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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...

November 28, 2021

Interview: Sarah From Escape Rumors


Technically, Sarah does not consider herself as part of the Escape Rumors blog although she has accompanied me on most of my trips. Even though she has played almost 300 games, she does not consider herself an enthusiast. So how does someone who gets dragged along to play so many rooms, actually feel about escape games? We have the uncensored interview below!

What are your favorite types of escape rooms?

I like bright colorful rooms with some silly elements and uncommon themes given that we've done so many rooms. I appreciate crafty sets where the game owners wow us with their creativity. 

What was the funniest thing you have seen in an escape room?

I remember Lab Rat in LA had several laugh out loud moments. The premise is ridiculous to start with, there's literal puns all over the walls and some glorious celebration moments with accompanying music. Most of all, it toyed with our team dynamics and left us dumbfounded.

How do you cope with playing so many escape rooms and not being an enthusiast?

Not being an enthusiast doesn't mean I don't like escape rooms. I just would prefer to do one a day instead of say five or six! I have a good time tagging along, but by the end of the day it's all a blur! It's a puzzle in itself to schedule so many rooms in close succession, so I'm grateful to everyone that is willing to do that amount of planning! I guess in general I'm more of a generalist that does a little bit of everything than a specialist that goes all in like you, but I admire your passion.

What is your favorite escape room of all time?

I'll always remember Abduction 4 in Barcelona. Already the rooms in Spain were next level in terms of immersion and physical challenges, but this one brought it to the next level. It starts as you walk in the door and doesn't stop till the last second!

What are your favorite elements in an escape room?

As mentioned before, I like funny elements a lot. If I'm going to play an escape room, a big part of it is the social element, so cooperative puzzles are always a win, whether it's being locked in separate rooms and having to communicate back and forth, or having to coordinate triggering multiple elements in succession. Interacting with actors is always memorable too. And finally, I enjoy large physical puzzles, because those are more immersive and take me out of my routine. I spend my days behind a computer screen at work, so when I go to an escape room I'd rather it be real world interactions.

What was the last escape room that you played?

We got to play the newest room, The Attraction, at Palace Games in San Francisco. It was super high tech, almost too much, bordering becoming a video game.

What type of escape room would you like to see get created?

Maybe an outdoor escape room, that blends orienteering, obstacle courses, and puzzles... But maybe I'm describing a different sport! I'd like to see unusual yet educational themes for escape rooms, like a magic school bus.

Do you ever follow the story in an escape room?

Sometimes, but typically we're too busy trying to get out in time! A simple, easy to follow, plot with an immersive setting typically fares better than an intricate plot that distracts from the action. It's tough to be asked to pause and hold still to listen to story points or to read a whole diary when the clock is ticking.
----

Thank you for being the best Sarah :)

October 24, 2021

Trivium: Ghost Patrol (Emeryville, CA)

Trivium

What do you get when you combine a beautiful set with clever puzzle design? You get one of the top games in the country! Trivium's "Ghost Patrol" is at the top of almost every Northern California enthusiast's list for a good reason. This ghost themed room was actually not scary at all so we can recommend it for enthusiasts and families alike. From their website:

"Spirits can be a real nuisance for the living. So how do we deal with these pesky poltergeists? Just trap them, right?! And then what, store them in some big, central containment unit indefinitely?! Imagine the liability! We're not animal control, we’re detectives! If we can figure out why the ghost is hanging around and fix its problem, then POOF! No spirits to store and no messy clean up. "

Set Design, Technology & Puzzles

Ghost Patrol's set design was impeccably clean and visually pleasing. The attention to detail was apparent in so many parts of the game ranging from the environment to the puzzle flow. The early puzzles built up the knowledge base needed for the later puzzles which was just brilliant and frankly uncommon in many escape rooms. What we also loved was that it was very clear what objects were "in play" and which ones were not so we didn't lose any time debating if we had all the necessary elements to solve something. 

The technology used in the game was well hidden and just like many other aspects of this escape room, seamless. The crafty use of lighting and sound enhanced the gameplay and added to the overall immersion of the game.

Memorable Moments 

The originality and continuity of one of the main puzzle elements was great! Many other items in the room were also custom made which added to the uniqueness of the experience. On a completely different note, the odyssey began with a memorable sci-fi Easter egg. 

Room For Improvement

Ghost Patrol did extraordinarily well in most departments, however, I would have loved to have more action-oriented or "wow" moments. This is personal preference as I am not as puzzle oriented as many enthusiasts. 

