Escape Blair Witch [Review]

“She’s coming…”

Location:  Las Vegas, NV

Date Played: December 17, 2021

Team size: up to 8 in a public booking; we recommend a private group of 4-5

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: $45.99 per player for General Admission or $65.99 per player for Private VIP Experience

Ticketing: Public (General Admission) or Private (Private VIP Experience)

Accessibility Consideration: You’ll experience dim lighting, loud noises, and fog. At least one person needs to crawl.

Emergency Exit Rating: [A+] No Lock

Physical Restraints: [A+] No Physical Restraints

REA Reaction

The Blair Witch Project was an interesting phenomenon back in 1999. The first person “found footage” style of this horror movie blended with its fabricated legend and a bit of clever marketing to leave some asking the question, “Is this real? Did this really happen, like in real life?”

Now, if you knew me back in ’99, and posed that question, I would have informed you that, “of course it wasn’t real… it was a theatrically released horror movie, not evidence of supernatural murders.” And I would have said that in the most condescending teenage tone possible.

The good news about Escape Blair Witch is that it is real… or at least, it feels real.

The Blair Witch symbol lashed together from twigs and twine, hanging from a tree branch.
Image via Escape Blair Witch

A lot went into building the set and crafting the experience of Escape Blair Witch, and that’s really how I recommend looking at it: as an experience.

Escape Blair Witch was experientially strong, creating an intense horror experience with an actor who adapts to the skill level of the team. The puzzles and story themselves were unremarkable; it was about the adventure.

The big catch with Escape Blair Witch is that it is a public game, with the option to pay extra to make it private. In my opinion, this game must be played with a private group; it’s worth paying the extra money. If you don’t, you’re likely going to find yourself crammed into a room filled with randoms (and it’s not just randoms you’d be playing with – it’s randoms in Vegas). The game doesn’t support a group of 8, and it especially doesn’t support teams of mixed skill level.

Escape Blair Witch was experientially the strongest escape game we played in Las Vegas, and I recommend checking it out if you’re in-town and looking for an intense time. Just buy the private tickets… or don’t bother.

Who is this for?

  • Adventure seekers
  • Scenery snobs
  • Blair Witch fans
  • Any experience level

Why play?

  • Fantastic set design
  • Strong haunt effects
  • A great actor who read the room and adjusted to our team’s skill

Story

After a few college students had disappeared in the Black Hills Forest, we set off to investigate their mysterious disappearance. Our search began in the Burkittsville Ranger’s Station. Was this an accident? Was there foul play? Or was this something else entirely?

A man in the woods looking scared.
Image via Escape Blair Witch
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Trapped! Escape Room Las Vegas – One Eyed Jack [Review]

Fit for a suicide king

Location:  Las Vegas, NV

Date Played: November 28, 2021

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

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: $45 per player for 2 players to $39 per player for 6 players

Ticketing: Private

Accessibility Consideration: Crawling (at least 1 player), low lighting

Emergency Exit Rating: [A+] No Lock

Physical Restraints: [A+] No Physical Restraints

REA Reaction

A serial killer with a twist, “One Eyed Jack” surreptitiously presented his victims to-be with a jack playing card just prior to their murders. This iconic motif, combined with a thoughtful approach to puzzle design, helped ensure this was not just another serial killer game.

One Eyed Jack felt like a horror game without being too scary. Lighting choices and small details in the environment made for a compelling spooky atmosphere. As the game progressed, there were moments where our dependence on handheld lights became slightly burdensome, but this proved to be a nonissue overall.

One Eyed Jack was representative of what solid escape room design looked like a few years ago. This gameplay has aged fairly well, and it was full of creative elements.

If you’re in Las Vegas, Trapped! Escape Room’s One Eyed Jack is a great choice, especially for newer players. If you’re looking for a more modern escape room experience, Trapped’s Pandora’s Box kicks up the heat a few notches with some fancier tech. Whereas Pandora’s Box is a linear, small-team game, One Eyed Jack provides more parallel play for medium-sized teams.

A cave wall with adecomposing body leaning against it. There are tally marks scratched into the wall.
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Trapped! Escape Room Las Vegas – Pandora’s Box [Review]

Curiosity rewarded

Location:  Las Vegas, NV

Date Played: November 28, 2021

Team Size: 2-6; we recommend 2-3

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: $45 per player for 2 players to $39 per player for 6 players

Ticketing: Private

Accessibility Consideration: Crawling (at least 1 player)

Emergency Exit Rating: [A+] No Lock

Physical Restraints: [A+] No Physical Restraints

REA Reaction

Pandora’s Box (quite literally) blew us away with a wide range of special effects and a showstopper central set piece. This was a fantastic experience — especially for smaller teams — and it was without a doubt a must-play within the local Las Vegas market.

Thematically, this room felt like a crossover between Greek mythology, Indiana Jones, and the large puzzle boxes from The Room (the video game, not the terrible film). While a tad jarring at first, this stylistic juxtaposition was consistently implemented and made for an exciting adventure.

Pandora’s Box took place in a fairly small space, but some clever game mechanics repeatedly transformed the atmosphere. With a beautifully designed and fabricated Pandora’s Box in the center of the room, our time was largely focused on interacting with the many details on this prop. Targeted spotlights directed our attention as needed on the box’s faces and around the room.

This game was fully linear and contained a few puzzle types that may mildly frustrate certain players. The narrative felt a bit fuzzy by the ending, and ultimately I found this to be more of an adventure-driven than story-driven experience, despite some strong story elements in certain moments of the game.

Pandora’s Box was one of the most immersive escape room offerings in Las Vegas, and it’s well worth a play if you’re in the area.

