Riddle Room – Forest of Fortune [Review]

Flora and Fauna

Location:  Warwick, Rhode Island

Date Played: December 15, 2019

Team size: 4-10; we recommend 3-6

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: $29 per player

Ticketing: Public & Private

Emergency Exit Rating: [A+] No Lock

Physical Restraints: [A+] No Physical Restraints

REA Reaction

We had played at Riddle Room before, but stepping into Forest of Fortune demonstrated such a leap forward in game quality that it felt like a completely different company. It was incredible how far Riddle Room has come in 2 years. From the gameplay, to the set, to their hosting, they have substantially leveled up every conceivable element of their business.

It was clear that Riddle Room had put a lot into this build-out and pushed themselves far beyond anything that we had seen from them to date.

In-game: A stone wall with a metal gate.

In addition to the set, Riddle Room built dynamic mechanisms into their gameplay. On more than one occasion, they took an old, stale escape room cliché and morphed it into something unique and incredibly fun.

If you’re in Rhode Island, Forest of Fortune is a must-play escape room. It was fun and funny. On a personal level, we’re truly in awe of how Riddle Room has reinvented itself.

Who is this for?

  • Adventure seekers
  • Puzzle lovers
  • Families
  • Any experience level
  • Players who don’t need to be a part of every puzzle

Why play?

  • Novel puzzle and interaction design
  • Playful set design
  • Thoroughly fun gameplay

Story

We had received a text from our friend Justin that he needed our help. Justin was lost in the wilds of western Rhode Island, but he’d found a mountain of treasure.

In-game: Forest set.

Setting

Riddle Room set their adventure in an enchanted forest. The set had a whimsical woodland feel. It was almost cartoonish, which helped to sell the detailed, but homemade aesthetic. We liked it.

The stars of the show were some of the larger puzzle set pieces that were clearly the product of a lot of effort and ingenuity.

In-game: A stump with a a fleece hung on it in the middle of the woods.

Gameplay

Riddle Room’s Forest of Fortune was a standard escape room with a moderate level of difficulty.

Core gameplay revolved around searching, observing, making connections, and puzzling.

In-game: View of a a cemetary through a metal gate.

Analysis

➕ The mechanical interactions were dynamic and really cool.

➕ We enjoyed the theme and the set up for this adventure. It was unusual. Although the set looked handmade, it was clearly crafted with care and deliberate design. Everything felt playful.

➖ Forest of Fortune had experienced some wear and tear from players.

➕ We loved when the forest revealed its magic. This lifted our experience and opened up new thrills.

➖ The plot progression wasn’t entirely clear. Midway through the game, we became a bit confused with the story. Because our team split up to solve some of the later puzzles, some players missed some key plot points.

➕ Riddle Room’s outstanding props enabled us to wield magic. These were fashioned out of everyday items and escape room clichés… but crafted into extraordinary tools.

➕ Searching challenges were well-clued.

➖ There was an opportunity to craft more engaging interactions and better incorporate cluing for one star element of the final act.

➕ There was a lot of puzzle content in Forest of Fortune, most of which lent itself to teamwork. The gameplay worked well.

➕ The hint system fit right in with the world. It was fun and engaging to interact with.

➕ The finale was surprising and momentous.

Tips For Visiting

  • There is a parking lot.

Book your hour with Riddle Room’s Forest of Fortune, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.

Disclosure: Riddle Room comped our tickets for this game.

Colorado Springs, Colorado: Escape Room Recommendations

Latest update: January 22, 2020

On our trip to Colorado, we drove an hour and 15 minutes South of Denver to Colorado Springs, where there were lots of fun games to play. These are our top recommendations for Colorado Springs.

We also have recommendations for Denver and Fort Collins.

Lisa & David resting on the red rocks of Garden of the Gods.
Also, Garden of the Gods is a beautiful place. You should visit it.

MARKET STANDOUTS

SET & SCENERY DRIVEN

PUZZLE CENTRIC

NEWBIE FRIENDLY

Spooky & Scary … with Actors

The (Potential) Magic of the Single-Room Escape Game

We recently received a question about single-room escape rooms from Victor, co-creator of Sherlocked in Amsterdam. He recognized that making a compelling single-space escape room would be quite challenging and asked us if there were examples of successful ones, and what makes these successful.

