Albuquerque & Santa Fe, New Mexico: Escape Room Recommendations

Latest update: June 11, 2022

The Albuquerque escape room scene is heavily influenced by the film industry. The sets truly impressed us. These were complemented by fun characters that elevated the games. The best escape games in Albuquerque transported us to different worlds.

Drive down the road (I-25) about an hour and you’ll get to Santa Fe, home of the original Meow Wolf creation The House of Eternal Return. Do yourself a favor and take a day trip to experience this wondrous place. Pop into Puzzah! while you’re in town to experience a wholly different style of escape game.

There are still tickets to Escape, Immerse, Explore: New Mexico (Saturday, June 4 – Tuesday, June 7, 2022). When you join this tour, we’ll plan your adventure. You’ll visit all the best games and meet incredible people. It’s going to be an amazing event.

Albuquerque & Santa Fe, New Mexico Escape Room Guide
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Meow Wolf (Santa Fe) – The House of Eternal Return [Review]

It’s the cat’s howl.

Location:  Santa Fe, NM

Date Played: December 13, 2021

Group size: we recommend 1-4

Duration: We recommend at least 2 hours, possibly many more.

Price: $35-$40 per adult (less for children, seniors, and military)

Ticketing: Public

Accessibility Consideration: The first floor of the exhibit, which features the majority of the installation, meets ADA standards and is accessible. To experience the entire exhibit you’ll need to go up and down stairs.

Emergency Exit Rating: [A+] No Lock

Physical Restraints: [A+] No Physical Restraints

REA Reaction

The House of Eternal Return, the original Meow Wolf, was the most hyped up experience that I’ve ever set foot in. For years people have told us we need to go. We’ve watched the documentary, had conversations with some of the artists behind it, and heard tales of many of its wonders. When we landed in Santa Fe, got in our rental car, and drove to the famed immersive art installation, we all acknowledged that it might be overhyped. We might not enjoy it… it was possible that we’d leave early…

We ended up staying until we were too tired and hungry to continue.

A beautiful neon under water scene.

I’ve always appreciated Disney parks, but never felt the “magic” that some of my Disney-loving friends speak of. I felt that magic in The House of Eternal Return. From the moment I entered, I felt high on wonder. Around any given corner, anything could exist. The intrigue was intoxicating.

There were rooms where we stood, just taking in every single detail we could find. My biggest takeaway from The House of Eternal Return was that literally anything can be a good building or decorating material if you’re committed enough. The detailing and nuance were incredible. At any given moment you could zoom in on some minute thing that maybe one person notices per day… or zoom out and take in something broadly impressive. I cannot recall seeing anything like it at this scale.

Lisa in a massive and beautiful treehouse.

That’s not to say that The House of Eternal Return was perfect… it wasn’t. There were puzzles, gameplay, and story elements that felt clunky to engage with. At worst they became an agitation that drew too much attention away from the world, the vibe, and the wonder.

Similarly, there were interactions that felt janky or broken. I frequently felt like the puzzles and interactions weren’t designed or built for the kind of scale that The House of Eternal Return operates at. The best lesson that I took away from these frustrations was to dip my toe into any given interaction… and then decide if I want to wade in more deeply, or just move on. Ride the waves of wonder, swim with the current, and if something feels like it’s resisting too much, disregard it… There’s always something wondrous around the next corner anyway.

The House of Eternal Return feels like Meow Wolf’s incredible and soulful first album… the one they made without the pressures of expectations, the burden of profit margins, or the weight of having to “do it the right way.”

Go there and experience it for yourself (preferably on a weekday–Monday was a joy.) Meow Wolf will make many other experiences, and my guess is that plenty of other organizations will create their own versions of the concept, but I doubt that there will ever be another place like The House of Eternal Return.

The Meow Wolf bowling alley sign on a beautiful day.

Who is this for?

  • Adventure seekers
  • Story seekers
  • Scenery snobs
  • Any experience level

Why play?

  • It’s a big, beautiful, impossible world to explore
  • There’s nothing else like it

Story

The Selig family had disappeared from their home after experimenting with inter-dimensional travel. In their place formed “The Anomaly,” fractures in time and space. A secret government organization known as The Charter contained the situation and have disguised it as an art installation.

Lisa reading letters in the Pastore's mailbox.
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Puzzah! – Knight Shade [Review]

Knight Shade is one of the best games in Santa Fe. Here are our other recommendations for great escape rooms in Santa Fe.

Pizza Arcade + Ghosts

Location:  Santa Fe, NM

Date Played: December 15, 2021

Team size: 2-8; we recommend an even number of players, either 2 or 4 adults (+ any kids)

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: $25 per player

Ticketing: Private

Emergency Exit Rating: [A+] No Lock

Physical Restraints: [A+] No Physical Restraints

REA Reaction

Puzzah! is a unique beast in the escape room world. Their games are heavily puzzle-focused, with adaptive difficulty, and they are fully automated. In Knight Shade, the outcome of this approach to design was a game with a wide range of challenges that can be enjoyable for both groups of children and groups of experienced escape room players.

What stood out to me in Knight Shade was the number of different challenge types that Puzzah! was able to fully automate. There was at least one challenge for everyone in our group.

Door to "Sir Pizza-Lot"

The cost of automation, even automation that was as branching as this, was rigidity. Knight Shade adapts to how well the team is playing, not necessarily to how much they are enjoying or getting out of an individual challenge. The net effect was challenge spikes that might vary from team to team.

Additionally, we were aware that there was a story in Knight Shade, but at the end of the game, no one in our group could articulate what that story was or agree on what had happened.

Overall, I’m a fan of Puzzah!’s (?) unique approach to escape game design. This set of constraints produces games that feel different, and after a few years of making these kinds of games, Puzzah! has learned how to do it well. If you’re in Santa Fe and looking for an escape room fix, give Knight Shade a try. It’s especially fun to keep an eye on the ways that Puzzah! automates their games… it feels like its own puzzle side quest.

Who is this for?

  • Puzzle lovers
  • Any experience level

Why play?

  • Lots of puzzle and challenge content
  • Deeply adaptive difficulty that can keep a group of children or experienced escape room players engaged
  • Automated escape game design

Story

Rumor had it that the local pizza and arcade, Sir Pizza-Lot, was haunted by a spirit known as Knight Shade. We decided to go for a late-night investigation and see what we could turn up.

A large analog game cabinet shaped like a castle tower.
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