The Best Horror Escape Rooms to Visit near New York City this Halloween Season

The metro New York City area offers a lot of great escape rooms. If you’re looking for a fright this Halloween season, check out these scary escape rooms.

A man in a hoodie with an scary LED mask.

True Horror

In Manhattan, there is one truly terrifying escape room:

Cursed, Komnata Quest – This journey through an abandoned house haunted by the ghost of a little girl delivered tension, story, and puzzles. The practical effects made it both challenging and exciting.

In-game: A blood-soaked bathroom.

Badass Moment

Take the 7 train to Long Island City for this creepy thriller:

Sanatorium, I Survived the Room – In this game with actors, we were at the mercy of the doctor in this dark, gritty, and creepy asylum setting. If you can puzzle through a nerve-wracking set, intense actors, and a deliberately gross environment, you might just get your hero moment.

A woman inspecting a cabinet of drawers with candles atop it.
Image via I Survived The Room

Actors in October

During October, 13th Hour Escape Rooms lets actors roam through their escape rooms, all of which take place on the premises of the creepy Hayden farmhouse. 13th Hour Escape Rooms is located in Wharton, NJ, about a 45-minute drive from Manhattan.

The Cookhouse, 13th Hour Escape –  The murderous Hayden family cannibalizes their victims and we were about to be their next meal. This grotesque kitchen made us want to both shy away and interact.

The Dungeon, 13th Hour Escape – We started in individual cells and solved our way into a two-story macabre prison/ shrine to infamous American serial killers.

In-game: a stairwell going up in a dark dungeon.

The Great Room, 13th Hour Escape – Locked in the majestic and creepy Great Room of the Hayden farmhouse, we needed to solve a series of challenging puzzles to survive.

In-game: a collection of skulls.

Jersey Shore

Drive 1 hour south to Red Bank, NJ for this frightening escape room:

Bogeyman, Trap Door – In this hide-and-seek-and-puzzle game, the Bogeyman lurked behind any twist in the maze of rooms. Our investigation into a paranormal-influenced disappearance of children turned into a game of challenge and intrigue in the menacing world of the Bogeyman.

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.

Happy Halloween 🎃

13th Hour Escape Rooms – John Hayden’s Room [Review]

I’m never going to remember the name of this room.

Location: Wharton, NJ

Date Played: July 16, 2018

Team size: up to 8; we recommend 3-5

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: from $29 per ticket

Ticketing: Public

REA Reaction

John Hayden’s Room was 13th Hour Escape Rooms’ first foray into the puzzle entertainment genre. As far as initial outgoings go, this was an impressive opener.

This was a solid old-school escape room with an above average set. Knowing that this was their first made John Hayden’s Room that much more impressive.

If you’re in the area and looking for a traditional puzzle-driven escape room in a creepy (not scary) setting, this will be great. If you’re looking for something more immersive or unusual, try The Great Room or The Dungeon.

In-game: a heavily weathered wall and door.

Who is this for?

  • Puzzle lovers
  • Scenery snobs
  • Any experience level
  • Players who don’t need to be a part of every puzzle

Why play?

  • Old-school, puzzle-driven escape room gameplay done well.
  • A detailed set.
  • 13th Hour Escape Rooms’ lobby and overall vibe.

Story

Hayden Farm House had been home to many a gruesome murder. Anyone who had ever found themselves within the home left in pieces. Could we escape with our lives?

In-game: an old rundown and weathered living room with a fireplace and CRT television.

Setting

John Hayden’s Room was the first of 13th Hour’s escape rooms. Aside from being a little smaller with fewer dramatic set pieces, it would be hard to tell from the aesthetics. The environment may have been an office-like setup, but the level of detail was far higher than we’ve come to expect from rookie outings.

John Hayden’s Room was essentially the office and work space of a serial killer. It was strangely banal with the intensity coming from the work that Hayden did in this space. All of this gave it a good dose of character.

