Escape the Night Escape Room [Review]

“This is not the afterlife I had envisioned.”

Location:  Los Angeles, CA

Date Played: August 14, 2019

Team size: 1-6; we recommend 3-5

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: $55-85 per player

Ticketing: Public or private

Emergency Exit Rating: [A+] No Lock

Physical Restraints: [A+] No Physical Restraints

REA Reaction

The Escape the Night Escape Room was a limited-run experience that provided a memorable hour of adventure for fans of Joey Graceffa’s YouTube Premium series. It didn’t break new ground for escape rooms, but it offered plenty of entertaining interactions and detailed props to play with. Despite a few hiccups with some of the puzzles, we had a fun time and left interested in learning more about the show.

The approachable difficulty level and the in-room gamemaster made the Escape the Night Escape Room accessible to newer players. It wasn’t the best fit for seasoned escapers looking for their next challenge.

The story, set, and puzzles were all geared toward viewers of the YouTube series, which made it especially exciting for fans. But you didn’t have to be familiar with Escape the Night to enjoy the real-life version, if you didn’t mind the steep ticket price.

Photo credit: Kirk Damato

Who is this for?

  • Adventure seekers
  • Fans of Escape the Night
  • Any experience level

Why play?

  • Exciting interactions
  • Elaborate props
  • To play as characters from Escape the Night

Story

Playing as some of the characters who had previously died in Escape the Night, we had been trapped in purgatory by the Collector. We needed to find nine keys in order to recover the cosmic sphere and make our way back to the world of the living, or risk dying for good.

The premise roughly matched the premiere of Escape the Night’s fourth season, which began in July 2019.

A painting of the Collector collecting a soul.
Photo credit: Kirk Damato

Setting

The gamespace was decorated to represent different episodes of Escape the Night’s fourth season. We started in ancient Egypt, then the game transitioned to various other themes depicted in the show.

We encountered many of the same items used in Escape the Night, some of which evoked particular moments from the series. The detail of the props and puzzles contributed to the room’s sense of mystery and adventure.

The head of a minotaur under glass.
Photo credit: Kirk Damato

Gameplay

Escape the Night Escape Room was a standard escape room with a lower level of difficulty. Core gameplay revolved around observation, searching, and basic math.

Escape the Night Escape Room generally emphasized adventure over puzzling, with the tasks split between traditional escape room puzzles and fun large-scale interactions. Though the puzzles tended to be simple, the room was packed with gameplay.

A grid of tiles depicting different hieroglyphics, with several squares lit up.
Photo credit: Kirk Damato

Analysis

➕ The Escape the Night Escape Room escape room had plenty to offer fans of the YouTube series. The story, props, and pivotal moments in the game related back to the show. The young superfan in our group could hardly contain himself.

➕/➖ The set design didn’t manage to fully disguise that we were in a pop-up space, but the room was filled with ornate props and set pieces that heightened our experience.

➕ Escape the Night Escape Room gave us a lot to do. The active, hands-on interactions felt adventurous. Whereas most escape rooms have one or two big moments, Escape the Night Escape Room had several.

The hilt of a sword in the foreground, with museum pieces including a bust under glass in the background.
Photo credit: Kirk Damato

➕ Our in-room gamemaster provided guidance throughout and ensured that the game ran as smoothly as possible. The gamemaster triggered certain events once we had solved the corresponding puzzles, and these moments mostly felt natural and seamless.

➖ At one point, when we tried a less obvious but correct answer to a puzzle, nothing happened until the gamemaster realized our answer also worked. More playtesting might have uncovered this alternate solution. Even better, designing the puzzle with just one solution would have prevented any confusion.

➕/➖ The puzzle flow kept us busy and avoided bottlenecks despite its linear structure. However, we noticed a couple of items left over from ghost puzzles and had to bypass another due to a prop malfunction.

➖ Certain interactions required a good amount of handholding. For example, at one point the gamemaster cleared items off a surface just before it popped open, presumably to avoid flinging treasure all over the room. A more self-piloting design would have preserved the surprise and kept us immersed in the game during these moments.

➕ We enjoyed solving one particular riddle that involved themed items in the room rather than outside knowledge or sudden insight.

➖ In another puzzle, we struggled to figure out the order of certain items, but it turned out the placement didn’t matter. This ambiguity caused us to spin our wheels longer than we needed to.

➕/➖ In a few exciting instances, one player took an action alone to move the game forward. At first we decided together who would participate, but for the last of these decision points, the outcome was decided by random chance. If we’d been given an interesting challenge or choice inspired by the show at the end of the game instead, we would have walked away with more to discuss and reminisce about long after the night was over.

Tips For Visiting

For promotional games like the Escape the Night Escape Room, if you’re not familiar with the brand, including at least one fan in your group will add a lot to the experience. If you are a fan, bring money for the merch table, and don’t forget your cosplay for the photo wall.

Escape the Night Escape Room took place in August 2019 and is not currently running.

Disclosure: Escape the Night Escape Room comped our tickets for this game.

