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2020 Escape Room Enthusiast Survey

Screenshot of the Interactive Dashboard Lee-Fay and Errol have once again compiled the results of the annual Escape Room Enthusiast Survey a...

August 23, 2021

Best Escape Rooms in Orlando (+ Tampa)

 Escape Artist

Orlando is known for its theme parks like Disney World and Universal Studios but as true enthusiasts, we came here to play escape rooms! We played 24 games in the Orlando area and four in Tampa (90 minutes east of Orlando by car). While the area is not known to be an escape room hot spot, there were a few games that were great and definitely worth playing. 


Orlando and Tampa Escape Room Standouts


The Exit Game: Servants of Sleight (Clearwater, Tampa Bay Area)
Servants of Sleight
There are a lot of magic themed escape rooms out there but none are quite as spectacular as "Servants of Sleight". The overall narrative and unique interactions perfectly blend into the environment. This game did a good job across pretty much all escape room elements such as set design, puzzles and fun factor! Based on other enthusiasts reviews, this game could be the top game in Florida!
  • Set Design: Good
  • Difficulty: Medium
  • Price: $34-$51/person 
  • Number of players: Up tp 6 (we recommend 2-3)
  • Duration: 90 minutes
  • Overall Rating: ★★★★★

Doldrick's: Captain Spoopy Bones and the Magnificent Quest For Some Other Pirate's Treasure! (Kissimmee, Orlando Area)
Doldrick's
Doldrick's was a standout in the Orlando area with multiple great games. This game was their largest creation and it had a wonderful final act with nice tech that set this game above all the other games we played in Orlando. All the games at Doldrick's were whimsical and I thought that the Captain Spoopy character was pretty funny and I am sure that this played a role in my rating. While at this location, you should also play "Spoopy's Ghoulish Graveyard" and "Super Bomb Squad" which were also solid games.
  • Set Design: Great
  • Difficulty: Difficult
  • Price: $40/person 
  • # of Players: Up to 12 (we recommend 4)
  • Duration: 75 minutes
  • Overall Rating: ★★★★½

Escape Venture: Bros For Life, Fraternity Heist (Orlando)

Escape Venture
Having a theme that I have never seen in 400+ rooms was a bonus in my book. The start of this game was the highlight and it made us feel like frat boys doing stupid things which was very fitting. While at this location, you should also play their Christmas game, "Satirical Miracle", which we almost liked as much as "Bros For Life".
  • Set Design: Good
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Price: $40/person
  • Number of players: 2-8 (we recommend 2-4)
  • Duration: 60 minutes
  • Overall Rating: ★★★★½

Mind Masters: Strange Magic (Orlando)
Strange Magic
Strange Magic was one of my top single-room experiences. Some really clever integrations of puzzles into the environment made for a lot of cool moments that tricked us. If you are in the area, you should check Mind Masters out!
  • Set Design: Average
  • Difficulty: Medium
  • Price: $30/person
  • Number of players: Up to 6 (we recommend 2-4)
  • Duration: 60 minutes
  • Overall Rating: ★★★★

Escape Artist: Dream (Orlando) & Protocol Zero (Sanford)
These two games are actually located in different locations that are about 30 minutes apart. Dream, A 90 minute game had some funky room concepts and some novel interactions throughout a large physical space. Protocol Zero had a great space station setting that you rarely see.  I recommend playing both these games in Orlando.
  • Set Design: Great
  • Difficulty: Medium
  • Price: $29-$45/person
  • Number of players: Up to 6 (we recommend 4)
  • Duration: Dream 90 minutes, Protocol Zero 60 minutes
  • Overall Rating: ★★★★

The Escape Game: Mission Mars (Orlando)
Mission Mars
Another solid game, as with many of the other "The Escape Game" escape rooms. It's rare to see a super clean, sleek space environment which is exactly what this room offered. I also played "The Playground" in Houston and Special Ops in Minneapolis and San Francisco and assuming the Orlando location has identical copies, these games are also great. 
  • Set Design: Amazing!
  • Difficulty: Difficult
  • Price: $38/person
  • Number of players: Up to 8 (we recommend 4)
  • Duration: 60 minutes
  • Overall Rating: ★★★★

The Bureau: Puppet Heist (Orlando )
The Bureau
This will undoubtedly be a controversial pick! My teammates didn't like this game but I applauded the unique style of it. First of all, we were in a Muppets-style universal and interacted with Muppet-like characters. We had to do things that we probably wouldn't do in other escape rooms. Some of the puzzles were not intuitive so going into this game and knowing this would help a lot. I also like whimsical themes, something my teammates did not generally enjoy. The lobby is also enormous and nice just to visit.
  • Set Design: Great
  • Difficulty: ???
  • Price: $35/person
  • Number of players: 2-8 (we recommend 2-3)
  • Duration: 60 minutes
  • Overall Rating: ★★★½

Other Escape Rooms In The AreaVideo Store

Here are some other honorable mentions:
  • Dare2Escape: The Video Store (Orlando): A lighthearted and nostalgic video store game that would be fun for all ages.
  • Mystique Escape: Murder London (Lake Mary): The game really makes you feel like you are on an old school London Street. Great for those into nice sets.
  • The Bureau: Loch Ness (Orlando): A great set with nice props to play with but lacking in terms of content. 
We hope this post helps out anyone who is hoping to venture off to Orlando to play escape rooms!

July 27, 2021

Best Los Angeles Escape Rooms

LA Escape Rooms
LA is full of amazing games!

Los Angeles is known for having some of the best escape rooms in the United States in terms of quality and quantity. I've had the opportunity to play about 100 games in the LA area, including nearby Orange County (OC) and have compiled this guide to help you choose which escape rooms best suit your needs. Note that LA is huge and getting from one room to another can take well over an hour so you should plan accordingly. 

Note that I've tried my best to list what I believe to be the best rooms as of July 2021. This means that rooms I played a few years ago might no longer be a top room when compared to newer rooms but I did not retroactively change the ratings in my official ratings list. Also, I prefer rooms that focus on adventure and I typically give bonus points for anything comedic. 

