Escape Games Canada – The Missing Will [Review]

“From even the greatest of horrors irony is seldom absent.” – The Shunned House

Location:  North York, Ontario Canada

Date Played: May 1, 2022

Team Size: 4-8; we recommend 4-5

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: $30.98 CAD per player

Ticketing: Private

Accessibility Consideration: There is a toy gun in this experience.

Emergency Exit Rating: [A+] No Lock

Physical Restraints: [A+] No Physical Restraints

REA Reaction

The Missing Will was a confounding experience. It opened with a strong pregame show… and then it tumbled downhill from there.

This licensed Mansions of Madness experience came complete with Lovecraftian style and art & audio assets, characters, and plot points from the Fantasy Flight tabletop game.

Gerald's silhouette in a window high up above the gated starting area of the game.
Image via Escape Games Canada

The crux of this game was that we were in a manor’s dark basement solving some maddening puzzles. I like Lovecraftian horror just as much as the next nerd… so I get that Lovecraftian horror demands some darkness, and I assume that the obnoxious puzzles were meant to represent the Mansions of Madness mechanic where losing sanity points is one of the ways that your character can die.

But… creative spotlighting is the way that you make a horror environment dark and still fun to play in. We had a whole talk at RECON 21 about this. It’s on YouTube for anyone who wants to learn how to do this well.

The gameplay felt like a gallery filled with puzzles that most anyone will understand how to do, but not want to solve. The two times where The Missing Will had Simon puzzles that were set too fast felt emblematic of what I found so distasteful in this game. There are ways to make a puzzle that makes me feel like I am losing my mind in a narrative way… and then there are ways to make puzzles that make me feel like I’m agitated.

To top this all off, the last act felt laughable. It was the weakest segment that I have ever seen Escape Games Canada produce, and this is a company that I have long held in high regard. This final space was the only room in the game that didn’t need good lighting; it was over-lit, making the key set pieces feel hokey and childish when they should have felt imposing and scary. Then there was the touchscreen puzzle sequence that made absolutely no sense. The biggest mystery in this game was how this final puzzle sequence found its way into the finale of a game made by Escape Games Canada.

There are plenty of strong elements in The Missing Will including elegantly designed and built set pieces, and some neat moments… but overall, this felt subpar for Escape Games Canada. This is a company that I have been recommending for years. I always look forward to playing their latest and greatest. Maybe I am expecting too much of them, but I’d recommend anything else in their building over The Missing Will.

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Escape Games Canada – Pathogen [Review]

l33t h4x0r

Location:  North York, Ontario

Date Played: May 26, 2019

Team size: 4-8; we recommend 4

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: $28.32 CAD per player

Ticketing: Private

Emergency Exit Rating: [A] Push to Exit

Physical Restraints: [A+] No Physical Restraints

REA Reaction

Pathogen was a technology-forward escape game with a lot of interesting things going on (not all of them visible to the player).

From puzzles, to set, to story, this was an all-around solid escape room where no element truly soared above the others, and they all came together well.

In-game: A futuristic lab with a wall of animal test subjects.
Image via Escape Games Canada

Escape Games Canada creates interesting games. Some we love, some we question… but they’ve always been worth experiencing. Their latest game, Pathogen, was no exception. If you’re near Toronto, I absolutely recommend playing Pathogen.

Who is this for?

  • Adventure seekers
  • Scenery snobs
  • Puzzle lovers
  • Sci-fi fans
  • Players with at least some experience

Why play?

  • Really interesting invisible tech (ask your gamemaster post-game)
  • Solid storytelling
  • Solid puzzles
  • Solid set design


We were hackers and social engineers living in a corporatized cyberpunk dystopia. A shadow organization had hired us to break into a company and steal a weaponized virus.

In-game: A super computer surrounded by lasers.


We’d gained access to the towering headquarters of a major biotech corporation. Their office and lab setting had a slick, futuristic look with blue glow.

While it was both an office and a lab – two settings that I think are pretty tired – Escape Games Canada merged them with a unique aesthetic that made it feel interesting and worthy.

In-game: A hexagon made from multicolored glowing hexagons surrounded by lasers.
Image via Escape Games Canada


Escape Games Canada’s Pathogen was a standard escape room with a variable level of difficulty.

Pathogen automagically tunes the challenge level based on the team’s performance.

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

In-game: A futuristic elevator with a doorway labeled "Level 1"
Image via Escape Games Canada


âž• The opening sequence established a sense of setting, scale, and stakes. The extra details generally elevated the game.

