Austin, Texas: Escape Room Recommendations

Latest update: January 10, 2021.

In keeping with the city’s slogan, Austin has some weird escape rooms.

If you’re looking for an escape room near Austin, Texas, these are our recommendations.

Austin, Texas Escape Room Guide

Market Standouts

  1. Dead Man’s Cove, Escape Hour Austin
  2. Lab Rats, Escape Hour Austin
  3. The Escape Game (multiple games)
  4. Call of the Ancient, Escape Hour Austin

And if you haven’t played out The Escape Game, they have some great stuff.

Set & Scenery Driven

Puzzle-Centric

Big Group Games

You are always welcome to contact us if this recommendation list doesn’t answer your specific questions.

Perplexium – Incoming Transmission [Review]

Engage!

Location:  Austin, Texas

Date Played: February 2, 2019

Team size: 2-4; we recommend 4

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: $33 per player

Ticketing: Private

Emergency Exit Rating: [A+] No Lock

Physical Restraints: [A+] No Physical Restraints

REA Reaction

Incoming Transmission was a sprawling space epic in the vein of Star Trek.

We’ve learned to count on Austin’s 15 Locks/ Perplexium to produce creative and unusual escape games that tinker with the formula. They did just that with Incoming Transmission.

In-game: The bridge of a space ship with multiple control consoles and many glowing lights.
Image via Perplexium

This space-based escape game was less about discovering a physical space and puzzling through it. It was more about learning the ship’s systems and using them to traverse the universe, completing missions and solving the problems of alien species. This escape room felt more like a giant control panel than a puzzle room.

This structure meant that Perplexium was able to produce a replayable game with plenty of dynamic missions to tackle.

With gameplay that felt more like a hybrid of video gaming and some tabletop gaming, Incoming Transmission could be the perfect game for your team or it could fizzle. We enjoyed ourselves and could imagine going back for a second go at space travel if we’d finished playing out the other escape rooms that interest us in Austin.

If you’re a little intrigued by all of this and near Austin, Texas, then you should beam aboard Incoming Transmission. At the very least, you’ll be in for an novel ride.

Who is this for?

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

Why play?

  • Unusual, replayable game structure
  • Great set
  • A humorous script

Story

As cadets in the fleet, we had been beamed aboard the SS Adventure. We had to get the ship running and then traverse the universe to explore strange new worlds, seek out new life and new civilizations, and boldly solve intergalactic problems.

In-game: A series of large control toggles.
Image via Perplexium

Setting 

We were beamed aboard a Star Trek-inspired spaceship with an angular, futuristic aesthetic, complete with dozens of blinking lights, buttons, switches, and dials… all of which were active game components.

In-game: A space ship control panel with multi-colored glowing buttons.
Image via Perplexium

Gameplay

Perplexium’s Incoming Transmission combined standard escape room gameplay with atypical elements. It had a moderate level of difficulty.

Incoming Transmission could be played in “story mode,” which combined more typical escape room-style gameplay with video game-like elements. It could be replayed in “points mode” which opened up the star system and allowed crews to go off and have a real-life video game-like adventure without some of the more tangible escape room moments.

The gameplay was similar to something like Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes.

Core gameplay revolved around figuring out how to interact with the environment, following instructions, and communicating.

In-game: A space ship control panel with glowing buttons.
Image via Perplexium

Analysis

➕ The spaceship set was interesting and beautiful.

➕ As we brought this ship to life and completed missions it reacted with different effects. These upped our excitement about the missions and our feelings of triumph.

➕ There was a heavy video component that involved alien characters appearing on a large screen to ask for help, make demands, or threaten us. It was both Star Trek-y and funny… kind of like The Orville… but without dick jokes.

➕ We enjoyed the escape room-style gameplay of configuring the ship. We especially enjoyed operating the ship’s transporter.

➖ The gameplay often felt more like following instructions than exploring or solving puzzles.

❓ The second act of the game took place at consoles, much like a multiplayer video game. It was fun, but the novelty wore off quickly. We would have liked more puzzle variety or a quicker pace during this segment. Reactions to this segment will likely vary based on individual player preferences.