An attic, in the middle is a box covered in a white sheet and spot lit.
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Trapped! Escape Room Las Vegas – How The Puzzlemaster Stole Christmas [Review]

Presents of mind

Location:  Las Vegas, NV

Date Played: November 28, 2021

Team Size: 3-10; we recommend 3-5

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: $45 per player for 2 players to $35 per player for 10 players

Ticketing: Private

Emergency Exit Rating: [A+] No Lock

Physical Restraints: [A+] No Physical Restraints

REA Reaction

How The Puzzlemaster Stole Christmas provided a bit of holiday cheer, delivered through a healthy dose of puzzling.

This game was a seasonal version of Trapped’s The Lair of The Puzzlemaster. It used the same set, dressed up with some Christmas decorations. A few puzzles were slightly modified from the original, though the two versions of the game were similar enough that you probably wouldn’t go back to play the both.

In How The Puzzlemaster Stole Christmas, our objective was to retrieve the pilfered presents from The Puzzlemaster, who’d stolen them from Santa. The transformation from the original story — a sort of art heist — to this Christmas present recovery mission was clever. With the addition of just a few low-budget Christmas decorations, the set felt reminiscent of a festive office holiday party (if everything at the office holiday party were blatantly a puzzle.)

If you’re visiting Vegas in November or December, How The Puzzlemaster Stole Christmas was a sweet Christmas-y puzzle party. During the rest of the year, The Lair of The Puzzlemaster seems like an equally fun low-tech, puzzle-forward experience.

A Christmas tree decorated, with presents under it
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Vampire.Pizza – Chapter 1 [Review]

Hold the garlic.

Location:  at home

Date Played: May 1, 2020

Team size: unlimited; we recommend 2-4

Duration: variable; about an hour for the puzzles

Price: $32.99 per person (party of 2) or $27.99 per person (party of 4)

REA Reaction

Vampire.Pizza is an immersive game where pizza and puzzles are delivered directly to your door. Through online videos and paper game materials, Chapter 1 spun a story of vampire revolution that felt bigger than the average play-at-home escape game.

The puzzles weren’t diabolical, which made Vampire.Pizza family-friendly, aside from some allusions to the bloody business of vampirism. The gameplay supplemented a larger evening of dinner, light crafting, and creating our vampire personas. Hardcore puzzlers might crave more of a challenge, but there’s plenty for casual players to sink their teeth into.

A dossier reading "Vampires Only" with some game pieces shaped like pizza slices.

Vampire.Pizza’s creative mashup of story, puzzles, and takeout food was innovative. Acquiring puzzles via takeout/delivery added a personal touch, especially during a time when many of us are staying inside. 

Vampire.Pizza started in Los Angeles and expanded to Las Vegas and Philadelphia, with the possibility of other cities on the horizon. After playing Chapter 1, we’re eager to see how the story will unfold in future installments.

Who is this for?

  • Story seekers
  • Pizza lovers
  • Any experience level

Why play?

  • Themed puzzles
  • Feel like part of a movement
  • Pizza is included, for once
An envelope reading "Start Here" accompanied by a Fang Force Special Agent Profile sheet.

Story

By ordering a meal from Belle’s Family Kitchen in Los Angeles, we were part of a vampire revolution—spread via pizza delivery. Solving Belle’s puzzles could earn us a spot in the Fang Force.

Setup

Vampire.Pizza was a puzzle game delivered (or picked up) along with pizza, salad, and dessert. The game materials were well designed and evoked a somewhat gothic vibe.

Gameplay

Vampire.Pizza included a play-at-home puzzle game with a low-to-medium level of difficulty. Core gameplay revolved around pattern recognition, logic, and word puzzles (with optional role-playing and crafting).

The story unfurled via online videos, bookending the puzzles with narrative bites. The pizza, though related to the story, was separate from the gameplay. 

The puzzles were paper based, but more complex, colorful, and tactile than typical newspaper puzzles. We did encounter some tricky moments, but Vampire.Pizza included a handy hint/answer sheet in case we got stuck. There was no time limit; the puzzles seemed meant to be solved casually as part of the evening’s entertainment.

Some paper game materials, including a Hints & Answers booklet.

Analysis

➕ The IRL delivery method made Vampire.Pizza feel more immersive than the typical play-at-home game. The videos helped the story feel bigger. We appreciated those references to the outside world, especially during the current lockdown.

➕/➖ We enjoyed reimagining ourselves as members of the Fang Force by filling out the included profile sheets. However, we wished the sheets had been provided before the game arrived, to set the stage and help us get in character.

➕ At a couple points, we encountered a bunch of game elements at once. The nonlinear structure allowed multiple people to puzzle concurrently if desired. We considered sorting out these elements to be part of the challenge.

❓ With all the instructions at various steps, we sometimes wanted less hand-holding. However, players looking for less of a challenge may appreciate the guidance.

➕ The game flowed smoothly. We never got stalled while solving. All the puzzles felt fair and stuck to the theme.

❓At one point, we got tricked. Different players may have different feelings about this, but it made us chuckle.

➕ Puzzles aside, we enjoyed our meal. Pickup was fast and contactless. We appreciated that there were multiple menu options, including vegan pizza.

➕We never would have imagined a vampire-and-pizza-themed immersive puzzle game, but the unlikely combination worked. Everything pulled together into a unique, fun package that didn’t take itself too seriously.

A tag reading "Vampire Pizza" tied to a black box with red twine.

Tips For Players

Dim the lights and throw on a Castlevania soundtrack to get into the vampire vibe.

The party size you choose determines the amount of food and certain game materials included in the box. The key puzzle components are playable by groups of any size.

A portion of the Los Angeles proceeds go to the League of Experiential and Immersive Artists emergency fund, which provides relief to artists in the immersive community.

To be notified if Vampire.Pizza starts delivering to your area, you can fill out a form on their website.