Los Angeles Escape Room Standouts


Hatch Escapes: Lab Rat (Los Angeles)
Lab Rat
If you are a fan of escape rooms, you have likely heard of Lab Rat. This whimsical game was extremely creative: you are the "rat" and the rats are conducting experiments on you! The immersion was great and we laughed a lot throughout the experience. The puzzles were on the difficult side so don't expect a walk in the park. I would say that 95% of enthusiasts highly recommend this game for all types of players. See our in-depth review here.  
  • Set Design: Excellent
  • Difficulty: Difficult
  • Price: $40/person 
  • Number of players: 2-8, private (we recommend 4)
  • Duration: 60 minutes
  • Played in 2018
  • Overall Rating: ★★★★★

Quest Tavern: The Last Supper (Pomona)
The Last Supper
LA games often have actors and I was fortunate enough to have one of the best actors I've ever seen in an escape room in "The Last Supper". He was witty, played off our interactions perfectly, and was the indisputable star of the experience! There were some genuine adrenaline rushing moments with some fine puzzles that made for a fantastic game. I tend to love rooms with actors and always give bonus points if they make me laugh. I would recommend playing this game with a lively group!
  • Set Design: Good 
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Price: $38/person 
  • # of Players: 3-8 (we recommend 3-4)
  • Duration: 60 minutes
  • Played in 2021
  • Overall Rating: ★★★

Not Another Escape Room: Time Machine (Brea)


Not another time machine room...or was it? Time Machine was what a proper time traveling game should be and the game mechanics were amazing! It takes a lot to wow a seasoned group of players (the team played between 200-800 rooms each) and this game was a joy to experience. We couldn't stop talking about this game even after we left because it was so clever and unique. 
  • Set Design: Good
  • Difficulty: Medium
  • Price: $40/person
  • Number of players: 2-8 (we recommend 2-4)
  • Duration: 75 minutes
  • Played in 2021
  • Overall Rating: ★★★★

Maze Rooms: Magic Kingdom (Los Angeles)
I played this a while back but it still stands in my memories as a beautiful and magical fairy tale experience. There were a lot of memorable moments that awed us and hopefully the experience remains the same some four years later. . The set was great, that physical element was really cool and the use of tech in that building...you'll have to play it to see what I mean. See our full review here
  • Set Design: Great
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Price: $33-49/person
  • Number of players: Up to 6 (we recommend 2-4)
  • Duration: 60 minutes
  • Played in 2017
  • Overall Rating: ★★★★

Quest Room: Amnesia (Redondo Beach)
Amnesia
This was an experience driven room that focused on storytelling and tasks with some light puzzling. What I appreciated about this game were the elements of surprise and of course the comedic twist. There aren't many puzzles so going into the game knowing this should help you decide whether this style suits your preferences. Also, it would be more fun with four or more people, which typically isn't the case with normal escape rooms.
  • Set Design: Great
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Price: $37-$60/person
  • Number of players: Up to 6 (we recommend 4)
  • Duration: 60 minutes
  • Played in 2021
  • Overall Rating: ★★★★

Stash House: A Los Angeles Crime Story (Los Angeles)
Stash House
This game was pretty different from a storytelling perspective and if you are ok with some of the adult themes you should probably play this game. The set takes place in a relatively large space and the concept of the game was that you are proving your worthiness to some criminal entrepreneurs.  Overall, this game set itself apart with its unique theme and funny ending.
  • Set Design: Great
  • Difficulty: Difficult
  • Price: $30-40/person
  • Number of players: 4-11 (we recommend 5-6)
  • Duration: 90 minutes
  • Played in 2018
  • Overall Rating: ★★★★

Breaking Point: Headcase (Rancho Cucamonga )
Headcase
Breaking Point had two great rooms with "Headcase" and "The Whitmore Estate". Their Headcase room was a revamped version of their old Patient 17 room and I think if you never played Patient 17, Headcase would be even more fun due to experiencing the physical space for the first time. You should play both of their games if in the area!  
  • Set Design: Great
  • Difficulty: Medium
  • Price: $35/person
  • Number of players: 2-10 (we recommend 2-4)
  • Duration: 60 minutes
  • Played in 2017
  • Overall Rating: ★★★★½

Escapade: Zoe (Fullerton)

While I am not the biggest fan of anything horror, I must give props to Zoe for making a memorable experience. The actor interaction was pretty horrifying so if you are into this type of experience, then it's a must play. See our full review here.
  • Set Design: Great
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Price: $33-49/person
  • Number of players: Up to 6 (we recommend 2-4)
  • Duration: 60 minutes
  • Played in 2017
  • Overall Rating: ★★★★½

60out: Houdini (Los Angeles)

There are a million Houdini games out there but there was one moment that made this game really stand out for me. I didn't see it coming and it perfectly fit the magic theme. This game is on the easier side and if you like magical moments, you will enjoy this game.
  • Set Design: Great
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Price: $38-40/person
  • Number of players: 2-5 (we recommend 2-4)
  • Duration: 60 minutes
  • Played in 2017
  • Overall Rating: ★★★★½

The Basement: The Study (Los Angeles)
The Study
For the longest time, The Study was my favorite room of all time. I played the version of the game in Las Vegas but I was told the LA game was pretty much the same. This game has actors and overall does an amazing job with immersion. There are some electrifying moments that you will likely never experience in any other rooms. While at "The Basement", you should also hit up "The Courtyard" and "The Elevator Shaft" which are also solid. See the full review here.
  • Set Design: Great
  • Difficulty: Medium-Difficult
  • Price: $30-50/person
  • Number of players: Max 10 (we recommend 4-6)
  • Duration: 45 minutes
  • Played in 2017
  • Overall Rating: ★★★★


Other Escape Rooms In The Area

There are so many other noteworthy games to play in LA and you can see my entire list of LA escape rooms played here. Honestly, you could play +30 games and have a great time in every single one of them. Nonetheless, here are some other honorable mentions:
  • Scenario Escape: Mad Rapper (Brea): The creator of this game is an actual rapper so the theme and the custom soundtrack for this game make it very different compared to everything else out there. 
  • Black Market Escape: Murder Co. (Los Angeles): I played a version of this game in 2019, and it seems that it might be different now but if you are able to stomach this intense, gory game, then it'll be quite the gruesome experience. 
  • Escape Revolution: Escobar (Los Angeles): This game made us do things we would never ever do an an escape room and if you are willing to cough up the steep entry price of $90/person to play and want to see something new, try out "Escobar".
We hope this post helps out anyone who is hoping to venture off to Los Angeles to play escape rooms!