Black & White, a lone person looking out a large window from behind.

When You Survey the Players

When asked, escape room players will tell you they overwhelmingly prefer multi-room escape rooms. (See the graph on page 4 of the 2018 Escape Room Enthusiast Survey.)

When most players answer that question, however, I don’t believe they are saying that multiple rooms are inherently more enjoyable. I think they are saying that most of the rooms they’ve loved – the rooms that have given them a sense of adventure, excitement, intrigue, and discovery – have multiple rooms.

It’s easier to deliver on these escape room virtues through multiple spaces.

The Lull of the Single Space

It is easy to make a mediocre single-room escape game.

When you spend 60 minutes solving puzzles in a single space, you begin to feel comfortable with the space. You’ve searched it thoroughly. You know everything about it. You won’t find anything new. You won’t be surprised. The excitement and sense of adventure subsides, slowly at first – and then quickly.

Unless…

You go out of your way to design an experience, not just a room.

The most successful single-space escape rooms make that room feel like it’s part of a broader world and story through a number of different tools.

The Narrative Twist

If the story changes, the players are in the same physical space, but they are experiencing something new there.

Let’s say that the team was put into the room on a mission to disarm a bomb. If the game ends with the diffusing of the bomb, there was no twist; there was no intrigue. However, if that bomb gets defused 20 minutes into the game and it turns out that something more sinister is afoot… that creates opportunities for surprise.

The Scene Change

If the setting changes – through lighting, sound, the addition or removal of props, or anything else – the space can once again feel new and discoverable.

Adding or removing things from the space can fundamentally change it. Additionally, large-scale reveals can create powerful moments. There are single-room games that feel like large puzzle boxes, slowly revealing big secrets and new interactions. This can be incredibly engaging. Arcane Escapes in California did this in The Hideout.

In-game: A wooden wall with pipes and a big red valve mounted to it.

The Characters Emerge

In games with actors, these characters can change the space with their presence. They will move through it and interact with it, drawing players to see it in different ways.

A live actor can also affect the setting in planned ways that a player cannot. SCRAP does this so well in San Francisco’s Pop Star Room of Doom.

In-game: view from one apartment window through another. Across the way is the popstar's blue walled apartment covered in 90s references.

The Outside World Exists

Having the room feel like it is within a broader world is powerful. This is part of the magic of Strange Bird Immersive’s The Man From Beyond.

Image via Strange Bird Immersive

Incredible things can happen when it feels like the actions that you take within the room are changing the world beyond the walls, and similarly, outside forces are affecting you.

There are many other ways to do this. The key is to build drama. If the players get too comfortable with the setting and the story, then their excitement will wane. Keep the space in flux – in reality or in their minds – and single-room escape rooms can be incredible.

Single Room Hate

Players often look down on single-room games because the single room is frequently an indicator that the game was under designed. For every Man From Beyond, Pop Star Room of Doom, and The Hideout, there are many more forgettable single-room escape games.

We’ll never knock an escape game just for being a single room. We’ll argue against anyone who thinks that one room is an automatic indicator of bad quality. That said, we understand why an escape room player might draw the conclusion that single-room games offer a lower quality experience.

Announcing: 2 RECON Speakers!

RECON is going to have a stellar speaker lineup. The first two speakers have already been announced!

Nick Moran – London

One of our favorite things about playing escape rooms with Nick is discussing them with him over coffee or cocktails. He is so talented at noticing details about game design and articulating his thoughts.

We’ve heard Nick speak about escape room design to many different audiences, large and small. He is clear, polished, and witty.

A beautiful shiba on a train platform at night.
This photo of Nick Moran’s dog Elinor was stolen and published without permission.

On the RECON stage, Nick will be talking about Intellectual Property. He has extensive experience working with IP as Game Director of Sherlock: The Game Is Now, in collaboration with Hartswood Films.

Read his full bio on the RECON website.

Fun Fact: The day we met Nick, he and David debated the definition of art for two hours at a cafe in Amsterdam.

Errol Elumir – Toronto

The one time we played an escape room with Errol, he started by putting on a show… and concluded by solving an incredibly challenging puzzle that had already stumped a few teammates. And that’s Errol, in a nutshell.

