Mister and Mischief – Escape from Godot [Review]

A real-life actor’s nightmare.

Location: Los Angeles, CA

Date played: June 17, 2018

Team size: 8 tickets per time slot

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: $25 per ticket (limited run during the Hollywood Fringe Festival)

Ticketing: public

REA Reaction

At its best, Escape from Godot felt a little like that dream where you’re on stage and you can’t remember your lines… only exciting and fun. A refreshing blend of escape room and immersive theater, Escape from Godot used puzzles and gameplay to drive the stage production forward. The experience was appropriately absurdist… being based on Waiting for Godot (synopsis).

The actors blew us away with their commitment to delivering their lines while managing game flow.

Escape from Godot broke away from escape room conventions. What emerged was fun, engaging, and impressive. We left feeling entertained and energized. If Escape from Godot is revived in another form, it would definitely be worth checking out.

In-game: Three actors performing a scene. One actor looks very surprised.
Photo credit: Anne Rene Brashier

Who is this for?

  • Theater fans
  • Players who enjoy interacting with actors
  • Any experience level

Why play?

  • Quirky puzzles integrated with a live theater production
  • Talented and enthusiastic actors
  • Unique, playful experience
  • Bowler hats

Story

Upon arriving at a theater to attend a friend’s play, we learned that everyone involved in the production was being threatened with a lawsuit if they continued the play without permission – including the audience. We had one hour to fill in for the stage manager and help the actors complete the play before the lawyers arrived to shut it down.

Setting

Escape from Godot was an escape room intertwined with a theater production. Rather than relying on scenery and effects, the immersiveness of Escape from Godot unfolded mostly temporally, via actors and props on the stage. The set, a relatively ordinary theater, was secondary to the puzzles and interactions.

Gameplay

Mister and Mischief’s Escape from Godot was an escape game and theater blend that revolved around theatrical cues, dialogue, and actor interactions. We participated both as audience members watching the actors and as crew members puzzling out how to guide the play (and the escape room) to its final curtain.

Escape from Godot included medium-difficulty escape room puzzles involving logic, observation, and wordplay.

Two actors standing on stage while another actor whispers to a player
Photo credit: Anne Rene Brashier

Analysis

+ Escape from Godot was fun for theater buffs and theater newbies alike. Those of us who were more familiar with Waiting for Godot got extra enjoyment from certain details and interactions, but we didn’t need to have seen the play.

+ The absurdist theme meant we weren’t always sure what we were supposed to do, but orienting ourselves was part of the challenge. It felt like being in an actor’s nightmare, with all the chaos and confusion of being thrust on stage without our lines – but in a good way.

+ The puzzles were whimsical and integrated with the theme.

+ Escape from Godot involved actor interaction, but some players were in the spotlight more than others. Shy players didn’t have to worry because interaction was limited and only as involved as each person wanted it to be. Accommodating different audience member personalities made the show approachable to extroverted players as well as people who were less comfortable with interaction.

+ The actors went all out. On top of their solid acting, they delivered hints subtly and seamlessly, right when we needed them. By calibrating our timing with thoughtful cluing, they had the ability to control the flow of the experience and make sure each group felt victorious at the end. This kind of improvisation must have been tricky to pull off. We were impressed with how effortless it felt and how much it added to our enjoyment.

– The venue wasn’t perfect. The space near the stage was a bit cramped, which made it hard for all eight of us to participate equally at times when we were in the audience area.

+ Playing Escape from Godot felt true to the experience of watching a play; it also felt like putting on a play. Even without elaborate sets, the action and the puzzles kept us engaged and immersed for the whole hour.

? Due to the linear gameplay, there were a couple of bottleneck moments. Fortunately, the show was designed so that the least busy of us could always entertain ourselves by watching the actors perform their scenes.

+ The beginning and ending of Escape from Godot were largely unguided, which gave us a feeling of mystery when we entered the theater and triumph when we led the show to our curtain call.

+ Escape from Godot showed that the theater is a natural setting for an escape room hybrid. Solving puzzles to influence the show is a unique and fun game mechanic. We’d love to see more people experimenting with integrating gameplay into stage productions.

Tips for Visiting

  • Escape from Godot had a limited run and is no longer playing. If Mister and Mischief decide to revive it, the venue and other details may change.
  • This experience had live actors. Review our tips for playing with actors. Interaction is minimal if you want it to be; having one or two outgoing teammates should be enough.
  • Since Escape from Godot was an escape room within a play, it was more about enjoying the experience than beating the clock. You might have to wait for the actors to finish their lines before you can progress anyway, so take your time and enjoy the performance.

