Interior shot of the cube. It has padded walls, a steel floor, and a console in the middle. Everything glows white.

60 Out Escape Rooms – Quest in a Box [Review]

[At the time of this review, 60 Out Escape Rooms was called Escape Key.]

Not to be confused with escape rooms in a box.

Location: Los Angeles, California

Date played: March 26, 2016

Team size: 2-3; we recommend 2

Price: $30 per game (not per player)

We don’t play beta games

In the middle of Escape Key’s waiting room, or rather, taking up most of their waiting room, was a cube labeled “Quest in a Box.” It was a new portable escape room that Escape Key was beta testing.

An odd box that nearly reaches the ceiling. It says, "Quest in a Box" on its side.

We do not beta test because we always review the games as we experience them, and we don’t want to give a bad review to an unfinished game… but the Quest in a Box was singing to us and we couldn’t ignore its call because it was so damn different.

Theme & story

We were time travelers and our Definitely-Not-A-TARDIS time machine had malfunctioned. We had 20 minutes to complete repairs or one of those really bad things that can happen during time travel would occur.

The interior of the cube looked like the TARDIS, a level from Portal, and a padded cell had a baby.

It looked and felt like no escape room I’ve ever seen before.

 

Why a cube?

Escape Key’s Quest in a Box was designed for portability (although it was substantial enough that it would take some doing to move the thing).

It breaks apart and can be reconstructed in a new location.

The concept was exciting because it opened up new possibilities for bringing escape rooms to new locations and events.

Puzzles

The cube had a small number of puzzles, but each one was worth solving. No filler.

It was heavy on logic puzzles and it took us approximately 10 of our allotted 20 minutes to escape.

Slightly unfinished

The notable problem with the beta game was its lack of ventilation. There was also one puzzle that probably needed a little bit more love before it could be called “complete.”

Should I play Escape Key’s Quest in a Box?

Escape Key’s Quest in a Box is a ton of fun. It was a lean, beautiful, and exciting experience.

If you are already visiting Escape Key to play one of their other excellent games, then I’d highly recommend testing yourself against their small but mighty cube. Same if you happen to be in the neighborhood.

I’m not sure it makes sense to visit Escape Key for the sole purpose of taking on the Quest in a Box. It’s just too short to make it a destination event.

That being said, I’m also eager to see where they plan on taking this thing. Portability creates new opportunities.

Book your time with Escape Key’s Quest in a Box, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.

Full disclosure: Escape Key comped our tickets for this game.

60 Out Escape Rooms – Casino Heist [Review]

[At the time of this review, 60 Out Escape Rooms was called Escape Key and Casino Heist was called Casino.]

This one ends with a bang.

Location: Los Angeles, California

Date played: March 19, 2016

Team size: 2-6; we recommend 2-4

Price: $120 per room in less popular timeslots, $140 per room in moderately popular timeslots, $160 per room in highly popular timeslots

Theme & story

There are millions of dollars stored in the depths of this Casino and you need to get to the money before the bad guys do… and get out before the demolish the building.

We entered a casino outfitted with the appropriate games, tables, and decorations. The staging was beautiful.

The casino walls were wired with dynamite, which intensified the drama of the game scenario.

A casino including a slot machine, roulette, craps, and blackjack tables. The walls are rigged with explosives.

Puzzle assortment

As we progressed through the puzzles, we operated the casino set pieces. The puzzles varied dramatically, but each one was extremely tactile. The puzzles were highly interactive and these interactions were incredibly fun.

Later in the game, there was one puzzle that relied on a huge logic leap. I doubt it can be solved without either a hint or sheer luck. We moved through all the puzzles methodically until we needed two hints to solve this one.

The puzzles progressed along with the story. This experience was beautifully themed from start to finish.

Mechanisms

Escape Key uses technologies and different mechanisms to drive many of the puzzles in Casino. While both Casino and Senator Payne relied on technology, we never felt like Escape Key repeated the same tricks.