Errol is a talented puzzle designer who has given much thought to his craft, and has written extensively about escape room puzzle design. He’ll be sharing his deep knowledge of puzzle design at RECON. Live – on stage, in an escape room, or pretty much any time – he is energetic and entertaining.

Comic of Errol screaming "AAAHHHH!!!"
Errol is also a cartoonist.

Read his full bio on the RECON website.

Fun Fact: We first reached out to Errol in 2015 when a REA reader asked for tips for playing escape rooms with children. We knew he’d have insights to share and he delivered.

Who Else?

You’ll have to wait and see!

If you want to be the first to know, follow RECON on Facebook or Instagram or Twitter.

Attend RECON

  • Date: August 23-24, 2020
  • Location: Boston, MA

Your ticket to RECON reserves your space at these talks. You’ll have a chance to learn from Nick and Errol and ask them questions. Furthermore, you’ll have the opportunity to discuss their talks with others, as you help each other determine what their insights will mean to your businesses.

Tickets are on sale now at the early bird price!

Fort Collins, Colorado: Escape Room Recommendations

Latest update: January 15, 2020

There are tons of escape rooms in Colorado, more per capita than any other state. On our trip to Colorado, we drove an hour due north of Denver to Fort Collins where we found a few companies creating unique experiences.

If you’re looking for an escape room in Fort Collins, Colorado, check out our recommendations below.

We also have recommendations for Denver and Colorado Springs (coming soon.)

Stylized image of mountains and a lake.

Market Standouts

  1. Plight of the Margo Part 1 & Part 2, ConTRAPtions Escape Rooms
  2. Puzzlers’ Secret Chamber of Mystery, Legendary Adventures Escape Rooms

Set & Scenery Driven

  • Plight of the Margo Part 1 & Part 2, ConTRAPtions Escape Rooms

Puzzle Centric

TECH HEAVY

  • Plight of the Margo Part 1 & Part 2, ConTRAPtions Escape Rooms

Newbie Friendly

Games with Actors

Escape Goat – A Fisherman’s Tale [Review]

A Little Mermaid

Location:  Winter Garden, FL

Date Played: November 17, 2019

Team size: up to 5; we recommend 2-4

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: $28 per player

Ticketing: Private

Emergency Exit Rating: [A+] No Lock

Physical Restraints: [A+] No Physical Restraints

REA Reaction

A Fisherman’s Tale is Escape Goat’s new beginner-friendly game. It was approachable, sweet, and comfortable. It’s easy to recommend to first time players.

Escape Goat is the epitome of a family-run escape room business and a lot of companies could learn a ton from them. Their games were brimming with details, love, and personality.

A Fisherman’s Tale was their only game without an in-room character/ gamemaster. They replaced this with a clever hint system.

If you’re an experienced player, The Quest has quite a bit more to offer in terms of depth and complexity. That said, if you’re a fan of what Escape Goat is doing, A Fisherman’s Tale was a delight. We squeezed this one in with some found time and we were happy that we did.

In-game: Inside of a fishing boat, there are crates, and chests.

Who is this for?

  • Newbies
  • Puzzle lovers
  • Any experience level

Why play?

  • A hilarious hint system
  • A cute story
  • Approachable gameplay

Story

While walking the beach we had happened upon a message in a bottle begging for help. The note had led us to a boat captained by an obsessive treasure hunter.

In-game: A captain's desk on his boat.

Setting

A Fisherman’s Tale was set within the beachside hut of a fisherman. We explored the small structure, which had a simple yet effective aesthetic.

Few items seemed out of place and few props jumped out at us as truly memorable… except for the genius hint system… and I’m not spoiling that punchline.

In-game: The wood and canvas walls and ceiling of the boat's interior.

Gameplay

Escape Goat’s A Fisherman’s Tale was a standard escape room with a lower level of difficulty.

Core gameplay revolved around observing, making connections, and puzzling.

Analysis

➕ A Fisherman’s Tale told a cute story.

➕ Escape Goat made the most of a small physical footprint with a detailed set. This made spaces distinct and added intrigue to the game.

