Exit Out – The Asylum
Exit Out Escape Warehouse is located in Scarborough, the eastern part of Toronto. We were itching to try the new entries in the city and Exit Out was one of them. Team Kayphen (our expert puzzlers) joined us on the east end of the city to give these guys try. We had a number of issues to book them, which i’ll get into later on. When we arrived for the game, the GM gave us the spiel and brought us to the Asylum.
Creativity and Design (aka its Fancy level): – Was it inventive ? Did it fit the theme?
Score : 1.0 of 5.0
The Asylum succeeds in doing ‘creepy’ and ‘dirty’ very well. There are environmental factors that work well to sell the story aspects of the room. Then the problems begin.
There were obvious signs of wear and tear and one of these even cut open one of our players (who is normally careful).
The props were hit and miss, but there were quite a few dollar store props. You could also argue that the random design would fit the asylum theme well, but it felt cluttered and forced for the sakes of adding in puzzles.
Bells and Whistles: Was it just lockboxes throughout the Room?
Score: 2.0 of 5.0
The room starts with a video intro which was well-made, but that was the only highlight. There was a particular device in the room which we were encouraged to keep on as part of a puzzle, however it worked against us when trying to search or complete the rest of the room (which eventually lead to our player getting hurt).
Intuitive (aka Frustration Level): Was it solvable? or Did you have to be inside the creators mind to solve it?
Score: 0 of 5.0
This room was frustrating on many levels. The room requires you to make some logic leaps that compound as you get further in the room. There were times we thought we understood concept of the puzzles, however they were directed for another answer. We were told before entering the room that there were potentially multiple paths to solving answers, but because of a severe lack of direction, it created a room full of red herrings.
One answer was so convoluted the GM had trouble explaining it, in the end he needed the answer key because it required a directional lock answer with over 10 directions.
The hint system uses a doorbell system, which we used for pretty much every puzzle.
Staff Support/Price : Were they friendly? Were they helpful? What was the Damage?
We had major issues when booking at Exit out. The long end short is after emailing and leaving multiple phone messages, over a series of days, we resorted to driving to the location to book in person. Part of the trouble was because we purchased a groupon and booking with a groupon (without leaving a further deposit) was a big mess. The kicker is when we returned to play the room, the GM had told us we were lucky we had booked that room ahead of time, because another group had just walked in and wanted to play the Asylum (which was pretty much rubbing salt on the wound unintentionally).
The GM himself was good to chat with in person and friendly, however after receiving a lack of email and phone replies, we were already not in the mood to chat.
The price is listed on their website, the usual facebook/twitter discounts apply. In this case we bought a groupon, which was the start of all our troubles.
Overall: The Asylum was the equivalent of taking shot of tequila after swallowing a mouth full of glass. But we could be wrong, take a dive and let us know.
For more information check out:
I’m a personal friend of the owners and saw this review and disagree completely. I saw it and brought it to the attention of the location. I have done the games the Monroe room is great and no red herrings at all in it as they have corrected the game and the asylum has ways to check your thinking and thought process embedded into the room, the difficulty is that, that room is abstract thinking. Also, when speaking to the owner he told me he didn’t know or was informed of being reviewed by you and that you came in as normal clients through groupon, but all information was provided and customer servicing was great as you yourself said. He mentioned that the accident with the mirror occurred as a result of not adhering to the game rules, the rules were explicitly stated, that that clue was on the broken mirror not behind or in which is poor gaming behaviour and reviewing fron your part and if you play so many rooms to be a self proclaimed reviewer website it is expected abd goes without saying that you adhere to the house rules and instructions (common sense, it’s not a flower that grows in everyone’s garden). Furthermore, he said that when the accident happened medical attention was given immediately by the GM, and the but person was very sour and resistant to being aided which it was very minor. But, apparently this seems to have slipped your minds… Begging questions… As for the booking issues and explination there might have been some issues with this they are a new location and staff was knew, but how can you compare smaller businesses if you don’t give them a chance to grow and improve? The concept of this place having a cafe and snakes and lattes in their facility is very cute and cool which was ignored by your reviewers right? It added to the locations charm and not mentioned because it was either to expensive and inviting for you which you already had issues from the start coming in with a judgmental comb because of booking concerns, but then again you do focus on dollar store prop boxes specifically? It’s just a box who really cares, the purpose of most of these boxes or dollar store itens is to hold what you need, this is picky to the max and you ignore the fine details like they have other things at their facility like an expensive air hockey table tablets with rules in the room which people can easily break, but okay y’all are judgey! Lastly, what begs the question of concern is your credentials and who you are as a team of people… No names no pictures on your site, no introductions to the facilities staff and you hide behind a none paying domain website? Are you for real or should we speculate that you might be the comptetion to others and make these cheap groupon visits so that you can trash simple and new hard working people, all your other competitors at their early stages in order to improve your own business? Or that you might be being paid by someone to do this? The owner in fact told me he is taking the concerns you outlined and will address them for his current clients and a disclosed and well creditinaled and reputable escape room reviewing website going in November. The problem here is should we as players believe in your reviews with all the loop holes I’ve stated; your shadiness espcially hiding behind a computer screen or have others going to a location for you to test the game so you can review undisclosed is in bad taste. We totally should allow other to test Exit Outs games for themselves… As you said on your site…? Exit Outs Facebook and Groupon reviews are very high and quiet good which is worth noting, you might have simply had a bad experience or they had a rough day in their business which all business do! But, the lack of explicit and overt openness from your reviewing site and the trashing you do to most new companies begs the question if at all should anyone deem your committee adequate to review any other business or if you are in it for personal profit or gain by doing this…
Hello! Fellow enthusiast here,
I guess first off I will be up front and say I am a friend of Mike’s and a former escape reviewer myself. We too went to Exit-Out separate from Mike and alas had much the same experience (minus the injuries and booking issues).