In-game: half of a creepy portrait of a woman beside a shelf with jars labeled

Gameplay

13th Hour Escape Rooms’ John Hayden’s Room was a standard escape room with a moderate level of difficulty.

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

Analysis

+ The decor was outstanding. It was weathered such that it felt lived in and ominous.

+ This was a puzzle-driven escape room. It had a lot of content and invited parallel (non-linear) puzzling.

– One basic puzzle swapped out the most reasonable solution for another, but it was unclued. We thought this was a mistake, but it was intentional.

– John Hayden’s Room had a lot of locks with identical digit structures. Each time we derived a solution, we’d need to try it in many different locks before anything opened. Varying input digit structure or adding iconography to the locks would improve game flow.

– The triggered opens didn’t provide enough feedback. We were constantly looking around for what we’d triggered. Sound or light cues could improve these moments.

+ As the game progressed, we found the wallpaper especially attractive.

John Hayden’s Room was 13th Hour Escape Rooms’ first foray into escape room design. While it played like it was a few years old, when compared with most older escape rooms, it far surpassed them in aesthetic appeal. Furthermore, it was well maintained. Although we preferred 13th Hour Escape Rooms’ newer designs, we were impressed with this company’s origins and we still had a ton of fun escaping the original nemesis of the Hayden farm.

Tips for Visiting

Book your hour with 13th Hour Escape Rooms’ John Hayden’s Room, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.

Disclosure: 13th Hour Escape Rooms comped our tickets for this game.

13th Hour Escape Rooms – The Dungeon [Review]

The stairway to hell.

Location: Wharton, NJ

Date Played: July 16, 2018

Team size: 4-6; we recommend 4-5

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: from $29 per ticket

Ticketing: Public

REA Reaction

Dungeons might be a classic theme but 13th Hour Escape Rooms’ The Dungeon was anything but ordinary.

13th Hour Escape Rooms’ split-team beginning was unusually balanced. The two-story set was spatially interesting and repeatedly incorporated into puzzle craft. While not every puzzle wowed us, there was a lot of intrigue in the design choices in The Dungeon.

Note that The Dungeon was creepy, but not scary.

If you’re anywhere nearby, The Dungeon is worth checking out.

In-game: a stairwell going up in a dark dungeon.

Who is this for?

  • Puzzle lovers
  • Scenery snobs
  • Serial killer aficionados
  • Players with at least some experience

Why play?

  • An exciting split-up opening sequence.
  • Two floors of gameplay.
  • A grimly beautiful set.
  • Some well-earned puzzle solves.
  • 13th Hour Escape Rooms’ lobby and overall vibe.

Story

Blindfolded, led into individual cells, and then restrained, we had no idea what we were getting into, but we needed to come together and escape before the Hayden family had their fun with us.

In-game: a fingerprint scanner secured with a padlock.

Setting

Blindfolded and restrained in individual cells, we began in dark, confined, and isolated spaces. Once freed, we were released into a wide-open, two-story macabre prison/ shrine to infamous American serial killers.

In typical 13th Hour Escape Rooms fashion, the entire set was heavily weathered in the creepy murder farm motif that all of their escape rooms, hallway, and lobby follow. It looked great.

In-game: a closeup of a cell door with a rusty grate.

Gameplay

13th Hour Escape Rooms’ The Dungeon was a standard escape room with an individualized split beginning and a moderate level of difficulty.

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

Analysis

+ The split beginning played really well.

– The Dungeon involved substantial searching in low light. While the darkness enhanced the ambiance, we would have preferred stronger flashlights.

The Dungeon was spatially fascinating. 13th Hour Escape Rooms crafted a two-floor experience that delivered memorable spatial aha moments.

+ Many of our favorite moments in The Dungeon made use of its depth.

– One layered puzzle felt a bit boring and burdensome. There was a good puzzle in there, but it felt incomplete.

+ From the split-up beginning, to the multi-level design, The Dungeon fostered teamwork.

