We wanted to take a moment to point out a number of escape rooms that we played in 2018 that did something truly innovative to push the escape room format in a different direction.
We saw tons more innovations in 2018, but these ones stuck out to us.
Presented in the order that we played them:
2018 Innovative Escape Rooms
Trap Door Escape Room – Morristown, NJ
Trap Door added a scare actor and turned an otherwise straightforward game into a frantic, challenging experience, as we were chased around and cornered by a monster.
Replayable and modular, Beat the Bomb felt more like a gameshow with different games within it than an escape room. It all concluded with a battle against time. When the clock struck zero, a giant paint bomb exploded all over us.
Escape Woods – Powder Springs, GA
Escape Woods games were raw and real. Both games felt like actual adventures.
Get Out of Here – Utrecht, The Netherlands
Get Out of Here delivered the narrative of The Diamond Heist with a third person voiceover that told our story as we advanced through the game. This solved a number of escape room storytelling problems.
Escape Room Rijswijk – Rijswijk, The Netherlands
Escape Room Rijswijk did something incredible with their space, physically transforming the gameworld while we were within it. It was one hell of a trick.
Real Escape Games by SCRAP – San Francisco, CA
The Pop Star’s Room of Doom wasn’t an escape room. It was something new: a time loop game. We were reliving the same actor-driven time loop, taking different actions each time, and trying to determine how to break the cycle and save the game’s main character.
Level Games – North Hollywood, CAA
We played as dogs trying to get our favorite ball back. The vibe was unique, warm, and playful. We left this game wishing that there were more whimsical escape rooms.
We loved this game so much and we’re sad that it and Escapades LA are closed. I don’t know if its for sale, but if it is, someone should adopt it and give this pup a new home.
THE BASEMENT – Sylmar, CA
The Courtyard had a jaw-dropping set, but its true innovation was how THE BASEMENT integrated an actor into the experience and gameplay. There’s a scene in this one that we will never forget.
Get the F Out – Los Angeles, CA
Designed for escape room enthusiasts, Get the F Out’s incredibly meta game, The Experiment, had two unusual innovations. One involved lighting. The other was in its storytelling. Months later, we’re still debating what we were supposed to take away from this game.
We didn’t enter an escape room; we were patrons of a quirky museum of oddities, along with all of the other players… but it wasn’t a museum. It was a sandbox for puzzles, scavenger hunts, and adventures. We had our mission and everyone else had theirs, but we were all puzzling and exploring in the same space at the same time. It was chaotic and lively and it became more interesting as more people showed up.
Heyou Escape – Le Cannet, France
Terrifying. Heyou Escape built tension by adding a sense of danger and screwing with our minds and expectations. I’m not sure if La Terrible Affaire Bambell is actually an escape room, or if we were even players… Looking back, I think we may have just been props in their production.
The Gate Escape – Leominster, MA
The Gate Escape put training wheels on escape room gameplay. Instead of presenting a free-for-all escape room-style game, each puzzle was presented in its own station… and it concluded with a dance party. This was a great way to open up new players to escape room style puzzling.
The Seven Forces – Cincinnati, OH
By adding social and group dynamics into the large-scale theatrical escape room event format, The Seven Forces created something new and special. Their approach kept multiple teams engaged with both the puzzles and one another for the entire game.
We’d love to have you join us on an escape room tour!
Join us in visiting some of the other innovative games we’ve found in our travels. (It just so happens that we didn’t play them in 2018.)
The Fine Print
If you’ve seen something like we’ve described above elsewhere, we aren’t claiming anything is entirely unique. These are the games that we saw the innovations in.
This post wasn’t intended as a re-review of anything. For full critiques of these games, take a look at the reviews.
We’ve left out games that won 2018 Golden Lock-In Awards. You can check that list out too. Many of them were highly innovative. We’ve already heaped tons of praise on those games.