Scenario Escape Room – The Mad Rapper [Review]

I got my mind on my puzzles and my puzzles on my mind.

Location:  Brea, CA

Date Played: March 5, 2022

Team size: 2-8; we recommend 3-4

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: $35 per player

Ticketing: Private

Accessibility Consideration: There are toy guns in this game.

Emergency Exit Rating: [A+] No Lock

Physical Restraints: [A+] No Physical Restraints

REA Reaction

Peih-Gee Law, my lovely podcast co-host, regularly says how much she wishes that there were more escape rooms with an urban appeal. The risk that’s associated with that is that someone does it poorly… or in a way that feels disconnected or dishonest. That was not the case in The Mad Rapper.

Scenario Escape Room made a hip hop themed escape room that felt authentic and uniquely Los Angeles.

A recording studio featuring a massive mixing board, a large speaker, a guitar, and a bass.

The Mad Rapper was a classic-style escape room done right. What stood out most to me in the gameplay was the variety of challenge types. There was a lot to take in and do, but it was all approachable and creatively produced.

It’s exciting to find an escape game that has a unique story and feels like it was crafted with love. There wasn’t anything mind-blowing in the The Mad Rapper, but it all felt great. I wholeheartedly recommend checking out The Mad Rapper if you’re in the area and seeking a classic game built around a different concept. I truly enjoyed it.

On a more personal note, it was a rare pleasure for me to find a grill in an escape room…

Closeup of a gold grill.

My brother designs 🀯 grillz for a living (and to clarify, no part of this a joke)… and seeing a grill in an escape room made me smile.

Who is this for?

  • Old school hip hop fans
  • Puzzle lovers
  • Any experience level

Why play?

  • Unusual and compelling theme/ story
  • Strong and varied puzzles and challenges

Story

The artist known only as “The Mad Rapper” had become the biggest name in the game. He’d opened auditions looking for new talent, but dealings with The Mad Rapper carried risk and consequences.

Continue reading “Scenario Escape Room – The Mad Rapper [Review]”

Exit Game – 13th Basement [Review]

The killing joke

Location:  Anaheim, CA

Date Played: March 6, 2022

Team size: 2-8; we recommend 4

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: $35 per player ($105 for teams of 2 on Friday-Sunday)

Ticketing: Private

Accessibility Consideration: wheelchair-friendly game

Emergency Exit Rating: [A+] No Lock

Physical Restraints: [A+] No Physical Restraints

REA Reaction

13th Basement marks an interesting milestone for escape rooms. It’s the second satirical escape room that we’ve encountered (following The Experiment from Get the F Out). As the name implies, it was having a bit of fun with horror escape rooms, which are abundant in Southern California.

This all begs a few questions:

  • Is it good? Yes
  • Is it funny? Yup
  • Is it scary? A tiny bit…more goofing on horror than being horror
  • How much do I have to know about escape rooms to enjoy this game? It’s enjoyable in a vacuum, but overwhelmingly more entertaining if you’ve experienced horror escape room tropes enough to roll your eyes at the common ones.

This is the first game made by longtime escape room blogger/ vlogger Christine Barger and her partner. Throughout 13th Basement their experience and awareness truly shine. This was most evident in some of the unusual structural decisions that they made to both the flow of the game (which I shall not spoil)… and the way that they treat players.

They allow players to freely take selfies and shoot video, simply asking that we don’t spoil puzzles (which would be a legitimately hard to do without really trying to):

Peih-Gee Law with her head in an elaborate metal torture device. The wall behind her is blood spattered.

A satirical escape room only works if enough players “get it.” I don’t know how many regions throughout the US have a density of quality escape rooms as well as a large enough repeat player audience to pull this off, but Southern California is the most logical location for satirical escape rooms to emerge. It’s a sign of maturity that anyone can even dream about pulling this off. And while The Experiment isn’t around anymore, I like 13th Basement’s chances.

Beyond the meta analysis, 13th Basement was a really strong escape game. It had a great assortment of puzzles, and its creators leaned heavily into their strengths, using video brilliantly… while using tech more sparingly. It’s a classic example of leaning into what you’re good at to create an excellent experience.