June 12, 2021

District 3: Haunted (Regina, SK)

Haunted

 

We have not heard of many rooms from the Province of Saskatchewan (Canada) so when District 3 reached out to us, we were excited to see what they had to offer.  From their site:

"The family of this home is searching for a good trustworthy group of people to housesit their manor for the Winter. During your time there, you learn about the caretaker and the family, the manor's secrets, and that maybe this isn't the dream stay you were after.

Set Design, Technology & Puzzles 

Haunted was a physical escape room that was adapted for online play. The set that the game took place in was ordinary but the host was extraordinary! He was comedic and quick on his feet, all while holding the webcam and opening locks for us. We particularly liked how the game was set up and the little touches that moved the story along. The puzzles themselves were standard and consisted of quite a few padlocks. The telescape technology, which we have started to become accustomed to, allowed us to examine clues at our leisure via a web browser and we also used it to enter some codes to solve puzzles. There was also an intricate story line that drove the story but as usual, I personally find it difficult to follow when trying to solve things. 


Memorable Moments 

I have a sweet spot for when actors in a game try to be funny or dramatic. It's almost an extra bonus to see someone playing a fun role in a game and this was definitely the most memorable part of the experience.  

Room For Improvement

There were a few instances where we had to listen to audio clues that, if taken out of order, made things complicated. 

Overall Thoughts

A great gamemaster/actor really made the difference in this game. If you are looking for a somewhat creepy (but not really), puzzly experience you should try out Haunted!




  • Set design: Average
  • Difficulty: Average
  • Price: +$19/player
  • Number of players: +2, (we recommend 2-4), private
  • Duration: 60 minutes
  • Overall Rating: ★★★★
See their website here: http://www.district3.ca/

Disclosure: District 3 comped the tickets for this game

May 19, 2021

2020 Escape Room Enthusiast Survey

2020 Survey
Screenshot of the Interactive Dashboard

Lee-Fay and Errol have once again compiled the results of the annual Escape Room Enthusiast Survey and this time the focus was on online games. I tried to recreate the results and insights that Lee-Fay and Errol captured in the PDF report which is quite a different take from the 2019 visualization version that was much more of a creative endeavor. 

As always, the visualization is best viewed on a large screen and you should click around on various charts and filters to see how things turned out.

Click the this link to access the 2020 Online Escape Room Enthusiast Visualization

Click this link to see the survey results document.

May 9, 2021

EscapeSF: King Arthur & Gingerbread House (San Francisco, CA )


We got to play our first in person escape room of the year at EscapeSF, located in Chinatown in San Francisco. It was such a great feeling to be able to physically touch things in an escape room rather than just viewing it through a computer. We ventured out to play the newly released King Arthur's Legacy and also a Christmas popup, Gingerbread Cottage Escape, that was never released due to Covid-19 shutdowns last year.  From EscapeSF's site:


"King Arthur's Legacy
Ages past and the Knights of the Round Table are no longer in Camelot. The gift of Lady of the Lake is waiting for the hero and Merlin the Magician keeps its secrets. You must assemble a company and get to the Excalibur. 

Gingerbread Cottage Escape
Ding! Nothing beats the smell of fresh baked gingerbread cookies around the holidays...except when YOU are the gingerbread cookies. *Kids friendly"

Set Design, Technology & Puzzles 

King Arthur's Legacy
The set design in this game was on par with what one would expect in an office space right in the middle of Chinatown, however, the props that were used were great. The swords that were used were custom made from Russia and they were really heavy to lift! There were some neat surprises that we didn't expect and this reminded us of how much we loved playing physical escape rooms. EscapeSF was also the company where we played some of our very first games back in 2016 so it was great feeling to come back. Many of the puzzles were based on observation and ciphers that are prevalent in escape rooms.

Gingerbread Cottage
This game was designed for kids and we were told it was super easy but we loved the Christmas theme and how cute it was! The set was basic, but effective given that it was made for children. Experienced players would get out of this 45 minute room in 15-20 minutes so it's best to play with kids.

Memorable Moments 

King Arthur's Legacy had a fun physical puzzle that fired us up and made our day. Gingerbread Cottage was just really cute and it's hard to forgot the Gingerbread man that you are trying to build. It reminded me of the same character in Shrek.

Room For Improvement

We felt that the ending of the rooms lacked a grande finale that we often crave from an escape room. Also, the set design could have been more elaborate to provide a more realistic feeling of being in King Arthur's world. 

Overall Thoughts

We enjoyed the first in person room we played in 2021 and while the games were not groundbreaking, they were definitely some solid fun.




  • Set design: Average
  • Difficulty: Average
  • Price: +$115/game
  • Number of players: 2-7, (we recommend 2-3), private
  • Duration: 60 minutes
  • Overall Rating: ★★★★ (both games)
See their website here: https://escapesf.net

Disclosure: EscapeSF comped the tickets for this game

April 18, 2021

Claustrophobia: Dream Factory (Online, Moscow, Russia)

Dream Title

Claustrophobia invited us to play another large scale Zoom game called "Dream Factory". Like their first game we played (World Domination), there were six teams (four-five players per team) but this time each team represented a different movie studio. Each studio plotted towards achieving the biggest box office hits. This was more of a strategic game and not a traditional escape room as there were no puzzles to solve. We also teamed up with Room Escape Artist Hive Mind reviewers because of the scale of the game (see their review here). 

In every round of this game, each studio had to choose the genre of movie they wanted to produce, attempt to sign a celebrity to play the star, invest in advertising, tap into the paparazzi or buy marketing forecasts for industry intel.  Teams would meet in Zoom breakout rooms to discuss their selections in secret and then at the end of each of the five rounds, all teams would meet up and present their ideas.

Here is a breakdown of what each team had to be aware of.
  • Movie Stars: Each round you had to submit a single bid for one of four celebrities. If you were outbid, your movie would have no star and be adversely affected in terms of ticket sales. We asked if we could bid on two stars but were told that we probably shouldn't.
  • Genre: Each round, a genre was also chosen and the box office forecasts for each genre could be known ahead of time if money was spent on a marketing forecast. The tricky part was that the box office dollars were split equally by all studios that had the same genre so it could be better to choose a less popular theme in order to get the full earnings potential.
  • Paparazzi: Some celebrities would be caught in some scandals, thus affecting their movie box office performance. A studio could avoid this actor if they paid money for some intel.
  • Advertising: This somehow affected your revenue as well but it wasn't quite clear as to how much of a difference it made.

