Mission Escape Games – The Ultimate Bank Heist [Review]

Currency Exchange

Location:  Anaheim, CA

Date Played: March 6, 2022

Team size: 2-10; we recommend 3-5

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: $120 for the team for teams of 2-3 players or $32 per player for teams of 4-10 players (Monday-Thursday); $135 for the team for teams of 2-3 players or $35 per player for teams of 4-10 players (Friday-Sunday)

Ticketing: Private

Emergency Exit Rating: [A+] No Lock

Physical Restraints: [A+] No Physical Restraints

REA Reaction

We go way back with Mission Escape Games and The Ultimate Bank Heist is one of the few games that they have produced that has never been available in their New York City location. So while we were in Anaheim, we had to make a withdrawal.

An old bank tell's counter in Mission Liberty Bank.

The Ultimate Bank Heist felt like it was more focused on beginner players… which made a lot of sense for its location in the Anaheim GardenWalk mall. The set was elegant, the puzzles were well-executed, and there were a few memorable effects that functioned as short cut-scenes.

Overall, it felt like a sort of prototype for the style that Mission Escape Games is developing and realized more fully in their newest game Carbon: 3708 in NYC.

If you’re newer to escape rooms, The Ultimate Bank Heist is a fantastic choice of adventure. Mission Escape Games introduced us to many of our favorite early experiences, and this game feels like it’s part of that tradition. If it were closer to me, I’d take newbie friends there.

Who is this for?

  • Puzzle lovers
  • Bank heist fans
  • Newbies

Why play?

  • Solid, puzzle-focused gameplay
  • Creative cut-scene interaction moments

Story

Mistakes were made, and we were in a lot of debt… debt that we couldn’t pay. We figured we might liberate some cash from the local bank.

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Scenario Escape Room – The Mad Rapper [Review]

The Mad Rapper is one of the best games in Anaheim, CA. Here are our other recommendations for great escape rooms in the Anaheim area.

I got my mind on my puzzles and my puzzles on my mind.

Location:  Brea, CA

Date Played: March 5, 2022

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

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: $35 per player

Ticketing: Private

Accessibility Consideration: There are toy guns in this game.

Emergency Exit Rating: [A+] No Lock

Physical Restraints: [A+] No Physical Restraints

REA Reaction

Peih-Gee Law, my lovely podcast co-host, regularly says how much she wishes that there were more escape rooms with an urban appeal. The risk that’s associated with that is that someone does it poorly… or in a way that feels disconnected or dishonest. That was not the case in The Mad Rapper.

Scenario Escape Room made a hip hop themed escape room that felt authentic and uniquely Los Angeles.

A recording studio featuring a massive mixing board, a large speaker, a guitar, and a bass.

The Mad Rapper was a classic-style escape room done right. What stood out most to me in the gameplay was the variety of challenge types. There was a lot to take in and do, but it was all approachable and creatively produced.

It’s exciting to find an escape game that has a unique story and feels like it was crafted with love. There wasn’t anything mind-blowing in the The Mad Rapper, but it all felt great. I wholeheartedly recommend checking out The Mad Rapper if you’re in the area and seeking a classic game built around a different concept. I truly enjoyed it.

On a more personal note, it was a rare pleasure for me to find a grill in an escape room…

Closeup of a gold grill.

My brother designs 🤯 grillz for a living (and to clarify, no part of this a joke)… and seeing a grill in an escape room made me smile.

Who is this for?

  • Old school hip hop fans
  • Puzzle lovers
  • Any experience level

Why play?

  • Unusual and compelling theme/ story
  • Strong and varied puzzles and challenges

Story

The artist known only as “The Mad Rapper” had become the biggest name in the game. He’d opened auditions looking for new talent, but dealings with The Mad Rapper carried risk and consequences.

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Cross Roads Escape Games – The Trust Experiment [Review]

Update June 12, 2022: If you want to hear more about The Trust Experiment back us on Patreon at the “Search Win!” level to get access to a Spoiler’s Club Episode about this game. Reality Escape Pod co-hosts David and Peih-Gee talk all about it with the creators, spoilers and all.

Formerly known as “Psych Ward”

Location: Anaheim, CA

Date Played: March 6, 2022

Team size: 5-8; we recommend 5-8

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: $38 per player

Ticketing: Private

Emergency Exit Rating: [A+] No Lock

Physical Restraints: [A+] No Physical Restraints

REA Reaction

The Trust Experiment was a personal victory for me. This game was made for the Davids and Peih-Gees of the world (and go at it, they did!). I would have preferred a backseat role. But luck was not on my side (or maybe it was) because I drew the role I was afraid to draw and even though I lost, I felt like I’d won.

The Trust Experiment wasn’t an escape room. It was a social deduction game with puzzles as a game mechanic. The good guys wanted all the points… and the bad guys wanted to steal those points. If we solved a lot of puzzles we would win (or steal) a lot of points.

Cross Roads Escape Games’ exceptional onboarding gave me confidence. Our orderly (gamemaster) gave me opportunity (and added exceptional character to the game!) And my husband and his podcast co-host diverted attention… most of the time. So I played the game. I took some risks. And I had a lot of fun.

Two patients in a small padded room, viewed through a hole in the door.

The Trust Experiment blended puzzle gameplay with social deduction. It was unusual, and it worked brilliantly. If this sounds like your thing, bring the right group of friends (and the group matters a lot), and check this out while you can. Sadly, it is closing soon. We haven’t played anything else quite like it.

