Escape Room LA – Jewels of the White Tiger [Review]

Escape the indoors.

Location:  Los Angeles, CA

Date Played: May 21, 2021

Team size: 2-5; we recommend 2-4

Duration: 90 minutes

Price: $30 per player

Ticketing: Private, with other teams playing concurrently

REA Reaction

Jewels of the White Tiger combined basic escape room puzzles with an outdoor treasure hunt for a novel game format that led us on foot through historic Chinatown, Los Angeles. It required a good amount of walking interspersed with puzzle solving, making it a fitting transition back to escape games after a year of lockdowns.

Because of Escape Room LA’s emphasis on racing to the finish line, Jewels of the White Tiger seemed designed for players with a competitive spirit. Even though we finished in time, my mellow team would’ve preferred a more leisurely pace so we could explore outside the boundaries of the game. (Fortunately, when the game ended, we were still in Chinatown and it was lunchtime.)

A Chinatown plaza with a sign in the foreground reading "Escape Room LA: Jewels of the White Tiger" above a small decorative box with a padlock.
Photo credit: Kirk Damato

We enjoyed the mix of paper puzzles, navigation, and sightseeing, but we left feeling like we hadn’t learned much about the locations we visited. It seemed like a missed opportunity to incorporate local history and acknowledge the community where the game was taking place.

Jewels of the White Tiger has ended, but Escape Room LA is currently running another outdoor game in Long Beach. The format provides an entertaining experience if you’re going to be in the area and want to experience the neighborhood through a new lens.

Who is this for?

  • Competitive people
  • Tourists and local visitors
  • Any experience level

Why play?

  • Environmental puzzles
  • Extra-large game space
  • To increase your step count

Story

Inspired by the Chinese legend of the four celestial guardians, we needed to find the jewels corresponding with the Jade Dragon, Vermilion Bird, and Black Tortoise. Only then could we release the White Tiger and return the constellations to the sky.

Jewels of the White Tiger used this narrative as a light frame, but focused much more on the puzzles.

A paper clue sitting in a bush. The text reads "Find the nearby I Ching wheel and use it to divine the fortune of the Black Tortoise."
Photo credit: Kirk Damato

Setting

Jewels of the White Tiger took place throughout Chinatown in Los Angeles. The game covered two or three city blocks, with a focus on Central Plaza. It’s a colorful neighborhood with plenty of shops, restaurants, landmarks, and photo opportunities.

Gameplay

Jewels of the White Tiger was an outdoor treasure hunt with a low level of difficulty. Our 90-minute game time consisted of puzzling and navigating between locations in roughly equal measure.

Core gameplay revolved around following directions, observation, logic, and word puzzles.

Analysis

➕ Escape Room LA describes their outdoor games as “just like doing an escape room, but outdoors!” We found this to be surprisingly true. Jewels of the White Tiger felt a lot like playing through an escape room, but on a larger scale.

❓ At every opportunity, Escape Room LA prompted us to hurry. We learned that using hints would reduce our finishing time, and each new step of the treasure hunt repeated that time was running out. Competitive players might enjoy this challenge, but our team wished we had more time to see the sights as we walked. Less of a focus on beating the clock might also encourage players to stop into nearby businesses during the game, supporting the local community.

Some papers on a park bench, with several red envelopes, the top one of which reads "Do Not Open Until Instructed!"

➖ The game description implied that the paths might be playable in any order, but instead all three teams had to follow one route simultaneously. Repeatedly bumping into the team just ahead of us working on the next puzzle felt like getting spoilers for what was next, especially when it came to searching. This awkwardness could be avoided by making each leg interchangeable, or by staggering start times.

➕/➖ Our favorite puzzles tied in with Chinatown’s shops and landmarks in an innovative way. Jewels of the White Tiger would’ve been stronger with more of these location-based puzzles in place of the handful of simple paper puzzles it included.

➖ The puzzles that made use of landmarks and storefronts didn’t explain the context of the area or the objects we interacted with. Combined with the time crunch and the lightly integrated story, we felt Escape Room LA missed an opportunity to illuminate some of Chinatown’s history.

➖ The small diagram Escape Room LA provided was missing some key place names, and we eventually found it easier to navigate via cell phone. We would have appreciated a more detailed map so we could put away our phones for the most part and just enjoy our surroundings.

➕ In addition to paper-based puzzles, Jewels of the White Tiger used a variety of other materials during the experience. We encountered various uses of technology, and a few other sweet surprises along the way.

A wooden box labeled "Jewels of the White Tiger," decorated with colorful plastic jewels and images of the four celestial guardians.
Photo credit: Kirk Damato

➕ The first puzzle was a great introduction to Jewels of the White Tiger’s gameplay. It mixed location-specific tasks with paper puzzles, and succeeded in initially splitting up our team from the others.

➖ The last puzzle was the most commonplace, which contributed to the finale feeling slightly anticlimactic.

➕ The outdoor format was refreshing (and, incidentally, was a great reintroduction to real-life escape games after a year of puzzling at home). Plus, unlike indoor escape rooms, we got a little fresh air and exercise.

Tips For Visiting

Jewels of the White Tiger took place in May and June 2021 and is no longer running, but Escape Room LA has another outdoor escape room on the schedule now, in Long Beach.

For future games with the same setup, be ready with a cell phone, and a pencil and paper for taking notes.

This type of game involves lots of walking, so wear comfortable shoes and bring any refreshments you might want over the course of 90 minutes.

Disclosure: Escape Room LA comped our tickets for this game.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.