Highlights and Memorable Moments

Every round, each team had to present their film and it was fun but also quite stressful to come up with anything coherent in as little as eight minutes! At the end of the presentations, teams voted for what they thought was the best movie of the round and a score was presented. The goal of this game really wasn't to "win" but more to have fun with some ridiculous story telling. Once a studio had a box office lead, we noticed that they never got any votes for best movie, despite getting the most laughs or having the most clever punch lines. This was one of those games where everyone could team up and slow down the leader by simply not awarding them any votes. Nonetheless, this experience provided a ton of laughs and was highly dependent on the personalities of the individuals who participated. 

One of the movie hits was an extremely inappropriate, but hilarious NC-17 rated blockbuster that was concocted by some dirty minds.

Dream Factory
Really amazing group of people!

Room For Improvement

While there was a scoring system in the form of box office revenue, it wasn't quite clear how this was affected by the different elements in the game. How bad was it to not have a movie star or to not put any resources into advertising? We didn't have a clue. There was also some text that was still in Russian but we were able to Google translate it pretty quickly. 

Another aspect that should be considered was that shy people found themselves standing back as an observer. Perhaps a game mechanic that made everyone present something could have mitigated this?

Dream Score
From Claustrophobia

Overall Thoughts

I always appreciate the large style online games (+30 players) as it's incredibly difficult to craft an activity where so many people, for the most part, can actively participate in. Dream Factory's free flowing structure opened the door to whatever was in the minds of its participants which led to something entertaining and hilarious. It was almost like watching an Improv show where all the participants were winners. We recommend playing this game with people who don't take themselves too seriously and who perhaps have a tad of silliness in them.
  • Difficulty: Just have fun!
  • Number of players: 12-35 (we recommend 24)
  • Duration:  1.5-2 hours
  • Overall Rating: ★★★

Disclosure: Claustrophobia comped the tickets for this game

March 27, 2021

The Secret Library: Escape Atlantis (Online)

Escape Atlantis


Secret Library's newest game, "Escape Atlantis", was the first escape room game that we played in 2021. It has been a slow year and we are really hoping that things pick up soon and that everything returns to normal. Nonetheless, we happily took our group of six players into this game with no prior knowledge of what to expect which was a rarity for us! From Secret Library's site:

"Escape Atlantis is a traditional escape room with challenging puzzles and a unique storyline within the Secret Library narrative universe. This experience ventures beyond the common videoconferencing experience to include an integrated floorplan to encourage immersion and autonomy. Search for clues and work collboratively as you uncover the mysteries surrounding this ethereal realm of knowledge. This experience utilizes interactive features to bring you into the story even before the event even begins."

The layout of the game was something that we had not seen before in the previous online escape rooms played. There was a mini-map of Atlantis where we could click on different locations in order to "travel" there. Once at the location, we had access to puzzle elements and the input mechanic was typically typing in the answer. The novel part was that people in the same room were able to see and talk to each other with what seemed to be some sort of Zoom video integration. When players left the room, you could no longer communicate with them so this was a pretty realistic way of simulating a physical escape room. The game also utilized videos in order to tell the story throughout the experience. 

The puzzles in the game were standard for escape rooms and involved logic, ciphers codes and pattern recognition. 

Highlights and Memorable Moments 

The technology used to move people around the virtual space was great. Popping in and out of a location and seeing who was in the room with you provided a strong sense of connection that we normally take for granted when everyone can always see each other. The finale also provided some inadvertent laughs as we botched the last riddle with some ridiculous logic. 

Room For Improvement

The puzzles were similar to puzzles that you would find on paper in an escape room. The puzzles were all fair and logical but we felt that they didn't leverage the online medium in a way that other online escape rooms did. Also, looking at puzzles pieces on multiple tabs was a bit clunky.

Overall Thoughts

This game would be great for players who like a traditional "point and click" game and who are itching to get back into playing escape rooms. 




  • Set design: 2D Map
  • Difficulty: Average
  • Price: $100/game
  • Number of players: Up to 8, (we recommend 3-4), private
  • Duration: 60 minutes
  • Overall Rating (For Online games): ★★★★
See their website here: https://www.secretlibrary.io

Disclosure: The Secret Library comped the tickets for this game

February 1, 2021

World Domination (Online, Claustrophobia/Tulleys Escape)

Global dominance banner

One of the world's largest escape room creators, Claustrophobia, has created an online game called World Domination, where six teams (four to five players per team), each representing a different country, plot towards achieving...world domination. We played the English version of this game via Tulleys Escape Room in London, where we actually had the pleasure in 2019 to play their wonderful physical escape rooms

In this game, each country can focus on growing their economy, which in turns gives them more money to spend on actions the next round, or developing a nuclear program and bombing other cities. There are 6 rounds and before each round, there is a 15 minute negotiation period where teams can decide how to spend their money and also visit other countries to negotiate whatever nefarious plans they may have. As countries develop their cities, their average standard of living score increases but if a city is bombed, that city's score goes to zero. The country with the highest score after six rounds is the winner. This online game takes place via a Zoom conference call.

Each country can spend their money on the following actions:
  • Develop their cities and helping grow their economy (more $ for the next round)
  • Put a shield on one of their own cities
  • Research nuclear technology (eventually make and launch bombs)
  • Improving the world ecology
  • Sanction another country to reduce their economy


Highlights and Memorable Moments

The game is not an escape room but more like a game of Risk mixed in with a lot of behind the scenes negotiations. The people that you play with will have much more of an impact on how entertaining the game is even when compared to an escape room where your teammates are really important. The fun really happens when you act as an ambassador and visit another country's zoom chat to try and strike a deal or get insights. Improv and charm will go a long way and if you are not comfortable with that, it might be a bit awkward. At the end of each round, the UN Speaker (i.e. game master) will show the status of the standard of living for every city and this is how everyone can see if some countries have been investing their economy or...weapons!

