Mad Genius Comes to SE Portland

[Update: Mad Genius now has 3 rooms. The newest room, Battle of the Ancients is fantastic and highly recommended. So now you have 3 recommended rooms in one convenient SE location!]

It seems like forever since a new escape room company opened in Portland. Mad Genius has just arrived with 2 rooms. A welcome addition to the Portland escape room scene, check out their Cat Lady and Siren Song rooms. We’re already looking forward to their next addition. See below for more info.

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Combo & Key – The Case of the Missing O.D. – Tigard

The Case of the Missing O.D. is set in an eye doctor’s office where your goal is to locate the missing optometrist. Combo & Key initially started in an actual optical store, but they’ve since moved to a dedicated “escape room” location. We had a good experience with Combo & Key, though there is too much going on for a two-person team. They have recently opened a second room and we look forward to checking it out. See below for the full review.

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The Diner – Quicksand Escape Games – San Diego

The Diner was recommended to us by other enthusiasts, so on our recent trip to San Diego, we finally got to check it out. The Diner had a fun theme, great decorations, and an unexpected twist that made for a very enjoyable escape room experience. Highly recommended. See below for the full review.

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How Most Every Escape Room Owner Gets it Wrong When Telling Enthusiasts Why They Are Wrong.

Escape room enthusiasts are not the target customer for most escape room companies. We are a relatively small group, although we are pretty vocal about what we find annoying. That’s fine. That’s fair. However, there are a few problems that crop up when enthusiasts talk to escape room owners. Owners often try and convince enthusiasts that they are wrong when they offer criticism and any criticism about the room is met with skepticism because owners are used to getting lauded with 5* praise.

Continue reading “How Most Every Escape Room Owner Gets it Wrong When Telling Enthusiasts Why They Are Wrong.”

Escape Room Reviews Are (Mostly) Useless

Let’s face it, most escape room reviews are mostly worthless. Yet, it is often the first resource we go to when looking for a new escape room experience. In the U.S., Yelp is one of the primary user review websites for restaurants, car repair shops, nail salons, and escape rooms. Using crowd-sourced reviews, users rank their experience from 1 to 5 stars and offer a cursory review. Worldwide, TripAdvisor is the most useful website for crowd-sourced reviews of hotels, restaurants, and “things to do.” Both of these websites provide little useful information in their escape room reviews.

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The Budapest Blitz: 14 Escape Rooms in 36 Hours

14 escape rooms in 36 hours. Is it possible? Is it insane? Yes, and probably are the answers respectively. Why? Well, it should be no secret we love escape rooms. It was during a trip to Vilnius, Lithuania that we tried our first escape rooms. And Eastern Europe is a paradise for escape room enthusiasts. So when we carved out a 2-day gap in our schedules, K and J went to the heart of escaperoomtopia in Budapest, Hungary for an escaping marathon.

Our plane was to arrive at midnight, so no time for rooms upon arrival. So we started booking rooms for the next day, starting at 9 a.m. Building in breaks to move from company to company, we booked 7 escape rooms for the first day, and 5 escape rooms for the second day. We had to leave at about 5 p.m. on the second day to make it to the airport. But the best-laid plans often go astray.

We chose rooms based on a combination of Tripadvisor reviews, looking at the websites, locations near each other and our AirBnb, and other random factors. We not only accomplished our goal, but exceeded that goal by squeezing in two additional rooms, one not yet open to the public. In the end, we hit 14 escape rooms in 36 hours, and felt exhilarated the entire time. Oddly enough, our two favorites were the very first and very last of the 14. Over the next couple of weeks, we’ll provide a more in-depth review of each of those rooms, including scoring based on:

  • Integration
  • Variety of puzzles
  • Condition of the room
  • Staff involvement
  • Fun factor X
  • Hint systems
  • Business overview
  • Difficulty level
  • Overall time, and more.


Escape Room Rating System

While escape room experiences are very subjective, we’ve developed a basic rating system to help us evaluate different escape rooms. Hopefully, this will helpful for you to get a sense of what rooms you’d like to try based on what you enjoy most about the escape room experience.

Integration: ⍟⍟⍟⍟⍟
Variety of Puzzles: ⍟⍟⍟⍟⍟
Physical Condition of Props and Puzzles: ⍟⍟⍟⍟⍟
Staff Involvement: ⍟⍟⍟⍟⍟
Fun Factor: ⍟⍟⍟⍟⍟
Hints: ⍟⍟⍟⍟⍟
Escape Room Business:⍟⍟⍟⍟⍟
Difficulty Level: ⍟⍟⍟⍟⍟