2017 Golden Lock-In Awards

We played and reviewed 258 room escapes in 2017.

Our escape rate was 96.12%. That’s 10 losses, including one game that appears on this list.

We traveled more than 58,000 miles in search of the finest escape rooms in the world. Our journey took us to:

  • 75 cities and towns
  • 15 US states
  • 7 countries
  • 3 conferences

We played more escape rooms this year than we have in all other years combined.

We also put a heavy focus on hunting down top games wherever we traveled, so in addition to playing more games, we mostly played games that ranged from good to phenomenal.

2017 spoiled us. These 17 escape rooms were the games that we enjoyed the most.

The 2017 Golden Lock-In award, the REA logo turned into an open padlock with a golden ring around it.

There is no such thing as the perfect escape room, but these are the ones that we wish we could play again.

There were plenty of other amazing escape rooms, but we can’t honor them all. In the end these 17 rose to the top.


  1. We only considered games that we both played in 2017. (We did not consider either Time Run or any of the Polish games because only one of us visited these companies.)
  2. We both had to agree to award the room the Golden Lock-In.
  3. We established no arbitrary minimum or maximum number of rooms that could appear on the list.
  4. A company could only win once for the year.

2017 Golden Lock-In Winners

Listed chronologically in the order we played them.

Lab Rats

15 Locks – Austin, Texas

Visually simple, yet deceptively complex, Lab Rats was the most phenomenal large-team game we’ve played because this colorful experiment optimized for collaboration across separated spaces through inventive game mechanics.

Dead Air

The Crux Escape  – Niagara Falls, Canada

Rock & roll might be a shambling corpse, but this rock & roll zombie apocalypse was alive. Dead Air was cohesive, elegant, humorous, and perhaps most shockingly… it made sense, story included. We sent so many attendees of the Room Escape Conference to visit this low-budget masterpiece and they all returned smiling.

Maze of Hakaina

Komnata Quest, Manhattan – New York, New York

Maze of Hakaina dropped us into a Japanese-inspired and video game-esque labyrinth that came to a very pointed climax.

The Vault

Sherlocked – Amsterdam, The Netherlands

We raced from a parking garage to Amsterdam’s historic Beurs van Berlage and talked our way past a guard into a hidden and majestic basement. The Vault captured the heart-racing, blood-pumping feel of a Hollywood heist.

Girl’s Room

Escape Room Netherlands – Bunschoten-Spakenburg, The Netherlands

Girl’s Room felt alive… and angry. The extensive and thoughtful technology made it feel like we weren’t alone in this dark and twisted thriller. While it was a trek to get to Escape Room Netherlands from Amsterdam, if you’re brave enough, it’s worth the journey.


Escapade Games – Anaheim, California

F****** terrifying. In Escapade’s haunted house with escape room mechanics as gates, we were mind controlled and at the mercy of Zoe as she paralyzed us with fear… then made us solve puzzles.

Clock Tower

Escape The Room NYC – New York, New York & Boston, Massachusetts

Peak puzzles: Clock Tower was a love letter to escape room players. It looked beautiful and played even better. Technology seamlessly connected brilliant and occasionally devious puzzles and props, making us earn our victory.


Riddle Room – Minneapolis, Minnesota

Utopia was an illusion. When we first entered the gamespace, we worried we’d hate it. Behind its deceptively simple facade we discovered brilliant physical and digital puzzles that carried a narrative and challenged our assumptions of what escape rooms could or should be.

The Lost Treasure

The Room – Berlin, Germany

The Lost Treasure was a masterpiece of game and adventure design. The energy, effects, and beauty of this game made us feel like we were Indiana Jones. When we won, we didn’t want to leave. Months later we are still amazed by how much detail The Room crammed into this game, yet it never felt distracting or misleading.

The Great Room

13th Hour Escape Games – Wharton, NJ

Slightly creepy and seriously playful, The Great Room impressed us on multiple levels. From the dynamic introduction, to the puzzles, to the gamespace itself, it was a great room.


