The Official SAW Escape [Review]

I played a game.

Location:  Las Vegas, NV

Date Played: October 24, 2019

Team size: up to 10; we recommend 5 (both for practical reasons and so you can call yourselves the Fatal Five)

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: $49.99 per player for a public ticket; private VIP tickets available at other prices

Ticketing: Public, with private VIP ticketing available

Emergency Exit Rating: [A+] No Lock

Physical Restraints: [A+] No Physical Restraints

REA Reaction

When I started playing room escapes nearly six years ago, non-players would ask “Oh, like the SAW movies?” (uh, no). To finally play an escape room that actually was inspired by SAW was surreal.

The Official SAW Escape Las Vegas logo depicting Jigsaw.
Image via Official SAW Escape

The Official SAW Escape bills itself as an immersive experience that “brings to life twisted games inspired by the blockbuster SAW film franchise.” It seriously delivered. Stepping inside felt like crossing over into Jigsaw’s depraved world.

The Official SAW Escape was a horror-themed escape room featuring traps and puzzles. Players must overcome these obstacles to advance to the next stage of gameplay. The wow factor of life-size props and gamespaces (several pulled directly from the SAW movies) made up for some of the clunky and frustrating puzzle interactions. 

If horror is your thing and you want to feel like you’ve walked onto a movie set, this is one you won’t want to miss. 

In-game: A person crawling through a crawlspace.
Image via Official SAW Escape

Who is this for?

  • Fans of the SAW Franchise
  • Horror game aficionados
  • Players who want to feel like they’re in a movie
  • Adventure seekers
  • Scenery snobs
  • Players with some experience
  • Players who don’t need to be a part of every puzzle or interaction
  • Players who aren’t disturbed by horror-themed effects
  • Players who don’t mind actors in the game space

Why play?

  • Impressive set design
  • Large-scale interactions
  • Life-size props and traps that you can interact with (many directly from the SAW movies)
  • The excitement
  • The tension

Story

We thought we were taking an exclusive, after-hours tour of the historic Egan & Co. meat packing plant, only to discover that we were actually pawns in one of Jigsaw’s elaborate games. We had to work together to navigate an abandoned factory full of traps before the clock ran out and we faced our demise.

In-game: The front gates of the experience. a brick wall with an imposing black metal gate.
Image via Official SAW Escape

Setting

The gamespace closely mirrored several spaces Jigsaw and his successors used in the Saw movies to conduct their mischief and mayhem. It was large, ominous, detailed and impressive.

The gamespace toned down the horror of the films by not employing restraints or locked doors/ spaces at any point in gameplay.

In-game: Two people looking into a caged area and some strange artifacts.
Image via Official SAW Escape

Gameplay

The Official SAW Escape was a highly immersive escape room with a moderate level of difficulty, exacerbated by the distractions of standard horror-themed special effects.

Core gameplay revolved around searching, observing details, making connections and interacting with large props. It was built in a railroad style. Teams moved through the rooms at timed intervals, whether or not they had solved all the puzzles. For fans of the Saw franchise, the flow will likely bring to mind one movie in particular.

In-game: A person in a cage bathed in green light grasping one of the bars.
Image via Official SAW Escape

Analysis

➕ The Official SAW Experience offered an interesting backstory and compelling first sequence of gameplay. These elements set a tone of confusion, frustration and eeriness that laid the foundation for the remainder of the experience.

➖ The puzzling was frustrating at times. It was sometimes challenging to find the thread of gameplay when entering a new room. On a couple of occasions, The Official SAW Escape could have benefited from stronger cluing instead of relying heavily on our team searching.

➕ The transition from the first stage of gameplay to the second stage was startling and well executed. I rarely use the word giddy, but the sequence made me giddy, and it was one of those moments I wish I could play again for the first time.

➖ There were moments where the gameplay seemed unfair. Some puzzles relied on remembering information from previous rooms, yet that information was no longer accessible after leaving those rooms. (The website did warn this was the case.)

➕ The gamespace was large, detailed and highly immersive. It felt like wandering onto one of the Saw movie sets. Many of the traps, props and gamespaces were the same as or similar to ones used in the movies, adding to the immersion.

➖ The gamespace expanded and contracted significantly at points, which created inconsistency in the number of players needed to be successful. Some rooms required a larger group; other rooms bottlenecked.

➕/➖ The experience can be solidly classified as horror; however, it didn’t capture the outright terror of the movies. Depending on personal preference, this may be a positive or a negative.

➖ While the game started strongly, it lost momentum in the middle. The ending managed to inject some of the fear back and created a sense of urgency, but didn’t match the thrill of the opening.

Tips For Visiting

  • Parking: There is a parking lot. Pay close attention to the street address.
  • ID: Valid identification is required to enter the room escape.
  • Age: The experience isn’t recommended for anyone under the age of 16, and parental supervision may be required. Check before you book if you have minors in your party.
  • Food: The Official SAW Escape is in a highly industrial area; Uber is your best bet for getting to the closest restaurants.
  • Nearby Major Casinos: Circus Circus is a three-minute drive, Stratosphere is a four-minute drive, and Sahara is a five-minute drive.

Book your hour with The Official SAW Escape, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.

Exodus Escape Room – Sherlock’s Study [Review]

“The world is full of obvious things which nobody by any chance ever observes.”

-Sherlock Holmes, The Hound of the Baskervilles

Location: Anaheim, California

Date played: June 4, 2017

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

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: $30 per ticket

Story & setting

Sherlock Holmes was kidnapped in the midst of an investigation and it was up to us to find him.

