Trap Door Escape Stream – Bogeyman [Hivemind Review]

Bogeyman is a livestreamed escape game created by Trap Door Escape Room in Red Bank, NJ.

In-game: Someone dressed as a scientist in a YouTube Livestream.

Room Escape Artist has a review of Bogeyman in its original format from February 2018. This is a review of the livestreamed version of the same game, in the new Hivemind Review format.

Style of Play: livestreamed adaptation of a real-life escape room

Required Equipment: computer with internet connection

Recommended Team Size: 1-5

Play Time: 60 minutes

Price: 24.99 per person

Booking: book online for a particular time slot

Hivemind Review Scale

REA's hivemind review scale - 3 is recommended anytime, 2 recommended in quarantine, 1 is not recommended.

Read more about our new Hivemind Review format.

In-game: A hand reaching for a book in a YouTube Livestream.

Cara Mandel’s Reaction

Rating: 2 out of 3.

Bogeyman was an interesting experiment in livestreaming escape rooms. The gameplay was filmed in the brick-and-mortar escape room itself, which allowed for some great visuals and some fun jump scares. In fact, it actually looked like a pretty fun escape room to play in real life. Unfortunately, it didn’t translate well to this medium. The combination of live gamemaster commentary plus pre-recorded video clips left the experience feeling a bit disjointed and the players feeling a notable lack of agency. Perhaps this game might be better served as a solo experience where players navigate between video clips in a kind of choose-your-own-adventure-style game. In this format, it might be a better fit for newer players. Still, it was an enjoyable way to spend an hour.

Peih Gee Law’s Reaction

Rating: 1 out of 3.

This was my first foray into playing an escape room “streamed live,” and I found Trap Door’s format disappointing. There was a gamemaster “hosting” and it soon became apparent that he was playing pre-recorded video clips. While there was some interaction between the gamemaster and the players, it felt more like we were just watching a guided walk-through of an escape room. Our “commands” in the chat weren’t followed unless they fit with the linear narrative. This style of virtual play might be good for beginners or casual players who need a bit of hand holding, but felt very gated and frustrating for more experienced players. This might be more fun if it was played as a private room. I think having up to 50 players (which is allowed) would make the chat too chaotic.

In-game: a puzzle involving a family to do list chart in a YouTube Livestream.

Richard Burns’ Reaction

Rating: 1 out of 3.

This is a game I would absolutely like to play in real life. The online execution of the game didn’t really work for me. The gamemaster was good, but the play structure required players to send chat messages to instruct him. There was some serious lag in the execution. A dozen people might be sending the correct puzzle solution, but it could be a minute or more before that solution was input. This aspect went from frustrating to comical. The chat was actually the most fun portion of the game, joking with other players as we waited on the gamemaster.

The Lone Puzzler’s Reaction

Rating: 2 out of 3.

A streamed version of a typical live game, Bogeyman had a big space feel about it – effects, scares, etc. However, the streamed version had a slower pace with limited puzzles and a lot of participants. It was easy to try to participate – you just say what you want to happen in the chat – and then the live gamemaster might do it.

The game was fun, but felt crowded at times with a necessarily linear nature of the game, as all the participants were watching one feed. Kudos to the staff and players for keeping it fun – and it was fun – but it felt more like watching an escape room than really playing one. If you play escape rooms for the story/experience, this is more for you. If you play for the puzzles, you may be a bit disappointed. None of this is a knock on the presentation – as it truly was a game where everyone got to follow all the action.

Format Description

Bogeyman is played via YouTube livestream. The players interact with the gamemaster via chat. The gamemaster walks through the rooms of the game and plays prerecorded video clips of gameplay after players message the appropriate gameplay instructions. This is a public game with many players typing in the livestream at the same time.

Disclosure: Trap Door Escape Room provided the Hivemind reviewers with a complimentary play.