➕ Although it was an easier escape room, there was still a lot of content to engage with at any given point. The puzzles were thematic, distinct, and well clued. The game flowed well.

➖ Escape Goat could refine the beginning with a gentler onboarding. This segment had potential, but lacked the clarity of some of the more complex, later puzzles.

➖ There was an opportunity to improve sound design in A Fisherman’s Tale. When speakers played, we mostly talked over them by accident. Additionally, not all sounds were accessible to the entire group.

❓ We worry about the durability of some more delicate props.

➕ The ending was fun. The final prop was enticing and although the story didn’t surprise us, Escape Goat made it special.

➕ With the playful tone of A Fisherman’s Tale, Escape Goat could add entertaining touches, like the adorable hint mechanism.

Tips For Visiting

  • There is a parking lot.

Book your hour with Escape Goat’s A Fisherman’s Tale, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.

Disclosure: Escape Goat comped our tickets for this game.

Red Fox Escapes – The Heist [Review]

Artfully Puzzley

Location: Cambridge, Massachusetts

Date Played: December 13, 2019

Team size: up to 10; we recommend 3-5

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: $32 per player

Ticketing: Public

Emergency Exit Rating: [A+] No Lock

Physical Restraints: [A+] No Physical Restraints

REA Reaction

We loved Red Fox’s The Heist. It was quirky, unique, and loaded with great puzzles. To make things even better for an experienced escape room team, there was no searching; the puzzles were confidently on display.

In-game: Wide view of the gallery, many pieces are on display, the two most prominent is a painting of the Queen of England with her eyes closed.

This was a challenging game, in a fair way. While we loved it, I wouldn’t be surprised if most people preferred Red Fox’s U-Boat (also a lovely game – review coming soon). On its surface, this game feels more normal, but if you really look at the details, that’s where this game shines.

If you’re an experienced puzzler near Boston, we highly recommend The Heist. If you’re looking for something that’s a bit more of an adventure, try out U-Boat first. Either way, Red Fox is a company that we’re looking forward to visiting many more times in the future. They’re off to a stellar start.

Who is this for?

  • Adventure seekers
  • Puzzle lovers
  • Scenery snobs
  • Cat burglars
  • Players with at least some experience
  • Players who don’t need to be a part of every puzzle

Why play?

  • Unusual and challenging puzzles
  • There was essentially no searching
  • Beautiful art

Story

A private gallery in the Back Bay was exhibiting the world’s largest diamond, worth hundreds of millions of dollars. Naturally, we’d assembled our team of master thieves in our hideout to plan our heist.

In-game: A portrait of Marilyn Monroe made out of pennies beside a geometic sculputre.

Setting

The Heist began inside of our secret hideout [not depicted because it’s a secret]. Once our plan was sorted out, we broke into the gallery… and it really looked like a gallery.

Aside from nailing the art gallery aesthetic, the thing that really set this one apart was that the art looked unique, and like art. It was great to see pieces that weren’t obvious knockoffs of famous art that is housed in specific museums.

In-game: A sculpture of a tree and root system without leaves.

Gameplay

Red Fox Escapes’ The Heist was a standard escape room with a high level of difficulty.

Core gameplay revolved around observing, making connections, and puzzling.

In-game: an image of a woman made out of wire mounted to a board.

Analysis

➕ The secret hideout was classic. It looked good and provided a solid on-ramp that warmed us up for the main event.

➕ The artwork was high quality. It was beautiful. Some of the pieces were truly impressive creations.

➖ As beautiful as the set was, a couple of the props we handled felt worn out. They weren’t on the same level as the rest of the space.

➕ The Heist was a challenging, puzzley escape room with fair, well-clued puzzles. Red Fox wove the puzzles through the art unlike any art heist we’ve played to date. The game was challenging for all the right reasons… and there wasn’t any searching.

➕ Red Fox drew on classic heist tropes, but made these their own. We couldn’t maneuver through them in the normal way. This was smart.

➖/➕ Red Fox introduced one concept too early. It had to work this way for the story, but this design decision could easily come back to bite them – or more likely – one of their props.

➕ The juxtaposed sets were incredibly different, but part of one world. The transition scene enabled this really well. A lot of love went into a space that we spent next to no time in. Respect.