Zoom screenshot of the group

As the President of each country voices their opinions for the state of affairs, many things can be taken out of context which is actually how real life politics works. For example, our President was making small talk and congratulating the countries with the highest standard of living with no ill intentions, yet we found out that those countries thought we were trying to paint a target on their backs. It was really fun to see some people doing their best to act Presidential and everyone in our game happened to be really polite and almost too nice. It would have been funnier to have a bad boy who did crazy stuff. :)

It was amazing to get such a big group of people together and to interact with them in such an engaging manner. My country, the Bahamas, was able to coordinate precise attacks on two of the top cities in the game to radically change the leaderboard. The final round had TONS of bombing with basically every country losing at least one city. Here were the results of the game:

Game Leaderboard
Game Results

Room For Improvement

From a technical aspect, some players got stuck in another country's Zoom meeting as you had to press the help button and wait for a UN representative to transfer you back to your own country's Zoom break out room. This was generally fine for all but the final frantic round where everyone was trying to strike deals. It was difficult to get a meeting with another country because the UN representatives were super busy and it was nerve wracking to see the clock ticking down while your game depended on reaching out to another country to take down the leaders.

There was some dead air in between rounds when the Presidents of each country were allowed to openly discuss things. I think that more prompting by the UN for each country to at least give some words each round would have made things more interesting. Of course, this is where having colorful people in the game makes things super funny.

One more round, for a total of seven rounds, would have been preferable as all the action takes place towards the end. 


Overall Thoughts

World Domination was a unique and entertaining experience. The group dynamics is even more fun when you know the majority of the people in the game. While there were some frantic moments and some logistics that can be improved upon, the game really worked well with such a large group and the more extroverted the people, the funnier it will be! If you can wrangle a sizable crowd or want to celebrate an event, this would surely be memorable and enjoyable.
  • Difficulty: Medium
  • Price: £9.95/person
  • Number of players: 12-35 (we recommend 24)
  • Duration:  1.5-2 hours
  • Overall Rating: ★★★

Disclosure: Tulleys Escape Rooms & Games comped the tickets for this game

January 5, 2021

2020 Escape Rumors Achievement unlocked Medalists


2020 was a crazy year and we wanted to look back at the positives and announce a short list of top escape rooms that we played.  The winners below are a mix of both traditional physical rooms and online based games.

Achievement unlocked medals are awarded every year to the top escape rooms played by Escape Rumors. There is no limit in terms of rooms awarded and they are sorted alphabetically.

The escape rooms with direct links have reviews. Feel free to contact us at info@escaperumors.com for any comments or questions.

Escape Rumors Achievement unlocked Medalists

Frost Base Z (Rabbit Hole, Denver, Colorado)
Frost Base Z takes place on a magnificent frozen base straight out of the movies!

Ghost Patrol (Trivium, Emeryville, California) - Review to come
The clean design along some great puzzle evolution all the way to the finale makes Ghost Patrol a satisfying experience from beginning to end!

Plight Of The Margo Part 1 & 2 (ConTRAPtions, For Collins, Colorado)
This puzzle-heavy escape room has the most intense starship set design we have ever seen, along with some serious equipment to go along with it!

Pursuit of Assassin Artist (Omescape, Online)
Pursuit of The Assassin Artist delivers a top of class experience with a novel game mechanic that will reset your expectations of an online escape room!

Starlight Motel (Escape Artist, Greenville, South Carolina)
Some fun actor interaction, sprinkled with some tense moments within a creepy motel is what makes this room standout when compared to others in the genre!

The Truth About Edith (Mad Genius Escape Co., Online)
The Truth About Edith blends a whimsical storyline, fun mini-games and a 97 year young lady all into a comedic and delightful experience not to be missed!

Virtual X-Caper (Agent November, Online)
If you are looking for a lighthearted, witty and genuinely hilarious online escape room, you should definitely play Virtual X-Caper!


Congratulations to all the winners and we look forward to 2021!

December 5, 2020

2020 Online Escape Room Recap

One of the many fine online games played this year!

Over the course of this crazy year, we had the opportunity to play a few more online escape rooms, in addition to some great ones like "The Truth About Edith" and "The Ruins" earlier this year. Here is our recap of new games played


Play-At-Home Escape Room Recap


Lost Escape: The Steampunk Adventure (Lithuania)

This was a physical room that was available for online play via an avatar who was extremely friendly and welcoming. Prior to playing the game, we were sent an email with some images that provided a closer look at some elements in the actual room. While the gameplay was standard for a linear escape room, the contraptions and steampunk devices were just wonderful to see and "play" with. It was one of those rooms that would have been great to play in person because of all of the tactile puzzles (no padlocks) and cool gadgets to fiddle around with. There were some nice special effects (again, wish we saw them in person) and you could the passion that the creators had in producing a nicely polished game. 

The Steampunk Adventure game transports you into an immersive world with tons of delightful and interactive mechanical devices. To top it off, we had a superb Avatar that perfectly helped us along the way and we can't wait to play their next adventure!
  • Set Design: Great!
  • Difficulty: Medium
  • Price: €10/person
  • Number of players: Up to 6 (we recommend 2-3)
  • Duration: 60 minutes
  • Overall Rating: ★★★
Steampunk Adventure

Agent November: Virtual X-Caper (London, UK)

Based on previous experiences, I believe that games in London always have great actors. This could be due to either of the following reasons: Actors are London's greatest export / Anyone with a British accent sounds prestigious. Virtual X-Caper was no exception as the actor in this game was brilliant in a comedic and whimsical fashion. The game starts off with you seeing/hearing everything that your avatar sees and they did a great job in making us feel that we were in his head.

As you might have guessed, the highlight of this game was the actor interaction that took place in what was otherwise a basic set and a common spy theme. Sometimes we would laugh as our spy proceeded to be silly while in the back of our minds we wanted to shout out "we don't have time for this you fool!". There were a decent amount of padlocks to open, paper puzzles to solve, some meta video games nods and some nice touches of real life elements. While this game might be a bit on the lighter side for puzzlers, I think that anyone with a good sense of humor will appreciate the game for what it is. I tend to prefer immersion over puzzles and I quite thoroughly enjoyed this experience because of the puns and the witty character at hand. 