We played in a study/office setting that resembled many other escape rooms with similar themes. The room wasn’t the most exciting, but it was well constructed and hid a surprise or two.

In-game: A large wooden bookcase beside a red wall.

Puzzles

Sherlock’s Study included typical room escape-style puzzles, executed at varying degrees of difficulty but geared toward a beginner audience. Observation and searching skills were key. Puzzle flow was basic but solid, with some notable areas in need of refinement.

Standouts

There was one puzzle sequence that made excellent use of the set, leading to an unexpected reveal.

Another puzzle featured a small, easily-overlooked clue that those with keen eyes will find satisfying to solve.

Shortcomings

The puzzles in Sherlock’s Study relied heavily on paper props with lots of “whodunit” information printed on them. We became frustrated with multiple team members crowded around all these documents.

The study was predictably filled with books, which necessitated a lot of divide-and- conquer scavenging. One tedious puzzle could have benefited from clearer cluing.

One visually appealing clue lacked a clear connection to anything else. By the time we made the connection, we had already solved the puzzle, which negated the cool factor.

At one point, the use of space was a letdown after a grand reveal.

Should I play Exodus Escape Room’s Sherlock’s Study?

Sherlock’s Study was unapologetically a room for a beginner’s market; the folks at Exodus Escape Rooms were clear on this point.

Beginner players will encounter a solid experience with good puzzle flow that accurately represents room escapes. Experienced players will find exciting moments, but shouldn’t expect to be blown away at any point; Sherlock’s Study was decidedly for newer players.

Book your hour with Exodus Escape Room’s Sherlock’s Study, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.

Komnata Quest – Suicide Hotel [Review]

[At the time of this review, this escape room was called Room 1409.]

“Even if you leave this room, you can never leave this room!” – Stephen King

Location: Brooklyn, NY

Date played: September 19, 2016

Team size: 3-5; we recommend 3

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: $28 per ticket

Story & setting

We were guests in New York City’s Dolphin Hotel; upon check-in, we found that our room was haunted. We had to escape before an unspeakable horror overtook us.

This escape room was based loosely on Stephen King’s short story 1408, published in 2002 as part of the Everything’s Eventual compilation. Visually, the room strongly mimicked the story. The plot, however, strayed from the book.

A dingy hotel room with a painting of a bishop hanging on the wall. A Holy Bible is in the foreground.

It was not necessary to read King’s story before playing this game. However, hardcore King fans will recognize certain plot points carried out in the room escape. Fandom enhanced my experience in this game.

Puzzles

This room was a typical Komnata Quest design – heavy on immersion and tasks, light on puzzles.

Our favorite puzzle in the game made fantastic use of the setting while incorporating a direct plot point from the King story.

The tasks in this immersive environment were fun, and in several cases, unusual.

Standouts

The set design was the strongest feature of this room escape. As a King fan, the design exceeded my expectations in capturing the madness of the story. For those who hadn’t read the story, the design was incredibly solid, realistic, and eerie in all the right places.

In several instances, we were required to interact with the room in unique and unexpected ways, which we all enjoyed.

Shortcomings

Because the room was task-based, it marched along quickly. Our experienced team blew through this game, and the end came far sooner than we expected. 1409 genuinely appeared larger than it was. This illusion added to our end-game confusion.

After the initial scene was set, any semblance of story faded quickly. I wasn’t expecting the room to mimic the King story, but there was an opportunity to design a narrative compelling enough to match the set. It was never really clear exactly who/what we were escaping from and why they/it were there to begin with.

Should I play Komnata Quest’s Room 1409?

If you are looking for a fun, interactive experience in a spooky environment, then this is for you.

If you’re looking for more challenging or layered puzzles then this is probably not your room escape.

Note that this game was a bit creepy. It flirted with horror. Leave small children or sensitive adults at home.

Experienced players will probably finish this room quickly. If getting to Brooklyn is hard for you then consider adding one of Komnata’s other rooms. Their current Brooklyn collection includes a horror murder mystery, a sex dungeon, a claustrophobic coffin escape and a heist.

Book your hour with Komnata Quest’s Room 1409, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you using the coupon code escapeartist to receive 10% off.

Full disclosure: Komnata Quest comped our tickets for this game.

(If you purchase via our Amazon links, you will help support Room Escape Artist as we will receive a very small percentage of the sale).

Fresh Eyes [room escape player tips]

Scenario

Your team rushes into the room and the organized chaos of a thorough room turn-down ensues. A few team members solve early puzzles easily; they’re off and running. One or two people start delegating (“hey word puzzle guy, you take this one!”). Others find puzzles that seem interesting and they dig in.

After a while, the team hits a lull where they aren’t making progress. You quickly assess the room for unused clues and unsolved puzzles. You notice that some of your teammates have been working on the same puzzle for quite some time. “Ok great,” you think, “they have that one down. I’ll go onto something else.”

The Trap

Stop. You’re about to make a mistake.

If your team isn’t making progress and the same two people have been stuck on something for a while, offer your fresh set of eyes. Fresh eyes means more perspectives, which increases the chances that the answer will click for someone.

Glasses - Watercolor

The progress lull doesn’t mean that your teammates aren’t smart. Your teammates may have different types of intelligence. They may be trying to solve a puzzle based on faulty assumptions or bad information. You bring the outsider’s point of view they may need.

Egos

Never underestimate your teammates, but don’t overestimate them either. Everyone has blind spots and everyone makes bad assumptions from time to time.

A room escape is no place for ego. If your teammates are stuck, trust that they won’t get pissed off at you for offering to help. If you’re the one who’s stuck, ask for help.

There will be plenty of time for ego-stroking at the post-game celebration when you win.