RAMPANCY ESCAPE ROOM
Played October 2016
Denver Escape Room
11674 N. Huron Street, Suite 300
RATING: 8 / 10
Escape rate: 21.7%
Best time: 32:31 minutes
Average time: 51:52 minutes
Clues allowed: unlimited, as needed
Did we beat it?
No, but we were just one clue away!
Have you ever wondered if we could all become too wired with technology, or rely too much on artificial intelligence, ultimately leading computers to take over the world and enslave mankind for all eternity? If the answer is yes, The Rampancy escape room is your worst science fiction nightmare come true.
The game is set in the abandoned remains of a testing facility where Kel, an artificial intelligence computer, has gone rogue -- and locked all the exits. To escape, we had to deactivate Kel and reverse his system lock down to avoid being permanently trapped in the test chamber. Rampancy earns high points for uniqueness because this scenario is one of the most creative I've experienced. And it's actually a bit scarier than most because it dances with the public's underlying fear that our modern devices could somehow escape our control.
My favorite part of the room was the sophistication of the computer. I want to avoid spoilers, so I won't share specifics, but this use of tech engagement is totally unlike other rooms I've played. The room also had LED lights that flashed and changed color as the game progressed; adding a level of intensity and urgency as we worked to beat the clock. This room does have two parts and access to the second area is really well-concealed. Construction and materials used were really high quality and it was evident that a lot of intention was put into the room design and prop selection.
We had a lot of fun solving the puzzles, which all fit the story line and theme. With Rampancy, the clues aren't linear and it's not always obvious which puzzles should be solved in sequence. This makes the room more challenging so we needed to keep mental stock of the clues we encountered at different stages along the way and apply them when it made sense.
There was a nice balance of traditional 3- and 4-digit padlocks and keyed lock boxes; along with more modern puzzles controlled by a digital keypad, switches, auxiliary cables, and an electrical terminal with alligator clips. There was also a maze-type handheld game that we had to solve to release a key. The first portion of the room was decorated with circuit tape on the floor, symbols and numbers on the wall, and there were a lot of numerical puzzles in the second portion of the game.
The room also required a black light and flash lights to solve clues and decode hidden messages. The batteries in the mini flashlight did run out on us, so we used our phone to keep up. This led to a philosophical debate on our team -- if we were only given one flashlight, then we should only be able to use one phone flashlight, right? The purists won out and we used just one. Anyway, dead batteries are a pretty common occurrence in rooms with flashlights. While I don't mind it and think it makes the experience more of an adventure, it could be cool to have an extra battery hidden among the clues or rechargeable batteries being used between games to keep that element of the game working as designed.
Overall, this room gets major points for only using each type of lock only once throughout the whole game, which is a delight for serial escapers. The puzzles were complex and required thoughtful consideration, which is much more challenging than just collecting clues or numbers. Clues from the game master were delivered on a TV screen and accompanied by a chime, which was really helpful for times when the screen was out of our line of sight. There were a few times throughout the game when we weren't sure how to advance, but the game master did a nice job of waiting patiently and nudging us in the right direction. Unlike other rooms, the clues didn't come more quickly as we ran out of time -- which maintains the level of difficulty for the room but is maddening when you feel stuck and time is ticking away!
In the end, we ran out of time with just one step remaining -- entering the final code to power Kel down. Our failing was that we overlooked an important detail in the dark room, so my major tip for this room is to scan for clues thoroughly. Overall, Rampancy is well worth playing! It's best for moderate- to advanced-level escapers who want to sharpen their reasoning skills and are ready to take on the challenge of a more sophisticated escape room.
ABOUT DENVER ESCAPE ROOM
Full disclosure: Denver Escape Room allowed me to try the Rampancy and The Crimson Storm escape rooms gratis. As their guest, I joined existing teams who were booked to play, caught a glimpse of the game masters' command center, and had the opportunity to interview founder Brian Lacertosa.
As one of the first 30 locations in the nation and 3rd escape room in the state, Denver Escape Room deserves credit for helping to bring the popular escape room scene to Colorado. In just a couple years since opening, they've already retired old rooms and unveiled new permanent experiences with nicer construction, better technology, and more challenging puzzles than ever before.
All the rooms are uniquely built and the staff take ownership in your experience -- two major differentiators from some national escape companies. Brian gave me a tour of the Pipeworks room, which splits players into two competitive teams, contains elements that your team can't touch, and was incredibly well-designed. I also got a sneak peek at the construction site of the magical new J.K. Rowling-inspired room that's set to launch later this fall.
Denver Escape Room has locations in California, Arizona, and Oregon and is working on another Colorado location. I travel to Denver from Chicago where escape rooms have gained a lot of popularity. In comparison, Denver Escape Room raises the bar over what I've seen in bigger cities and they're a driving force for escape rooms in the Denver community. There's an energy you can't ignore at Denver Escape Room and I can't wait to see what experiences Brian and his team unveil next!