Escape Room LA – The Haunted Theatre [Hivemind Review]

The Haunted Theatre is a real-life escape room converted to digital play, created by Escape Room LA in Los Angeles, CA.

The Haunted Theatre title scree depicts a spectral performer in a flowy dress on stage.

Format

Style of Play: real-life escape room converted to digital play without an avatar

Required Equipment: computer with internet connection

Recommended Team Size: 2-4

Play Time: 60 minutes

Price: $23.50 per person

Booking: book online for a specific time slot

Description

The Haunted Theatre is a real-life escape game translated fully into Telescape, without an avatar. It is hosted in Zoom with a live gamemaster who gives an introduction and is on standby for hints, if needed.

Players enter a view of a physical escape room and click to explore aspects of the room. Each player can independently interact with all game elements, but only one player can solve each item on behalf of the group. The format does not allow sharing of how puzzles are solved.

Backstage at the Haunted Theatre has posters and an illuminated ghost light.

Hivemind Review Scale

REA's hivemind review scale - 3 is recommended anytime, 2 recommended in quarantine, 1 is not recommended.

Read more about our Hivemind Review format.

Matthew Stein’s Reaction

Rating: 2 out of 3.

The Haunted Theatre is one of the most faithful digital reproductions of an in-person escape room experience I’ve played, smoothly facilitated through lifelike interactive elements in Telescape. The puzzles are classic, fun, and well themed, though the game has lots of padlocks and no real narrative. Since gameplay and inventory state are synchronous across all players’ devices, the sort of frenzied collaborative and parallel solving that takes place in in-person games also was able to happen here, in contrast to more bottlenecked avatar experiences. Our team all kept busy throughout the game, though we also finished very quickly – a common symptom of overly parallel puzzle flows. In a normal escape room, I’d be more inclined to take my time and enjoy the scenery and immersion. In an automated digital experience, it just feels like a truncated experience.

At the price of $23.50 per player, this game doesn’t feel like it quite provides enough value, though I’d heartily recommend it at a lower price. Although the game is hosted, we didn’t interact with the live host once during the game proper, and the game would be well served by an automated hint system that could allow the game to be playable on-demand and bring down the per-player price.

The Lone Puzzler’s Reaction

Rating: 2 out of 3.

This game created a love-hate response for me. A quality adaptation of a live escape room. Plenty of puzzles and quality content with a spooky theme. Made me want to play this game in person. The on-line nature of the game allowed players to access all content at any time, but eliminated the ability for the team to see what was going on with each puzzle (and sometimes even tell if a puzzle had been solved). It felt a bit like a race among team members to find an otherwise unsolved puzzle and it was easy to feel lost as to what to do next. It also felt like I missed certain thematic reactions if I was not the one to solve a particular puzzle.
Unlike an avatar-led game, this was a free-for-all and that detracted from the flow of the story and overall game enjoyment. There was an element of team spirit that seemed missing from this game that makes me hesitate to recommend it for an inexperienced group or a group that wants to solve things together.

Cara Mandel’s Reaction

Rating: 3 out of 3.

The Haunted Theatre was a really well built digital adaptation of a physical escape room. I’ve long heard this was a good room to play in Los Angeles, but had not gotten the chance to play it yet. I was happy to see that the digital version was a self-navigable, interactive experience. There is a real joy in being able to traverse a space and enter codes, solve puzzles, etc. That can sometimes be lost through avatar-led games. It was nice to be able to have some “aha!” moments and then “run” over to another location to execute on them. I’d say this game is certainly worth playing and I look forward to someday hopefully being able to play it in person and compare the experiences.

Theresa W’s Reaction

Rating: 2 out of 3.

The Haunted Theatre was an interesting take on a Telescape-hosted game, using the platform to its full potential. Escape Room LA really did a great job at presenting parallel puzzle tracks for players to solve independently, yet the puzzles felt quite easy to our experienced team of 4. I’m still unsure why the live gamemaster was present, as everything seemed to be either automated or could be made into a video. I just honestly can’t justify the price per player when it took our team under 30 minutes to finish the game; if the live gamemaster wasn’t included and the price was lowered, I’d absolutely recommend playing it with a small team. Overall, I really enjoyed the puzzles, narrative, and interactions with the space, and am excited to see what Escape Room LA has to offer in the future!

Disclosure: Escape Room LA provided the Hivemind reviewers with a complimentary play.

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