Southern California has an abundance of fantastic escape rooms, and 13th Basement comfortably joins that list. If you’re an escape room fan in the region, check it out… and take a few selfies.

Who is this for?

  • Escape room fans
  • Dark comedy fans
  • Adventure seekers
  • Puzzle lovers
  • Scenery snobs
  • Best for players with at least some experience

Why play?

  • Legitimately funny, especially if you get escape room humor
  • Innovative gameplay and structure
  • The video content is fantastic
  • You’re free to take selfies in the game, and there are some great places to do so

Story

Abducted by a serial killer and hobbyist escape room designer, we had 60 minutes to solve his puzzles or die brutal deaths.

SAW-like escape room with dingy tiles and a toilet.
Continue reading “Exit Game – 13th Basement [Review]”

The Nemesis Club – Mogollon Monster [Review]

CAW!

Location: Phoenix, AZ

Date Played: March 11, 2022

Team size: 4-8; we recommend 4-5

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: $35 per player

Ticketing: Private

Accessibility Consideration: There is a portion of the game that shakes.

Emergency Exit Rating: [A+] No Lock

Physical Restraints: [A+] No Physical Restraints

REA Reaction

The Nemesis Club is a special place: an escape room speakeasy set behind a phenomenal milkshake shop. It was surreal seeing tons of people buying milkshakes and legitimately having no idea that there was a world class escape room company hidden in the back.

Mogollon Monster itself was a grand adventure built around capturing an Arizona Bigfoot. Set in a Monster Rangers’ campsite, this narrative adventure was structured around tracking, baiting, and capturing a photo of the monster.

An outdoor campsite with a burned down campfire, Monster Ranger uniforms hung on a lashed-together structure, in the background is an RV with an archery target.

Mogollon Monster was exciting and hilarious, with layers of jokes, some of which were deep cuts that you’d have to have some background in scouting to appreciate. I’m a former Eagle Scout, and there were a number of points where I dropped out of playing the game and just dug into the props and materials because they were so delightful and rich.

Finally, the finale of Mogollon Monster was genius; it felt like we were on a ride.

The Nemesis Club is a world class escape room company, and I am completely confident that we will be seeing amazing things from them long into the future. I cannot wait to play more of their work.

Who is this for?

  • Adventure seekers
  • Story seekers
  • Puzzle lovers
  • Scenery snobs
  • Cryptid fans
  • People with a connection to scouting will get something extra from this game
  • Best for players with at least some experience
  • Players who don’t need to be a part of every puzzle

Why play?

  • It’s really funny
  • Clever storytelling
  • Incredible set design
  • Brilliant interactions
  • Challenging puzzles
  • Nemesis Club’s ambiance
  • Milkshakes

Story

Our Monster Rangers group (which is an actual group that exists in a delightfully strange realm between scouting parody, art project, and sincere group of people) set off on an adventure to track and document the existence of the Mogollon Monster (an Arizona Bigfoot).

Painting of a Monster Ranger in uniform with a camera, behind him is a monster lurking in the woods.
Continue reading “The Nemesis Club – Mogollon Monster [Review]”

Quest Tavern – The Last Supper [Review]

Update May 16, 2022: If you want to hear more about The Last Supper back us on Patreon at the “Search Win!” level to get access to a Spoiler’s Club Episode about this game. Reality Escape Pod co-hosts David and Peih-Gee talk all about it with the creator and the performer, spoilers and all.

Lord Garrick would like you for dinner.

Location: Pomona, CA

Date Played: March 4, 2022

Team size: 3-8; we recommend 3-5

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: from $48 per player for teams of 3-4 to $43 per player for teams of 7-8

Ticketing: Private

Accessibility Consideration: At least one player needs to crawl.

Emergency Exit Rating: [A+] No Lock

Physical Restraints: [A+] No Physical Restraints

REA Reaction

The Last Supper was an exciting delight.

Following in the footsteps of Miss Jezebel (review, online review), Quest Tavern took that game structure and made a less raunchy experience, set it in a Dungeons & Dragons-esque adventure.

