Welcome to the Slammer, New Fish
First things first, I have a confession to make. And no, the contents of this confession aren’t what landed me behind bars yet again. The confession is that this Escape Junkies experience is one that I had with some good friends of mine in the Philadelphia area. This resulted in some extra coordination and a few awkward moments, including a few too many way-to-soon celebratory high fives while we were nowhere near victory. That being said, it was interesting to break out of my comfort zone and tackle a room with friends with a wide range of experience levels, including one embarking on their first escape room (i.e. our new fish).
I have to start by commending MindEscape on keeping things running smoothly considering a parade on South Street caused numerous side streets to be closed, and caused every group (including ours) to arrive well after check-in. By the time the last members of our group arrived, our Game Master already had everything reset from the group before us and appeared in character, ready to transport us to lock up.
I’ve experienced other prison escape themes (Escape Junkie Craig presents a nice recap of another EJ breakout here) and always enjoy the challenge and extra teamwork required of the expected split starting dynamic. In this instance, I was pleasantly surprised that our warden split up our group how they saw fit. While at least one member was not thrilled with this development, I thought it added to the immersion factor. Being physically handcuffed to start the experience didn’t hurt either.
The puzzles we encountered were varied in nature and well implemented, all while staying largely on theme. While I was initially worried about attempting this prison break with 9 of us, there was plenty for us to do and ample room to do it in. Having a diverse group with varied experience also helped as some of the puzzles required a little more abstract or out of the box approach.
The Not So Good
While our game master was entertaining and enthusiastic, it was her second shift which led to some unfortunate hiccups. We had some delays in response time causing us to spin our wheels occasionally, and were put on hold customer service-style once (albeit in a very polite and cheerful tone) with a “One Moment Please.” Our Game Master also did not notice that we solved an early puzzle in an unconventional manner, leading us to discard an element as ‘used’ that we were very much in need of later on. A little more experience on the job will go a long way toward creating a smoother, more rewarding experience.
There were also some areas of the experience that could have used a little upkeep. This started with the strange black curtain separating the lobby area from an unrelated establishment, through which random children kept appearing and disappearing. This was highlighted by the mismatched and somewhat worn prison jumpsuits we were issued, and further heightened by the condition of some of the props, many of which appeared to have seen their fair share of use. Normally this isn’t something I would fixate on, but one specific prop cost us a chunk of time as we tried to fix it in an ill-fated attempt to use what would almost certainly be a clue in 99% of the escape rooms we’ve played.
Lastly, if you’re a big stickler for the story elements of escape rooms, Escape Thai Prison (or most of the other prison escape-themed options out there) probably shouldn’t be your first choice. I’m not quite sure how our group ended up in Thailand to begin with (Thats’ my story Officer, and I’m sticking to it!). And despite the Thai script decorating the cells and other decorative elements that incorporated the theme, there were other items that counteracted the immersion (i.e. items with ‘Police’ or ‘Corrections Officer’ written in English are not what you’d expect to see in Bangkok or Chiang Mai).
In terms of puzzle difficulty, Escape the Thai Prison had a little of something for everyone, from our new fish to our lifers. We had a good time and encountered some fun and exciting moments during our escape. With a little upkeep and more attention to detail, we think that MindEscape could easily turn what ended up being an average experience for most of us into a good or even great one. 3/5
- Location: MindEscape
- Time Limit: 60 Minutes
- Number of Players: 2-12
- Recommended Skill Level: Intermediate