We played and reviewed 191 escape rooms in 2018.
This was an invigorating year of escape games.
We throttled down our playing a little bit (255 in 2017) and put an emphasis on hunting down amazing and unusual games in the markets that we visited. As a result of that decision, we have a diverse pool of Golden Lock-In winners that broadly span styles, budgets, and geography.
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 13 rose to the top.
- We only considered games that we both played in 2018.
- We both had to agree to award the room the Golden Lock-In.
- We established no arbitrary minimum or maximum number of rooms that could appear on the list.
- A company could only win once for the year.
2018 Golden Lock-In Winners
Listed chronologically in the order we played them.
Murfreesboro Escape Rooms – Murfreesboro, TN
With its intimate setting, great puzzle flow, and hidden surprises, Murfreesboro Escape Rooms designed a remarkably tight and balanced adventure game. The Blind Pig was a traditional escape room where everything gelled.
Escape the Netherworld – Stone Mountain, GA
What began as a traditional cabin escape room became so much more as Sasquatch’s narrative hiked to a magical finale. Escape the Netherworld told an unusual story that was intense, exciting, and unexpectedly charming.
Logic Locks – Amsterdam, The Netherlands
In the depths of a church, we unearthed Logic Locks’ theatrical story of crypts and demons. As the puzzles built tension and the scenes became more dire, win or lose, Catacombs careened towards a commanding conclusion.
The Great Escape – Zwolle, The Netherlands
Intimidating yet funny, The Experiment made us feel like we were truly escaping, more so than in any other game in our memory. The Great Escape designed around character building, both theirs and our own, which added depth to the experience.
DarkPark – Zoetermeer, The Netherlands
[At the time of this review, DarkPark was called Escape Challenge.]
Escape Challenge builds games that feel alive, haunted, and out to get you. Honeymoon Hotel transformed from mundane to insane as it pushed us through an exquisitely detailed reimagining of the H.H. Holmes “murder castle” story.
13th Gate Escape – Baton Rouge, LA
With towering ceiling and wet depths, Cutthroat Cavern was breathtaking. For 60 minutes we frolicked in our own Goonies adventure. The scale of this escape room is unrivaled. 13th Gate Escape’s latest creation is in a class of its own.
The Escape Game – Nashville, TN
Who would have guessed that returning to the classroom would be as joyful as it was at The Escape Game? With a playful premise, whimsical setting, and well-rounded gameplay, Playground had us frolicking through school.
Palace Games – San Francisco, CA
The invisible adaptive intelligence within The Edison Escape Room floored us. Palace Games took ambitious design to another level by hybridizing escape rooms and video games into something beautiful and new.
Hatch Escapes – Los Angeles, CA
As we ventured through Lab Rat’s whimsical yet imposing world, we journeyed through a story. Hatch Escapes put narrative in the driver’s seat with gameplay that supported it… humorously, intensely, and ridiculously.
Stash House – Los Angeles, CA
Story-driven and puzzle-focused, expansive and intimate, challenging and fair, Stash House achieved a balance that few escape rooms deliver. Through these oppositions, we were immersed within its imaginative and cohesive world.
Escape City Buffalo – Tonawanda, NY
With an over-the-top build, Over the Falls was light on puzzles and high on adventure. We were engaged and enthralled with Escape City Buffalo’s vessel and its seafaring woes.
13th Hour Escape Rooms – Wharton, NJ
In the vast expanses and the tight nooks of The Grand Parlor, we played a challenging puzzle game with a beautiful set that continually surprised us. Plus we met 13th Hour Escape Rooms’ delightfully rambunctious actors (who only roam when the haunt is operating).
The Gate Escape – Leominster, MA
Marvelously eccentric, The Observatory taught us how to unravel its mysteries through the act of playing. The Gate Escape crafted a fair and challenging game for experienced escape room players, with great interactions to boot.
Congratulations to the 2018 Golden Lock-In Winners!
Past Golden Lock-In Awards
About Room Escape Artist
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