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]

[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]

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.

60 Out – Krampus [Review]

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

‘Greetings from the Krampus!’

Location: Los Angeles, CA

Date played: October 18, 2016

Team size: up to 6; we recommend 3-4

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: $30 per ticket

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

Story & setting

We were investigating the festive yet morbid apartment of the Krampus killer, which as Countdown’s description implies, was actually the demon-goat monster of Alpine folk-lore.

Krampus, the yin to Saint Nicholas’ yang, brings punishment (and in this case, murder) to naughty children come Christmas time.

gruss_vom_krampus

The set of Krampus was magnificently creepy. It was a dark and twisted home that was intricately decorated for a horrible Christmas. It looked great in a gross and foreboding sort of way.

Puzzles

While the haunted house-esque set was the clear star of Krampus, it had some solid puzzling.

Much of the challenge came from the difficulties of navigating a dark and morbid set, but once we made it past those hurdles, there were sound logic and observational puzzles to work out.

Krampus contained a bonus puzzle that will likely eat up the remaining time of fast-solving teams.

Standouts

The set was intense.

In-game image of a dramatically lit Christmas tree in a dark and creepy home.

The game kept our team on edge from beginning to end.

There was a moment mid-game that was incredible; I don’t think I’ll ever forget it. I wouldn’t be surprised to see it mimicked by other companies in future games.

Shortcomings

A little too much of the Krampus’ challenge was derived from the dark setting. There were more than a few things to read, and at times it was easy to make a mistake simply because lighting was barely present.

The bonus puzzle wasn’t particularly enticing. It involved a lot of reading and we decided to finish with a fast time instead of puzzling through it.

Should I play Countdown’s Krampus?

Krampus was a great horror escape room.

It was intense, creepy, and memorable. Watching one of our teammates (not Lisa) cling to a wooden stick for half of the game will remain a treasured memory. I don’t frighten easily and Krampus made me jump. It was a good time.

Krampus has some good puzzling, but I wouldn’t recommend it to players who are seeking a puzzle-focused experience.

This was a game for people who are open to feeling some fear, and don’t struggle with seeing and reading in low light. If that sounds right for you, then I highly recommend paying Krampus a visit.

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

Full disclosure: Countdown comped our tickets for this game.

60 Out Escape Rooms – Red Alert [Review]

[At the time of this review Red Alert was called P.U.T.I.N. Bunker.]

No one makes fun of Russians like Russians.

Location: Los Angeles, CA

Date played: October 14, 2016

Team size: 2-6; we recommend 2-4

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: $26 – $40 per ticket, depending on the number of players

Story & setting

Vladimir Putin has been deposed and plans to take the world with him: he has activated Russia’s nuclear codes. We accessed his private bunker and had, you guessed it, 60 minutes to disable the launch sequence.

The entire game was a parody of Putin and many Russian stereotypes. It was strange, yet genuinely funny.

Putin riding a bear as it runs through a stream in the forrest.

The set was reasonably well-designed with solid props and construction. The game opted for a comical environment over an attempt at immersive storytelling, which worked well.

Close up of a big red button with a keyway next to it. There is a label with Russian written on it.

Puzzles

The puzzles were the star of the game. They were hands-on, inventive, on-theme, and funny. They didn’t tell a story, but they were interesting, unusual, entertaining, and approachable.

Standouts

The puzzles were a pleasure to solve. They were innovative, tactile, and humorous.

While the P.U.T.I.N Bunker was not as beautiful or immersive as some of the other games we experienced in Los Angeles, it brought a levity that we were starved for after a week of mostly horror and serial killer games. (LA has tons of these.)

60 Out dedicated a significant segment of the game to a single joke. It was a bold and unusual move that I truly appreciated.

Shortcomings

One prop was unusually finicky and required an unreasonably amount of care to execute.

This is one of the stranger criticisms we’ve ever had for a game: one of the puzzles was racially insensitive. It wasn’t a bad puzzle. It wasn’t at all hateful, but it seemed tone deaf in a year that is charged with racial politics. If I had to guess, this was more than likely the product of a cultural misunderstanding.

Should I play 60 Out Escape Rooms’ P.U.T.I.N. Bunker?

P.U.T.I.N Bunker was a ton of fun. It was quirky, humorous, tactile, puzzley fun.

This was our fourth game with 60 Out and they have consistently demonstrated strong puzzle and interaction design. Additionally, they understand how to build a puzzle-centric game with flow, which allows them to produce stellar experiences.

Play it for the puzzles, the humor, and the fun.

Book your hour with 60 Out Escape Rooms’ P.U.T.I.N. Bunker, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.

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