➖ The first act couldn’t support as large a team as the second act could, which makes it hard to recommend a group size for The Heist. Strong puzzlers can go with a smaller group. If you bring a larger group, you’ll be crowded early on before the space opens up.

➕ Red Fox can adapt The Heist during the reset to make it easier by swapping in additional cluing for some puzzles. They can do this so seamlessly that players would never know.

Tips For Visiting

  • Red Fox Escapes is easily accessible by T. Take the Red Line to Central.
  • At least 1 person needs to be able to crawl.

Book your hour with Red Fox Escapes’ The Heist, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.

Disclosure: Red Fox Escapes comped our tickets for this game.

Denver, Colorado: Escape Room Recommendations

Latest update: January 8, 2020

Denver has a lot of escape room companies. In fact, Colorado had the most escape room companies per capita in both 2018 & 2019. Here is our guide to the best escape rooms in Denver.

If you’re in the area, check out our guides to Fort Collins and Colorado Springs (coming soon).

Sign that reads, "Welcome to Colorful Colorado"

Market Standouts

  1. Paradox, Rabbit Hole Recreation Services
  2. Mystic Temple, Rabbit Hole Recreation Services
  3. Experiment C73, Conundrum Escape Rooms
  4. Curse on the Emerald Seas, The Puzzle Effect
  5. Grim Stacks, The Puzzle Effect
  6. The Curse, Puzzah!

Set & Scenery Driven

Puzzle Centric

Tech Heavy

Newbie Friendly

Upside Down Escape Games – The Gingerbread Cottage [Review]

Solve, solve as fast as you can

Location:  Taunton, Massachusetts

Date Played: December 12, 2019

Team size: 2-4; we recommend 1- a small family group

Duration: 45 minutes

Price: $18 per player

Ticketing: Private

Emergency Exit Rating: [A+] No Lock

Physical Restraints: [A+] No Physical Restraints

REA Reaction

The Gingerbread Cottage was an adorable, family- and newbie-friendly seasonal game. It was one of the nicer temporary games that we’ve encountered.

The story was cute, the hint system was clever, the puzzles were fair, the props were well-selected, and there was a tiny bit more tech than we’re accustomed to finding in a limited run escape game.

In-game: gingerbread house wall covered in gumdrops.

This game was meant for families and small groups of new players. The recipe included short and sweet puzzles and it was iced with a touch of humor.

If you’re a seasoned escape room player, this one isn’t really made for our kind, but we still enjoyed nibbling on it.

Who is this for?

  • Puzzle lovers
  • Christmas aficionados
  • Great for families
  • Any experience level

Why play?

  • Adorable premise
  • Solid puzzle game
  • Christmas cheer

Story

Peeled from a baking sheet, we had gained sentience as we were placed in our gingerbread home. From beyond the walls of our candy cottage we’d heard that Darryl was coming home in 45 minutes… and he was going to be hungry.

In-game: A fireplace decorated with stockings, a rocking chair, and a giant - partially decorated gingerbread cookie on the wall.

Setting

The Gingerbread Cottage was a small, humble, and adorable little popup Christmas game. Most of the props were artfully selected Christmas decorations meant to build the fiction of the inside of a gingerbread house.

The game itself was constructed around the decoy gingerbread man, a simple, but effective piece of tech.

In-game: A white christmas tree shelf covered in gingerbread cookie ornaments beside a fireplace decorated with stockings.

Gameplay

Upside Down Escape Games’ The Gingerbread Cottage was a standard escape room with a lower level of difficulty.

Core gameplay revolved around searching, observing, making connections, and puzzling.

6 homemade gingerbread owls.

Analysis

➕ The Gingerbread Cottage had an adorable, playful premise.

➕ The gameplay was approachable and entirely non-linear. It was easy to dive in and clear how to play. The gameplay was smooth.

➖ Maybe we were seeing it in the wrong light, but one puzzle felt a little off to us.

➕ Although Upside Down Escape Games had a small footprint and low budget for this holiday popup escape game, they created a lot of cheer. It didn’t feel cheap or temporary.

➖ There was an opportunity to more evenly use the space. The majority of the puzzle elements were a bit on top of each other.

