Escape the Mystery Room (West Nyack, NY): Black Ops Room [Review]

A nonsensical story, a tricky lock, and some meh puzzles wrapped in camouflage.

Location: West Nyack, New York

Date played: August 1, 2015

Team size: not specified; we recommend 3-4

Price: $20 per ticket for teams of 1-5, $18 per ticket for teams of over 6

Theme & Story

The story behind this game went something like: “General Patton has assigned you to defuse a bomb, in a barracks.”

The room was about the size of two respectable cubicles with some kind of World War II airplane painted on the wall. It contained a bookcase filled with books about various wars and a ton of military paraphernalia from a random assortment of eras.

This room looked like it was designed by someone who spent $100 visiting a used bookstore, a Home Depot, and an Army Navy store.

Speaking as a guy who has a degree in American history… Why the hell is General Patton (1885-1945) assigning people in 2015 to disarm a bomb in a barracks that is loaded with random military crap from a variety of different eras?

Mystery Room Palisades Center

Not terrible puzzle structure

Unlike the Sports Room, the Black Ops Room has a reasonable logic flow to it. It’s a linear game and the puzzles proceed accordingly. There is clear cause and effect. You can solve these puzzles without asking for help.

The puzzles aren’t incredible, but they aren’t terrible either.

We solved all of the puzzles in this game within about 15 minutes. And we spent another 15 minutes trying to figure out how to open one particular lock that we’d never seen before.

Mystery Room Palisades Center - Black Ops

The final puzzle

This game was what Escape the Mystery Room calls a “mystery room,” as opposed to an “escape room.” The goal is to solve some problem rather than a door puzzle.

The way you “input” your answer to the mystery is to walk out of the room, find a gamemaster, and tell her the correct answer.

… And yes, that is about as fun as it sounds.

To win the game, you literally have to remove yourself from the game. I am not going to say that the Black Ops Room ever built to a climax, but any tension that had built prior to us solving the final puzzle dissipated the moment I walked out of that room to find the gamemaster.

Should I play Escape the Mystery Room West Nyack’s Black Ops Room?

“Black ops” implies a clandestine operation, which is inherently an intense experience. The name is also riffing off of the title of a popular and intense video game. It’s ultimately a letdown. Taking a chance on sushi at the mall food court just beyond Escape the Mystery Room’s doors is a far more intense experience.

Escape the Mystery Room has established an approach to escape games that is lazy. It seems deliberate because this is not their first location; they started in Georgia.

They use cheap parts, to facilitate weak puzzles, wrapped in poor themes. They take a quantity over quality approach that I sincerely doubt will sustain itself.

Escape the Mystery Room West Nyack is about a 10 minute drive from my parent’s home. I was genuinely excited that there was an escape room company that I could frequent when visiting them. After playing two games, however, I cannot see myself spending the time or money to play another of these games.

Escape the Mystery Room represents the worst in escape gaming. I see no evidence of passion, caring, or a desire to build something special. It comes across as a cynical attempt to cash in on a trend. I worry that anyone who plays Escape the Mystery Room without having played a good escape game will be turned off from the entire industry.

Skip this room. Skip this company.


  1. Thank you! I was just about to sign up for their three rooms (new since you last went) and this was sufficient to give me pause. Have you heard if it has improved at all since you were there in 2015? They know seem to have three nicely themed escape rooms, but can’t tell if their game design or game masters has improved since you were last there.

    1. I haven’t been back in a few years, but this company’s reputation has not improved much. I’ve heard that they have made nominal improvements. They’ve rebranded twice since we initially reviewed them. I suspect that this is to escape the slew of bad reviews that they have on the interwebs.

      Years later, the two games that we played with this company remain among the very worst experiences that Lisa and I have had in escape rooms. I would not go, unless you’re looking to learn from someone else’s mistakes.

      1. Reading comments from the past month – “I could have built something better in my basement”- it seems they have yet to improve. On the other hand, they are still in business!

      2. Yeah, they are still in business. They have proliferated around suburban malls.

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