The Escape Revolution – Escobar [Review]

The great coke robbery.

Location:  Los Angeles, CA

Date Played: March 8, 2022

Team size: 2-6; we recommend 3-4

Duration: 80 minutes

Price: $59 per player

Ticketing: Private

Accessibility Consideration: At least one player needs to climb a flight of stairs.

Emergency Exit Rating: [A+] No Lock

Physical Restraints: [A+] No Physical Restraints

REA Reaction

Escobar set us on an adventure in an unusual Columbian setting, pursuing a stash of cocaine. It was a deliberately edgy game, with a premium price (that has lowered a bit since the game originally opened).

Premium price points and edgy game design force us to ask questions that don’t necessarily come up in more run-of-the-mill experiences. In the case of Escobar, those questions are:

  • Does this feel like a premium product?
  • How did The Escape Revolution handle the very real world issues surrounding coke cartels?
Detailed Columbian set with a auto repair shop in frame.

The question of whether Escobar is a premium product is a lot easier to dig into, so let’s start there. From my vantage point, Escobar felt mostly premium… but there were some missteps that dull the shine. Simple things like a very dark lobby with essentially no seating didn’t feel premium. Within the game itself, the gameplay vacillated between traditional escape room fare and some truly unusual and occasionally destructible interactions.

Escobar was at its best when it was unusual… and dull when it leaned into tradition. But overall, this was a reasonably premium product.

When it came to the story of Escobar, there are a couple of routes that I can imagine going with a story like this. One is completely bonkers, leaning unapologetically into the tropes of drugs and crime. The other is a more subdued exploration of the darkness of the material. Escobar didn’t really do either of these. Instead it dabbled with the tropes in a sterile manner. It rarely got me thinking… or caused my heart to pound.

The Escape Revolution seems to recognize that their game is playing in some ugly territory and donates a portion of their proceeds to Los Angeles Gang Reduction and Youth Development (GRYD), which really is an incredible organization, worthy of the money (GRYD on Charity Navigator).

Ultimately I think that Escobar is a really good escape room in Los Angeles. I think that the premium price and premium boasts by The Escape Revolution harm this game (and all of their games) by elevating expectations. I don’t think that this game is rivaling the games at the top of the Los Angeles market, and the forced comparison leads to disappointment when really… it’s quite a good product.

Who is this for?

  • Story seekers
  • Puzzle lovers
  • Scenery snobs
  • Crime story fans
  • Any experience level

Why play?

  • Cool two-story set
  • Some unusual interactions
  • Uncommon theming and story

Story

It was 1993, in Medellin, Colombia. Our boss Pablo Escobar had flown into a rage when he’d learned that someone in his organization had turned DEA informant.

Escobar needed to flee and demanded that we retrieve his passports and stash of cash. The catch was that the only person who knew where these items were hidden was the guy who’d turned on us.

If we couldn’t get Escobar his stash, he swore he’d have us and our families killed.

Setting

Escobar was set in a Columbian drug-packing compound. The unusual escape room environment leant itself to atypical interactions, and a vibe that was overtly different from other escape room sets that we’ve had the opportunity to explore.

The Escape Revolution also had a lot of vertical space to work with, and did so to great effect. The added second floor in a segment of their world was nifty.

Gameplay

The Escape Revolution’s Escobar was a standard escape room with a moderate level of difficulty.

Core gameplay revolved around searching, observing, making connections, puzzling… and some unusual interactions.

Analysis

❓ Outside of the game, The Escape Revolution presented some comfort challenges. The lobby had no seating, and everything was painted entirely black, making it strangely challenging to find the bathroom door. It was all a little trippy.

βž• The opening set was phenomenal. Escobar was an exciting stage for an escape room. The two-story set added depth to the environment.

βž– The puzzles in Escobar weren’t always self-confirming and some of the clue structure for one layered puzzle was ambiguous. This led us to doubt the early gameplay.

βž•Β The Escape Revolution shattered escape room expectations with one interaction. It worked because of outstanding environmental cluing.

βž– The story felt thin, flirting with the darkness of drug trade, but refused to do anything thought-provoking with it.

βž•Β In a few other instances, The Escape Revolution deviated from typical escape room interactions, taking risks that almost felt like breaking the fourth wall. We expect that even seasoned escape room players will find at least one novel interaction in Escobar.

βž– With each atypical interaction, aspects of the experience took us out of the world of Escobar. In one instance, we couldn’t help but think, “are we sure?” In another, a modern prop and explicit (albeit necessary!) instructions gave us pause.

βž•/βž– The finale was a lot of fun. The penultimate sequence added drama, but narratively, it was a bit of a stretch. Then when our escape seemed straightforward, we had to work for it, in a good way.

Tips For Visiting

  • There is a parking lot.
  • The Escape Revolution donates a portion of the proceeds to Gang Reduction & Youth Development.

Book your hour with The Escape Revolution’s Escobar, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.

Disclosure: The Escape Revolution comped our tickets for this game.

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