Confusion Escapes – The Last Job [Review]

Without a hitch

Location:  San Bernardino, CA

Date Played: January 7, 2022

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

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: $35 per adult, $28 per child

Ticketing: Private

Accessibility Consideration: all players must climb a few steps

Emergency Exit Rating: [A+] No Lock

Physical Restraints: [A+] No Physical Restraints

REA Reaction

Confusion Escapes’ The Last Job stood out for a very big reason: the room was filled with a full-size semi-trailer truck, impressively passing through multiple walls. This bold calling card was also echoed in Confusion Escapes’ lobby, where the front end of the truck appeared to be breaking through a brick wall. This brick wall and a nearby street scene were beautifully painted murals, and the illusory transitions from painted to real bricks and a painted to physical lamppost showed off Confusion Escapes’ cleverness in engineering and design.

From the moment we entered the room, we were taken by the sheer mass and realness of the truck. This carried over into a handful of puzzles that got us to engage with the urban environment and truck cab in enjoyable ways.

Yet as we spent much of the game reading papers and inputting numerical combos, the puzzles failed to really fill or take advantage of the vast physicality of the space. It seemed that more time had been spent building this cool truck than devising equally cool ways to engage with or transform it. Even the company’s lobby, with its intricately painted brick wall mural, functioning headlights, and a hidden smoke effect on the truck, somewhat outpaced the room itself in overall visual effect.

The Last Job‘s central feature, the truck, was undeniably awesome. It’s precisely because the truck was so great that I craved more magical interactions, more physical things to move and manipulate, and more unexpected twists in the space. The creators at Confusion Escapes have demonstrated some of their fabrication chops with their lobby and The Last Job. With a bit more attention to interaction design and player experience, they have all the skills to create some truly unique escape rooms.

The front end of a truck protruding through a heavily damaged brick wall.
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Escape Games at The River – The Great Candy Challenge [Review]

Sugar rush

Location:  Rancho Mirage, CA

Date Played: January 7, 2022

Team Size: 2-8; we recommend 2-4

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: $35 per player

Ticketing: Private

Emergency Exit Rating: [A+] No Lock

Physical Restraints: [A+] No Physical Restraints

REA Reaction

The Great Candy Challenge was a sweet family-friendly escape room. The game had a Willy Wonka-esque premise: find the keys to the candy factory, complete a series of candy-themed challenges, find the secret ingredient, and the factory will be yours.

I loved the first area of the set. The decor reminded me of a summer evening in an idyllic suburban backyard.

Once we entered the factory, things began to feel a bit like a generic, candy-themed escape room. The puzzles were still fun but weren’t quite as well integrated with the environment. The room was filled with sweet recipes, but they were used in non-diegetic puzzly ways rather than to actually “make” any candy. Once we’d freed all the gummy bears, a final interaction was visually satisfying but lacked a real conclusion to the story.

The Great Candy Challenge was an enjoyably whimsical room that’s a standout option for families and children. For enthusiasts, I recommend prioritizing Treasure Hunters: Station 13 and Mutiny: Skull Island, but The Great Candy Challenge would make a great add-on to your visit if you have the time… or if you have a hankering for some sugar.

A well in a fenced in area lit in colorful light and surrounded by assorted objects as well as large lollypops.
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Escape Games at The River – Mutiny: Skull Island [Review]

Sink or escape

Location:  Rancho Mirage, CA

Date Played: January 7, 2022

Team Size: 2-8; we recommend 3-5

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: $35 per player

Ticketing: Private

Emergency Exit Rating: [A+] No Lock

Physical Restraints: [A+] No Physical Restraints

REA Reaction

In many senses, Mutiny: Skull Island was a fairly standard pirate game. Yet with some thoughtful design choices and a high attention to detail in the set and gameplay, this room managed to feel like something special.

This intentionality was evident from the very start. A rich range of wood tones throughout the set looked impressively weathered and real. A slight sloping to the bottom few feet of the walls clearly suggested the shape of a ship, not just a random rectangular room. Hanging lanterns set the mood while also providing sufficient lighting wherever it was needed.

The puzzle design was similarly thoughtful, cleverly taking advantage of physical elements and decor in the environment. The puzzles flowed swimmingly for a small- to medium-sized team, and we rarely felt bottlenecked. Especially in the last segment of the game, the puzzles involved tactile interactions, environmental observation, and team communication.

Escape Games at The River impressed me. Both Mutiny: Skull Island and Treasure Hunters: Station 13 had beautiful sets, creative puzzles, and a high level of polish on par with top-tier escape rooms in Los Angeles. If you’re in southern California, a visit to Escape Games at The River would make for a fun day trip, especially as they continue to add and cycle in more premium games.

A brig in a pirate ship with words carved into the wall.
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Escape Games at The River – Treasure Hunters: Station 13 [Review]

Crate training

Location:  Rancho Mirage, CA

Date Played: January 7, 2022

Team Size: 2-12; we recommend 4-6

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: $35 per player

Ticketing: Private

Emergency Exit Rating: [A] Push To Exit

Physical Restraints: [A+] No Physical Restraints

REA Reaction

Treasure Hunters: Station 13 was a puzzler’s paradise. If a giant room filled with puzzles that each opens a shipping crate containing an item of treasure sounds like fun, then this is the game for you.

But that description doesn’t really do Treasure Hunters: Station 13 justice. For essentially a room filled with boxes, the production value was high. And the recovered treasure was surprisingly heavy and intricate, a step above the cheap props you find in most escape rooms.

Oh, and there was also a life-size train cutting through the room.

Assorted crates in a warehouse.

Treasure Hunters: Station 13 was tastefully and historically situated without gamifying any trauma associated with World War II. The game was based around the actual urban legend of the Nazi gold train which was purportedly hidden in southwest Poland following the war — which has never been found or even proven to exist.

Escape Games at The River has created something quite unique with Treasure Hunters: Station 13. From the historical theme to the nonlinear, points-based gameplay, this was a standout game from a very promising company. Though this area is currently an escape room desert, if Escape Games at The River keeps creating experiences like this, they may very well soon become a destination for enthusiasts.

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