âž• Automated difficulty tuning was really clever. I like that it adjusted without asking the players to self-evaluate their skill level, a thing that most teams cannot accurately do.

In-game: A computer console.
Image via Escape Games Canada

âž• Most of the puzzles had great onboarding, training us in the concept or interactions before hitting us with the real challenge.

âž• For our team, a communication puzzle stood out at the most enjoyable part of the experience.

âž• The middle of the game included a bit of physicality. It wasn’t particularly strenuous, but it was fun to physically engage with the game.

âť“ While there were lots of buttons, switches, and screen interactions, there weren’t many props to pick up and handle. Some of the team felt like there was something missing. It didn’t really irk me, but I think that this is a fair criticism. It comes down to what you’re looking for out of an escape game.

In-game: A touch screen with a molecular input.
Image via Escape Games Canada

âž– While it fit narratively, far too many moments centered on checking a computer screen and navigating its menus. All too often someone in the group felt like they were taking one for the team and going to the computer.

âž•/âž– There was an interesting and challenging bonus puzzle in the middle of Pathogen. This was conceptually great. In practice, we were stymied by a lack of note-taking implements… and a blind timer that eventually terminated the puzzle. We still had time left at the end of the game, so I wish that we could have managed our own time a little more on this puzzle.

âž• The game had funny moments.

In-game: A futuristic lab.
Image via Escape Games Canada

âž• The vibe of the space did a lot more with an office and lab than we typically see.

âž–/âž• Pathogen presented a mostly blind choice and it was frustrating having to choose with little context. That said, Escape Games Canada recovered well in their handling of the story’s conclusion.

Tips For Visiting

  • Parking: Escape Games Canada has a parking lot.
  • Food: There are plenty of food options nearby.
  • Accessibility: There are segments that require at least 2 or 3 players to crawl or exhibit agility.

Book your hour with Escape Games Canada’s Pathogen, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.

Disclosure: Escape Games Canada comped our tickets for this game.

Escape Games Canada – Geist Manor VR Demo [Review]

Frightening, fast, and fun.

Location: played at the Chicago Room Escape Conference, but available in Toronto, Canada

Date played: August 13, 2016

Team size: 1

Price: Free at the conference, pricing TBD by hosting facility


Story & setting

Played via the HTC Vive, Geist Manor was a one-player virtual horror escape room experience. I played the 7-minute demo (of a 10-minute game) that was available at the Escape Games Canada booth at the Chicago Room Escape Conference.

This is a game that Escape Games Canada created in partnership with a EscapeVR. The game will be available for players to experience in Escape Games Canada’s facility, as well as a number of other escape room facilities that have purchased the rights to use the game.

Set in a haunted house, the game was dark, creepy, and a little bit freaky. Everything from the staging to the lighting to the sound pushed me deeper into the experience.

In a beautiful way, I felt like I was in a horror movie.

In-game screen shot of a dimly lit haunted room.


The puzzles were your basic seek, observe, and input interactions that I’ve encountered in my previous Vive escape room experience.


Escape Games Canada likes to toy with their players’ minds and this game was no exception.

It looked great and sounded even better.

Escape Games Canada did a masterful job of throwing off my equilibrium and playing with my senses.

In-game screen shot of a dimly lit cabinet. A drawer is open and containing a cup of dice. Beside the dice the words "ROLL THE DICE" appear in blocky chalk writing.

The setting truly enhanced the experience. Lisa was a bit rattled by the horror; during her playthrough she had more trouble focusing on the tasks at hand.

The hinting was heavy handed, but well executed; it was clearly designed to keep the player moving.


There were some physics problems, both those within the game and those inherent to the Vive.

It wasn’t particularly puzzley.

If you don’t like horror, then that’s going to be a deal-breaker.

In-game screen shot of a dimly lit long spooky hallway. A small femine figure stands in the shadows at the opposite end.

Should I play Escape Games Canada’s Geist Manor?

Escape Games Canada put me in an experience that I knew wasn’t real and managed to make it feel intimidating.

This is only for folks who are open to a horror adventure and don’t get motion sick in a VR environment.

If you’re down for an excellent immersive experience that is light on puzzles and heavy on brain-tricking interactions, then this is your game.

It’s brief even at full length, which makes it a great add-on to a room escape outing at Escape Games Canada’s Toronto facility.

Contact Escape Games Canada to book your session with Geist Manor, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.

Escape Games Canada – The Unknown [Review]

Shit got dark.

