November 30, 2017

Maze Rooms: Magic Kingdom (Los Angeles, CA)

The magic is real

After playing Maze Rooms' "Lunar Mission" at the S. Vermont location, we immediately played a second room at the same location. We jumped into a magical world that took place in a colorful, fairytale like environment that was intricately designed. The Magic Kingdom turned out to be heavy on the immersion side with some great use of tech and fun puzzles. From their site:

"The Magic Kingdom: a place of wonder where all things are possible and magic is real. Join this fairytale adventure and save the Magic Kingdom before time runs out, and the magic is gone forever."

November 29, 2017

49 Boxes: Evening At The Houdini Estate (San Francisco, Los Angeles, CA)

Evening At The Houdini Estate
After not being able to find any enthusiast reviews for 49 Boxes, I decided to post about my experience at 49 Boxes San Francisco showing in November of 2017. At the time of this writing, there seemed to be limited showings of "Evening At The Houdini Estate" in both San Francisco and Los Angeles with costs ranging from $100 for a normal 90 minute session (my ticket) to $650 for a session and accommodations. From their site:

"The 49 Boxes is an episodic, story-driven experience where audience members play a role in solving mysteries that have been kept secret for more than half a century—all while interacting with artifacts from the Golden Age of Magic. This is not an experience that unfolds around you…it unfolds because of you.

Entry into one of the world's most exclusive and private members only club [The Battery]. An exclusive, intimate performance of the most buzzed about immersive storytelling puzzle experience: 49 Boxes—"The Magic of Thayer."

Reviewing this event was not a simple task as the designers do not see this as an escape room (more as immersive storytelling) but from an enthusiast's perspective, the format and experience is on par with any large format escape rooms games that a company like SCRAP commonly holds. There are 10+ tables with 8 people per table all solving puzzles with an overarching storyline.

November 28, 2017

Think Fun: Escape the Room Stargazer's Manor (Board Game)

Escape Room in a box!

This is our first review of an escape room board game! Not only are we escape room enthusiasts, we are pretty well versed in European style boards games which are basically games that rely on strategy and problem solving rather than just luck and dice rolls (I'm looking at you Monopoly). Board games that we love include Dominion, Agricola, Battlestar Galactica and Deception in Hong Kong.

The reason why we haven't played an escape room board game until now is because I felt that the point of an escape room was to be physically immersed in an environment. I like large and detailed sets with tangible puzzles and the feeling of being in a movie scene rather than imagining it D&D style. Note that the rating of this board game will be relative to other board games and NOT relative to physical escape rooms as they are completely different experiences. As for as escape rooms go, a good physical room is significantly more unique and fun than a good board game. From their site:

"Spend an evening working with your guests to solve puzzles, unlock hidden clues, and unravel the mystery of the Stargazer’s Manor. Will you and your guests be able to solve the mystery and save the astronomer before time runs out?

The Mystery: It’s 1869 and the town’s well-respected astronomer has not been seen since the untimely passing of his wife. Recently, strange things have been happening at his manor – loud and unfamiliar noises, an unpleasant smell, and smoke billowing from the observatory. It’s up to you and your guests to solve the mystery at the Stargazer’s Manor!"

November 26, 2017

Escapade Games: Zoe (Fullerton, CA)

I Ain't Afraid of No Ghost

Being in the Los Angeles area the week before Halloween, Zoe sounded simply too good to pass up, so we went to see if it lived up to all the hype. Escapade Games' Zoe is an epic, satisfying mashup of themes pulled from throughout the pantheon of horror cinema. From their site:

"There is one scene in your mind that is busily following you. It has initially appeared in your dreams, the scene of an abandoned house, but it has started chasing you during the daytime. This house seems to be calling for you, it attracts you with an unknown force...What’s wrong with it? Is there anyone living there?Does he or she need help? You cannot survive it any longer, it’s driving you crazy...You start surfing and accidently [sic] you find the needed location…You reach the place. You open the door and...become trapped. You have only one hour to escape until your personality starts to change."

November 20, 2017

The Hidden Passage: The Pharaoh's Curse (North Hollywood, CA)

The Pharaoh's Curse
Written by Matt Neal: Southern California has a few things going for it that produce some amazing rooms. A huge population and endless stream of tourists keep the customers coming. The film, theme park, and haunt industries provide an amazing talent pool to pull from and inspiration to dive into. Well established escape room brands keep delivering amazing new experiences, driving competition higher and higher.