➖ Incoming Transmission lacked an intense boss flight. The gameplay felt one-note, even as our ship came under fire. We would have liked to build toward the climactic battle.

➕ The replayable “points mode” concept was interesting. There were so many console-based puzzles packed into the game that we could return again and again to play though the challenges from our consoles aboard this intergalactic ship.

Tips For Visiting

  • There is a parking lot.
  • This room involves crawling, ducking and tight spaces. At least one player will need to do this.
  • This room includes flashing lights, fog, and loud noises.

Book your hour with Perplexium’s Incoming Transmission, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.

Book

Disclosure: Perplexium comped our tickets for this game.

Escape Space Games – The Play House [Review]

Birth Control: The Game

Location:  San Marcos, Texas

Date Played: February 2, 2019

Team size: 3-7; we recommend 4-5

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: $25 per player

Ticketing: Public

Emergency Exit Rating: [B] Emergency Key*

Physical Restraints: [A+] No Physical Restraints

REA Reaction

The Play House offered some interesting puzzles. It was a search-and-puzzle escape room, with quite a bit of stuff to sift through in a minimal set. We weren’t huge fans of the rummaging (there were a lot of diapers). This was also complicated by playing the game in darkness with flashlights.

That said, we especially liked when Escape Space Games had repurposed children’s toys into puzzles.

If you’re in San Marcos and need a puzzle fix, check out Escape Space Games.

In-game: 2 locked toolboxes beside children's toys in a dark room.

Who is this for?

  • Locals
  • Players who don’t need to be a part of every puzzle

Why play?

  • Fun puzzles

Story

We found ourselves trapped in a daycare after hours. The lights were out… and the toys wanted to play with us.

In-game: The numbers 1 through 5 hanging diagonally on the wall of a dark room.

Setting

We were in a child’s bedroom and playroom in darkness, with a few flashlights. The room was populated with tons of toys, diapers, and the kind of furniture that one would expect to find in the bedroom of a tiny human.

On the one hand, the props and furniture felt accurate… like they may have been migrated from the designer’s home after their child outgrew everything. On the other hand, there wasn’t anything exciting about the setting.

In-game: An image of a cartoon turtle hanging on the wall of a dark room.

Gameplay

Escape Space Games’ The Play House was a standard escape room with a moderate level of difficulty.

Some of that difficulty was derived from darkness.

Core gameplay revolved around searching, observing, and puzzling.

In-game: A racket hanging on the wall in a dark room.

Analysis

➖ The gamespace was a mess of toys and diapers. It had also been far too long since it had seen a vacuum cleaner.

➕ The gameplay in Play House flowed logically. It had some interesting puzzle content.

➖ When we encountered props that had been defaced with numbers, and painstakingly searched out these numbers by flashlight, we were disappointed to find they were just a red herring, or perhaps they were a ghost puzzle, or maybe they were there by accident? I don’t know.

➕ Escape Space Games turned a few children’s toys into interesting puzzle interactions. One in particular was quite the enigma. This was solid repurposing.

➖ / ➕ We played Play House entirely in the dark, with our phones as flashlights. There was no reason – in the narrative or the gameplay – that the space needed to be dark. This was just a nuisance. It did leave Escape Space Games the opportunity to illuminate when and how they saw fit. To their credit, they seized the moment better than most. But the payoff wasn’t worth the hassle.

➖ *The door was locked, but the game master told us the “emergency code” that would unlock the door in the event of an emergency. We recommend that Escape Space Games print the emergency code next to the lock so that players don’t need to recall it in the event of an emergency. Better yet, we recommend that they upgrade to a “push to exit” button. Since the fire in Poland, this kind of lock-in isn’t acceptable anymore.

Tips For Visiting

  • There is a parking lot.
  • Enter through a glass door at the corner of the plaza and walk down a long hallway to get to Escape Space Games.

Book your hour with Escape Space Games’ The Play House, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.

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

Disclosure: Escape Space Games provided media discounted tickets for this game.

Escape Hour Austin – Dead Man’s Cove [Review]


[At the time of this review, Escape Hour Austin was called 15 Locks.]

