60 Out – Da Vinci’s Secret [Review]

That’s one big cryptex.

Location: Los Angeles, CA

Date played: December 1, 2017

Team size: 2-6; we recommend 4-6

Duration: 75 minutes

Price: It’s complicated

REA Reaction

We enjoyed Da Vinci’s Secret’s¬†interesting and inventive puzzles. We wished 60 Out had focused a little more on evening out the scale of the space and conveying adventure. That said, we puzzled through some neat devices, which felt appropriately da Vinci.

Da Vinci’s Secret came highly recommended; it was a good escape room, but it didn’t quite live up to the hype.

Who is this for?

  • Puzzle lovers
  • Best for players with a least some experience

Why play?

  • Inventive puzzles
  • Giant cryptex
  • Tongue-in-cheek tone

Story

Upon the death of Leonardo da Vinci, his final mystery was bequeathed to his favorite student, Salai: a room filled with unusual puzzles. Could we unravel the clues and learn the secrets left behind by the Renaissance master?

That's one big cryptex.

Setting

The setting of¬†Da Vinci’s Secret¬†was earthy in tone. It had an assortment of artwork from Leonardo and a gigantic cryptex-like device under a glowing stained glass window. Most other props were small, made from wood, and frequently laser cut with intricate patterns.

Gameplay

Da Vinci’s Secret ran 75 minutes and¬†was entirely focused on puzzling. While there wasn’t much adventure or intensity to speak of, it did offer a wide range of puzzle types.

Standouts

Da Vinci’s Secret¬†included some intriguing set pieces. There was the giant cryptex, of course, as well as a few other interesting pieces to manipulate or observe.

When we solved puzzles,¬†Da Vinci’s Secret¬†responded with fanfare. We enjoyed this playful feedback.¬†We’ve played many da Vinci-themed escape rooms, but never one as tongue-in-cheek as 60 Out’s.

60 Out created some challenging and satisfying puzzles that encouraged teamwork and cooperation.

We enjoyed the cohesive, laser-cut aesthetic of most of the props in Da Vinci’s Secret.

Shortcomings

The linear gameplay in Da Vinci’s Secret¬†became frustrating because the escape room wasn’t appropriately gated. Many of the most interesting props were available for exploration long before we had the clues to solve them. New players, especially, will likely get hung up spending too much time on items they can’t yet solve.

The scale of this game felt off. The space was large, but the majority of the props were small. Especially when juxtaposed with something like a giant cryptex, the other props felt dwarfed by the largely unadorned gamespace. The set looked fine, but somehow it seem imbalanced.

Tips for Visiting

  • This 60 Out location has free parking around back.
  • There weren’t a lot of great food options in the neighborhood. Plan accordingly.

Book your hour with 60 Out’s Da Vinci’s Secret, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.

Disclosure: 60 Out provided media discounted tickets for this game.

60 Out – Wizard’s Workshop [Review]

Bending the elements of gameplay.

Location: Marina Del Rey, California

Date played: June 2, 2017

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

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: $26-40 per ticket depending upon team size

Story & setting

During our time as wizard’s apprentices, our teacher had made a grave mistake and became lost in time and space. It was our job to recover his body and soul.

Wizard’s Workshop was staged within a wizard’s study with a medieval-magic-meets-steampunk feel.

In-game: A wizard's study with strange books,a wooden desk, stone walls, and a strange telescope.

Puzzles

Wizard’s Workshop was a challenging game. Of the 8 games that I’ve played with 60Out, this was the first one where the connections didn’t come quickly and easily for me. It was all solvable, but a step up in difficulty from 60Out’s usual “experience > difficulty” approach to room escape design.

Standouts

There were a few puzzles that were both challenging and especially satisfying to solve.

The escape room felt large, which added to the sense of adventure.

There were a number of great interactions.

Parts of the set looked stellar.

Shortcomings

The set was a little uneven. Parts of it looked exceptionally compelling, while other bits looked like they didn’t receive quite the same level of attention or budget.

A late-game set piece should have offered better feedback. We burned a lot of time when a correct action failed to register properly. This became frustrating.

We left with a few cuts and splinters. A number of props needed some sandpapering and finishing.

