Steal and Escape – The Lost Expedition [Review]

The Lost Expedition is one of the best escape rooms in San Diego. Here are our recommendations for other great escape rooms in San Diego.

I dig it.

Location:  San Diego, CA

Date Played: March 6, 2022

Team Size: 4-8; we recommend 4-6

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: $36 per player

Ticketing: Private

Emergency Exit Rating: [A+] No Lock

Physical Restraints: [A+] No Physical Restraints

REA Reaction

The Lost Expedition was filled with unique interactions, innovative tech, and a multifaceted narrative. Steal and Escape went the extra mile in designing this room, and it paid off big time.

Nearly every element of The Lost Expedition was painstakingly designed and constructed from scratch, even when it wasn’t immediately obvious on the surface. The set was an impressive self-standing structure with numerous well-concealed details. There was a ton of tech in this room that worked reliably and facilitated the room’s most memorable moments. Each player was assigned a unique role that meaningfully translated into personal goals and skills and a sense of narrative purpose. Furthermore, fuel management — operating a control panel that actually turned the lights and power on/ off in the various areas of the game — provided an in-world approach to timekeeping.

A room with metal walls, a small garage door, and an assortment of technology, canisters, gauges, a breaker box, etc.

The Lost Expedition was a challenging, narratively-driven, and densely-packed game that managed to flow remarkably well and avoid ever feeling too chaotic. This is quite a tricky balance to achieve, but Steal and Escape nailed it. This room had clearly adapted to a range of player feedback and gone through many iterations — reflected by thoughtful signposting and adaptive difficulty throughout the experience. A mission objective screen reminded us about our high-level objective(s) at any given time, and each of our roles focused our attention on a subset of the available tasks.

The Lost Expedition was one of the strongest offerings in San Diego and a must-play if you’re in the area, especially for puzzle-loving players with at least some escape room experience.

Who is this for?

  • Tech enthusiasts
  • Puzzle lovers
  • Scenery snobs
  • Story seekers
  • Best for players with at least some experience
  • Players who don’t need to be a part of every puzzle

Why play?

  • Innovative player roles
  • The unique approach to time management
  • Tech-driven magical moments

Story

Our team had been brought in to finish the excavation of a historical dig site that was said to have been home to some sort of ancient secret society.

Interior of an old looking wooden cabin with assorted wiring. On the far wall is a door with 3 different locks. It is labeled, "Keep Out."

Setting

The Lost Expedition was set at an archaeological dig site. A metal-plated room with various pieces of industrial equipment and computer workstations guarded the entrance to the area. Behind a roll-up garage door, a rustic wood-paneled chamber held a former expedition team’s research-in-progress.

Gameplay

Steal and Escape’s The Lost Expedition was a standard-ish escape room with a high level of difficulty.

Each player was assigned a unique role at the start of the game. Roles were loosely assigned based on player background and preference, though this may vary from group to group. For smaller teams, some players get multiple roles, and extra roles are introduced for larger teams.

Core gameplay revolved around solving puzzles, making connections, following technical instructions, and exploring systems, which took different forms for each player. The game had a split-team start, with each player’s location dependent on their role.

Analysis

The Lost Expedition was jam packed with memorable puzzle moments that creatively utilized of all parts of the room and advanced the story. The set was meticulously constructed from floor to ceiling to conceal layer upon layer of secrets, with many novel input mechanisms.

➕ Each player was assigned a unique role with specific responsibilities, skills, and tools. These roles set up each player for a unique experience and personalized hero moments, and provided the players with compelling reasons to be there.

❓ Roles translated more into loosely encouraged than strictly required responsibilities. Players could get help from their teammates with their role’s responsibilities, or just work together on everything if they so choose. Additionally, neither the player roles nor the split start really added an element of replayability to The Lost Expedition.

➖ One particular player role was all but useless, at least for more experienced teams. This player felt like they got a slightly less exciting experience than everyone else.

➕ There was a lot to keep track of in The Lost Expedition, and a regularly adapting set of mission objectives helped us from getting overwhelmed in this chaotic environment.

➕ Rather than a conventional countdown timer, our fuel consumption served as an in-world timekeeping mechanic and added an extra layer of strategy.

➕/❓ One of my favorite interactions in the room was also the only bit of tech that was slightly less than ideally responsive. Some extra in-room cluing fairly acknowledged this and explained how to adapt accordingly, though it was still finicky, even knowing this.

➕/➖ The Lost Expedition communicated narrative from multiple perspectives, through multiple channels. Through both our interactions and well-balanced bits of reading, we progressively reconstructed the stories and characters of past researchers and the ancient civilization that once dwelled here. Overall this story was crystal clear, though certain player roles were exposed to more of the core ancient civilization story along the way and thus had fuller context going into the ending.

➕ The room concluded with a satisfying multi-layered puzzle sequence that tied everything together and led to a fascinating moral decision.

Tips For Visiting

  • There was a parking lot.

Book your hour with Steal and Escape’s The Lost Expedition, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.

Disclosure: Steal and Escape provided media discounted tickets for this game.

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