Dead Man’s Cove is one of the best escape rooms in Austin. Here are our recommendations for great escape rooms in Austin.

Worth the doubloons.

Location:  Austin, Texas

Date Played: February 1, 2019

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

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: $33 per player

Ticketing: Private

Emergency Exit Rating: [A+] No Lock

Physical Restraints: [A+] No Physical Restraints

REA Reaction

Dead Man’s Cove combined puzzles and adventure into an epic sea voyage. Through the decor, sound, and effects 15 Locks delivered incredible and memorable gameplay moments.

In-game:A jolly roger flag hanging on the wall of a pirate ship.
Image via 15 Locks

While we struggled with the dim lighting, we enjoyed the puzzles. This little ship was jam-packed with them.

Dead Man’s Cove was a highly creative take on the traditional escape room. 15 Locks added tons of details and transformed a game that could have felt like a basic escape room into something magical.

If you’re anywhere near Austin and you’re looking for an escape room adventure, regardless of experience level, you’ll find a lot to enjoy aboard this vessel.

Who is this for?

  • Adventure seekers
  • Story seekers
  • Puzzle pirates
  • Scenery snobs
  • Any experience level

Why play?

  • Exciting moments
  • Detailed set
  • Excellent puzzles
  • The hint system

Story

Our ship was trapped somewhere between the land of the living and the land of the dead. We had to battle mystical evils and navigate ourselves out of troubled waters.

In-game: A locked door and a powder keg inside of a pirate ship.
Image via 15 Locks

Setting

15 Locks staged Dead Man’s Cove inside of a cursed pirate ship. The setting was appropriately dim. It used a variety of effects to convey the various ghosts from the ship’s past that we needed to appease or defeat.

In-game: The captain's desk and a locked chest aboard a pirate ship.
Image via 15 Locks

Gameplay

15 Locks’ Dead Man’s Cove was a standard escape room with a moderate level of difficulty.

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

In-game: The inside of a pirate ship There are ropes and chains running from the ceiling and walls, and number painted into a beam.
Image via 15 Locks

Analysis

➕ 15 Locks’ introduction worked really well… and revealed a charming and fun hint system. We enjoyed taking hints.

➕ Dead Man’s Cove looked exceptional. The wood paneling combined with heavy wood furniture, lantern lighting, choice of locks, and nautical props transported us to these troubled waters.

➖ The gamespace was unbalanced. Since so much of it was beautifully crafted into a specific aesthetic, a latter set felt under-designed in comparison. There was opportunity to do more with this part of the gamespace.

Dead Man’s Cove wasn’t a large space, but it packed a lot of gameplay.

➕ The puzzles flowed smoothly and solved cleanly.

In-game: A table with a map on it inside of a lantern-lit pirate ship.
Image via 15 Locks

➖ The dim lighting was frustrating. Especially given the reliance on combination locks and short passages written in a small font, we struggled with lack of light. A few spotlights on one or two work surfaces would have made a world of difference.

➕ 15 Locks used light and sound to surprise us. Dead Man’s Cove continually delivered exciting, interactive moments. We enjoyed experiencing these as a group.

Tips For Visiting

  • There is a parking lot.

Book your hour with 15 Locks’ Dead Man’s Cove, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.

Disclosure: 15 Locks comped our tickets for this game.

All in Adventures – Superhero’s Adventure [Review]