If you are looking for a lighthearted, witty and genuinely hilarious online escape room, you should definitely play Virtual X-Caper! Can we have more of Agent November please?
  • Set Design: Basic
  • Difficulty: Medium
  • Price: ~$20/person
  • Number of players: Up to 6 (we recommend 2-3)
  • Duration: 60 minutes
  • Overall Rating: ★★★
Virtual X-Caper

Omescape : Pursuit of The Assassin Artist (Sunnyvale, CA)

This is another really fascinating online only game where we had a video game-like mechanic of having "multiple lives". The decisions we made could lead to our Avatar's death and the game would start over from scratch and we'd have to repeat our actions in order to advance again. The element of role-playing was big so if you are into that, you would definitely like this game. While the puzzles were not overly complex, there were a few times where we had to do things that are not permissible in an actual escape room. Overall, the unique format and the great dynamics of having two actors makes this a great room if you could swallow the price tag of $190/game. 

Pursuit of The Assassin Artist delivers a top of class experience with a novel game mechanic that will reset your expectations of an online escape room!
  • Difficulty: Medium
  • Price: $190! flat fee per game 
  • Number of players: 2-8, (we recommend 2-3)
  • Duration: 90 minutes
  • Overall Rating: ★★★★★

60out : Orion's Ridiculous Revenge (Los Angeles, CA)

This was a free game offered by 60out and was a mix of a point-and-click game with cut scenes that were used to move the story along. There was a live game master that helped with setting everything up but was for the most part not part of the game. At first when I heard about the format, I had my doubts but the game was well done and funny if you are ok with some raunchy humor. There were a lot of adult-only references so keep that in mind if you are thinking about playing this game. We had a lot of laughs and your enjoyment will be a lot more dependent on who you play even with compared to other games. At times, we could fast tracked our way through or half-heartedly play along with some of the sillier elements but we were all fully engaged!
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Price: Was free but now $15/person
  • Number of players: Up to 8, (we recommend 2-3)
  • Duration: 60 minutes
  • Overall Rating: ★★★★★


Society of Curiosities : Mysterious Map Heist (Online/Physical)

We received an envelope in the mail that brought us on a treasure hunt for. The contents of the envelope were some paper puzzles and some clues to help find an artifact of some sort. What was really clever about this game was how they integrated real life concepts that blurred the line between game play and reality. One of the most gratifying aspects involved interacting with one of the characters in the game via actual text messaging. We didn't know if we were texting a bot or an actual person so we tried some off topic messages and it really felt like there was a real person on the other end. If we can't tell the difference, then does it really matter?
  • Difficulty: Medium
  • Price: $30-$40/person 
  • Number of players: 2-8, (we recommend 2-3)
  • Duration: 60 minutes
  • Overall Rating: ★★★★
Mysterious Map

Image from societyofcuriosities.com


The Escape Game: Truth Seekers (Nashville, TN)

This game was a modified version of The Escape Game's "The Heist" room and a tie-in to a new show, "Truth Seekers, starring Simon Pegg and Nick Frost on Amazon Prime. Just like their other game (Ruins) that we played, we had a live avatar who took directions from the group and played through a physical room. The same 360 degree room view and inventory was used which really helped with any sort of motion sickness that one might experience. Our avatar was helpful and very professional and The Escape Game seems to always excel in this aspect. Overall, the game was pretty short (32 minutes) but a great entry into the world of online escape rooms.
  • Set Design: Fine 
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Price: Free
  • # of Players: 2-8 (we recommend 2-3)
  • Duration: 45 minutes
  • Overall Rating: ★★★


Wild Hare Escapes: Serf's Quest (Online Only)

This retro-style point-and-click game was a parody of games like King's Quest. The 8-bit look along with the old school feeling were spot on. One of the highlights of this game was all the puns which gave the team a few good laughs. One room for improvement would be to automate hints with text boxes as opposed to having a live game master read them out to you. We were two remote groups that were essentially playing the game independently so any tasks that one group did, the other would have to backtrack and do the same.  This format would be better suited as a single player/connection game.  
  • Set Design: Nice 8-bit graphics
  • Difficulty: Medium
  • Price: $25/person
  • Number of players: Up to 10 (we recommend 2-3 with one connection)
  • Duration: 60 minutes
  • Overall Rating: N/A, not an online escape room
 
The Room VR: A Dark Matter (Oculus Quest) 

This multiple award winning VR game was extremely polished and clean. So far, this game was the closest a virtual game could get in terms of replicating the feel of a physical escape room. While the old school theme wasn't one of my favorite, the game play was so gratifying and smooth that I kept getting sucked back into it.
  • Set Design: Amazing VR sets
  • Difficulty: Medium
  • Price: $30
  • Number of players: 1
  • Duration: 4-5 hours
  • Overall Rating: ★★★★★


Other Online Rooms Previously Played

We hope this post helps out anyone who is looking for some online escape rooms to play!

Note that some of the above games may have been complimentary to our team.




November 21, 2020

Denver Escape Room Recap

Rabbit Hole Paradox

A short stop over in Denver allowed us to play a handful of really fun games. We did not have much time but we were still able to hit most of the top locations in the area. We were also fortunate enough to make our way to Fort Collins for a day as well and the below will recap our experiences.


Impressions & Observations During Our Denver Escape Room Trip


Getting Around

We opted to use ride apps to get around because renting a car for some reason was almost $100/day. It worked out cheaper for us this way and were lucky to get a lift up to Fort Collins.

Game Impressions
The level of polish for the games that we played was high and the puzzling was also challenging. One of the games we played had such a stunning atmosphere and another was difficult to the point where I could see a lot of people struggling to enjoy the moment. More on this to come.

Do Other Things 
We really did not have much time but many people have recommended a visit to Colorado Springs. Perhaps the next time we visit we will be able to see a little more of the area and the surroundings.


Denver Escape Room Recap


Rabbit Hole  (Louisville, CO)
Games played: "Frost Base Z" and "Paradox"

"Frost Base Z" took place on a magnificent frozen base straight out of the movies! While the "virus in the lab" theme was far from unique, the execution of this game was at another level compared to most games out there. The puzzles were thematic and it made us feel that we were in a different world. It might be because I am a huge sci-fi fan but I really enjoyed the tech used to integrate the puzzles and move the story along. This was our favorite room in Denver.