Escape from Godot took place in June 2018 and is not currently running.

Los Angeles: Meet us at an Escape Room & Immersive Entertainment Shindig

We’re hosting a get-together in Los Angeles later this month.

This is a casual gathering for folks to meet each other and chat about escape rooms and other immersive entertainment.

Details

  • Thursday, August 23
  • Hatch Escapes (1919 3rd Ave, Los Angeles, CA)
  • Starting at 7pm; talk at 8:00pm
  • Please bring food or drink to share
  • Hatch Escapes recommends ride shares as parking in the area can be challenging
Photo of Lisa and David of Room Escape Artist in their wedding clothes dramatically escaping a bank vault.
Photo by Michael Zawadzki

Who should attend?

Escape room players, bloggers, podcasters, designers, owners, operators… and anyone who is even just a little bit escape-room curious.

We also welcome other immersive entertainment goers and creators. You don’t need to be escape-room focused to join this conversation.

If you’re in Los Angeles, come on out, we’d love to meet you!

Speaking

We’ll be giving a short talk during the get-together.

We’re going to:

  • tell stories about some of our favorite escape rooms from our travels
  • discuss trends in escape rooms
  • share perspective on where we think the medium is going
  • unpack what the changes mean for the players

RSVP

Please RSVP on Facebook.

QUEST ROOM – Bloody Elbow [Review]

“It’s the Inquisition, what a show!”

Location: Los Angeles, CA

Date played: December 1, 2017

Team size: 2-6; we recommend 2-4 (see below)

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: $99 for 2 players, $129 for 3, $159 for 4, $179 for 5, $199 for 6

REA Reaction

Bloody Elbow was a fun adventure. We recommend it for experienced players.

It looked fantastic. However, a communicative audio track combined with a set lean on feedback made portions of the game difficult to follow. QUEST ROOM played a little looser with force and safety than we’d prefer… but through this Bloody Elbow instilled an urgency of escape.

Who is this for?

  • Adventure seekers
  • Scenery snobs
  • Best for players with at least some experience

Why play?

  • Immersive set design
  • Thematic interactions
  • Intensity

Story

Locked up as a heretic in the 14th century, we awaited slow, gory, and creative deaths at the hand of a sadistic executioner who went by the name “Bloody Elbow.”

In-game: A dark dungeon environment with a bloody torture table.

Setting

We began our game isolated and restrained in the inquisitor’s dungeon. This was not a happy place. It was dark, bloody, and filled with torture devices. QUEST ROOM built a fairly detailed set.

Gameplay

Bloody Elbow was driven by set interaction and player resourcefulness.

Isolation and restraint played a critical role in the early game.

The puzzling was built around manipulating the objects that we found, in one instance by exerting a lot more force than one would typically expect in an escape room. Our gamemaster did warn us in advance, but the required action still surprised us.

Standouts

QUEST ROOM constructed a medieval torture chamber as the set for Bloody Elbow. It was intense, interactive, and exciting to explore.

Bloody Elbow felt like an adventure. As the escape room progressed and we discovered new interactions, we had to act resourcefully. This was especially satisfying and felt realistic.

QUEST ROOM integrated the hinting system with the experience. It felt clandestine and contributed to the adventure vibe.

In order to escape Bloody Elbow we had to manipulate the set and props in some unexpected ways. One invigorating interaction required force.

Shortcomings

This one more forceful interaction had a few drawbacks: It appeared so early that it could teach players to disrespect QUEST ROOM’s beautiful set. We were hung up on it for quite a while because we didn’t believe we should apply the level of force that it required. Additionally, the prop involved could cause serious injury to a player who mishandles it. This could be improved by having an interaction that “eats” the prop after it’s used.

While we liked the hint mechanism, it competed with the audio soundtrack. We found this frustrating.

Bloody Elbow had a light touch with interaction feedback. We didn’t always know what we’d triggered or revealed.

It’s hard to recommend a team size for Bloody Elbow. Too many players means that some folks will spend quite a bit of time waiting on their teammates without any way to contribute. Too few players will create red herrings.