RISE Escape Rooms – Tickfaw, Louisiana

Spellbound’s witches vs vampires drama brought together the old and new: hefty locks and magical opens, common puzzle types and new twists, all in a beautifully weathered set that gave way to so many surprises.

Tomb of Anubis

13th Gate Escape – Baton Rouge, Louisiana

I cannot think of an escape room moment more dramatic than the opening reveal of Tomb of Anubis. The scale of this adventure was as daunting as it was enchanting.

Inventor’s Attic

Escape My Room – New Orleans, Louisiana

Escape My Room’s themed facility, the DeLaporte estate, captivated us with its decor, characters, and eccentricity. Inventor’s Attic pinnacled their unified aesthetic through elaborate mechanisms, interconnected oddities, beautiful reveals, and smart puzzles.

The Man from Beyond

Strange Bird Immersive – Houston, Texas

Strange Bird Immersive’s theatrical escape room hybrid was so powerful that we teared up. In The Man from Beyond, the push and pull of actors and puzzles didn’t compete; they intertwined. The performance was as moving and fine tuned as the mechanical puzzles.

Time Chasers: Race for the Cure

Trap’t – Stamford, Connecticut

Time Chasers linked four seemingly unrelated escape room worlds into one grand adventure. Each segment was loaded with compelling details that enriched the story without bogging it down. Any individual room within this game could have carried a stand-alone escape room.

The Elevator Shaft

THE BASEMENT – Sylmar, California

The Elevator Shaft was exhilarating and loaded with edgy practical effects. THE BASEMENT’s latest thriller locked us inside of a menacing elevator shaft reimagined in the image of the Death Star trash compactor.

The Parlour

Puzzalarium – San Diego, California

The Parlour combined puzzles with resource optimization, creating an intriguing hybrid tabletop game and escape room. Presided over by the puzzle purveyor, Puzzalarium’s abstraction was as peculiar as it was pleasing.

Congratulations to the 2017 Golden Lock-In Winners!

2016 Golden Lock-In Winners

2015 Golden Lock-In Winners

About Room Escape Artist


  1. Thanks for reviews, me and my friends are looking for the best escaperooms in the Netherlands. Sadly, we are with too many to play Sherlocked (it is on our list though) so maybe we should give the girls room a try.
    I must also say that it is a very impressive list. Sadly most of them are so far away.

  2. Is there a master list of all rooms visited? I really want to know if you made it out to London Ontario to try “Volcano Ruin” at Trapdoor? By far the best room I’ve come across.

    1. We haven’t played those two. For all of the amazing games we’ve seen, there are countless that we still haven’t gotten to.

      One of the things we hope to improve soon is the search feature on our site to make it easier to answer questions like these.

  3. Thank you guys so much for this list, there are 2 close to where I live now between 2016 and 2017 (Wharton, NJ & Philly) – I’ve only done about 30, and my friend who I usually do with them is in the 80s range, so the 400+ you were talking a year ago is insane.

    Just my recommendation, if you ever have a chance, there is a group of escape rooms (multiple rooms tell 1 story which was unique) at Immersion in Charlottesville, VA. But they have a 2 person room (A Nightly Reminder) that we both agree is by far the best we’ve ever done. The puzzles are intriguing and challenging, and as the pieces of the multiple room puzzle come together – it forms a really cool story. The room is small, so you really need to work together as a team – a lot of rooms have it where 1 person can solve the puzzles and the others are waiting or in the way – this one is truly interactive through multiple people at the same time.

    1. Thanks for letting us know Brian. We’ve added Immersion to our list of places to visit next time we’re in the region.

      … and yeah… we’ve played a silly number of games. It just keeps going up. We’d stop if we weren’t enjoying them.

  4. The stats here tell me that you guys are pretty good at completing escape rooms. I must ask you how are you so good at escape rooms. I mean, I’ve completed a few escape rooms myself, but my completion rate is not that good.

    1. Practice. Escape rooms are a learnable skill. Some of it’s learning the recurring patterns of puzzle types… but a lot of it is learning to communicate effectively with your team. Searching helps a lot too in many games.

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