➖ The Gingerbread Cottage lacked a finale. With a final puzzle or some fanfare, the win would have felt like more of an event.

➕ The hint system was thematic and cute.

Tips For Visiting

  • There is a parking lot.

Book your hour with Upside Down Escape Games’ The Gingerbread Cottage, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.

Disclosure: Upside Down Escape Games comped our tickets for this game.

2019 Golden Lock Awards

2019 Golden Lock Award Ribbon

We played and reviewed 161 escape rooms in 2019.

Our own playing slowed a bit this year as we worked to grow the community from other angles: reviewing more at-home escape games, running two different Escape Immerse Explore tours, and launching the Reality Escape Convention (RECON) which will take place in Boston in 2020.

When we traveled, we actively sought out the most interesting and unusual games. We raised the bar for the games we chose to play.

We tapped into the community and sought escape rooms that refined the traditional notion of escape rooms or pushed the industry in a new direction.

As “wry cheerleaders, critics, and ambassadors of the escape room world” (Rachel Sugar, Vox, 2019) we want to share the stories of people, companies, and games that are driving this frontier of the experience economy.

Changes

For our fifth annual Golden Lock Award, we’ve made a few changes to the award:

New Name

We decided to drop the wordplay of “Golden Lock-In” after the fire in Poland. Locking players inside of an escape room hasn’t been acceptable for a long time. While our 2019 Escape Room Safety Report demonstrates that locked doors are a thing of the past, we didn’t want this award to encourage it in any way.

Rules

We’ve changed, and so has the industry. We added a rule about safety and dropped a rule that both of us had to play each contending game:

  1. We established no arbitrary minimum or maximum number of rooms that could win the award.
  2. A company could only win once for the year.
  3. We had published a safety rubric at the start of 2019. To be considered, a room had to achieve a safety rating of A or A+ for both emergency exits and physical restraints.
  4. We (either of us) had to play the room during 2019.

There is no such thing as the perfect escape room, but these are the ones that we wish we could play again. Here are our 16 favorite escape rooms of 2019.

2019 Golden Lock Winners

Here is the recording of the awards show livestream.

Listed chronologically in the order that we played them:

The Legend of the Skull Witch

Enchambered – Sacramento, California

In-game: an effigy hanging from the wall with fire projected onto it.

From its imposing opening scene, through each moment of exploration, there was something intriguing – and a bit unsettling – about The Legend of the Skull Witch. Enchambered built creative mechanisms that made the world that much more magical… and the solving that much more heroic.

Castle Adventure

Escape Room Family – Cincinnati, Ohio

In-game: An assortment of puzzles and armaments in Defend The Castle.

The magic of Castle Adventure came from the gameplay and puzzles, set in bright and friendly containers. With a specific audience in mind, Escape Room Family invested in the right details, upping the energy level and the fun factor. It might not have looked like much, but it had it where it counted.

The Night of the Wolf and the Serpent

Codex – Laval, Quebec, Canada

In-game: A campfire burning under the stars in the middle of the autumn woods.

In our first adventure through Norse mythology, Codex crafted a lovingly homemade aesthetic with exquisite polish, delivering a historic land like no other. The Night of the Wolf and the Serpent had us solving our way through a story right up until we sealed our destiny.

The Wizard Four and the Rise of Lord Thulsa

Escaparium – Dorval, Quebec, Canada

In-game: Bottles of magical ingredients.

Escaparium bestowed magical powers upon us and set us off on a quest to battle a mythical beast. Through an unusual set and tech, The Wizard Four and the Rise of Lord Thulsa fostered teamwork and moments of individual heroism.

Wrath of Poseidon

Sauve Qui Peut – Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Quebec, Canada

In-game: A periscope in a submarine.

What began as a cliché aboard a submarine opened up into a spectacularly vibrant second act. Wrath of Poseidon carried a subtle message, made all the more memorable by Sauve Qui Peut’s breathtaking style and craftsmanship.

The End

DarkPark – Zoetermeer, Netherlands

In-game: a rundown scifi-esque wall-mounted logo that reads "END"

DarkPark’s newest experience was a twisted thriller about endings… in so many different ways. The End was about its story, a futuristic cautionary tale that delivered an unimaginably epic conclusion.