Tips for Visiting

  • QUEST ROOM doesn’t have traditional signage, but they do have a massive mural on their facade. We Instagramed it. By the way, we’re on Instagram.
  • Wear comfortable shoes and clothing to this escape room.
  • QUEST ROOM’s first two games were very different from each another: while Bloody Elbow was an intense adventure with some puzzles, Da Vinci’s Challenge was a puzzle game with some adventure. Choose wisely.

Book your hour with QUEST ROOM’s Bloody Elbow, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.

Disclosure: QUEST ROOM comped our tickets for this game.

60 Out – Da Vinci’s Secret [Review]

That’s one big cryptex.

Location: Los Angeles, CA

Date played: December 1, 2017

Team size: 2-6; we recommend 4-6

Duration: 75 minutes

Price: It’s complicated

REA Reaction

We enjoyed Da Vinci’s Secret’s interesting and inventive puzzles. We wished 60 Out had focused a little more on evening out the scale of the space and conveying adventure. That said, we puzzled through some neat devices, which felt appropriately da Vinci.

Da Vinci’s Secret came highly recommended; it was a good escape room, but it didn’t quite live up to the hype.

Who is this for?

  • Puzzle lovers
  • Best for players with a least some experience

Why play?

  • Inventive puzzles
  • Giant cryptex
  • Tongue-in-cheek tone

Story

Upon the death of Leonardo da Vinci, his final mystery was bequeathed to his favorite student, Salai: a room filled with unusual puzzles. Could we unravel the clues and learn the secrets left behind by the Renaissance master?

That's one big cryptex.

Setting

The setting of Da Vinci’s Secret was earthy in tone. It had an assortment of artwork from Leonardo and a gigantic cryptex-like device under a glowing stained glass window. Most other props were small, made from wood, and frequently laser cut with intricate patterns.

Gameplay

Da Vinci’s Secret ran 75 minutes and was entirely focused on puzzling. While there wasn’t much adventure or intensity to speak of, it did offer a wide range of puzzle types.

Standouts

Da Vinci’s Secret included some intriguing set pieces. There was the giant cryptex, of course, as well as a few other interesting pieces to manipulate or observe.

When we solved puzzles, Da Vinci’s Secret responded with fanfare. We enjoyed this playful feedback. We’ve played many da Vinci-themed escape rooms, but never one as tongue-in-cheek as 60 Out’s.

60 Out created some challenging and satisfying puzzles that encouraged teamwork and cooperation.

We enjoyed the cohesive, laser-cut aesthetic of most of the props in Da Vinci’s Secret.

Shortcomings

The linear gameplay in Da Vinci’s Secret became frustrating because the escape room wasn’t appropriately gated. Many of the most interesting props were available for exploration long before we had the clues to solve them. New players, especially, will likely get hung up spending too much time on items they can’t yet solve.

The scale of this game felt off. The space was large, but the majority of the props were small. Especially when juxtaposed with something like a giant cryptex, the other props felt dwarfed by the largely unadorned gamespace. The set looked fine, but somehow it seem imbalanced.

Tips for Visiting

  • This 60 Out location has free parking around back.
  • There weren’t a lot of great food options in the neighborhood. Plan accordingly.

Book your hour with 60 Out’s Da Vinci’s Secret, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.

Disclosure: 60 Out provided media discounted tickets for this game.

QUEST ROOM – Da Vinci’s Challenge [Review]

A job interview for your life. 

Location: Los Angeles, CA

Date Played: December 1, 2017

Team size: 2-6; we recommend 4

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: 99 for 2 players, $129 for 3, $159 for 4, $179 for 5, $199 for 6

REA Reaction

We really enjoyed this escape room.

Da Vinci’s Challenge included many different tangible, but puzzle-y challenges. QUEST ROOM’s solutions triggered exciting reveals.

In-game: Models of the planets and sun hanging from the ceiling. Saturn and the Sun look spectacular.

Who is this for?

  • Puzzler lovers
  • Scenery snobs
  • Any experience level

Why play?

  • Interactive puzzles
  • Immersive adventure

Story

It was the year 1493 and we were among the many hopeful students seeking an apprenticeship with Master Leonardo da Vinci. In order to select the right individuals to train under him, Leonardo had created a series of mental challenges to test the wits of his potential pupils.

In-game: A replica of Da Vinci's flying machine hanging from the wall.