"Paradox" had an inventor's theme and the central gameplay revolved around a sleek looking centerpiece. The game started off in an ordinary fashion and there were some really visually spectacular effects that took place. Solid game play, similar to "Frost Base Z", but with less discovery.
  • Set Design: Amazing!
  • Difficulty: Medium
  • Price: $30-$40/person 
  • Number of players: 2-8, (we recommend 2-3)
  • Duration: 60 minutes
  • Overall Rating: Frost Base Z ★★★, Paradox★★★★½
Frost Base Z
Rabbit Hole Lobby


Conundrum (Arvada, CO)
Games played: "Experiment C73", "Hollywood Mystery"

"Experiment C73" was a psychological experiment that had a lot of "aha" puzzles. There wasn't anything flashy but the gameplay was clever, clean and different enough to be a very enjoyable room. I am biased towards rooms that make me chuckle. 

"Hollywood Mystery" was a standard room meant for beginners and it would actually be a great starter room for anyone. It's easy and gets your feet wet in the world of escape rooms.

  • Set Design: Average 
  • Difficulty: Easy/Medium
  • Price: $25-$40/person 
  • # of Players: 2-8 (we recommend 2)
  • Duration: 60 minutes
  • Overall Rating: Experiment C73 ★½, Paradox ★★★

303 Escape (Thornton, CO)
Games played: "Homicide Hotel"

"Homicide Hotel" was the new kid in town and almost nobody we knew had the chance to play this game. I normally skip horror rooms but was assured this was more creepy than scary. The room turned out to be a pleasant surprise with great immersion and discovery. It was on the easier side but it is defintely work playing if you are in the area.
  • Set Design: Great!
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Price: $30-40/person
  • Number of players: 2-6 (we recommend 2-3)
  • Duration: 60 minutes
  • Overall Rating: ★★★★½
303 Escape

 
ConTRAPtions (Fort Collins, CO) 
Games Played: "Plight of the Margo Part 1 & 2"

"Plight of the Margo" was an interesting game. The set felt like an actual industrial spaceship like what you see in the movies. The computer interface was something out of a movie. The props were great and there were so many things in the room that...we often did not have a clue what to do. This 3 hour game had a LOT going on and the level of difficulty was very high. We played with two newbies and you could tell that it was just too much. At times, some teammates would spend 20 minutes on a task where they knew exactly what to do, it just was hard to get right. Indeed a polarizing game but nonetheless quite impressive for seasoned veterans looking for something different.
  • Set Design: Great!
  • Difficulty: Very Hard
  • Price: $76/person 
  • Number of players: Up to 10 (we recommend 4-6)
  • Duration: 180 minutes
  • Overall Rating: ★★★★★ (for the puzzle inclined only) 
Margo Group


Other Escape Rooms In The Area

Some other rooms that we heard great things about during our research and talks with locals but did not play were:
  • Rabbit Hole: We didn't get to play "Ruins of the Mystic Temple"
  • Fort Collins Escape Room: Just a few blocks from ConTRAPtions but we didn't have time to swing by.
We hope this post helps out anyone who is hoping to venture off to Denver to play escape rooms!


October 18, 2020

North Carolina & South Carolina Escape Room Recap

Crystal Cave at Valcarol
One of North Carolina's escape room stand outs: The Crystal Cave @ Valcarol
The Carolinas are often touted for having great Southern food but how is their escape room scene? Not many people in our network have played games in the area and this was not planned as an escape room trip but, as usual, I threw in a few games here and there :) There was a prominent local blogger (www.escapeadventurer.com) that we relied heavily on for recommendations so here is a shout out to Brandon for answering all our questions!

We based ourselves in Charlotte, NC and traveled to a few cities that were all within a two hour drive, as noted below. Based on our research, we believe we hit up pretty much the best rooms that were open in the area.
  • Concord, NC - 30min northeast of Charlotte
  • Indian Trail, NC - 30min southeast
  • Greenville, SC - 1h45min west
  • Columbia, SC - 1h35min south

Impressions & Observations During Our Charlotte Escape Room Trip


Responsive Escape Room Owners & Employees
We sometimes reach out to owners/employees in order to facilitate the booking of back to back rooms and almost every single one was super responsive. Not only were they responsive, they were also extremely kind and friendly and more so than almost any other city that we have been to! It must have been the Southern hospitality you hear about! 

Getting Around
As you would expect, a car is needed in order to get around. Traffic seemed to be light, even during rush hour except when we were driving back to Charlotte from Greenville (Sunday evening) where the opposite direction was backed up for miles.

Local Charm
All the games that we played were crafted with TLC. Some ranged from high quality homemade to some pretty elaborate sets. While the themes we encountered were not original, we still had a lot of fun playing every game.

Do Other Things 
If you are visiting Charlotte for the first time, here are some ideas of what you can do other than escape rooms:
  • U.S. National White Water Center (Charlotte): This is a must visit if you love any sort of outdoor activity. You can choose over 30 different things to try, ranging from a man-made white water rafting course, rock climbing over a pool, treetop climbing, ledge jumping, zip-lining, etc. Plan to spend the whole day here!
White Water Center
  • Food (Charlotte): Try out "Oh My Soul", a South African plant-based comfort food restaurant with a nice outdoor seating area. It is located in the NoDa neighborhood, which is absolutely charming to walk around.
  • Food (Columbia, SC): "A Piece of Soul Vegan Kitchen", arguably the best chicken sandwich I've ever had in my life!


North Carolina & South Carolina Escape Room Recap


Escape Artist Greenville (Greenville, SC)
Games played: "Starlight Motel", "Classified" and "Zero to Hero"

"Starlight Motel" was a favorite amongst locals, including other owners, and had the traditional creepy serial killer theme. It had the largest footprint of all the games we played at this location and the highlight was the actor interaction. I typically find that a good actor enhances the immersion of a room and that was definitely accomplished in Starlight Motel. Other than a few light jump scares, it was not that scary relative to other rooms we have played in cities like LA.

"Classified" was the preferred room by some team members as the theme was cute and more unique. I did not know what the theme was before booking and I think it would be more fun going in not reading anything about it. I would say that this room is just as fun as Starlight but in a lighthearted way. I highly recommend doing this room along with Starlight Motel if you are passing by the area.