Trap Door – The Greatest Freakshow [Review]

“Better than Award Winning Musical CATS!” -David Spira

Location:  Morristown, New Jersey

Date Played: December 17, 2019

Team size: up to 16; we recommend 4-6

Duration: 120 minutes

Price: $40 per player

Ticketing: Public

Emergency Exit Rating: [A+] No Lock

Physical Restraints: [A+] No Physical Restraints

REA Reaction

What do you do when you’re an escape room creator with a small child who watches Disney movies on endless loops? You make an escape room musical; that’s what you do.

In-game: Trailers and tents lit with strings of lights.

When I heard the concept I didn’t know what I was getting into. Were there going to be actors? Was this a show? Was this an escape room?

The answer: It was an escape room through and through. While it had actors artfully projected and displayed, and included recorded performances, it was a 2-hour escape room in a large space, as Trap Door is known to build.

This was very much a Trap Door production. By that, I mean it was innovative, big, thoughtful, and in need of much stronger puzzle content.

This escape game was lovable in so many ways, but the one that mattered most to me personally was the emotional message and a moment that tied into it. It was honestly innovative. The level of commitment and investment in this game was undeniable; just the square footage alone is costly. It just needed much stronger gameplay.

If you’re in the area, I recommend The Greatest Freakshow because it does a lot of truly interesting and unusual things… and I love that… even though it’s frustrating how regularly this escape room undercuts brilliant moments that are unlike anything that I’ve seen from any other escape room company.

Who is this for?

  • Adventure seekers
  • Story seekers
  • Scenery snobs
  • Carnies
  • Players with at least some experience
  • Players who don’t need to be a part of every puzzle

Why play?

  • It’s quite large and contains many different scenes
  • The escape room as a musical concept was clever
  • There were some compelling moments

Story

Xunder’s Freakshow was ensorcelled by the song of the evil siren Atina. We had to free the minds of the freaks and team up with them to put a stop to her sinister serenade.

In-game: The ringmaster standing center stage.

Setting

Dating back to their first game, Trap Door has always created big escape games (in terms of square footage). A small Trap Door game is still big… and The Greatest Freakshow was big compared with their other big games. I think it might be smaller than Cure Z: Quarantine, but they are both at a size where it just doesn’t matter which is larger.

The Greatest Freakshow’s world included a stage, fair grounds, carnival games, and dressing rooms or trailers for nearly all of the main characters. There was no shortage places to visit. Throughout, Trap Door minded plenty of details. They covered the ground in convincing rubber wood chips. They used a large television and projections selectively to add life to the space. As a timer, they had the various scheduled stage performances by the Freakshow’s characters. It was a novel and cool space to explore.

A few of the spaces felt too empty or underdeveloped, but on the whole, Trap Door filled the large space.

In-game: The mermaid's tent adorned with a compass and ship's wheel.

Gameplay

Trap Door’s The Greatest Freakshow was a standard escape room with a large set and musical interludes. It had a moderate level of difficulty.

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

In-game: The mermaid's tank, she is laying in it sleeping.

Analysis

➕ Trap Door’s commitment to large scale is admirable. It is undeniably fun to traverse a sprawling gamespace.

➕ On a conceptual level, I absolutely loved the escape room musical as a genre. I also truly respect the way that Trap Door brought this concept to life in an affordable, repeatable way through video and projection.

➕/➖ The use of the performance schedule and musical numbers as the game timer was a great idea. This was undercut by the lack of audio in the space where we spent all of the second act. This is a fixable problem.

➕/➖ The emotional climax of The Greatest Freakshow was brilliant and the cinematic execution was smart. From a gameplay standpoint, this interaction suffered because most of our team was struggling to see the information that we were supposed to work with. Again, this is fixable.

❓ The opening interaction left our whole team baffled, but we tried to play along. We weren’t sure what the game wanted of us, or if there was a point to the performance… or why it ended when it eventually did.

❓ While I’m no theater critic, and I am certainly no singer, to me, the performances felt more like spirited community theater than a professional production. Most of the performances were charming, not wowing.

In-game: A picnic table in the fairgrounds.

➖ The funhouse was undercut by either unclued challenges or janky tech.

➖ The puzzles were painfully lacking. For the most part, they involved identifying information in one place and more or less transcribing it into a corresponding input mechanism.

➖ A key setpiece in the concluding sequence was visibly unfinished and bludgeoned an otherwise great moment to death.