Setting

QUEST ROOM began Da Vinci’s Challenge by splitting our group in two and putting us into separate chambers of a large Renaissance study. The space was filled with sketches, models, books, and contraptions of Leonardo’s design. The lighting was dim, but there was plenty of light to uncover.

The set felt like an amalgamation of realism and fantasy.

Gameplay

We started Da Vinci’s Challenge in two connected, but separate gamespaces.

This was a puzzle-driven escape room with an emphasis on collaboration and variety, all packaged nicely in an elegant set and nifty interactions.

In-game: Close up of some sort of ornate cage.

Standouts

The opening puzzles sequences.

Mechanical interactions and triggers permeated the various puzzles. We especially liked one more subtle visual puzzle and its mechanical trigger. A lot of nonessential details brought a coolness to Da Vinci’s Challenge that a lot of escape rooms lack.

There was a nifty bonus puzzle that provided a worthy reward.

QUEST ROOM used journals to clue many of the puzzles within Da Vinci’s Challenge. These thematically appropriate books were well designed to avoid red herrings and long blocks of arduous text. The pages clearly clued the puzzles. Additionally, there were two journals (albeit different ones), which mitigated some of the bottlenecking.

Shortcomings

While QUEST ROOM designed the journals well, I still spent much of the game with my nose in a book. I would have liked more of the clue structure woven within the room itself. Because of the journal-driven gameplay, I missed out on truly experiencing and appreciating many set details in Da Vinci’s Challenge.

With some specific mathematical knowledge, it would be easy to bypass one of the most exciting reveals of this escape room. You should resist the urge to bypass this as it will work, but it will spoil some of the best moments of Da Vinci’s Challenge.

While the bonus puzzle was quite cool and well engineered, it felt like there was an opportunity to do more with it.

Da Vinci’s Challenge petered out. The final task wasn’t really a puzzle… and the resulting win felt unearned.

Tips for Visiting

  • QUEST ROOM doesn’t have traditional signage, but they do have a massive mural on their facade. We Instagramed it. By the way, we’re on Instagram.
  • QUEST ROOM’s first two games were different from each other: While Da Vinci’s Challenge was a puzzle game with some adventure, Bloody Elbow was an adventure with some puzzles. Choose wisely.

Book your hour with QUEST ROOM’s Da Vinci’s Challenge, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.

Full disclosure: QUEST ROOM comped our tickets for this game.

Escape Room LA – The Pyramid [Review]

You might have to make a small sacrifice.

Location: Los Angeles, CA

Date played: December 2, 2017

Team size: 2-8; we recommend 5-7

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: $32 per ticket weekdays, $37 per ticket weekends

REA Reaction

The Pyramid was an imposing monolith of puzzles.

Escape Room LA stands out as a large-team, puzzle-focused company in a city that generally emphasizes storytelling. The Pyramid impressed us with elaborate sets, numerous reveals, and challenging, tangible puzzles… all without sacrificing adventure.

Who is this for?

  • Puzzle lovers
  • Best for players with a least some experience
  • Larger groups
  • Players who don’t need to be a part of every puzzle

Why play?

  • Many tangible puzzles
  • Dramatic reveals
  • Large scale
  • It’s a challenge

Story

We set off on a journey to find the mythical Mayan Mask of the Jade Warrior. Finding the artifact would ensure our survival.

In-game: A stone alter with glowing red eyes and teeth and a pedestal with small statues atop it.

Setting

The Pyramid was an Indiana Jonesy adventure through a Mayan temple. It had an aesthetic that hovered comfortably between realistic and cartoonish. I mean that as a compliment. It was a fun place to puzzle.

Gameplay

Escape Room LA built gameplay around large groups and collaborative challenges.

The Pyramid contained lots of puzzles (and skulls). There was enough for everyone to sink their teeth into.

Standouts

The Pyramid spanned multiple large and varied sets. These were detailed and they hid their secrets well.

In-game: 4 pillars of skulls, above them, the ceiling is covered in skulls.

At each set change junction, we confronted an impressive, interactive gate. The sets, combined with imposing gates, created grand reveals continually throughout the experience.

We enjoyed many of the puzzles in The Pyramid. They made use of the set pieces and props. We traversed the various sets with purpose.

The starting puzzle sequence introduced escape room gameplay and cooperation. It opened The Pyramid well.

We brought a large and talented team (plus one infant); everyone was busy throughout the experience.