The performer who played the role of Lord Garrick was incredible, adding so much nuance to his performance, and improvising magnificently with our team. We truly were playing with one another, to the point where we changed the plot of the game in a way that hadn’t been done before.

The team sitting at the table,with Lord Garrick standing behind us brandishing a sword.

Escape rooms don’t have to be big to feel huge, and The Last Supper felt grand. It was intense, interesting, and I treasure the memory of playing this game.

If your team is open to interacting with a performer, and willing to commit to the intensity of the game world, The Last Supper is a must-play game, and one of the strongest games in the Los Angeles area.

Who is this for?

  • Actor interacters
  • Adventure seekers
  • Story seekers
  • D&D fans
  • Best for players with at least some experience

Why play?

  • Amazing escape room meets D&D (without the combat) gameplay
  • Top-notch actor interactions
  • Clever and unusual game design and structure

Story

After the famed adventurer Lord Garrick retired, he began hosting dinner parties for adventurers… but his guests would disappear. As the latest group to receive an invitation, we couldn’t turn down the opportunity to learn the truth… and enjoy a good meal.

Closeup of the dinner table with a bowl of fruit in the center.
Continue reading “Quest Tavern – The Last Supper [Review]”

Meow Wolf (Las Vegas) – Omega Mart [Review]

Clean up, aisle ♾️

Location:  Las Vegas, NV

Date Played: December 17, 2021

Group size: we recommend 1-4

Duration: We recommend at least 90 minutes to explore the space, and at least 4 hours to follow the story, possibly many more.

Price: $49-55 per adult (less for children, seniors, and military)

Ticketing: Public

Accessibility Consideration: The first floor of the exhibit is ADA accessible. There is also an elevator to access the second floor, but some areas include steps or narrow passage ways.

Emergency Exit Rating: [A+] No Lock

Physical Restraints: [A+] No Physical Restraints

REA Reaction

Las Vegas in and of itself is a surreal alternate reality, and Meow Wolf’s second location, Omega Mart, felt like the perfect immersive art installation to mimic, mock, and embrace the consumeristic excesses of Sin City.

The sprawling Omega Mart storefront was packed full of actually purchasable, real, fake products. It’s a hilariously dissonant world, and it’s worth the price of admission simply to spend some time walking the aisles of Omega Mart, reading the product packages.

… But there was also a much deeper and considerably larger world behind Omega Mart. This world felt like the original Meow Wolf… if it had been built by Disney. This massive step up in production value added a polish that isn’t present in Santa Fe, but that sheen came at the price of some of the grit, oddity, and soul that grabbed me in the House of Eternal Return. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing so much as it is an aesthetic preference. I can see plenty of folks preferring the Disneyification of Meow Wolf to the grittier artsy vibe of their earlier work.

Where my feelings about Omega Mart turned to disappointment was in their game design choices. The mystery and game within this world started off fantastic, and hit a wondrous climax… and then it kept going and going and going well past its “sell by” date. This could have been fine, but many of the associated touchscreen interfaces were clunky, space was limited, and lines formed at key locations. The net effect was that when we were about to have a big moment in the plot, it was destroyed by watching half a dozen people have that exact moment that I was about to have while I waited.

Finally, the conclusion of the game was utterly disappointing… it fizzled into forgettable nothingness.

Omega Mart would have been better with a little less game, or a lot more thought put into the game and the way that players would engage with it. For all of the improvements that Meow Wolf made to their overall production, it felt like they badly needed to hire some proper game designers.

My advice: absolutely go experience Omega Mart. It’s a wonder. Play the game too… but once you hit a point in the game where you feel like you’ve substantially impacted the world, not just for yourself, but for others… stop playing and go about exploring.

Who is this for?

  • Adventure seekers
  • Story seekers
  • Scenery snobs
  • Any experience level

Why play?

  • The store and its products are a riot
  • The world was gorgeous, truly a Disney quality production

Story

We entered Omega Mart as customers, with the opportunity to become employees, learn the ropes of the business, and explore the exciting opportunities afforded to us by its revolutionary parent company Dramcorp.

Continue reading “Meow Wolf (Las Vegas) – Omega Mart [Review]”