➕ The Greatest Freakshow contained a great sequence that carved itself into my memory.

In-game: A cage decorated with knives and lit with a string of lights.

Tips For Visiting

  • EPILEPSY WARNING: There are flashing lights used during this game to simulate circus stage lighting.
  • This is at Trap Door’s Morristown location.
  • There street parking and a parking garage nearby on Cattano Ave.

Book your hour with Trap Door’s The Greatest Freakshow, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.

Disclosure: Trap Door comped our tickets for this game.

Trap Door Escape Room – Cure Z: Quarantine [Review]

Bigger, longer…

Location:  Bartonsville, PA

Date Played: August 25, 2019

Team size: up to 16; we recommend 4-6

Duration: 120 minutes

Price: $49.99 per player

Ticketing: Public

Emergency Exit Rating: [A+] No Lock

Physical Restraints: [A+] No Physical Restraints

REA Reaction

Trap Door Escape Room builds big, strange, narrative-driven escape games. They have a style all their own and I’m into it.

Cure Z: Quarantine, the sequel to their retired second game Cure Z, was massive. It ran 120 minutes and took up a ridiculous amount of square footage. I cannot think of another escape game in the Northeastern US that’s anywhere near this big.

In-game: A test subject with dead eyes in a containment chamber.
Image via Trap Door.

What became clear over the 120 minutes was that what Trap Door Escape Room does well, they do really well: size, scale, narrative, effects, atmosphere. Trap Door Escape Room falls short in puzzle design and hinting.

The hinting seemed optimized around keeping us in the game for as close to 120 minutes as possible. This led to choppy gameplay. We found ourselves frustrated and wanting hints with no way of receiving them during much of the game… and then a flood of solutions wrapped as hints in the late game.

The puzzle quality was inconsistent with a few dreadful challenges. I have long believed that Trap Door Escape Room is a puzzle designer away from greatness. I think that now, more than ever.

Overall, I find myself coming back to the same feelings about Trap Door Escape Room. There is so much genius in their work… even when their puzzle play leaves me wondering, “was that even a puzzle?”

Trap Door Escape Room is all about spectacle and physicality and Cure Z: Quarantine brings what we’ve come to expect. If you’re near the Poconos, it’s well worth exploring; there isn’t anything else like it.

Who is this for?

  • Adventure seekers
  • Story seekers
  • Zombie fans
  • Any experience level

Why play?

  • It’s physically massive
  • 2-hour game clock
  • Fun interactions

Story

One year after the original zombie virus outbreak was contained, a large portion of the population takes Quiet Z by Quieten Pharma to suppress the disease.

With the world beginning to pull itself back from the brink, a new attack from a terrorist organization named 1 World Alliance could push society into collapse if we couldn’t contain the threat.

In-game: a strange coiled device glowing green.
Image via Trap Door.

Setting

Trap Door Escape Room likes building big… and Cure Z: Quarantine was among the largest escape rooms we’ve encountered in terms of square footage. There were many different rooms, each with a unique aesthetic and purpose.

The general quality of the build was fairly high. There was some variation in quality, complexity and intrigue from scene to scene, but Cure Z: Quarantine had a lot to love in the set department.

In-game: an old and rundown travel agency.
Image via Trap Door.

The game itself had an unusual opening sequence. I could call it theatrical, but not in the sense that you’re probably thinking. Trap Door Escape Rooms opened their game with a ~10-minute coming attractions reel for their other experiences before pivoting into a video briefing. This was really clever, although its runtime was excessive.

Finally, the first set – a police station – was the weakest in the game. It was just barely designed and it wasn’t an inspiring first impression. The good news was that things rapidly improved from there.

In-game: an alleyway with "zombies = people" painted on the wall.
Image via Trap Door.

Gameplay

Trap Door Escape Room’s Cure Z: Quarantine was a standard escape room with a moderate level of difficulty.

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

In-game: a red faux rotary pay phone.
Image via Trap Door.

Analysis

➕ Cure Z: Quarantine was an adventure. Foreboding, but not horror, this escape room had us racing through a large gamespace, exploring, solving, and interacting. It was exhilarating.

