Top Tier Escape Rooms – Outside In [Review]

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

😡🤝😍😱

Location: Oceanside, CA

Date Played: March 7, 2022

Team Size: 2-8; we recommend 2-3

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: $38 per player

Ticketing: Private

Emergency Exit Rating: [A] Push To Exit

Physical Restraints: [A+] No Physical Restraints

REA Reaction

Top Tier Escape Rooms’ Outside In was bursting with personality. From the creative Inside Out-inspired theming, to tongue-in-cheek audio cues, to adorable photos from the game’s creator, it was abundantly evident that this escape room was designed by someone who truly cared. Four primary emotions — anger, trust, love, and fear — were developed through nicely designed sets, thematic puzzles, and some special effects. Most importantly, I was reminded of times I’d experienced these emotions myself.

The gameplay in Outside In was fun and flowed smoothly. Puzzles were presented sequentially, though most were best for just a few players and some spaces in the room were quite small, so larger teams may feel bottlenecked at times. One puzzle solved this by providing materials that could be worked on concurrently in the main space, and this approach might have helped make other points throughout the game feel less crowded.

The ending of Outside In was especially effective in conveying many different types of fears, all in a humorous and not actually fear-invoking manner. We enjoyed inspecting all the details and references in the finale, even after we’d solved the puzzles there.

Outside In was a whimsical and unique escape room from passionate creators who are experimenting and leveling up their skills in exciting ways. If you are near Oceanside, I recommend checking it out.

A tree made of books connected by strands of lights to a representation of a brain.

Who is this for?

  • Story seekers
  • Puzzle lovers
  • Any experience level
  • Pixar fans

Why play?

  • A creative homage to the film Inside Out
  • Personal and endearing narrative elements

Story

Using brand new Neurolink technology, we entered into the subconscious of Dr. Hyrun Mundst. We were tasked with infiltrating his brain’s various defenses in order to find and destroy his deepest fear.

A series of colored doors in a white room. Each is labeled with an emotion such as trust, love, or anger.

Setting

Outside In took place in the abstraction of a human’s subconscious, with a clean, almost clinical aesthetic. Four doors led into chambers themed around different emotions. A book-laden tree dominated one end of the room.

Gameplay

Top Tier Escape Rooms’ Outside In was a standard escape room with a moderate level of difficulty.

Core gameplay revolved around solving puzzles.

Analysis

Outside In paid homage to the film Inside Out without feeling derivative. The game was based around entering into someone’s mind and emotions, but beyond that, the narrative world and game mechanics were delightfully original.

➕ A well-produced intro video set a whimsical and entertaining tone for the rest of the game.

➕ We were given the choice to take a blue pill or red pill as a way to indicate how we’d like to receive hints in the game. I love this sort of simple, easy-to-implement, on-theme personal touch.

Red and blue pill selection, this determines how the gamemaster approaches hinting.

➕/➖ The set was clean and minimalist at first glance, with a range of contrasting textures waiting behind closed doors. It looked great overall, though it can be challenging to maintain the consistency of this aesthetic, and things like scuff marks on the floor stood out more than they usually might.

➕/➖ Outside In was completely padlock-free, and the tech was generally quite reliable. We did, however, encounter a handful of small tech issues, mostly around finicky inputs.

➕ The puzzles were smooth and fairly straightforward, and they embodied each of the room’s emotional themes. A number of puzzles, along with their accompanying sound effects, showed a good sense of humor.

➕ The gameplay was bookended by a clear, repeating sequence of actions as we opened up each new emotion door. These interactions provided a memorable way to deliver bits of story.

❓ Each emotion room was quite small, and linear gameplay meant there was only ever one puzzle to work on at a time. I can’t see more than 3 active players comfortably fitting in one of these rooms at a time.

Outside In had an exciting and narratively satisfying ending sequence. 90s kids be warned: you too may be forced to confront your childhood fears!

Tips For Visiting

  • There was a parking lot.

Book your hour with Top Tier Escape Rooms’ Outside In, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.

Disclosure: Top Tier Escape Rooms comped our tickets for this game.

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