The Dome

Escape Room Nederland – Bunschoten-Spakenburg, Netherlands

In-game: The entry way for The Dome opened, a sign reads, "Butterfly Safe Zone.".

With unrivaled set design and technology, The Dome led us through a series of hallucinations, administered without any chemicals and entirely through Escape Room Nederland’s commitment to their craft. With each mind-boggling transition we were that much more amazed that this escape room even exists.

Neptune’s Curse

Hidden in Hamburg – Hamburg, Germany

In-game: A wooden ship's comaptment with unusual crates and storage containers built into the walls.

Hidden in Hamburg built their seafaring adventure into a real ship. As we traversed the decks of this actually floating escape game, we experienced puzzles that could only work in the unusual environment of Neptune’s Curse.

Below Zero

Crypto Escape Rooms – Newmarket, Ontario, Canada

In-game: Wide angle shot of a control room.

Crypto Escape Rooms crafted a fully realized narrative and puzzles that were as integrated into the story as they were fun to solve. With a blend of compelling storytelling and dark humor, Below Zero will thaw the heart of the most jaded escape room player.

The Aurora Society

Decode Ypsilanti – Ypsilanti, Michigan

In-game: wide shot of the room, a strange game sits on a table in the middle of the room.

Every prop, puzzle, and inch of the beautiful world of The Aurora Society was justified and came together to tell our story of harnessing the magical properties of the aurora borealis. Decode Ypsilanti created a cohesive world from the front door through every inch of their facility and our experience in it.

The Infirmary

Michigan Escape Room – Clinton Township, Michigan

In-game: A wide shot of the Infirmary. It's heavily weathered and worn.

With an intense and eerie set, The Infirmary was a shining example of a classic escape room. Michigan Escape Room added novel interactions to stellar, traditional gameplay, reminding us of why we fell in love with these types of games in the first place.

Plight of the Margo Part 1 & Part 2

ConTRAPtions Escape Rooms – Fort Collins, Colorado

In-game: The ships helm beside and iris door.

The Plight of the Margo was an epic Star Trek-inspired mission in two consecutive 90-minute installments. ConTRAPtions used the extended clock to build an intense story within an impressively engineered starship.

ConTRAPtions is for sale, for reasons that have nothing to do with the quality of their product. They have a special game and we want it to find a good home. If you are interested in buying ConTRAPtions, please reach out to them directly.

The Last Defender

Denver, Colorado

We played The Last Defender in Denver, but it was originally launched in Chicago and is currently running again in Chicago.

In-game: 3 players in orange flightsuits working at the Operations cabinet.
Image via The Last Defender

The Last Defender was a dark political comedy exploring cold war nuclear deterrents. For 16 players, it blurred the lines between escape room, theater, and puzzle hunt, presenting equal doses of challenging puzzles and thought-provoking moments that balanced on the razor’s edge between tragedy and comedy.

Paradox

Rabbit Hole Recreation Services – Louisville, Colorado

In-game: 4 tubes protruding upwards from a glowing console.

If Doctor Who’s Tardis and The Room game series had a baby, it would look like Paradox. Rabbit Hole Recreation Services created a monument to tangible gameplay delivering puzzle after puzzle with unusual and engaging interfaces.

Captain Spoopy Bones And The Magnificent Quest For Some Other Pirate’s Treasure

Doldrick’s Escape Room – Kissimmee, Florida

In-game: the brig inside of a wooden ship.

We laughed our way through Captain Spoopy Bones And The Magnificent Quest For Some Other Pirate’s Treasure. Doldrick’s Escape Room uses their unique voice to build fully realized worlds. We were giddy accomplices in Captain Spoopy Bones’ tale. Through 75 minutes of tight gameplay and stellar reveals, they made us feel like kids again.

The Storyteller’s Secret

Boxaroo – Boston, Massachusetts

In-game: A beautiful old writer's desk with a journal and a quill pen.

The Storyteller’s Secret was a serene adventure through the mind of a novelist. Boxaroo’s escape room wasn’t just built; it was thoroughly designed, delivering gameplay reminiscent of classic LucasArts games.

Congratulations to the 2019 Golden Lock Winners!

Past Golden Lock Awards

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