Given the Mayan staging, we encountered a number of symbol systems. Escape Room LA incorporated these into the various puzzles. We also found them helpful for separating the different puzzles in play.

Shortcomings

While some of us enjoyed the symbols, others felt like they made many of the puzzles feel too similar. We were continuously matching or interpreting different symbol systems.

The Pyramid contained multiple puzzles in each game segment. Since many of these required teamwork, sometimes across large distances, the noise of other teammates working together became a frustrating obstacle. Additionally, because so much was happening at once, we were frequently confused as to which interaction had triggered which reveal.

Within The Pyramid we uncovered multiple notebooks containing important clue structure. While these fit the theming, they hindered gameplay, as only one person in the group could use them at any given time. To alleviate bottlenecking, we recommend separate written materials or incorporating these clues into the set.

One of the larger props was touchy. Our gamemaster had to continually reprimand us for attempting to manipulate it in unintended ways. If Escape Room LA does not want players to get creative with this prop, they need to improve the intended interaction.

One smaller space needed to be cleaned. Achoo.

Tips for Visiting

  • Bring a larger group. The Pyramid will be best if you parallel puzzle.
  • Escape Room LA is located in downtown LA. Plan for street parking.

Book your hour with Escape Room LA’s The Pyramid, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.

Disclosure: Escape Room LA comped our tickets for this game.

THE BASEMENT – The Elevator Shaft [Review]

Crushing upgrades.

Location: Sylmar, CA

Date played: December 1, 2017

Team size: 2-6; we recommend 3

Duration: 45 minutes

Price: $34 per ticket weekdays, $38 per ticket weekends

The 2017 Golden Lock-In award, the REA logo turned into an open padlock with a golden ring around it.
2017 Golden Lock-In Award winner

Story & setting

The Elevator Shaft was a new Chapter 2 in THE BASEMENT trilogy. This new game completely replaced The Boiler Room.

Following the events of Chapter 1, The Elevator Shaft, like The Boiler Room operated under the pretense that your team failed the first game. You were gassed and your unconscious body was delivered to Edward Tandy’s one of a kind body disposing, Death Star trash compactor elevator shaft.

Tandy did not know, however, that the engineer that he had enslaved to build the elevator had also hidden an override sequence. Could we uncover it and save ourselves?

In-game: The hyper detailed wall of an elevator shaft with a large steel elevator car above.

In keeping with what we’ve come to expect from THE BASEMENT, The Elevator Shaft had a dark, detailed, and badass set. Moreover, The Elevator Shaft environment felt alive. The set was always doing something different… whether you wanted it to or not.

Puzzles

The Elevator Shaft was a horror adventure where the interactions were born of the environment and necessity. It also had the most refined puzzle game of THE BASEMENT trilogy.

Close up of the wall, "Are you listening?" is painted in blood.

Standouts

The Elevator Shaft had an incredible set. It was detailed and believable, but it wasn’t busy. It worked.

THE BASEMENT created phenomenal and ever-changing practical effects for The Elevator Shaft. These kept us on edge for the entire experience.

The combination of set and effects delivered a true adventure game. It was exhilarating. There were incredible badass moments… both solo and team.

THE BASEMENT installed a couple of serious puzzles within this adventure. These layered, team-effort solves were fair and satisfying.

In-game: A closeup of a large old lever padlock against a gross and worn wall.

Shortcomings

THE BASEMENT sells 6 tickets to The Elevator Shaft, but it’s a 3-player escape room, 4 tops… unless you have teammates who primarily want to watch. Even with 3 players (which I think is ideal), at certain times The Elevator Shaft bottlenecked when only a single player could truly advance the game. THE BASEMENT should make this a flat-rate, privately booked experience.

While most of the set and props were high quality, one prop looked so fake and party-store-esque that I was shocked to see it in a game from THE BASEMENT. The good news… this could be effortlessly replaced with something more appropriate.

THE BASEMENT fully commits to using electricity as an interaction in their games. I’ve written about this in past reviews and I’m not going to rehash my feelings on electricity once again. The Elevator Shaft had something that made a lot more sense than previous electric interactions. It was perfectly safe in this escape room, but had it been “real life,” under the circumstances we were in, this would have likely killed everyone in the room. Given that THE BASEMENT’s product is effectively horror realism, this turned me off.

It sounded like The Elevator Shaft had a dramatic conclusion around a fail state. The win-state conclusion that we saw, however, was anticlimactic, especially considering the thrill of the whole experience up until that point.

