Red Lantern Escape Rooms – Midnight on the Bayou [Review]

Strange stuff happens at high school reunions.

Location: Brea, CA

Date played: December 3, 2017

Team size: 4-12; we recommend 4-7

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: $32 per ticket weekdays, $35 per ticket weekends

REA Reaction

The majestic and whimsical set surprised and captivated us.

Red Lantern Escape Rooms created a challenging multithreaded puzzle through an intimate story in a region where we haven’t seen many non-linear, puzzle-centric escape rooms.

Who is this for?

  • Puzzle lovers
  • Story seekers
  • People who skipped their high school reunion due to a lack of puzzles
  • Players who don’t need to be a part of every puzzle
  • Any experience level

Why play?

  • A surprisingly expansive open set that felt festive
  • A well-told story
  • Non-linear gameplay

Story

We arrived at our high school reunion (Go Possums!). The reunion committee strangely decided to host the carnival-themed event swamp-side on the Boudreau’s property, the site of a barn fire that had claimed the lives of five of our classmates. What could possibly go wrong?

In-game: A duck hunt and ring toss carnival game on a boardwalk lit festively at night.

Setting

Red Lantern Escape Rooms built a sprawling party space and boardwalk for Midnight on the Bayou. Upon walking in, the large open space caught us all off guard with its high ceilings and cohesive yet varied design. The space felt just a bit majestic.

Gameplay

In keeping with its large-scale design, Midnight on the Bayou was a non-linear escape room with multiple paths of puzzles to solve. There was a lot to discover about this game.

The event’s bartender, the in-room gamemaster, facilitated the festivities. He largely stayed out of our way and let us enjoy the reunion, only stepping in when he recognized a need.

Standouts

We were immediately struck by the expansive set of Midnight on the Bayou. It was whimsical and beautiful.

Our reunion bartender introduced the staging elegantly. He directed our attention to specific details. He delivered a backstory that was serious, but playful.

In Midnight on the Bayou, we puzzled through the stories of our high school classmates. Their characters developed through the puzzling and the puzzles supported their characters. This mechanic of separate puzzle paths worked well.

We enjoyed the culmination of one character’s puzzle, which really captured high school memories.

The hint system made sense in the setting. The excellent voice acting provided fun nudges, while further developing the various characters.

Shortcomings

Red Lantern Escape Room created puzzling paths where elements connected one to the next and searching was directed. In one instance, we found the searching too vaguely clued. We never would have found – or, given the play structure, even have searched for – that important item without heavy-handed hinting.

One puzzle really bugged us. None of our teammates was able to decode the solution even though we determined the exact solve method immediately. We eventually hacked it with puzzling experience.

We misinterpreted one clue as implying that certain puzzle components would be solved in a specific order, which tripped us up for a while. It turned out that we went through a whole song and dance for nothing. Minor rewording could smooth this over.

Given the parallel puzzle structure of Midnight on the Bayou, it would be possible to achieve a terribly anticlimactic ending… which would be a bummer.

Midnight on the Bayou contained one large set piece that was just a set piece. While Red Lantern Escape Room does have future plans for this construction, in its current form it’s a large and disappointing red herring.

Tips for Visiting

  • They have ample free parking.
  • For a sweet reward, check out the lobby puzzle.

Book your hour with Red Lantern Escape Rooms’ Midnight on the Bayou, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.

Disclosure: Red Lantern Escape Rooms provided comped tickets for this game.

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