Who is this for?

  • Social deduction game fans
  • Story seekers
  • Puzzle lovers
  • Scenery snobs
  • Any experience level
  • Players who don’t need to be a part of every puzzle

Why play?

  • An interesting take on Werewolf/ Mafia-style social deduction games
  • A very cool set
  • A fantastic actor

Story

Dr. Griffin put our cohort of patients into a psychological experiment. Under observation, were were made to solve puzzles, complete tasks, and determine whom we could trust among us, while some secretly tried to undermine the group.

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Not Another Escape Room – Battleship [Review]

Battleship is one of the best games in Anaheim, CA. Here are our other recommendations for great escape rooms in the Anaheim area.

💥 BOOM! 💥

Location:  Brea, CA

Date Played: March 7, 2022

Team Size: 2-8; we recommend 4

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: $36-50 per player

Ticketing: Private

Emergency Exit Rating: [A+] No Lock

Physical Restraints: [A+] No Physical Restraints

REA Reaction

Battleship brought a classic board game to life as an escape room. Players split into two teams and competed in a free-for-all puzzle fest, attempting to earn as many cannonballs as possible. Each cannonball then turned into an extra guess while playing an oversized game of Battleship. As in the real tabletop game, the first team to sink all their opponents’ ships won.

Following in the footsteps of Time Machine, Not Another Escape Room once again strongly demonstrated their ability to reimagine what an escape room can be with Battleship. Though overtly themed around pirates, Battleship felt unlike other pirate-themed escape rooms with its Battleship game-oriented structure. Gameplay was almost fully nonlinear, and each puzzle’s trailhead and input were clearly associated. The game was presented as a competition, but it’s only as chaotic as you choose to make it. The set was simple yet attractive, almost fully tech-free — except for a large interactive set piece that was smoothly constructed and coded.

Battleship was a game for competitive puzzle lovers. If you’re looking for a more story-, discovery-, or set- driven escape room, this might not be the game for you. That said, there were a wide variety of puzzle types that would appeal to many different types of solvers, and plenty of flexibility for players to hop from puzzle to puzzle.

A room with walls covered in different pirate flags, in the middle is a table with a digital display that reads, "SHIP."

If you are in Southern California, Not Another Escape Room is well worth a visit. Time Machine is a sprawling narrative-driven adventure filled with unexpected “wow” moments, whereas Battleship is a more self-contained, puzzle-packed competition. If you have the time, I highly recommend giving both rooms a play.

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Exit Game – 13th Basement [Review]

13th Basement is one of the best games in Anaheim, CA. Here are our other recommendations for great escape rooms in the Anaheim area.

The killing joke

Location:  Anaheim, CA

Date Played: March 6, 2022

Team size: 2-8; we recommend 4

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: $35 per player ($105 for teams of 2 on Friday-Sunday)

Ticketing: Private

Accessibility Consideration: wheelchair-friendly game

Emergency Exit Rating: [A+] No Lock

Physical Restraints: [A+] No Physical Restraints

REA Reaction

13th Basement marks an interesting milestone for escape rooms. It’s the second satirical escape room that we’ve encountered (following The Experiment from Get the F Out). As the name implies, it was having a bit of fun with horror escape rooms, which are abundant in Southern California.

This all begs a few questions:

  • Is it good? Yes
  • Is it funny? Yup
  • Is it scary? A tiny bit…more goofing on horror than being horror
  • How much do I have to know about escape rooms to enjoy this game? It’s enjoyable in a vacuum, but overwhelmingly more entertaining if you’ve experienced horror escape room tropes enough to roll your eyes at the common ones.

This is the first game made by longtime escape room blogger/ vlogger Christine Barger and her partner. Throughout 13th Basement their experience and awareness truly shine. This was most evident in some of the unusual structural decisions that they made to both the flow of the game (which I shall not spoil)… and the way that they treat players.

They allow players to freely take selfies and shoot video, simply asking that we don’t spoil puzzles (which would be a legitimately hard to do without really trying to):

Peih-Gee Law with her head in an elaborate metal torture device. The wall behind her is blood spattered.

A satirical escape room only works if enough players “get it.” I don’t know how many regions throughout the US have a density of quality escape rooms as well as a large enough repeat player audience to pull this off, but Southern California is the most logical location for satirical escape rooms to emerge. It’s a sign of maturity that anyone can even dream about pulling this off. And while The Experiment isn’t around anymore, I like 13th Basement’s chances.

Beyond the meta analysis, 13th Basement was a really strong escape game. It had a great assortment of puzzles, and its creators leaned heavily into their strengths, using video brilliantly… while using tech more sparingly. It’s a classic example of leaning into what you’re good at to create an excellent experience.

Southern California has an abundance of fantastic escape rooms, and 13th Basement comfortably joins that list. If you’re an escape room fan in the region, check it out… and take a few selfies.

Who is this for?

  • Escape room fans
  • Dark comedy fans
  • Adventure seekers
  • Puzzle lovers
  • Scenery snobs
  • Best for players with at least some experience

Why play?

  • Legitimately funny, especially if you get escape room humor
  • Innovative gameplay and structure
  • The video content is fantastic
  • You’re free to take selfies in the game, and there are some great places to do so

Story

Abducted by a serial killer and hobbyist escape room designer, we had 60 minutes to solve his puzzles or die brutal deaths.

SAW-like escape room with dingy tiles and a toilet.
Continue reading “Exit Game – 13th Basement [Review]”