➕ The story of Cure Z: Quarantine worked. As we played, we learned more about the characters and the extent of the goings-on in this space. We understood the scenario and our role within it.

In-game: a dead body on the floor in the foreground, a zombie lurking in the background.
Image via Trap Door.

➕ As we played Cure Z: Quarantine, we were continually opening up new spaces. The floor plan was sizable and unusual. It was exciting to open up a new place. Trap Door Escape Room built some wonderful sets and drops. These were detailed and interesting. We had a continual sense of exploration and discovery throughout the experience.

➖ We played the entire game with flashlights. Although this could be justified by the staging, it was inhibiting as a player. We would have really liked spotlighting or a puzzle that revealed better light in key areas. 120 minutes by flashlight was too much.

➖ The puzzles needed additional refinement. Most puzzles seemed to be almost – but not quite entirely – clued. In one instance, we had the wrong tools to solve the puzzle. In another, the UI didn’t accept reasonable variation. At one point, the clues didn’t give us order. The puzzle-play dragged; it was the least exciting part of the experience.

➕ Trap Door Escape Room gated gameplay by illuminating the next input. In a game with such a large footprint and so many opportunities, this worked well to keep us on task.

➖ The hints weren’t hints; they were solutions. Trap Door Escape Room pushed us hints as they felt we needed them, based on our timing, but these hints came far later than we would have wanted them, long after we’d stopped enjoying solving a puzzle. When hints arrived, we could move forward again, but not in a satisfying way. We would have had stronger momentum with gentle nudges earlier in the game.

➕ The plot culminated with a nifty prop. The UI worked great. It delivered satisfying successes and humorous failures. It was fun to use. 

In-game: A dead person on an operating table in a green lit room, their organs are exposed.
Image via Trap Door.

➕/➖ Before our adventure began, we watched the previews… for Trap Door Escape Room’s other experiences at their other locations in New Jersey. We respect the hustle. It’s a smart move… if it were half the length, it would have been genius.

➕ The scope and size of Cure Z: Quarantine was admirable. Trap Door Escape Room isn’t afraid of throwing an incredible volume of square footage at a game; that’s pretty cool.

Tips For Visiting

  • Trap Door Escape Room is located at the back of the plaza. Drive behind the building.
  • There is a parking lot.
  • We highly recommend Pho Saigon II for a meal before or after your game. They are located in the same plaza.

Book your hour with Trap Door Escape Room’s Cure Z: Quarantine, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.

Disclosure: Trap Door Escape Room comped our tickets for this game.

14 Innovative Escape Rooms in 2018

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

Bogeyman

Trap Door Escape Room – Morristown, NJ

In-game: A strange purple glowing passageway.

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.

Beat the Bomb

Brooklyn, NY

In-game: gif of Lisa, David, and Lindsay getting doused with a paint explosion.

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.

The Bunker: Strange Things at Hawkins Lab & The Shiners

Escape Woods – Powder Springs, GA

In-game: An old trailer in the middle of the woods. It's lit with a long strand of light bulbs.

Escape Woods games were raw and real. Both games felt like actual adventures.

The Diamond Heist

Get Out of Here – Utrecht, The Netherlands

The escape room briefing area.

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.

Jason’s Curse

Escape Room Rijswijk – Rijswijk, The Netherlands

In-game: a weathered basement wall with the words "KNOCK KNOCK WHO IS THERE" painted on it.

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.

The Pop Star’s Room of Doom

Real Escape Games by SCRAP – San Francisco, CA

In-game: view from one apartment window through another. Across the way is the popstar's blue walled apartment covered in 90s references.

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.

It’s a Doggy Dog World

Level Games – North Hollywood, CAA

In-game: an oversized doghouse.

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 Courtyard

THE BASEMENT – Sylmar, CA

In-game: an aged porch with a rocking chair.

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.

The Experiment

Get the F Out –  Los Angeles, CA

In-game: torn ship's mast.

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.

Museum of Intrigue

Syracuse, NY

A Museum of Intrigue mystic character posing in front of the story display.

