The Manor at Hellscream

THE MANOR ESCAPE ROOM

Played April 2017
Colorado Springs, CO

60 minutes
Up to 6 players
$28 USD/person

Hellscream Haunted House & Escape Room
hellscreamhaunt.com
3021 N. Hancock Ave.

RATING: 8.5 / 10

Best time: 8 minutes left, 6 people, 4 hints
Escape rate: 30%
Clues allowed: 4 by walkie talkie

Did we beat it? 
Yes! With :30 seconds to spare.

REVIEW

With narrow corridors flanked by zombies and winding secret passageways, The Manor is the perfect backdrop for a frightening live action game. Ideal for 2-3 advanced escapers, or 4-6 novice players, this escape room requires strong deductive reasoning and investigative skills.

During the booking process, you're able to choose whether you want the escape experience to be more difficult and more scary. This is really different from most other rooms which are built to standard levels of difficulty. If you choose to have the game be more difficult and more scary, the clues are a little better hidden and live actors join you in the room to add an extra element of fear. I loved this element and of course opted for the more challenging path!

Overall, this room was really fun and gratifying, which makes it very accessible for beginners or experienced players. You start out inside a dusty, old library in a haunted mansion and watch a video that explains the backstory. The game designer paces the clues well so you immediately start discovering things that you can use. Cadence, sequencing, and reward-based puzzle design is difficult to achieve in an escape room, but The Manor has a really satisfying flow that keeps your confidence high as you solve and move to the next challenge.

The game is set inside a haunted house, so the ambiance is undeniably creepy. Just off the entry door is a bathroom with a nightmare-inducing dead body hanging from a hook -- still writhing with the last moments of life. Like any respectable haunted mansion, the room has trick statues, trap doors, and transforming art that reveals paranormal entities as you walk past.

Actual toy from the room escape. Seems playful, right?

Actual toy from the room escape. Seems playful, right?

Like all the Hellscream experiences, The Manor has a lot of wired up elements. Clues become conductors to power dormant electronics and completing the final challenge hinges on tripping the right combination of switches to escape. The escape room contains a wide array of locks -- numerical, alphabetical, and keyed. One interesting difference is that the locks have stickers on them that match the clues you discover along the way. The nice thing about this is that you know you're using the right clue on the correct lock, but I do think it makes it a bit easier than rooms where locks are not labeled. If you choose the difficult version of the game, it's still plenty challenging; but if you've played escape rooms before, it may feel like an assist.

The Manor utilizes a wide variety of puzzles including math-based and geography challenges and quite a bit of pattern seeking. You'll need to be really observant and look carefully to solve the mix of obstacles that face players in this room. There's also a fair amount of scavenging to collect items and ancient relics that play a role in the game. Game designers also integrated technology elements like digital scrolling messages and black light.

One thing to remember is, because you're inside a heavily propped haunted house, there are a lot more purely decorative elements to scour than lesser dressed rooms. Move quickly to examine everything so you're familiar with what's in the room -- you never know what will come into play later. Don't repeat my mistake of letting the puzzles guide your discovery or you could miss out on a critical piece of the escape.

Skeleton piranha to haunt your dreams.

Skeleton piranha to haunt your dreams.

While The Manor is more of a beginner room compared to it's sister escape room, The Elevator, the haunted elements really deliver a fulfilling experience. There's an eery loop of chilling chants and deep Vader breaths to keep you constantly on edge. And, as you advance through the four rooms and winding corridor of the game, there are strobe lights, thunder, and adrenaline-pumping surprises that heighten the fear factor and challenge your reasoning abilities. There's even a poltergeist-like TV buzzing with static that literally terrified a child while I was there.

If you're up for zombie gore and fear-based escape experiences, this room packs a double punch. Definitely one for your must-play escape room list!

Local tip: If you escape either Hellscream room with 2 or more clues remaining, you get free tickets to their haunted house experience.

Best post-game photo op...ever!

Best post-game photo op...ever!

ABOUT HELLSCREAM

Located just off Interstate 25 at Hancock and Fillmore in Colorado Springs, Hellscream is one of the top-rated haunted houses in the nation and deemed one of the scariest haunted houses in Colorado and the midwest. With three floors of fright, it's no surprise that when Jeff and Vince stumbled upon a Groupon for a local escape room, they were inspired to convert their multi-level haunted property into a creepy backdrop for live action escape games.

Spoiler: their instincts couldn't have been more right.

Together, they designed and constructed their rooms completely from scratch - neither played any escape games beforehand for ideas or inspiration. Jeff, who earned his undergraduate degree in engineering from Colorado Technical University in Colorado Springs put his technical skills to work to fully-automate the rooms. He wired up both Hellscream escape games with electrical switches, triggered lighting, fog machines, strobe light effects, and more. The coolest part? Jeff controls the rooms with his iPhone and can dial up the creep factor with one tap.

Hellscream has two rooms -- The Manor and The Elevator, which we reviewed here. They also host murder mysteries and zombie laser tag at their 15,000 square foot property. Check them out on Twitter and watch for discount offers on their Facebook page.

-- Melissa