Rating System

Tired of ambiguous “5 Key” ratings that still left you guessing?  So were we!  Partly Wicked ratings will let you know exactly what you’re in for.

OverAll (out of 5 claws)


If you just want a quick and relative score, we’ve got you covered.  Each Partly Wicked room review starts off with a summary rating out of 5 Claws.  Because there are so many specific criteria we judge against, each claw is tough to get; it would be a mistake to compare a claw rating on the same scale as one might find on travel or review sights (such as Yelp).

We are predators.  Our reviews are based on learned, informed, and educated participants.  OUR RESULTS WILL SKEW LOW.

So, what does a claw score mean?  We’re glad you asked!

  • 5 Claws: Players could make out-of-state travel plans just to see this room and not feel at all guilty for doing so.  Typically, 5 Claw Rooms are the best in the city (if not the state).  If you have the chance to play a 5 Claw Room, jump at it.
  • 4 Claws: This room offers something truly special and memorable.  4 Claw Rooms are easily cause for a road trip.
  • 3 Claws: This room is solid and offers a satisfying escape experience.  Particularly fun for families, vacationers, and first-time players, 3 Claw rooms are fully recommended by Partly Wicked.  (NOTE: EQUAL TO A 5 STAR RATING ON ALL SOCIAL MEDIA PLATFORMS)
  • 2 Claws: This is a disappointing room.  Despite having some strengths, there are usually glaring problems that will leave many players feeling bored, frustrated, or hopeless.  Still, not everything will be a problem for every group; some players may not even notice.  Take a chance; it might be one of your favorites!
  • 1 Claw: A rating for rooms that should really be avoided.  Neglected, illogical, or just missing the point altogether, these rooms usually gain a reputation among players for all the wrong reasons.
  • 0 Claws: For the love of god, no one should bother with such a room.  A pointless cash-grab slapped together by con-artists to cheat people out of their money.  Experiences like this will be the death of the escape room industry if they are not challenged and exposed for the scams they are.

To make our ratings as accurate as possible, our reviewers score each Room independently from one another in 5 key areas and then compare notes.  After the fighting dies down, we have scores we can all agree on.

But what do we look for?

We just knew you were going to ask.  Alphabetically…

AWE (out of 10)

Every Room wants to stand out and there’s usually no better way than with awe-inspiring moments.  Secret rooms, tunnels, live actors, mixing chemicals, transforming fireplaces; we’ve seen some really inventive, eye-popping and flat-out memorable stuff.  But big chain venues aren’t the only ones who can offer unique and inventive features; sometimes a series of smaller, well-executed surprises can make an amazing impression.  Learn more HERE.

CARE (out of 10)

When a venue goes out of their way to provide a fantastic experience, it really shows.  While a helpful staff and observant game masters can be easily taken for granted, well-maintained Rooms made with pride and attention to detail can make you forget you’re playing a game at all.  But no matter how great or expensive a Room is, venues that clearly don’t care will leave players feeling cheated.  There’s a huge difference between a Room that’s themed to feel dingy and gross and one that really…is.

CHALLENGE (out of 10)

Judging a room solely on its difficulty is so 2009!  Puzzles that some players struggle with are a walk in the park for others.  We judge Rooms by how they make us think, how well they’re designed, and how the obstacles come together as a whole.  Jumping from one 4-digit code to the next, solving slapped-together variations of the same puzzle over and over might be ‘difficult’, but it’s not really much of a challenge.  But needing your deductive reasoning, observation, abstract thinking, spatial perception, manual dexterity (and maybe even a little bit of luck), among others, without feeling hopelessly lost?  You guessed it; that’s a challenge.

TEAMWORK (out of 10)

Only a masochist would attempt a Room alone.  But it takes conscious effort to create a Room where everyone can contribute.  None wants to stand around waiting for one person to do everything or to wonder around feeling useless.  All players have strengths that can become incredible assets for their team if given the chance.  Sometimes it’s as simple as needing to be in two places at once or just looking at things from a different perspective, but the best Rooms are only mastered by those who know when to talk and when to listen.

THEME (out of 10)

There’s a huge difference between seeing red paint on the wall and feeling like you’re trapped by a murderer.  Theming isn’t just decorating; it’s the narrative, ambiance, and goal-setting that allows players to fully immerse themselves into the essence of the experience.  Being unable to see the seams of where the game meets the story is what strong theming strives for.  With good theming, all the game elements make sense, and players won’t end up answering questions with the dreaded “because it’s a game.

Yeah, but did you like it?

Whether or not we liked a Room personally isn’t a factor in the rating we prescribe.  Still, we are really opinionated around here.  That’s why each reviewer gets to have their own say, in their own words, with a nifty little matching icon.

What’s a Signature Color?

Everyone has a type.  Unlike other art forms, figuring out what type of escape room you’ll enjoy can be a bit tricky.  Relying on a Room’s theme or story is a big mistake; one ‘serial killer’ room can be filled with horrifying jump scares and blood-stained walls while another Room with the exact same premise is meticulously organized and eerily clean.  Depending on the execution, just about any narrative can result in a whole hoard of rooms that seem nothing alike and will, therefore, be enjoyed by different audiences.  Escape rooms are a unique form of entertainment because ultimately, without even realizing it, what players are actually shopping for isn’t a product or a story but a complete experience designed to invoke specific feelings; regardless of their theme, most Rooms cause a feeling so strongly that it stays with you regardless of whether you win or lose.

Partly Wicked refers to a Room’s emotional resonance as its Signature Color.  Panicked, frantic Rooms feel RED.  Safe, happy and calm Rooms feel Sky Blue.  A Room’s Signature Color will be seen in its rating’s claw image  (like the red one below.)

We will be covering each Signature Color in-depth in its own article over the coming weeks, but the list below is a good overview:

  • RED – Panicked, scared, frantic
  • ORANGE – Questioning, competitive, braggadocios
  • YELLOW – Bright, clear, direct, obvious
  • GREEN – Natural, absorbed by the environment
  • SKY BLUE – Safe, happy, calm, focused
  • BLUE – Technical, cerebral, precise
  • PURPLE – Regal, lavish, elaborate
  • INDIGO – Mystical, mysterious, wondrous
  • PINK – Giddy, childish, gleeful
  • GREY – Disappointed, cheated

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Yes, we suppose we can get a bit carried away when it comes to Escape Rooms, but it's already been such a fantastic journey, filled with so many great stories and surprises we want to share it with everyone. Become part of this amazing adventure with us and you can help change the conversation about an art form.