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.

La Terrible Affaire Bambell

Heyou Escape –  Le Cannet, France

In-game: The hallway of the apartment complex that housed the game.

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.

D.J. Death

The Gate Escape – Leominster, MA

In-game: a dance floor with DJ Death's skull and cross scythe logo.

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 Summons

The Seven Forces – Cincinnati, OH

In-game: A stage at the front of teh room features an assortment of strange pieces of technology and mystical artifacts.

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.

More Innovation

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.)

Escape Immerse Explore: The Palace

Escape Immerse Explore: New Orleans

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.

Trap Door Escape Room – Bogeyman [Review]

Who ya gonna call?

Location: Red Bank, NJ

Date Played: January 27, 2018

Team size: up to 10; we recommend 4-6

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: $35 per ticket

REA Reaction

Bogeyman was an exhilarating hide-and-seek-and-puzzle game. Trap Door transformed their space into a maze where a potential scare lurked at every turn. The challenge and intrigue came from the menacing world of the Bogeyman. This escape room is not for the faint of heart.  

Who is this for?

  • Adventure seekers
  • Horror fans
  • Any experience level
  • Players who can solve puzzles while scared

Why play?

  • The thrill of the looming bogeyman
  • The story
  • The finale

Story

After a number of children had been abducted under paranormal circumstances, we had been brought in to investigate the disappearances. Could we find the children before we became the Bogeyman’s next victims?

In-game: a paper sign tacked to a door that reads, "Alans room: no girls allowed that means you Lily."

Setting

The majority of Bogeyman was set in the bedrooms of the missing children. Each child’s bedroom revealed his/ her age, interests, personality, and circumstances, making them distinctive characters.

The Bogeyman’s presence was not implied; there was a live actor haunting our game. While he wasn’t out for blood, he was out for frights.

In-game: a string of child's art held up by clothespins, hanging over some kids toys.

Gameplay

Bogeyman was all about fear. While those of us who had played Zoe or had bravery kept our cool, some of our other teammates were paralyzed by fear.

Escape room camera image of a team puzzling and a guy cowering and sitting against a door, blocking it.
Game camera image provided by Trap Door.

There weren’t a ton of puzzles, but each one tied directly to a child and their life. The limited amount of puzzles worked just fine because the Bogeyman and our panicked friends were pretty effective at disrupting our flow.

Trap Door splits larger teams in two, starting them in different parts of the gamespace. I imagine that this split would make Bogeyman easier in some ways and more intense in others.

In-game: A strange purple glowing passageway.

Standouts

Bogeyman was scary. The lighting, actor, and gamespace kept us continually on edge, in a good way. The gamespace was never quite familiar or comfortable enough for us to let our guard down.

The actor was phenomenal. He kept track of our movements within the gamespace and delivered well-timed scares. He was menacing, but mysterious.

The dramatic ending delivered escalation and narrative closure.

The puzzle flow worked well with the structure of the space and the narrative. We enjoyed one interactive prop that fit the staging and added humor.

Shortcomings

As much as we enjoyed this interactive prop, it was distracting. It was a bit too easy to take this down a rabbit hole… which we did.

When we checked for monsters, we’d frequently find wiring. Trap Door could hide their tech more cleanly.

Bogeyman included one tight transition space. While it worked well in the gamespace, it will make Bogeyman inaccessible for larger and less agile players.

There was not enough light in Bogeyman. During the pre-game briefing we were told that we “could bring our phones in for light.” That instruction really ought to be, that we “should bring our phones in for light.” We didn’t all carry them into the game and thus we didn’t have adequate lighting. This was frustrating.

Tips for Visiting

  • There is an actor in this escape room. Read our 6 Rules For Playing Room Escapes with Live Actors.
  • Some crawling is required to traverse Bogeyman.
  • Bring your phone in as a flashlight. You’ll need it.
  • There is a large public parking lot across the street from Trap Door.
  • Red Bank has many excellent restaurants, bars, and cafes.

Book your hour with Trap Door Escape Room’s Bogeyman, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.

Disclosure: Trap Door Escape Room comped our tickets for this game.