Na na na na na na na na na na na na na na na na na…

Location:  Austin, Texas

Date Played: February 2, 2019

Team size: up to 8; we recommend 4-5

Duration: 50 minutes

Price: $20.32 per player

Ticketing: Public

Emergency Exit Rating: [A+] No Lock

Physical Restraints: [A+] No Physical Restraints

REA Reaction

Escape The Mystery Room Mystery Room All in Adventures builds out escape rooms in malls. The walls partitioning the games don’t reach to the ceiling. The decor is minimal and the puzzles are bolted on rather than integrated into the props. Superhero’s Adventure was full of paper-based puzzles that more or less worked, and locked props, roughly on theme.
In-game: A brick facade, a newspaper vending machine, a handheld stop sign, a blue mailbox.
Going in with the right (low) expectations, the right attitude, and a fun group of friends, we found some enjoyment brute-force solving our way through all these locks. Your mileage will vary. All in Adventures is a value question. Is this type of low-budget escape room experience worth $22 for 50 minutes? If yes, go in with the right attitude and find your own fun. If you’re looking for higher production value or more meaty puzzles, look elsewhere. For just a bit more money, you could buy a lot more investment in design and gameplay from another escape room company. While we were there, our gamemaster/ facility manager had expressed frustration that past escape room enthusiasts hit them with negative reviews, but didn’t understand that All in Adventures was striving to do something different. At the end of the day, the biggest flaw with All in Adventures isn’t their approach to game design, but that they want to be viewed as serving a different niche, without labeling themselves as such. There’s nothing inherently wrong with a company attempting to target a lower quality and price point. That said, there is no way for a first-time player to realize that All in Adventures is the O’Doul’s of escape rooms. Their tagline is, “Your Ultimate Escape Room Destination,” and by that standard, well… let’s just say that they are no Cutthroat Cavern.

Who is this for?

  • Walk-ins
  • Deal seekers

Why play?

  • To get your escape room fix
  • You’d rather not be shopping

Story

The intergalactic hero known as the Golden Skateboarder had stashed his spare board on Earth before taking a vacation in the cosmos. Unbeknownst to the hero on holiday, his board was disrupting Earth’s magnetic field. We had to find the location of his skateboard and send a message, summoning the Golden Skateboarder back to Earth so that he could permanently rectify the problem.
In-game: A yellow cage labeled "flammable materials" a garbage can, an orange traffic cone, and an oversized wall decal of a screenshot from the Batman from Arkham Knight video game.

Setting

Superhero’s Adventure‘s gamespace was a single room surrounded by 3/4 height walls. Two of those walls were covered in full-sized decals. The few props were supposed to evoke a city environment: a blue post office mailbox, a parking cone, a garbage can (filled with garbage), etc. The set was bare-bones. It served as a container to hold the game’s locked boxes and puzzle content, while evoking a vague superhero theme.
In-game: A trunk with 20 super hero logos on the top, sealed with two combination locks.

Gameplay

All in Adventures’ Superhero’s Adventure was a standard escape room with a moderate level of difficulty. Core gameplay revolved around searching, making connections, and puzzling.

Analysis

➕ The staff at All in Adventures were energetic, friendly, and engaging. They welcomed everyone entering their doors. ➖ All in Adventures used a call-button hint system. We could ring for help. Unfortunately, the few staff had to oversee the entire facility including the lobby and the teams in the other games. It could take a long time to get a hint, which wasn’t cool in a timed game. ➖ Because the walls weren’t floor-to-ceiling, we could hear everything going on in adjacent games. This was distracting. (We could also hear when the staff were otherwise preoccupied helping another team.) ❓ It was strange seeing a massive wall decal of a Batman: Arkham Knight press screenshot. ➖ The props were simply containers to gate the gameflow. They looked cheap. Most of the cluing was on laminated paper and not worked into the surroundings. ➖ The puzzles weren’t well thought out. Potential puzzle solutions were just that: possibilities. We never had confidence in our answers, even the ones that did pop locks. The solutions could be overly obvious or ridiculously obscure. ➖ We spent most of our time trying potential puzzle solutions in every lock in the game. Most of the locks had similar digit structures. Because the majority of props and locks weren’t logically connected to puzzles, potential solutions could go just about anywhere. Our gameplay experience felt like a giant brute force. Superhero’s Adventure included a bonus puzzle. We applaud this effort to make sure that teams who were solving quickly got to spend more time playing. We enjoyed the puzzle. Note that it was far more complex than we’d been conditioned for, based on the rest of our experience in the room, which threw us off for quite some time.

Tips For Visiting

  • This escape room is located in The Domain.
  • Park in the adjacent garage.
Book your hour with All in Adventures’ Superhero’s Adventure, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you. Disclosure: All in Adventures comped our tickets for this game.