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May 14, 2017

Real Escape Game (Quadra): Escape From The Time Travel Lab (San Jose, CA)

We're going back to the future...with a chicken
SCRAP's reputation precedes them and while we were not the biggest fans of their style, (heavy pen and paper puzzles, low tech, crosswords, illogical final riddle), we read that this was SCRAP's best room from another trusted escape room enthusiast, Will, at EscapeRoomTips. Three of us signed up to play in a public room and ended up with a group of eight teenagers. We knew this would be a tough room given that the success rate was 7% (pretty low compared to most which are 20%-30%) and that we were in a mixed group. The story was as follows:

"You are trapped in the mysterious laboratory, where it has been said, they study time travel...You wonder if they were able to make time travelling true… If you cannot find the key to open the exit, you will drop into the spatiotemporal distortion and not able to return to this world again. Will you be able to escape from the time travel lab?"

The style of the room was similar to Kuma's "Detention" in that it was loaded with low tech puzzles [Detention is rather new while the Time Travel Lab has been out for years as one of the first rooms in North America, thanks David from RoomEscapeArtist for pointing this out]. There were a LOT of things to solve so this was one of the very few rooms where we feel it would make sense to have a full group of 11 people. Everyone was well equipped to solve things and there were no frustrations such as a lack of flashlights or pen and paper. The puzzles at the start were explicit (i.e. use this to solve this) and fit well with the lab theme but not so much with the story. Like many of SCRAP's other rooms, there was an actor in game who manually activated triggers. It was refreshing to see an actor who was actually really enthusiastic and funny.

There were some great time travel elements in this escape room and the pace towards the end picked up in a culminating finish. The last five minutes were an absolute blast with everyone running around like little kids. We somehow managed to escape with four minutes to spare and high fives were plentiful. This mixed group was the first time we had a lot of fun in a public room.

Pros: Great use of time travel theme, fun regrouping moments, good variety of puzzles (spatial, math, words, colors, logic, unique...)
Cons: Puzzles matched the theme but not the storyline, fun happens near the end which most groups don't get to play
  • Set/room design: Average
  • Technology/automation: Gen-1 room (low tech)
  • Difficulty: Difficult, tons of puzzles
  • Price: $30/person
  • Number of players: 6-11, open to the public (we recommend 8+)
  • Duration: 60 minutes
  • Overall Rating: ★★★★½ 
See their website here: http://realescapegame.com/sjttl