Steal and Escape – The Neighbor [Review]

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

I’m watching you… 👀

Location: San Diego, CA

Date Played: March 6, 2022

Team Size: 3-6; we recommend 3-4

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: $36 per player

Ticketing: Private

Accessibility Consideration: some narrow passageways

Emergency Exit Rating: [A+] No Lock

Physical Restraints: [A+] No Physical Restraints

REA Reaction

Steal and Escape showcased their build skills and technical chops through every surface of The Neighbor. It was a delight seeing the work ethic and creativity demonstrated in Steal and Escape’s owner Jason Richard’s 2020 RECON talk put into practice in this room to great effect.

The Neighbor contained one of my all-time favorite tech moments of any escape room I’ve played. It was subtle in such an insidiously sneaky way… and it had me viewing my real-world surroundings a bit differently for weeks after playing.

Throughout The Neighbor, the puzzles and set design were consistently stellar, though with a noticeable increase in puzzle-narrative integration as the game progressed. We also appreciated a well-designed home AI system that served as an in-world delivery mechanism for both story and hints.

The front door to a house, above it are storm clouds.

If you are choosing amongst Steal and Escape’s rooms, you can’t go wrong — they are all strong standouts within the San Diego escape room scene. The Neighbor included even more memorable moments and was generally more sequential, while The Lost Expedition was a consistently innovative and smoothly honed experience that had a split-team start and parallel puzzling. We also got a peek into The Missing Season, which opened shortly after our visit, and the set looked gorgeous.

Who is this for?

  • Tech enthusiasts
  • Adventure seekers
  • Puzzle lovers
  • Story seekers
  • Scenery snobs
  • Best for players with at least some experience

Why play?

  • The tech
  • The transitions
  • The personable AI

Story

We’d long been keeping surveillance on our neighbor, who’d been working on some sort of mysterious research. Well, our intel indicated that the neighbor finally had a breakthrough, and we were to break into his house to steal his unknown invention.

A desk in a dim, blue-lit office.

Setting

The Neighbor took us to our neighbor’s home. We entered through the front door into a space austerely decorated with office furniture and some eye-catching artwork.

Gameplay

Steal and Escape’s The Neighbor was a standard escape room with a moderate-to-high level of difficulty.

Core gameplay revolved around solving puzzles, making connections, and searching.

Analysis

➕ The tech was the star of the show in The Neighbor. It was reliable and was creatively utilized in a wide range of novel interactions.

➕ The build quality was impressive. The room was a freestanding structure, with walls and ceilings built from scratch that accommodated more secrets than we would have expected from most escape rooms.

➕ While The Neighbor started off in a fairly standard looking house, there was more to the space than first met the eye. The gameplay had us constantly moving through the set, encouraging exploration and making it feel even bigger than it actually was.

➕/➖ The puzzles were all solidly designed, with many twists and layered solves. But we found that a handful of puzzles toward the beginning of the game felt a bit more narratively random than what followed. Whether intended as a tribute to early-days escape rooms or a partial relic of Mysterious Stranger, these were still fun puzzles but didn’t quite match the elevated level of puzzle-narrative cohesion in the rest of the game.

➕ A robust AI character was helpful without being intrusive. It had a range of reactions for every situation as it responded to our actions in the room, provided bits of narrative, and gave hints as needed. We took notes along the way, but the AI always had our backs if we forgot or misremembered anything.

➖ Large stock photos decorating the main space were ultimately justified… but they didn’t quite match the rest of the room’s visual aesthetic.

➕ I absolutely adored the ending puzzle sequence. It pulled off something perhaps only acceptable in an escape room environment and was a brilliant use of tech.

Tips For Visiting

  • Steal and Escape’s now-retired Mysterious Stranger formerly lived on a version of part of this set, but The Neighbor is a completely new room.
  • There was a parking lot.

Book your hour with Steal and Escape’s The Neighbor, 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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