In Casino, we experienced brilliant construction as well as mechanisms that needed additional fine tuning. There was at least one moment that felt unfinished, like it was missing the polish that the rest of the game exhibited.

Escalation

Escape Key designed Casino to escalate differently from Senator Payne.

Whereas Senator Payne became increasingly dramatically staged, Casino became increasingly sparse and raw, which was deliberately uncomfortable.

Coupled with the dynamite that was readily apparent from the first moment of the game, these later puzzles put the squeeze on us in a way that few rooms achieve. We escaped with plenty of time to spare, but we still felt this tension.

The final puzzle intensified explosively.

Post-game photo of Lisa and David holding stacks of money, there is a pile of cash on the blackjack table in front of them.

Should I play Escape Key’s Casino?

From a puzzling standpoint, Casino was exquisite. We loved the variety exhibited in the tactile, technologically-driven, fun puzzles.

We also loved how the game’s escalation created additional tension.

This was a top notch game.

That said, the story didn’t escalate as cinematically as Senator Payne. If you can only play one of Escape Key’s games, choose to experience the brilliant climax of Senator Payne.

But if you have enough time to play multiple games at Escape Key, we highly recommend Casino.

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

Full disclosure: Escape Key provided media discounted tickets for this game.

60 Out Escape Rooms – The Mystery of Senator Payne [Review]

[At the time of this review, 60 Out Escape Rooms was called Escape Key and The Mystery of Senator Payne was called Senator Payne.]

“Grr… Argh!”

Location: Los Angeles, California

Date played: March 19, 2016

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

Price: $120 per room in less popular timeslots, $140 per room in moderately popular timeslots, $160 per room in highly popular timeslots

2016 RoomEscapeArtist.com Golden Lock-In Award - golden ring around the REA logo turned into a lock.
2016 Golden Lock-In Winner

Theme & story

A senator hired us to infiltrate the office of a rival to steal the language of a bill and prevent it passing. We were the second team that had been dispatched to retrieve the text: no one knew what had happened to the first team.

The game began in an incredibly mundane senator’s office and the mystery unfolded from there.

An escape room designed to look like a senator's office, complete with George Washington portrait, American flag, desk, leaver chairs, and grandfather clock.

Buffy-esque

Senator Payne’s plot unfolded like an episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. If you aren’t familiar with Buffy, that’s a fantastic thing.

Buffy is notorious for taking a mundane premise, putting a slightly horror spin on it, making the viewer think they know what’s happening, and then just as the plot is about to take a trip to cliche town, making a sharp turn and going in a completely different direction.

That’s what Escape Key did with Senator Payne.

A bit of horror

Senator Payne can get a bit horrory and intense, but not overwhelmingly scary. (Lisa remained fully functional throughout the game, which has not always been the case when we’ve played more intense horror games.)

Escalation

“Escalation” was Senator Payne in a single word.

It started off comically mundane and then blasted off. Each puzzle was more interesting than the previous one. There were more than a few “I can’t believe that just happened” moments throughout the game.

Puzzles

Each puzzle offered a dramatically different, tactile challenge.

The puzzles were well-clued with the exception of one early puzzle that felt like it was missing something and required a logic leap. That, when mixed with the solution mechanism, didn’t feel fair.

That is not to say that the game was too difficult. We were supposed to play with three other people, but they flaked on us at the last minute. Fortunately, we comfortably completed the game just the two of us and it never felt like were were at a disadvantage.

Incredible ending

Senator Payne’s final puzzle, and the conclusion of the game, has become my new favorite escape room ending.

It was badass. That’s all I’m saying about.

Victory photo. Lisa holds the

Should I play Escape Key’s Senator Payne?

Absolutely… so long as you aren’t too jittery or bringing young children.

Senator Payne packed so many magical moments, a fun story, and some of the most entertaining interactions that Team Room Escape Artist has ever experienced.

The staff at Escape Key was warm and welcoming and the game was topnotch.

If you’re a Buffy / Angel fan, then this is a must play.

The people who flaked missed something special.

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

Full disclosure: Escape Key provided media discounted tickets for this game.