Should I play 60Out’s Wizard’s Workshop?

If you’ve played a bunch of escape rooms with 60Out and you’re looking for their take on a more challenging one, then¬†Wizard’s Workshop is your boss battle. It’s not brutal, but it’s more challenging than their norm.

Wizard’s Workshop will be most enjoyable for players who are at least¬†fairly mobile, as mobility plays a heavy part of one of the more memorable interactions. That said, you only need one smart and mobile person to make things work.

Wizard’s Workshop was a solid escape room made by a reliable company. While I think that 60Out offers other more interesting and innovative experiences, this one was still fun. Play this one for the puzzles; play it because you want to take on the challenge.

Book your hour with 60Out’s Wizard’s Workshop, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.

Full disclosure: 60Out provided media discounted tickets for this game.

60 Out – Doctor Psycho [Review]

I can’t imagine his malpractice insurance rates.

Location: Los Angeles, California

Date played: June 3, 2017

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

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: $26-40 per ticket depending upon team size

Story & setting

We were patients trapped by a doctor/serial killer. It was time to make our escape from his gruesome practice.

The doctor’s facility was a large space containing various basic furniture and assorted props, some more medical-ish than others.

In-game: A dark and bloody medical lab with a bag of AB blood hanging in the foreground.

Puzzles

Doctor Psycho relied on observing and connecting more than prolonged puzzling.

Although many of the inputs were locks, Doctor Psycho was largely driven by set-based interactions.

Standouts

From the hallway of 60Out, Doctor Psycho¬†looked enticing. This was an excellent design detail. We’d been wanting to play it since we had walked past the door last year.

One prop required an interaction that made our team jittery, in a fun way. It was a surprising inclusion in an escape room, perfectly safe for all involved, and worked well with the psychotic doctor theme.

The implementation of one late-game puzzle added excitement to a well-themed, fun puzzle.

Shortcomings

In one instance, the order of information distribution, coupled with a particular set of props, led us to spend a lot of time on something that ultimately proved irrelevant.

David and I played¬†Doctor Psycho¬†in different groups. His team experienced a tech failure on one of the more exciting interactions in this escape room. They knew something wasn’t working right and the gamemaster got the room back on track, but this deflated part of their experience.

Should I play 60Out’s Doctor Psycho?

60Out leans heavily into set-based interactions in building their puzzles.¬†Doctor Psycho¬†was grounded in those same design decisions, but relied more heavily on lock inputs and typical escape room puzzles than some of 60Out’s other offerings.

Doctor Psycho was¬†another gritty medical lab / murder scene escape room. While well-executed, 60Out didn’t bring any additional drama or intrigue to this theme… Los Angeles has a lot of these types of room escapes.

Moreover, as with many such escape rooms,¬†Doctor Psycho¬†was a tad gross, a little dark, and sometimes deliberately off-putting, but it wasn’t horror. In Los Angeles, where horror-themed escape rooms excel,¬†Doctor Psycho¬†is an escape room with an identity crisis. It wasn’t really scary and I don’t know if it meant to be.

If you enjoy 60Out’s design style, you’ll enjoy¬†Doctor Psycho.¬†It has solid gameflow and a few fun and surprising moments. I think this is balanced enough to support new players, but also entice more experienced players, for whom it will be a quicker playthrough.

If you like the mad scientist murder lab-type escape room, you’ll have a lot of fun with this one.

Book your hour with 60Out’s Doctor Psycho, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.

Full disclosure: 60Out provided media discounted tickets for this game.

60 Out – Galaxy Quest [Review]

Update 9/14/21: If you enjoy Galaxy Quest, we hope you’ll check out our interview with creator Brian Corbitt on The Reality Escape Pod.

[At the time of this review, this game was called Flight of the Pandorus and was operated by Countdown and has since been acquired by 60Out.]

That’s it, man. Game over, man. Game over! … Oh… We won!

Location: Los Angeles, California

Date played: June 2, 2017

Team size: 1-6; we recommend 4-5

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: $30 per ticket

Story & setting

As mercenaries flying about the galaxy doing work for pay, a new client had hired us to create a weapon that would wipe out a hated parasitic species.