+/- 13th Hour Escape Rooms uses the same gimmick to conclude all their games. If you play The Dungeon first, you’ll get a kick out of this entertaining conclusion. That said, The Dungeon begged for a more dramatic ending to punctuate such a dynamic escape room.

Tips for Visiting

  • There is parking available.
  • We recommend Hot Rods BBQ.
  • Every player must be comfortable in their own space for a short portion of the experience.

Book your hour with 13th Hour Escape Rooms’ The Dungeon, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.

Disclosure: 13th Hour Escape Rooms comped our tickets for this game.

Escapology – Under Pressure [Review]

“Pressure pushing down on me. Pressing down on you.”

Location: Garwood, NJ

Date Played: July 10, 2018

Team size: up to 8; we recommend 3-5

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: $29.99 per ticket

Ticketing: Private

REA Reaction

Under Pressure was a good-looking step up from our experience with early games from Escapology in Orlando. It had an appealing set with some charming details and a variety of puzzles. Under Pressure applied pressure, but not for quite the right reasons. A few sloppy puzzles in early and late segments made this escape room much harder and more frustrating than it should have been.

Given how widely Escapology is proliferating, we’re happy to see them on an upward trajectory and hope they continue to iterate in game design.

If you’re in the neighborhood and looking for more of a challenge, dive in.

In-game: a shiny filtered image of the interior of the bunk. Metal walls and pipes.
Image via Escapology

Who is this for?

  • Puzzle lovers
  • Mathy folks
  • Scenery snobs
  • Players with at least some experience

Why play?

  • Puzzley gameplay.
  • A strong set.
  • A lovely lobby.

Story

It was 1944 and we were aboard the Steel Shark, the pride of the US Navy. Our mission to surveil the German battle cruiser Scheer came to an abrupt halt when our engines suddenly failed. With pressure increasing, we had an hour to restore the systems before reaching crush depth.

In-game: a shiny filtered image of of the bunk and nautical flags.
Image via Escapology

Setting

Under Pressure represented a significant aesthetic step up from the early games that we had played at Escapology. We began in a well-detailed bunk and puzzled through to the engine room.

While Escapology built finer sets for Under Pressure and these were fairly consistent, quality still dropped off with each subsequent room that we found. Space became more cramped and props looked a little more homemade. This was less pronounced than in the earlier games we had played with Escapology in Orlando, but it was still noticeable.

In-game: a shiny filtered image of a birthday card with a pinup girl attached to a locked locker.

Gameplay

Escapology’s Under Pressure was a standard escape room with a higher level of difficulty.

Core gameplay revolved around searching, puzzling, and making some spurious connections.

Analysis

+ We enjoyed a few extra aesthetic touches in the opening set. This included a themed count-down timer as an oxygen gauge.

+ Escapology added effects that enhanced the drama of the experience.

– Under Pressure included a deliberate red herring, meant as a laugh, but no cluing as to how to ascertain the intended approach to the puzzle. It was immensely frustrating.

– Because we encountered this entirely unclued puzzle so early in the experience, everything became suspect. We no longer trusted Under Pressure to supply us with breadcrumbs, leading us to try any and all possible solutions, even if they made no sense, which was a frustrating play style.

+ There was a few larger props that looked and felt great and made sense contextually. We enjoyed how these fit into the puzzling.

Under Pressure offered a few interesting, layered puzzles. These were challenging, satisfying solves.

– One elaborate solve gave us more information than we needed. We were expected to simply use half of it with no explanation of why. We had the right solution, but had no idea it was correct until our gamemaster intervened.

– The final puzzle was infuriatingly incomplete and we burned two hints to bridge the logic leaps necessary to complete the game.

Under Pressure had some brutally frustrating flaws, but they could be easily fixed. We hope the folks from Escapology continue to iterate on this escape room, because from the set details to many of the puzzles, it was a lot of fun.

