September 29, 2019

13th Hour: Dungeon, Great Room, Grand Parlor (Wharton, NJ)


Guest post by Matt Kimmel:

13th Hour Escape Rooms (formerly The Haunted Scarehouse) began as a haunted house, but as escape rooms became popular, expanded and built five escape rooms, with a sixth opening soon. We were able to play three. The company has a unifying horror theme, weaving a story about the notorious killer, John Hayden, and his family through each of their rooms. From their website:

"The Dungeon
Our newest room, the Dungeon offers a unique challenge that is only for the tough. Faint of heart beware. You start your game blindfolded and led to your cells. You get chained and locked into your cells unaware of your surroundings. Do you have what it takes to escape?

The Great Room
This is the Hayden families room of murders. This section of the farmhouse is known as the Great Room. This massive section of the farmhouse will challenge your witts in all fashions. Multiple sections, secret passage ways and puzzles you never experienced before will have your team running mad. What terrible secrets lies within the Great Room. Just what were the Hayden family members up too. 

The Grand Parlor
You all have been chosen, chosen for a simple task of wit and courage. It seems someone has misplaced Bishop Hayden’s ashes. As uncaring as this may seem, it’s actually very important. Bishop and Edna Hayden were a killing team back in their time and they must be reunited in the afterlife. If you find Bishop’s urn and they are reunited, we will let you leave without harm. If not, you will all become part of the Hayden farmhouse forever!"

Set Design, Technology & Puzzles 

The Dungeon
This one starts with a split-team experience, where each group member is placed in their own cell after being captured by John Hayden and must escape. The dimly lit, derelict basement isn't visually stunning, but it does a very good job at looking like a dingy murder basement. The puzzles were straightforward, and often amounted to using information found across the room to translate a list into a 4 or 8 digit code. The set design included multiple levels and secret doors, with at least one puzzle taking advantage of the multilevel set. There are stairs, so if anyone in your group has mobility concerns, make sure to check with them.

The Great Room
The Great Room is a more ornate room which continues to take advantage of multilevel set design. The technology here is more impressive; the venue's roots as a haunted house are on full display, and they're not afraid to use moving elements beyond simple opening boxes and doors.

The Grand Parlor
This room is the venue's newest room, and it shows in the variety of technology and big set pieces used. It's another multilevel room which uses its space fantastically, letting players use certain areas by seeing them prior to the players gaining physical access to them. The layout is impressive and the games opens up wonderfully. There are a lot of puzzles to manage and our team of four had more than our hands full with this one.

Memorable Moments 

The Dungeon 
The item discovered upon winning is a great use of the initial room setup. You'll know it when you see it.

The Great Room
Discovering a puzzle that is mostly inside a secret passage.

The Grand Parlor
First accessing the parlor room. What a great set piece!

Room For Improvement

The rooms were overall very good, but The Dungeon repeated very similar puzzles several times. The Dungeon and the Great Room lack ceilings (if you look up, you'll see straight up to the roof), and as a result, you can hear groups in other rooms yelling back and forth to each other. At times, the rooms also felt a little heavy on padlocks.

Overall Thoughts

The Grand Parlor Room was a masterpiece, including a variety of puzzles, setpiece elements, and technologies. The Great Room was a close second, and in almost any other location would've been a strong standout. The Dungeon was the oldest and simplest of the three, but it still had a couple unexpected tricks and turns and was quite enjoyable.




  • Set design: Great! Less good if you don't enjoy a haunted house aesthetic, since all the rooms share a horror theme
  • Difficulty: Ranges from easy to medium, nothing that is unusually punishing
  • Price: $29/person +$/person to make the room private
  • Number of players: up to 6-10 (recommend 3-6) depending on room. Some puzzles benefit from multiple players.
  • Duration: 60 minutes
  • Overall Rating: The Dungeon: ★★★★, The Great Room: ★★★★½, The Grand Parlor ★★★★★
See their website here: https://13thhourescape.com/

Disclosure: 13th Hour graciously provided discounted tickets

September 3, 2019

Action 500: Kidnapping (Montreal, QC)


This post was written by Melanie and Jason, the latest contributors to EscapeRumors.com! This duo will rock your world with their reviews and help you find which rooms suit you best!

Melanie is an architect and became an escape room enthusiast this year! Having an eye for creativity,  details, and construction, she offers a very interesting perspective on the quality that each room offers.

Jason is a chartered accountant and his skills with numbers and puzzles allows him to explore and analyze rooms with a different point of view.

It is important to mention that all the escape rooms in the Action 500 Montréal location are constructed from storage containers. The games are either half the size of a container or the full size. Either way, the physical space of the rooms are SMALL. They also have air conditioning units hooked up in the rooms because it can get pretty hot inside!

When we played the games, there were no camera in the rooms so hints were given by the GM who basically popped in to see how we were doing every 15 minutes. It was not thaaaat bad, but it took a bit away from the immersive quality of the experience - just imagine a guy with their Action 500 uniform popping in every few minutes asking if you need hints.

Kidnapping was one of the newer themes (horror) that opened in the Montréal location. Here is a description and video from their website:

"It’s 1989 and finally time for your big camping party with your friends to a cabin in the woods. As soon as you arrive, you find out a legendary mass murderer has  escaped from prison and turned your vacation spot into his forest of death.

With a killer outside your cabin and stranded without cellphone service, you and your friends must solve clues and riddles and get outsmart a serial killer.

Can you survive the night and reach the police before the killer reaches you?"

Set Design, Technology & Puzzles 

The decoration in the room related well to the theme, and we definitely got a creepy vibe. The puzzles were actually pretty good and flowed well. I would say it was a low to medium difficulty and people with less experience will probably be able to get through it. It was mostly lock-based, but there were some other simple mechanisms as well. The big issue was that when we finished the game, the thing that was supposed to appear didn't, so we were not 100% sure if we actually escaped! We later found out that there was an electrical issue that they have to fix. A little bit disappointing and hopefully it will be fixed soon!

Memorable Moments 

There was a scare component in the room that was incredibly memorable!

Room For Improvement

The ending of the game would have been more obvious if there was no electrical issue. We all wait for that big climax and unfortunately we didn't get it this time around because the video screen was not fully functional.

Overall Thoughts

The room was pretty good, we liked it. Story was creepy and puzzles were decent. We played the game with 6 people, which was way too many. For the physical size of the room and the puzzles involved, 2-4 people is better. I would say that it is a very good room for beginners, but still a fun flowing game for mid-level experienced players.




  • Set design: Fine, but small
  • Difficulty:  Easy-Medium, good for beginners
  • Price: $24 CAD
  • Number of players: 6 max, (recommend 2-4), public
  • Duration: 60 minutes
  • Overall Rating: ★★★½
See their website here: https://www.x-cape.ca/en/ (renamed to Action 500)