Pandorus Mission was set in a magnificently hacked together starship. Made largely from found objects, the set looked like a gorgeous mixture of technology and biology.

In-game: A cockpit glowing green with red accents. It looks like a mix of technology and biology.

Puzzles

The puzzles in Pandorus Mission were baked into the set and its interactions. They generally required us to make connections that weren’t necessarily easy to see at first, but came together swiftly as soon as we understood.

Standouts

The set was beautiful and otherworldly. I loved how Countdown Live Escape Games constructed it largely from junk materials that combined to make something strangely beautiful.

In-game: Part of the ship with glowing green tendrils. Everything looks like a mixture of technology and biology.

Pandorus Mission was hilarious.

The interactions that were born of the set were the highlights.

Shortcomings

In some instances, the set was so busy that it was difficult to find the puzzles.

There were a number of tech failures that cost us somewhere between 5 and 10 minutes of gameplay.

A couple of puzzles repeated a few times; this was a wasted opportunity.

Pandorus Mission attempted to tell a serious story with consequences. This was completely lost on us until our gamemaster pointed it out at the end of the experience. The humor and some of the muddy interaction design completely undermined the narrative. We made a moral decision in this room escape without realizing that we were making a choice.

Should I play Countdown Live Escape Games’s Pandorus Mission?

Countdown Live Escape Games crafted a beautiful set and strong bones in Pandorus Mission. I love it when an escape room company builds a game from inexpensive parts and makes it look like it cost a fortune.

The downside here is that Pandorus Mission is essentially an incomplete game. It looks great, has a number of excellent interactions, and follows a narrative. It’s missing some content, and parts of the experience need additional refinement so that they can carry the narrative weight that they are supposed to.

As we exited Pandorus Mission with seconds on the clock, we had an unusual, and frankly refreshing, interaction with the owner, who pointed out everything that he knew was wrong with the escape room. It seems that this ship is in the shop for a lot of repairs over the next couple of months.

My advice: Play Pandorus Mission, but wait until after summer 2017. If Countdown Live Escape Games sees their iterations through, this will likely become a truly special escape room. It’s got so much going for it, but this ship needs a little more love if it’s going to soar.

Book your hour with 60Out’s Flight of the Pandorus, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.

Full disclosure: Countdown Live Escape Games comped our tickets for this game.

60 Out – Titanic [Review]

Titanic is one of the best games in the Los Angeles area. Here are our other recommendations for great escape rooms around Los Angeles.

I’ll never let go.

Location: Marina Del Rey, California

Date played: June 2, 2017

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

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: $26-40 per ticket depending upon team size

Story & setting

Trapped in steerage aboard the sinking RMS Titanic, we had to escape or lose our lives to the freezing North Atlantic.

Titanic’s set felt industrial and ship-like. The walls looked like metal lined with rivets. The ceiling was deliberately designed. All of the puzzles were born of set-based interactions.

In-game: A hallway with metal walls, doors, and pipes.

Puzzles

Worked deeply into the set, each interaction felt part of the ship. Most of the challenges weren’t all that difficult, but they were satisfying.

Standouts

The set and the interactions built into it were tons of fun.

Each solve felt large and frequently cinematic.

Early in the game I encountered a puzzle that I thought was truly out of place and silly… until later in the room escape its presence suddenly felt brilliant.

In-game: a locked door beside a stack of bunk beds.

Shortcomings

A few props and interactions had too much wear and tear. They could be refreshed with minimal investment.

Titanic felt a little light on content. It would have benefitted from another puzzle or two.

Given the exciting interactions along the way, I wanted a bigger, more intense ending.

Should I play 60Out’s Titanic?

Yes.

Titanic was a lot of fun. The puzzling and large set were wonderfully intermingled and satisfying to solve.

Titanic¬†was a cinematic adventure that put the players in the starring role. We experienced the drama. While it wasn’t the most challenging of escape rooms, the journey was exciting and fun.

When my biggest critique is that I wished¬†Titanic¬†delivered more of what it did so well, it’s a room escape worth visiting.

Book your hour with 60Out’s Titanic, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.

Full disclosure: 60Out provided media discounted tickets for this game.