Reviewing escape rooms is still a new thing and still one that is being debated and figured out. What many bloggers are finding is that when they announce to an escape room that they are coming in to review, they often get treated differently (ie the red carpet treatment) or feel pressured to give good reviews. Because escape rooms are heavily dependent on customer service, reviewers want to get an experience that anyone walking in off the street would get. So they often don’t announce themselves and will pay full price for a room. Restaurant critics work much the same way. It is still a personal preference (some will announce and ask for free rooms, some will not), but many are starting to lean toward going incognito.
Another aspect of reviews is to state any bias. Reviewing is subjective no matter how objective you try to be. Of course we’re going to aim for as much objectivity as possible but our personal preferences and moods are going to pop up from time to time. The important thing is to report those biases when relevant. I think this review did that just fine. It mentioned that the booking issues soured their mood. It’s up to the reader to interpret whether that is a strong factor or not.
My bias in this comment is that it is my friend’s review and of course that is going to colour my opinion. Your bias is that it’s your friend’s business and it’s difficult to see a friend’s work dragged through the coals.
If I lose a room, I have to take a step back and ask myself “Did I lose this room because I was having an off day, because I’m not particularly good at these types of puzzles, or because it was actually poor puzzle design?”. I ask my group how they felt since there is a good chance they had an entirely different experience than I did. I try to see how other people who went on separate trips did. When I ask the owner for the answer to a puzzle if my response is “ohhhhhhhhh, THAT’S what it is” I know it’s logical. If I and my entire team are still going “Huh?” there’s a large chance there is a flaw in the puzzle logic.
When I went to Exit-Out, none of my team enjoyed it. There were too many red herrings (one is too many in my opinion frankly), too little direction and too much trying to read the designer’s mind. We were warned that so many players had tried to break props in the past and were told in depth what not to touch. That immediately set warning bells off in my head. If every group going in there were resorting to prop breaking, it usually means that frustration levels are so high and the puzzles so impossible that they feel they have no other choice but to try taking things off the walls to see if something was missed.
I think there was maybe one time when a puzzle solution made full sense. When we talked with others (apart from Mike) about their experiences, we heard a lot of the same things. The theme has a lot of potential (using local history was a nice touch) but the room experience itself was one of the worst ones I have had. As you (and Mike in fact, at the end of his review) say, perhaps it was just a rough day. Perhaps four different groups on four different dates happened to come on a bad day. Or perhaps the room needs to be improved.
It was sad because the owner was very clearly passionate about what he was doing. He could very well be looking to improve the puzzle flow and overall design, which is great! But the fact is that the experience other players had at the time was a negative one and that is what was reported. Often times when a bad review is put up and the owner makes improvements, they do try to invite a reviewer back for a second look and to get a revised review. That could be an option.
You reference Mike’s “shadyness” and “lack of openness” which doesn’t really add up. The funny thing is, Mike isn’t in this for any profit. This review site is his hobby. He doesn’t have an escape business. He’s not a competitor of any sort. He is just an enthusiast reviewer who reports his experiences. This experience happened to be a bad one and even though he is my friend I trust his opinions on a professional level as well.
But like I said, I am his friend. You might not believe anything I say at all which is understandable. But we do love escape rooms! We want to see them do well because it means we get to play more! But if players don’t have fun…well, they’re going to tell others.
Whenever I did any theatre, acting or writing, and we had to workshop a piece or test it out, we were taught how to read criticism. If one person in the room did not like the way something was done, that is probably just their personal preference. If the majority of the people there have issues with the same thing though…that means you might need to take a second look at your work.
That is definitely the case here. The owner seemed open to some suggestions at least. I do hope the rooms improves. If they do I would go back for sure!
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I agree with the review. It is, in fact, the worst room I have ever done. No hyperbole.
Regardless, if you do not know who EGR is, then you probably should learn more about the escape room community. 🙂
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Thanks for taking the time to reply to this post. I understand as a friend, that you want to stand up for your friend and his business. Every business is tough and i’m sure your friend Michael has gone through his share of bumps and scrapes. Please keep in mind that this post is a snapshot of our experience. Just as our other posts on this site, which you can cycle through.
Over the last two years, we’ve spoke to many owners and enthusiasts and tried to refine our practices over time. One of those practices is we try to not announce our visits to capture the true experience of a customer. As Manda pointed out, sometimes owners will show favourable treatment to those bloggers/reviewers who announce themselves and give them free games or other perks. Another practice is if equipment in the room is broken we won’t report it unless it affects the gameplay or if it is a safety hazard. In regards to the broken mirror, we were careful and tried to avoid that mirror as best we could, but given the combination of events (including environmental factors) our player cut himself on something that could have easily been removed by the gamemaster prior our game.
At the end of the day our experience with Exit Out will be compared to other small and not-so-small businesses in the GTA, which all have their rough edges. With that being said, I highly encourage you and Michael to visit these companies (even the rooms that have opened in the last 4 months) to gain a better understanding of why we mention these things that seem nit-picky.
As you can see with this blog, it does not have elaborate features like a world map or a top 10 list. Instead we put the focus on the experiences of our team and the 100-some posts we have on our site. I can assure you we don’t sell any services to escape room owners, infact read more of our posts and discuss with other enthusiasts, reviewers and escape room owners to find out more about us, we’re very active in the escape room community.
I wish you and Michael the best, if you wish to discuss any of these further, feel free to email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Mike from the EGR Team
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Those guys are pretty good escape room reviewers. If you really want to help your friend, tell him to address the things they have mentioned and direct your and his energy at improving the room. Everything else is just external noise around the real issue.
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