time to celebrate with you when you succeed. In fact, they take it one step farther and ask, "what was your favorite puzzle?" I love that! The game master actually takes time to talk through the room with you. They'll even gave us some behind the scenes information when we asked.
Curse of the Mayan Ruins
Mike’s Difficulty Rating: 2 (out of 5)
Their Difficulty Rating: Unlisted
The Curse of the Mayan Ruins is one of the best rooms I've ever played, largely because I love Indiana Jones! There's no one thing that makes the room so good, but it's just a lot of fun. It's the whole package. They did everything right. The physical challenge was actually a challenge, and the design is excellent.
Everything, from the walls to the floor, was meticulously designed and integrated into the story. There is a great overlap between puzzle elements and design elements. The props and design elements are only props and design elements until you realize that they are actually puzzle elements. They hit a perfect balance between puzzle room and immersive experience. The immersive story compliments the puzzles well, but they don't take away from the puzzles. The puzzles and theme are just a lot of fun.
I really like doing rooms with only two or three people, and this room is great for a small group. There are multiple nonlinear elements that allow multiple players to simultaneously work on a puzzle, but it creates good bottlenecks that bring players together at transitional moments.
I rarely love rooms with this many generation one locks, but they were able to create generation one puzzles that actually fit the theme. The room had one of the most challenging logic puzzles I've done in a room, but it was doable. When you complete it, you have a great feeling of accomplishment and pride.
The Cabin Trilogy: Episode 1
Mike’s Difficulty Rating: 3 (out of 5)
Their Difficulty Rating: Unlisted
The Cabin Trilogy is without a doubt the scariest room I've ever played, but amazingly, they have a non-scary version. If you call ahead, they can offer you the same room without the scary elements. I even got chills while they were introducing the story. Before you enter the room, you stand in a dark hallway outside the room where they tell you the story. This allows your eyes to adjust to the darkness of the room, and it provides a spooky element before the clock even starts. The room has a lot of generation one locks and simple generation one puzzles, but it's so scary that it's hard to focus on the puzzles. We spent a lot of time running from area to area, but we were scared to go into a new area, because we didn't know what would be in there.
I don't want to say much about this room because the element of surprise is so important to its design, but I will say that the room is more linear room than many rooms that I play. That linearity aids the immersiveness and scariness of the room, and it allows players to experience all of the puzzles. That's one of the reasons that I think this room is a great room for a small group. Yes a larger group would have a lot of fun doing this room, but I actually think that a smaller group would have more fun in this room.
I love the hint mechanism of this room. You don't have to carry a walkie-talkie or run to a stationary hint requesting device. I won't give a lot of details, but the hints are spooky, easily accessible, and helpful.
Because there are some small areas, some dexterity is helpful in this room, and it's important for players to pay close attention to all the details in the room. The scary distractions will cause you to think that details are only there to add to the design, but like the other great rooms at Escape Hour, everything in the room has a purpose.
Because the story of this room is the first episode in a trilogy, I was nervous that the room would have a cliffhanger ending, but that did not happen. The ending was exciting, and the game master came into the room to celebrate our success and actually debrief the experience.