Escape the Room NYC – Theater [Review]

Be still my beating heart… This is a 12 person room escape that can actually fit 12 people.

Location: New York, New York

Date played: April 26, 2015

Team size: up to 12; we recommend 8-12

Price: $28 per ticket


“The Theater is for up to 12 players. You and your fellow theater goers are trapped in a theater. You have one hour to escape or it’s curtains for everyone.”

12 people!

The website says, “The Theater is for up to 12 players.” We brought 12 adults. We all fit in the room with tons of space to spare. We all had fun.

This never ever happens, and I was totally ready to write about how “12 person rooms shouldn’t be a thing.” The Theater pulls it off because it’s big (huge by Manhattan standards). It’s actually a theater.

Escape the Room NYC Theater - Room Escape Artist

It’s a theater!

The theater actually is a theater. Before the space was converted into an escape game, there were theatery things happening in the same space.

This means that there is theater rigging and auditorium seating.

When I read the description, I was expecting a “backstage” setting with tons of props and costumes.

The setting makes the game. It’s dramatically different from any other escape game I’ve played. Never underestimate the power of a unique environment.

Not us... But a shot of a team inside the room.
Not us… But a shot of a team inside the room.

Image via Escape the Room NYC (Facebook)

Too many 4 digit combo locks

The Theater isn’t perfect.

It has a ton of combination locks, and almost all of them were 4 numerical digits.

Why is this a problem?

Every time you think you have a solution, you have to try it in half a dozen locks. This gets tedious, and you really have to be on top of your game to make sure that you don’t miss a lock.

Locks are great. Lots of locks is fine. A wide variety in combination length, as well as letter, and directional locks help break up the patterns, and creates a situation where the players know which lock a solution belongs to. It seems small, but this makes the room considerably more player-friendly.

Bad lock

One disk in one lock was set incorrectly. For example:

The clues lead us to the number “1234” but the lock accidentally required “2234.”

We burned at least five minutes on that before asking for our a hint. Our game master told us to try “1234” and it didn’t work. We only figured it out because one of our teammates started futzing with the first disk, and accidentally opened the thing.

Bad setups are deeply frustrating, and what makes this even more agitating is that we have had a bad setup three out of six times that we’ve played with Escape the Room NYC.

As a reviewer, this puts me in a tough position because while I think they have some of the most creative and fun games I’ve ever encountered, they have consistent quality control issues that are inexcusable.

Bad setups are never ok. You only get to play these games once; they should be set up correctly.

Bad Lock Response

We reached out to Escape the Room NYC for a comment about quality control. Designer and Co-founder Victor Blake agrees that bad set ups are never ok. He explained the lengths he goes to to ensure correct set ups and high quality game experiences at all his locations. He works hard at it, but sometimes things break and his staff are human.

Our consistent experience with bad locks is not reflective of the total percentage of set up mistakes at Escape the Room; he keeps track. We have to chalk this up to dumb luck.

Victor offered us a refund and free tickets to our next room. He does this for any team that experiences a quality control issue that impacts their experience. We enjoyed the Theater too much to accept the refund, but we accepted the free game; he doesn’t want to treat us differently than he would any other team.

Exceptional Staff

That staff at Escape the Room NYC continue to impress us. They are energetic, engaging, and passionate about the game and the players’ experiences.

Best walkthroughs in the business

Escape the Room NYC has the best post-game walkthroughs in the business. It may seem like a small detail, but it matters.

Walkthroughs are especially important when you’ve just played a 12 person game, as there is no way for each player to keep track of everything that happened.

Escape the Room NYC

Should I play Escape the Room NYC’s Theater?

I love escape games that riff off of local culture and history, and there few things as New York as the theater.

The room is awesome. The game is both fun and challenging (the escape rate is approximately 20%).

I wouldn’t recommend this game for a team of first timers because it’s so different from most rooms that it’s more fun to play after having experienced some more typical escapes.

You can bring a team of 12 people to this game. I think 8-10 is probably ideal, but you’re still going to be able to have a good time with 12.

Escape the Room NYC needs to get a handle on quality control because bad setups keep tainting an otherwise exceptional experience.


    1. I recently played a game with this exact problem. It was compoNunded by the fact that the puzzle answer didn’t give an order to the answer you have. So we each went up to a 4 digit lock, and it proceeded like this

      “3469? Anyone? Nope. 3496? 3649…….?”

      1. That wasn’t a problem in the Theater, there clues led to solid conclusions… It was just difficult to tell which lock to input the answer.

    2. I agree. That being said, the setting and uniqueness of the game outweighed the annoyance of the 4-digit combo locks.

  1. Just played this one! Definitely agree that setting & staff are both excellent. And there are a couple of puzzles that were refreshingly difficult but fair. But I’d also add that 1) it’s too brute forceable (we were able to skip a few puzzles and win by brute forcing our way through two locks in a row), and 2) the only reason it’s remotely able to keep 12 people (11 in our case) mentally occupied for an hour is because of the huge amount of random distracting crap (both in the form of physical items and letters/numbers) lying around the room.

    I can forgive the physical items because they were part of the theme and it was at least fun to examine and interact with them; but if I had a nickel for every useless letter/number groups that appeared MORE meaningful than other letter/number groups that eventually turned out to be useful… well, okay, I’d probably only have a dollar or so, but it was still a lot. Way too much time was spent going, “Okay, everyone try this potentially useful set of letters and numbers on all 5 remaining 4-digit combination locks.”

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