"Zero to Hero" was a split room game that was fun but there was a lack of adventure. Think of it as a test or a trial of sorts, which fit the theme perfectly but then took away from the immersion. Like the other two rooms, there was actually a good amount of technology embedded in the puzzles.

All three games we played were extremely polished and clean. Set designs were great and puzzles were all pretty fair. Escape Artist was definitely one of the highlights in the area!
  • Set Design: Great!
  • Difficulty: Medium
  • Price: $30-$35/person 
  • Number of players: 2-8, private (we recommend 2-3)
  • Duration: 60 minutes
  • Overall Rating: Starlight Motel & Classified ★★★★½, Zero to Hero ★★★½
Starlight Motel
Starlight Motel
Zero To Hero
Zero To Hero

The Final Door (Columbia, SC)
Games played: "Down The Rabbit Hole", "The Vampyre"

"Down The Rabbit Hole" was one of the top rooms that we played on our trip! We do tend to favor lighthearted themes and games with a large footprint which both fit this game perfectly. I've played a few Alice in Wonderland games and this so far has been the best one. I have never seen the movie so there were probably some references that flew over my head but I knew enough to have a really good time. Most of the puzzles utilized padlocks but that didn't detract from any of the gameplay. A must play in Columbia!

"The Vampyre" was also a high quality room with some nice effects. I would say that this room had a similar calibre in terms of execution to "Down the Rabbit Hole" but with more technology wrapped in a more common theme. There were some nice customized elements in this game though that will be sure to make you smile.

Both rooms had a great sense of discovery as you moved along the game. Ratings are for both rooms.
  • Set Design: Great! 
  • Difficulty: Easy/Medium
  • Price: $30-$35/person 
  • # of Players: 2-8 (we recommend 2-4)
  • Duration: 60 minutes
  • Overall Rating: ★★★★½
The Final Door
Down The Rabbit Hole & Vampyre

The Valcarol Missions (Concord, NC)
Games played: "The Hidden Lab", "The Crystal Cave" 

"The Crystal Cave" was set in the year 3049 and we were a crew trying to repair a water filtration system in a post-apocalyptic world. This game was a real treat as we were greeted with a spectacular set with some awesome technology. With a good variety of puzzle types and spacious area, the game was a standout in the market.

"The Hidden Lab" had us search for a vaccine to save humanity. Once again we are in the year 3049 where padlocks no longer exist! As you develop the vaccine, you get to interact with a futuristic centerpiece that you don't often see in escape rooms. Along with some nice reveals and some nice effects, this game is on par with "The Crystal Cave".  

Both games are part of the same storyline and form two parts of a trilogy created by the owners of Valcarol. The set design and immersion were one of the best in the Charlotte area and the amount of automation that was programmed was impressive. We got to peek at the control center for all the games and what was created by a team of two people was unbelievable.  Ratings are for both rooms.
  • Set Design: Amazing!
  • Difficulty: Medium/Hard
  • Price: $26/person
  • Number of players: 2-8 (we recommend 2-4)
  • Duration: 60 minutes
  • Overall Rating: ★★★★½
Valcarol graciously provided complimentary games for us!

The Lab Valcarol
The Hidden Lab

Masterpiece Escapes (Indian Trail, NC)
 
Games Played: "Deadwood Saloon" and "Drained"

"The Deadwood Saloon" had a standard theme but was more involved them many of the other Western games that we played. For a group of two, we were pretty busy figuring out how to solve everything. 

"Drained" was designed for kids and while there were some out of the box puzzles, there were many things in the room that were not to be touched. Given that there was searching involved, this rule made it somewhat awkward with the in-room GM.
  • Set Design: Deadwood Salon - Great, Drained - Average 
  • Difficulty: Medium/Easy
  • Price: $25/person 
  • Number of players: 2-8 (we recommend 2-4)
  • Duration: 60 minutes
  • Overall Rating: Deadwood Saloon ★★★★, Drained ★★★
Deadwood Saloon
Deadwood Saloon
Drained
Drained

The Box (Charlotte, NC)
Games Played: "Cold Case Killer", "The Ventriloquist"

"Cold Case Killer" had a nice start where we were greeted by the GM in character. The room itself took place in a standard home with a nice twist along the way. 

"The Ventriloquist" takes place in a single room but with some nice puzzles in a somewhat unique take on the serial killer theme.  

Both rooms are great for those starting to get into escape rooms.
  • Set Design: Average
  • Difficulty: Average
  • Price: $28/person 
  • Number of players: 2-8,  (we recommend 2-3)
  • Duration: 60 minutes
  • Overall Rating:★★★½

Ventriloquist
The Ventriloquist


Timed Out (Charlotte, NC) 
Games Played: "Precinct"

This started off as a standard "whodunit" mystery and with the help of a few plot twists, became much more exciting. Solving cases had never been more fun and even the opening of padlocks were enjoyable because of the theme. There were quite a few things that some enthusiasts will have seen many times before but the satisfying ending sets it apart from other games with the same theme. 
  • Set Design: Average 
  • Difficulty: Above Average Price: $28/person 
  • Number of players: 2-5, private (we recommend 2) 
  • Duration: 60 minutes 
  • Overall Rating:★★★½ 

Escape Plan (Columbia, SC) 
Games Played: "Floor 23" 

This game took place in an elevator and the setting was superb. There were some quality effects and jump scares all packed into a tight space. The puzzles however, often required leaps of logic on more than a single occasion so takes hints liberally. 
  • Set Design: Great! 
  • Difficulty: Hard 
  • Price: $28/person 
  • Number of players: 2-5, private (we recommend 2) 
  • Duration: 60 minutes 
  • Overall Rating:★★★½

Other Escape Rooms In The Area

Some other rooms that we heard great things about during our research and talks with locals but did not play were:
  • Exit Strategy (Charlotte): With 2 locations, this was the first company in Charlotte to open up escape rooms. They were unfortunately closed when we were in town.
  • Mind Games (Rock Hill, SC): CarnEvil was also recommended by owners and is directly in between Columbia, SC and Charlotte, NC. 
  • Escape Plan (Columbia, SC): We didn't get to play Mutiny here
We hope this post helps out anyone who is hoping to venture off to Charlotte to play escape rooms!