Should I play THE BASEMENT’s The Elevator Shaft?

I was sad when I heard that THE BASEMENT was closing The Boiler Room, as it was hands down my favorite game that the notorious horror escape room company had to offer. I am thrilled to report that The Elevator Shaft isn’t just a worthy successor; it’s a vastly superior one.

The Elevator Shaft was intense and smart. It contained a ton of cool moments. If you win, you’ll feel like a hero. I suspect that if you lose, you’ll really feel like a victim.

If you played and enjoyed The Boiler Room, you should revisit The Elevator Shaft. While you will instantly recognize a few key features, the gameplay, set, and overall experience is improved in all but one way: capacity.

The Boiler Room capped out at 4 players. While The Elevator Shaft has a much larger physical footprint, that physical capacity does not come with enough interactions to keep half a dozen engaged players active for most of the time. With only 3 players, we still had people standing around waiting for substantial periods of time.

If you like horror and are seeking set-born interactions, then you’re in for a treat with The Elevator Shaft. Bring the smallest team you can. Buy out the game if that’s a financially viable option or book at odd hours / last minute in the hopes that no one else will crash your game.

Note that you should wear clothes and shoes that you don’t care that much about to The Elevator Shaft. This goes for all THE BASEMENT’S escape rooms, but especially this one. Your stuff likely won’t be ruined if you don’t heed this warning, but there is some risk.

If you want nothing to do with horror, this clearly won’t be your escape room.

If you’ve never played an escape room, The Elevator Shaft will likely deliver a spanking to you and your team; this was a hard game. It’s winnable, but challenging. You should probably level up your skill before attempting it, or go in looking for a messed up adventure that you won’t “survive.”

Book your hour with THE BASEMENT’s The Elevator Shaft, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.

Full disclosure: THE BASEMENT provided media discounted tickets for this game.

60 Out – Wizard’s Workshop [Review]

Bending the elements of gameplay.

Location: Marina Del Rey, California

Date played: June 2, 2017

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

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: $26-40 per ticket depending upon team size

Story & setting

During our time as wizard’s apprentices, our teacher had made a grave mistake and became lost in time and space. It was our job to recover his body and soul.

Wizard’s Workshop was staged within a wizard’s study with a medieval-magic-meets-steampunk feel.

In-game: A wizard's study with strange books,a wooden desk, stone walls, and a strange telescope.

Puzzles

Wizard’s Workshop was a challenging game. Of the 8 games that I’ve played with 60Out, this was the first one where the connections didn’t come quickly and easily for me. It was all solvable, but a step up in difficulty from 60Out’s usual “experience > difficulty” approach to room escape design.

Standouts

There were a few puzzles that were both challenging and especially satisfying to solve.

The escape room felt large, which added to the sense of adventure.

There were a number of great interactions.

Parts of the set looked stellar.

Shortcomings

The set was a little uneven. Parts of it looked exceptionally compelling, while other bits looked like they didn’t receive quite the same level of attention or budget.

A late-game set piece should have offered better feedback. We burned a lot of time when a correct action failed to register properly. This became frustrating.

We left with a few cuts and splinters. A number of props needed some sandpapering and finishing.

Should I play 60Out’s Wizard’s Workshop?

If you’ve played a bunch of escape rooms with 60Out and you’re looking for their take on a more challenging one, then Wizard’s Workshop is your boss battle. It’s not brutal, but it’s more challenging than their norm.

Wizard’s Workshop will be most enjoyable for players who are at least fairly mobile, as mobility plays a heavy part of one of the more memorable interactions. That said, you only need one smart and mobile person to make things work.

Wizard’s Workshop was a solid escape room made by a reliable company. While I think that 60Out offers other more interesting and innovative experiences, this one was still fun. Play this one for the puzzles; play it because you want to take on the challenge.

Book your hour with 60Out’s Wizard’s Workshop, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.

Full disclosure: 60Out provided media discounted tickets for this game.

Arcane Escape Rooms – The Agency [Review]

Curious dystopia.

Location: Newhall, California

Date played: June 5, 2017

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

Duration: 50 minutes

Price: varies based on team size and time of booking

Story & setting

Set in a dystopian future, we had been captured by The Agency, a malevolent group tasked with putting people through a Darwinian test of wits to prove that they were worthy of the limited resources available. We needed to pass their test in order to secure our own survival.

