By now you have probably heard of escape rooms and the hype surrounding them. I've written about The Escape Game Pigeon Forge (the escape room at The Island) before when I had my first ever escape room experience with Gold Rush. This time we played The Heist, a slightly more challenging narrative involving a priceless painting, a narcissitic curator, and the opportunity to beat a thief at his own game.
About The Heist
The Heist is rated 8/10 on the difficulty scale, and it was noticeably more challenging than Gold Rush, one of their two easiest games. The description on their site reads: "A famous piece of artwork has gone missing, and it is up to your covert team to recover the invaluable masterpiece. If you succeed in your mission you will become national heroes! If you fail, you will be treated as a common criminal by the authorities."The Heist
The Escape Room at The Island
Voted best escape room in Pigeon Forge 2 years in a row, The Escape Game is also TripAdvisor's number one rated "escape room" and "fun & games" attraction in the area - and it's no surprise why. The first time I played with 3 close friends, we all agreed that it was the most fun we'd ever had. I've spoken to a few people that have played other escape rooms, and it seems there are a few very important reasons the escape room at The Island stands out.
What Makes The Escape Game Pigeon Forge So Awesome:
1. 100% Immersion
From the moment we walked into the first room of The Heist, we were immediately willing to drop everything connecting us to the real world and become completely immersed in the narrative presented to us. It is not difficult to get your head in the game when you're surrounded by such purposeful decor amidst the thought provoking setup. The pacing of the game has been expertly planned, and by the climax of the story you will be too excited to think of the outside world.
TIP: Don't be afraid to try and interact with all the objects you see in the room. While much of the decor is there to make you feel enveloped in the storyline, most of it serves a specific purpose. If you're not meant to interact with something, it will be secured or immoveable - but that doesn't mean it's presence is irrelevant.
2. No Misleading Clues
I've heard from many others who have played various escape rooms that they would often run into red herrings (clues meant to mislead or distract) that were very frustrating. They'd find a bunch of symbols scratched into a poster on the wall or a mysterious combination of numbers reocurring in different places, yet nothing would ever come of it. The absence of pointless clues like that is one of the most helpful parts of The Escape Game. Almost everything you come across in these games is relevant to your escape.
TIP: It's especially important to remember this when you watch the video about the game before you start playing the escape room at The Island. They will give you some specific characteristics that seem to reveal themselves more than once in the narrative, and it's another thing that adds to the immersive world-building experience.
3. Exceptional Puzzle Design
I mentioned in my last game review that I grew up on treasure hunts and puzzle-solving games, so it's no surprise that this is my favorite part of The Escape Game. The storylines are brilliant and every single clue is so clever without being overwhelmingly obvious or too difficult for anyone to decipher. You don't have to be a trivia expert or mathematician to figure out how to escape in time, and that's another reason why this game is enjoyable to so many people. It's for everyone.
TIP: Especially in the more difficult games, it can be easy to get distracted by the overwhelming amount of possible clues around you. My advice is to focus on the last thing you figured out and what direction it's taking you. That might seem obvious, but it was the biggest problem my group ran into while playing The Heist. Instead of tying up loose ends, we often began looking for more answers to questions we hadn't even discovered yet, and then forgetting to connect the dots.
The Outcome Of Our Game
We escaped with about 5 minutes to spare! This one was definitely harder than the game we played before, and we had one more person (a total of 5 people) which factored into some communication issues. We still solved all the riddles and did plenty of solid critical thinking, but afterwards we all acknowledged that we were frustrated with each other at times, and there were a few simple clues that we couldn't believe we didn't immediately figure out.
Overall, the team building was so real. We had tons of fun and all recognized it as a bonding experience. I can't wait to play the next one. If you're new to escape rooms, I highly recommend The Escape Game Pigeon Forge located in the middle of all the fun on The Island. As a bonus, I got to speak with one of the assistant managers at the Pigeon Forge location, and I had a few questions about what makes The Escape Game stand out.
Q: In any of the games, are there times when there is more than one way to get to the next big clue (other than people just finding things out of order), or is there a pretty direct chain of events that has to occur? It seems like the writing that goes into these games is incredibly specific.
A: Our games are designed with a lot of thought about how the progression should occur throughout the game. Our guests surprise us often by discovering new ways that these experiences may be completed a number of different fashions, and they may even complete some steps out of order.
Q: I've heard from people who have played other escape rooms that the The Escape Game uses much fewer red herrings (misleading/distracting clues) and pointless objects lying around. Do you think that holds true for all 5 games at The Escape Game Pigeon Forge?
A: Really anything in a game can be considered a distraction, it just depends on how far you are looking into every aspect of the game. Sometimes the decor can be so immersive that some items or objects could be seen as distractions, but there are never dead end challenges at The Escape Game.
Q: You mentioned that the first time you played an escape game that you didn't make it out in time. Why do you think that was?
A: There are multiple factors that can contribute to teams failing to escape. Sometimes teams are unwilling to ask for clues, looking too far into the tiny details and missing what is right in front of them, or not communicating with their teammates. The first time a team plays it usually takes them a bit to realize what they need to be looking for and how each clue leads you to the next.
Q: What's your favorite escape game and why?
We all have our favorite game at The Escape Game, whether it be the first game we played, the first game we escaped, or the game we had so much fun playing that we are still talking about it!