The Escapology steampunk lobby filled with leather couches and ample seating.
Image via Escapology

+ Escapology has a beautiful and spacious lounge. It’s a comfortable space to hang out for groups of any size. For larger events, the facility is equipped with a party room.

Tips for Visiting

Book your hour with Escapology’s Under Pressure, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.

Disclosure: Escapology comped our tickets for this game.

Adventure Rooms New Jersey – The Hidden Cabin [Review]

Fish’in for Fabergé.

Location: Montclair, NJ

Date Played: June 4, 2018

Team size: 2-8; we recommend 3-4

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: $30 per ticket

Ticketing: Private

REA Reaction

A fishing and art collecting themed mashup, The Hidden Cabin was an old-school search-and-puzzle escape room set against an unusual backdrop. Adventure Rooms made some big strides towards the current market expectations, but things didn’t come together quite smoothly enough (but a lot of it is fixable). While we wished the puzzles had been more deliberately integrated into the physical environment, we really did enjoy many of the puzzle solves.

If you’re in the neighborhood, you can catch some fun puzzles here. If you’re not excited about puzzle-focused gameplay, there are other fish in the sea.

In-game: A small desk in a fishing cabin.

Who is this for?

  • Puzzle lovers
  • Fishermen (This isn’t really a joke.)
  • Art collectors
  • Any experience level

Why play?

  • Strange theme
  • The more interactive puzzles

Story

We were looking for a stolen Fabergé egg in our uncle’s fishing cabin.

A collection of pots hanging from a cabinet in the a rustic cabin.

Setting

This dimly-lit, wood-furnished cabin contained assorted fishing paraphernalia. The set was busy, with a number of wall hangings, and shelves holding various odd and ends. It was fairly convincing in a fishing cabin-meets-Bennigan’s sort of way.

In-game: A cabinet ore, and taxidermied fish hanging on the wall of a fishing cabin.

Gameplay

Adventure Rooms New Jersey’s The Hidden Cabin was a standard escape room with a moderate level of difficulty.

Core gameplay revolved around searching and puzzling.

In-game: the LL Bean Fly Fishing Handbook.

Analysis

+ It had been almost 3 years since we’d last visited Adventure Rooms New Jersey. We were delighted to find more attention to set design in The Hidden Cabin, as compared to their original escape rooms.

– The lighting was unnecessarily dim. While we did find small handheld flashlights, we found the lighting more burdensome than atmospheric.

– The theming was strangely dichotomous. The story setup was all about art, but The Hidden Cabin was all about fishing… until it was entirely about art. The puzzles were set against this disconnected backdrop rather than integrated into a cohesive story.

+ Aesthetically, The Hidden Cabin was a massive step up for Adventure Rooms.

– There were a lot of locks with identical digit structures. Each time we solved a puzzle, we’d need to try it in many different locks before anything opened. Varying input digit structure or adding iconography to the locks would improve game flow.

– There was a prop screaming for a puzzle… that puzzle never materialized.

– There was one entirely unclued puzzle.

– Most of the puzzles could haven taken place anywhere, including on sheets of paper. In fact, some of the more time-consuming solves were entirely focused on sheets of paper. The puzzle design didn’t capitalize on the physical environment. All but one of the puzzles in this game could have existed completely in a puzzle book.

– One of the process puzzles looped four times. This was tedious.

? Thematic outside knowledge could help you out… It wasn’t required, but it sure would have made a key puzzle flow more smoothly.

The Hidden Cabin was a puzzle-focused escape room. Despite the small space, there was a lot of content to work through.

? There’s a solid escape room here. These critiques are quite fixable. We hope Adventure Rooms continues to iterate and improve.

Tips for Visiting

  • There is a parking lot.
  • We recommend Ani Ramen and Cuban Pete’s, but be prepared for long waits.
  • Much of this escape room takes place in low lighting with flashlights.

Book your hour with Adventure Rooms New Jersey’s The Hidden Cabin, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.

Disclosure: Adventure Rooms New Jersey provided media discounted tickets for this game.