The amazing rooms and huge market, however, have brought quite a few “me too” rooms, popping up to try to make a quick buck. So, on a quiet Sunday, when two new unknown rooms popped up having just opened without any buzz or fanfare and a complete lack of reviews to be found, we knew we were taking a gamble with either. A flip of a coin and we were off to visit the Hidden Passage in North Hollywood to face the Pharaoh’s Curse. From their site:

"One morning as the Ancient Nile Breaking news was broadcasting a story about the Kings lost tomb, it was found by a couple of archaeologists! Upon the discovery the Tomb opens and the King awakens, raged, and is trying to escape his tomb to bring darkness onto all of Egypt as he wants to avenge his death.

The only way to shut the tombs door is from the inside. You and your fellow archaeologists did so and now you were stuck inside the tomb and need to find a way out. As you were wandering around, you step on a trap which triggers a countdown of 60 minutes for you to find the kings tomb and escape before you are trapped in the chamber for all of eternity. Will you make it out?"

Make it out we did and we were amazed at the gold we found inside.

November 11, 2017

Escape Games PDX: Sherlock's Secret (Portland, OR)

Escaping Sherlock's Secret

Having trekked to Portland for a family reunion, I decided it would be a great opportunity to introduce my cousins to escape rooms, and to check out the Portland escape room scene. Escape Games PDX's Sherlock's Secret did not disappoint, and proved a delightful experience for our escape room veterans and neophytes alike. From their site:

"You’ve been called in to help an infamous but now kidnapped detective and his assistant, a Mr. Watson, has asked for your assistance in recovering a missing artifact and using it to barter a deal to release the hostage. It might feel elementary but you will only have 60 minutes to discover all the hidden clues in Mr. Holmes’ library and help him escape, for if you fail, you will both be trapped forever!"

November 9, 2017

Escape Room LA: The Alchemist (Los Angeles, CA)

The Alchemist: A smartly designed room

If you are in the downtown LA area there are two popular escape room companies that are in the vicinity: "The Virus: Get The F Out" and "Escape Room LA". Both these public rooms take upwards of 10 people so it may be a craps shoot in terms of who shows up in your game. Escape Room LA's "The Alchemist" is known to be a puzzle centric and challenging room where you only have only 50 minutes to escape. We were lucky enough to play on a Thursday night with only our group of four. From their site:

"An ancient library leads you through a secret passage into a medieval alchemist’s mysterious lab, where you must find the four lost elements of earth, air, fire and water. Unite the elements and unleash the magical powers of the Philosopher’s Stone before the alchemist returns! Will you escape?"

November 7, 2017

Exit Game: An Hour To Kill, School of Sorcery & Lab 51 (Monterey Park, CA)

A hidden treasure in a jungle of escape rooms in the Los Angeles Area

Exit Games was one of the companies that we haven't really heard much about and initially not part of our LA escape room crawl. We heard good things about "The A.I." room so it made our final list but that particular game was down for maintenance so we ended playing some other ones instead. "An Hour To Kill" was their newest 007 James Bond game, "The School of Sorcery" was a Harry Potter inspired room and the closest thing I could think of for "Lab 51" was the X-Files. We played all these games as a trio, well short of their 10 person max. This turned out to be a good thing as I feel anything more than 4 people would greatly hinder the experience. From their site:

"An Hour To Kill: Come and be a part of James Bond's last adventure. James is on his last mission before retirement when he went missing. You, England's best agents must figure out a way to get through all the security systems in Military Intelligence (MI-6) and the vaunted training facilities and danger room. Your mission, should you choose to accept it agents, is to find out what happened to Bond on his final mission?

The School or Sorcery: It's your first year as a wizard. You have 1 hour to finish magical exams to prove your abilities. Conjure up spells, and make potions with your classmates. Be careful, there is dark magic in our castle.

Lab 51: As part of an elite military strike force, you must infiltrate Lab 51 and find out what happened to the mysterious alien life form that is kept there. The lab is set to self-destruct in 1 hour. The clock is ticking, soldier."

November 1, 2017

Maze Rooms: Lunar Mission (Los Angeles, CA)

Floating in a tin can

Written by Brad Melluish. Maze Rooms' "Lunar Mission" is the first escape room I've encountered that is fully committed to a hard science fiction theme in a space setting, so I was excited to give it a spin when I found out it would be part of our recent Los Angeles escape room marathon. The room did not disappoint, and it was refreshing to see this room boldly go into a genre that is so surprisingly unexplored! From their site:

"Try to escape lunar station in disrepair and survive. Far in the outer space. Only team work can return lunar crew home."