Location: Toronto, Ontario

Date played: May 1, 2016

Team size: they recommend 5-8 and require at least 4; we recommend 4-5

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: $28 per ticket

Story & setting

“You may know nothing about this mission. You either do it or have it remain a mystery. WARNING: EXTREME CONTENT, 18+ ONLY Not recommended for those with heart conditions.”

Escape Games Canada makes a big deal about keeping this game a secret. Even after watching the introduction video, we didn’t really know what was about to happen.

The Unknown game logo

We won’t give you the scenario, but there was a story and an beautifully intricately designed, immersive set to convey the story. From the start, the story and set were cleverly intertwined.

There are only two ways to read a mysterious “18+ only” interactive experience… and this was not a sexually themed game. So, at this risk of pissing off the good people at Escape Games Canada, I have to explain that this is a horror game (more on that later).


The puzzles were not the star of this room escape. We had to solve them, but the game was about the immersive experience.

Unlike most escape rooms, it wasn’t the kind of game where you could be truly good at it. There were mechanisms in the experience to slow down or speed up the team’s ability to solve the puzzles, to force us to make the most out of the experience.


The Unknown was dramatic, immersive, and captivating.

Escape Games Canada used technology brilliantly and paid attention to almost every detail.

This experience expanded the range of the industry. It was still an escape room, but it was miles from what we’ve come to expect from a puzzle-driven live action game.


While I respect the lure of the unknown, Escape Games Canada doesn’t explain enough about this game up front to ensure that the right players choose to play it.

The Unknown was polarizing. Many will love it. I did not.

This game was not only an immersive experience and an escape room, it was also like being in a psych experiment. This should be made clear before the game. Escape Games Canada has no way of knowing what messed up experiences their customers have had and should allow them to make a more informed decision about playing this game.

Should I play Escape Games Canada’s The Unknown?

Bluntly, I hated The Unknown, but I appreciated it for what it was (after I left). David would have liked it if I hadn’t been in there, but he knew that I was miserable (even if I tried to hide that fact).

If you like the idea of an immersive horror experience with some puzzles, all designed to completely screw with your psyche, this is your game. It will be incredible.

If you don’t want to experience a horror game, stay away. Really.

Book your hour with Escape Games Canada’s The Unknown, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.

Escape Games Canada – Crossroads [Review]

A dark story, magnificently staged, with some serious consequences.

Location: Toronto, Ontario

Date played: May 1, 2016

Team size: they recommend 4-8; we recommend 4-5

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: $25 per ticket

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

Story & setting

We were a team of detectives tracking a serial killer before he reached his next victim.

The setting was beautifully foreboding, and deliberately crafted. It was well designed, solid, and polished. The atmosphere expertly sidestepped that raw vibe of many murder-themed escape rooms that is off-putting to some players, while still maintaining a creepy feel.

A close up of intricaately worn metal.
A teaser image from the set. Everything was this detailed.

Additionally, Crossroads included a crossroads decision game mechanism that elevated the drama of the story.


The puzzles unfolded linearly. At any given point in time, there wasn’t enough to keep a full and experienced team occupied simultaneously.

That said, Crossroads relied heavily on indexing puzzles. Throughout the game, these varied in complexity. Newer players will find additional minds beneficial for holding and sorting this type of information.


As implied by the name Crossroads, we had to make a choice. Our team’s choice had consequences for both the story arc and the difficulty of the puzzles. This feature set the game apart from the standard room escape where are rarely consequences for player decisions.

Escape Games Canada designed some pretty cool tech to power this game.


The puzzles in Crossroads weren’t particularly mind-bending. The game was far more about the experience. This could be a feature or a bug depending upon your perspective.

Early in the game, a combination lock failed.* We spent a lot of time unable to solve anything else because our critical puzzle jammed. We called for a hint to confirm that the lock was dead. The time was credited, but our game master should have been able to figure out what was happening before we did.

*Escape Games Canada let David punish the offending lock with bolt cutters (and proper safety gear). This put a largely positive spin on a disappointment.

Should I play Escape Games Canada’s Crossroads?

Escape Games Canada targets an adult audience. Crossroads’ setting and story was intense and dramatic. The choice further complicated the disturbing plot.

Because of the style of puzzle design, newer players may prefer to play this game with a larger team. Because of the linear flow, this will be a smaller team game for more experienced players.

Bring the right number of players with the right sentiments and you’ll have a great time.

Book your hour with Escape Games Canada’s Crossroads, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.