We were trapped in an eclectic, hacked-together puzzle room. It had dark walls, assorted furniture, and puzzle-y odds and ends.

In-game: A wall covered in a torn black tarp and wood scrapes. A clock rests on a small white table.

Puzzles

The meat of The Agency was the puzzles, which wound their way through the assorted decor.

The puzzles were generally tactile and mechanical. They relied more on keen observation and connections than on prolonged unraveling.

Standouts

We loved one unexpected and particularly satisfying mechanical interaction. Arcane Escape Rooms clearly designed the interaction from start to finish and that attention to detail elevated the moment.

The puzzles flowed logically and were largely hands-on, satisfying solves.

In-game: a white sculpture of a strange alien-like face against a black backdrop.

Shortcomings

There wasn’t much of a narrative to follow or even feel within The Agency. While there was a complex backstory, it was irrelevant to our in-game experience. Neither the puzzles nor the set design brought us into that imagined dystopia.

The set was unremarkable.

The final act fell flat. The final challenge felt bolted on and failed to capture the tactile, mechanical feel that makes Arcane Escape Room’s best puzzles feel so special.

Should I play Arcane Escape Rooms’s The Agency?

The Agency focused on tactile puzzling. We touched, positioned, moved, and manipulated items to solve our way through the game.

Beginners will find this room approachable and exciting. It takes puzzling off the page into the real world. For veterans, there will be some common tropes and a few different, truly entertainment moments.

While there was a complex backstory to The Agency, it simply didn’t matter. Visit The Agency for the puzzles… and do make sure that you play Arcane Escape Room’s flagship game, The Hideout.

Book your hour with Arcane Escape Rooms’s The Agency, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.

Full disclosure: Arcane Escape Rooms comped our tickets for this game.

60 Out – Doctor Psycho [Review]

I can’t imagine his malpractice insurance rates.

Location: Los Angeles, California

Date played: June 3, 2017

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

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: $26-40 per ticket depending upon team size

Story & setting

We were patients trapped by a doctor/serial killer. It was time to make our escape from his gruesome practice.

The doctor’s facility was a large space containing various basic furniture and assorted props, some more medical-ish than others.

In-game: A dark and bloody medical lab with a bag of AB blood hanging in the foreground.

Puzzles

Doctor Psycho relied on observing and connecting more than prolonged puzzling.

Although many of the inputs were locks, Doctor Psycho was largely driven by set-based interactions.

Standouts

From the hallway of 60Out, Doctor Psycho looked enticing. This was an excellent design detail. We’d been wanting to play it since we had walked past the door last year.

One prop required an interaction that made our team jittery, in a fun way. It was a surprising inclusion in an escape room, perfectly safe for all involved, and worked well with the psychotic doctor theme.

The implementation of one late-game puzzle added excitement to a well-themed, fun puzzle.

Shortcomings

In one instance, the order of information distribution, coupled with a particular set of props, led us to spend a lot of time on something that ultimately proved irrelevant.

David and I played Doctor Psycho in different groups. His team experienced a tech failure on one of the more exciting interactions in this escape room. They knew something wasn’t working right and the gamemaster got the room back on track, but this deflated part of their experience.

Should I play 60Out’s Doctor Psycho?

60Out leans heavily into set-based interactions in building their puzzles. Doctor Psycho was grounded in those same design decisions, but relied more heavily on lock inputs and typical escape room puzzles than some of 60Out’s other offerings.

Doctor Psycho was another gritty medical lab / murder scene escape room. While well-executed, 60Out didn’t bring any additional drama or intrigue to this theme… Los Angeles has a lot of these types of room escapes.

Moreover, as with many such escape rooms, Doctor Psycho was a tad gross, a little dark, and sometimes deliberately off-putting, but it wasn’t horror. In Los Angeles, where horror-themed escape rooms excel, Doctor Psycho is an escape room with an identity crisis. It wasn’t really scary and I don’t know if it meant to be.

If you enjoy 60Out’s design style, you’ll enjoy Doctor Psycho. It has solid gameflow and a few fun and surprising moments. I think this is balanced enough to support new players, but also entice more experienced players, for whom it will be a quicker playthrough.

If you like the mad scientist murder lab-type escape room, you’ll have a lot of fun with this one.

Book your hour with 60Out’s Doctor Psycho, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.

Full disclosure: 60Out provided media discounted tickets for this game.