Escape Room LA – The Detective [Review]

Soft-boiled crime drama.

Location: Los Angeles, CA

Date played: October 16, 2016

Team size: up to 10; we recommend 6-8

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: $32 per ticket on weekdays, $37 per ticket on weekends

Story & setting

Set in the 1940s in the office of a private detective, we had to solve an open case and escape before the bad folks arrived.

The set resembled an office from an era that was distinctly not contemporary, but not necessarily specific to the 1940s. The office space included a lot of stuff and with the exception of a few interesting props, wasn’t a particularly compelling space.

In-game, a detective's office with a large desk in the middle, a typewriter, grandfather clock, and large bookcase.
Image via Escape Room LA

There was an in-game gamemaster assuming the role of the detective’s secretary. With the exception of a few hints, we barely felt her presence.


The Detective was a puzzle-focused room escape game. It was designed for a large team and packed full of puzzles.

The puzzles were somewhat varied but primarily paper based, leaning heavily on indexing and making connections.


The Detective had plenty of puzzles. Puzzle lovers will enjoy the volume of material to work through and the complexity of some of the connections. There were a lot of “ah-has!”

The room escape included one custom-built lock. It felt neither modern, nor like a period piece, but it was particularly fun.


For all the puzzles in the game, most of them didn’t need to be solved in that particular detective’s office. They could have boxed up and shipped to anyone, anywhere, to be solved with pencils and paper.

Neither the setting nor the mystery were particularly compelling. We never felt like we were in the 1940s or on a clandestine adventure. As the clock wound down, we felt a sense of urgency from the clock, not from the mystery or story of our own mission.

Should I play Escape Room LA’s The Detective?

The Detective was one of Escape Room LA’s earlier designs and the style and production value are from an earlier era, if we can say that in an industry that has only been prominent in the United States for three years.

That isn’t to say that this was a bad game; rather this was a game crafted in a particular style. It’s packed with puzzles.

If you love puzzles and you can gather a large group of puzzle-loving friends, give this one a go. Ignore the environment and enjoy the puzzles; they are solid.

If you enjoy escape rooms for the opportunity to be a part of a narrative or for the creativity and fabrication of other worlds, try The Alchemist instead.

If you’re interested in spoilers, you can watch Conan make a mockery of The Detective.

Book your hour with Escape Room LA’s The Detective, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.

Full disclosure: Escape Room LA comped our tickets for this game.

1 Comment

  1. “so much as we can say that in an industry that has only been prominent in the United States for three years.”

    It’s amazing we’ve come this far that ‘Gen 4’ is even a term in only a handful of years. Fair point on game style though.

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