Overall Thoughts

If you are ever in the San Francisco Bay Area, you should 100% play Trivium's Ghost Patrol. The game is accessible to all skill levels (unlike, say, Palace Games in the area) and is family friendly as well. The puzzle flow was world class and you'll have a blast! For this reason, we have awarded Ghost Patrol with the Achievement unlocked Award for one of top escape rooms played! 
Trivium Medal



  • Set design: Great!
  • Difficulty: Average
  • Price: $225-275 for 4 players, +30$/ additional player
  • Number of players: 4-8 (recommend 4)
  • Duration: 90 minutes
  • Overall Rating: ★★★★★
See their website here: https://www.triviumgames.com


September 27, 2021

Best Escape Rooms in Phoenix, Arizona

During my latest trip to Phoenix, I teamed up with the amazing Scott who was a local enthusiast. Even though it was the first time I had met him, it felt like Scott was an old friend that I had not seen in a while. I have met so many great folks in the escape room community and I encourage everyone to reach out to play with new people! 

Phoenix Escape Room Standouts


The Nemesis Club: Evil Robots (Phoenix)
Evil Robots
The Nemesis Club had an ice cream shop called "Soda Jerk" as a "front" and you needed a secret password to be let into the back of the store and into the escape room area. The funny part about this was that the ice cream shop served actual desserts. It had a massive line up out the door and most clients didn't even know there was an escape room in the back! It was a sweet set up.
Soda Jerk
The first game we played, "Evil Robots", was fantastic. The overall build out was top notch and on par with Disney attractions. The immersion and tech were solid and the overall experience was a couple of levels above anything else in Phoenix. My only complaint was that I wanted more! I have a soft spot for whimsical sci-fi themes so this game really checked off a lot of boxes for me. 
Ice Cream
We were lucky enough to catch a glimpse of their second game, "Mogollon Monster". This monster was the local version of "Big Foot" and our role as scouts was to find him. The creativity in terms of the use of technology in storytelling was something I had never seen in over 400 escape rooms played. The start and the end were incredible and such a pleasure to experience. Both games at The Nemesis Club were highlights not only in Phoenix but in the country as well!
  • Set Design: Great
  • Difficulty: Medium
  • Price: $35/person 
  • Number of players: Up tp 8 (we recommend 2-3)
  • Duration: 60 minutes
  • Overall Rating: ★★★★★

Great Room Escape: Spellbound (Tempe)

We played this game back when the company was called "Mindspark" and it was the highlight of our trip back in 2018. A great "cabin in the woods" atmosphere along with some satisfying puzzling and a very thematic finale made for a must play in the Phoenix area. There was a time where this game was also available in Louisiana.
  • Set Design: Great
  • Difficulty: Difficult
  • Price: $29/person 
  • # of Players: Up to 10 (we recommend 4)
  • Duration: 60 minutes
  • Overall Rating: ★★★★½

North Valley Escape Room: Big Top Circus (Anthem)

A colorful circus game with some cute puzzles made this escape room a good choice for players of all ages. There were a few other solid games at this locations, such as "Alcatraz", but it had been a while since we played it and we weren't sure if the game was still the same.
  • Set Design: Fine
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Price: $30/person
  • Number of players: 8 (we recommend 2-3)
  • Duration: 60 minutes
  • Overall Rating: ★★★★

Eludsions: Mad Matter's Tea Party (Phoenix)
Mad Hatters
This game had one of the largest footprints out of all the games we played in Phoenix. While a few puzzles were a bit tedious, overall the game exceeded my expectations and bonus points if you like the Alice In Wonderland theme.
  • Set Design: Good
  • Difficulty: Medium
  • Price: $33/person
  • Number of players: Up to 10 (we recommend 3-4)
  • Duration: 60 minutes
  • Overall Rating: ★★★★

Paragon: Return of the Pharaohs (Mesa)

Paragon had a really spectacular set design and some clean tech in their game. Although I was not too excited by the theme, there were some fun elements that excited the beginners in our group.
  • Set Design: Amazing
  • Difficulty: Medium
  • Price: $30/person
  • Number of players: 4-10 (we recommend 4)
  • Duration: Dream 60 minutes
  • Overall Rating: ★★★★

Other Escape Rooms In The Area

Here are some other honorable mentions:
  • Dare To Escape: X-Child (Tempe): Played back in 2018 and it was fun back then but could be dated today. There was a homemade feeling to this game but we enjoyed it nonetheless.
  • North Valley Escape Rooms: Escape Alcatraz (Anthem): Back in 2018, this was our favorite in the area with a massive set that might have been reduced to make space for new games. There was a super memorable element near the beginning of the experience that we didn't expect.
  • The Escape Game: The Theater (Phoenix): A very nice looking theater set with charming elements and at least one tedious puzzle. The game was relatively easy for us.
We hope this post helps out anyone who is hoping to venture off to Phoenix to play escape rooms!

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) 
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!