Cross Roads Escape Games – The Trust Experiment [Review]

Formerly known as “Psych Ward”

Location: Anaheim, CA

Date Played: March 6, 2022

Team size: 5-8; we recommend 5-8

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: $38 per player

Ticketing: Private

Emergency Exit Rating: [A+] No Lock

Physical Restraints: [A+] No Physical Restraints

REA Reaction

The Trust Experiment was a personal victory for me. This game was made for the Davids and Peih-Gees of the world (and go at it, they did!). I would have preferred a backseat role. But luck was not on my side (or maybe it was) because I drew the role I was afraid to draw and even though I lost, I felt like I’d won.

The Trust Experiment wasn’t an escape room. It was a social deduction game with puzzles as a game mechanic. The good guys wanted all the points… and the bad guys wanted to steal those points. If we solved a lot of puzzles we would win (or steal) a lot of points.

Cross Roads Escape Games’ exceptional onboarding gave me confidence. Our orderly (gamemaster) gave me opportunity (and added exceptional character to the game!) And my husband and his podcast co-host diverted attention… most of the time. So I played the game. I took some risks. And I had a lot of fun.

Two patients in a small padded room, viewed through a hole in the door.

The Trust Experiment blended puzzle gameplay with social deduction. It was unusual, and it worked brilliantly. If this sounds like your thing, bring the right group of friends (and the group matters a lot), and check this out while you can. Sadly, it is closing soon. We haven’t played anything else quite like it.

Who is this for?

  • Social deduction game fans
  • Story seekers
  • Puzzle lovers
  • Scenery snobs
  • Any experience level
  • Players who don’t need to be a part of every puzzle

Why play?

  • An interesting take on Werewolf/ Mafia-style social deduction games
  • A very cool set
  • A fantastic actor

Story

Dr. Griffin put our cohort of patients into a psychological experiment. Under observation, were were made to solve puzzles, complete tasks, and determine whom we could trust among us, while some secretly tried to undermine the group.

Setting

Most of The Trust Experiment took place in a single room surrounded by elaborate control panels and some unusual medical-esque props. All of this was overseen by an actor playing an orderly.

There were a couple of different rooms that a small number of players could be taken into by the orderly, depending upon the progression of the game.

All of the spaces were designed down to small details and weathering. It was a fairly compact space, but it was impactful.

An orderly lowering a strange helmet on a patient strapped to a chair.

Gameplay

Cross Roads Escape Games’ The Trust Experiment was a blend of social deduction game and escape room with a level of difficulty that varied depending upon the skill and intensity of your play group.

Core gameplay revolved around deducing who was on your side, as well as an assortment of puzzles, most of which involved pattern recognition.

Ominous-looking Dr. Griffen at a control station with a phone and an assortment of buttons and papers in front of him.

Analysis

βž• Our orderly nailed the character. Furthermore, they would “yes, and” our shenanigans. This was great.

βž•Β The rules were explained exceptionally well. What could have been intimidating was clear, and not overly complicated. This was critical because in The Trust Experiment, every player needs to fully understand how to play (and cannot get help from their teammates!) or the game breaks. Cross Roads Escape Games excelled at onboarding.

βž• Although the set was small, it was intriguing with lots to fiddle with. It was detailed and weathered.

βž• The fiddly bits were appropriately fiddly (although the switches were more switch-y than the buttons were button-y).

βž•Β Cross Roads Escape Games designed the right types of puzzles for The Trust Experiment. They mostly relied on pattern recognition, which can be challenging in the commotion of a social game. Individuals will find some they like and some they don’t, but we could abandon any puzzle we didn’t connect with. This design worked really well.

βž• If you don’t want to solve any puzzles, you don’t have to. We could opt to watch our fellow patients and deduce… or try to get in their heads. Two podcast co-hosts I know were having their own battle of wits… while I tried (and failed) not to be noticed.

βž– If a player wants to break the game, they can. With the current set up, the social deduction game can easily unravel into, well, a deduction game. We recommend added visual obfuscation (i.e. curtains) to deter this.

A patient sticking their harm into a hole in a machine.

βž• The extra little gamespaces (that you may or may not see) added variety, intrigue, and their own chaos.

βž• The Trust Experiment was honestly replayable. One of our teammates was, in fact, replaying, and I didn’t know until after the game. Because each group is different, and the real challenge is in reading your teammates, you can play multiple times and have different experiences. You can even choose to solve puzzles you’ve already solved, and it won’t really matter.

❓ The scoring mechanism was frustrating. Our group had a lot of complaints about lag in updates. This made it hard to deduce who had impacted the score and how. It didn’t feel reliable. Upon reflection, I think this was by design and essential to giving all players a chance. It’s impossible to math and logic your way to a win. Social deduction was necessary.

❓The Trust Experiment depended heavily on the individuals playing, and the group dynamic. It could be punishing to quiet people. Gameplay will be unbalanced if people are disproportionately motivated or competitive. Bring the right group for your style.

βž• There were fun Easter eggs for anyone who knows who is who in the Los Angeles escape room world.

Tips For Visiting

  • There is a parking lot.

Book your hour with Cross Roads Escape Games’ The Psych Ward, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.

Disclosure: Cross Roads Escape Games comped our tickets for this game.

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