Clue Carré – The Game Museum [Review]

REA in The Game Museum with the Solution

Location:  Metairie, Louisiana

Date Played: July 14, 2019

Team size: up to 8; we recommend 3-4

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: $28 per player

Ticketing: Private

Emergency Exit Rating: [A+] No Lock

Physical Restraints: [A+] No Physical Restraints

REA Reaction

Clue Carré has three locations around New Orleans. The Game Museum was the only game we played at the Metairie location. We chose it based on the recommendations of many well-traveled escape room players.

There’s a lot of love in The Game Museum. It combines two approachable themes – tabletop games and museum – and it’s satisfying to solve puzzles around recognizable, nostalgia-inducing props. Furthermore, it was brightly colored and inviting.

In-game: Exhbits about Dice, Mancala, and Monopoly.

Although there is opportunity for Clue Carré to level up the scale and prop quality in this game, giving it a more polished look, the gameplay flowed well and the solves were fun.

While our favorite Clue Carré games are still French Quarter House of Curiosities at their New Orleans location, as well as Bookie and Alien Encounter inside the Surge Trampoline Park, if you like your escape rooms puzzle-focused and have time to visit Metairie, we thoroughly enjoyed playing The Game Museum; it wasn’t fancy, but it was fun.

Who is this for?

  • Puzzle lovers
  • Tabletop & video gamers
  • Any experience level
  • Players who don’t need to be a part of every puzzle

Why play?

  • A fun collection of game-inspired puzzles
  • Some clever nostalgic interactions

Story

We entered The Game Museum and had one hour to play through the history of gaming.

In-game: Wide shot of the game museum. The exhibits are laid out in a timeline, with classics such as Clue, Scrabble, and Bingo in view.

Setting

The Game Museum was set in a bright, office-like space with windows letting in natural light. The space had museum exhibits along the walls – each about a popular game throughout history – and a table in the middle of the room.

In-game: A sign for the video game, "8-bit & Beyond" exhibit.

Gameplay

Clue Carré’s The Game Museum was a standard escape room with a moderate level of difficulty.

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

In-game: the video game exhibit in the game museum.
Image via Clue Carré

Analysis

➕ We enjoyed how Clue Carré built puzzles around familiar tabletop games. This gave each puzzle an added level of excitement. First it was “Hey, it’s dominos!” and then we reached the “Hey, I’ve solved a thing!” moment.

➕/➖ We encountered a nifty communication puzzle where one teammate could look upon the room in a different way. While we enjoyed the concept, the necessary gear made the transition clunky between folks who wanted to share the experience.

➕ Clue Carré’s homage to the point & click adventure game genre was delightful.

➖ There was an opportunity to level up the puzzle components in this game. Along with the game pieces, we encountered laminated paper and some messy modification. Some of these puzzles would have felt more grand if they were built at a larger, escape room-y scale with entirely tangible elements.

 The Game Museum was bright and vibrant. Few escape rooms have windows. Light streamed in and illuminated the colorful props. The space felt joyous.

Tips For Visiting

  • This game is located at Clue Carré’s Metairie location.
  • There is a small parking lot.

Book your hour with Clue Carré’s The Game Museum, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.

Disclosure: Clue Carré comped our tickets for this game.

Escape Hour Austin – Lab Rats [Reaction]

We returned for science.

Location:  Austin, Texas

Date Played:  August 9, 2019

Team size: 8-18; we recommend 9

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: $33 per player

Ticketing: Public

Emergency Exit Rating: [A] Push To Exit

Physical Restraints: [A+] No Physical Restraints

REA Reaction

Back in January 2017 we played, reviewed, and loved 15 Locks’ Lab Rats.

We were enamored with the Lab Rats’ unusual structure, floor-plan, and technology because it was one of the only games that we had encountered up to that point that could truly handle a team of 10 engaged players. We also hypothesized that it could be replayed by disciplined players.

In-game: The Yellow Room features a variety of interactions colored yellow. A blue locked box is mounted to the wall in the foreground. The Red Room is through a glowing doorway in the background.
The Yellow Room

At the end of 2017 we were eager to bestow a Golden Lock-In Award on Lab Rats.

Two and a half years later we returned to Lab Rats. This time it was under new management, having been acquired by Escape Hour Austin.

In-game: The Blue Room features a variety of interactions. Through a barred window, the Red Room is visible.
Blue Room

I’m happy to report the following:

  • Lab Rats held up. It was in great shape and it felt like the game that we remembered and loved.
  • Our review held up. I’m not going to retread over all of that. I will add that the technology for room transitions seemed simplified and that smoothed over a few of the shortcomings that we had reported.
  • Yes, Lab Rats was indeed replayable… and still a whole lot of fun the second round. Lisa and I stuck to rooms that we hadn’t played before and it worked well.

Lab Rats remains a strong recommendation from us… but only if you can assemble a team of at least 7 communicative players.

In-game: The Red Room features a variety of interactions pained shades of red.
Red Room

Tips For Visiting

  • There is a parking lot.

Book your hour with Escape Hour Austin’s Lab Rats, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.

Disclosure: Escape Hour Austin provided media discounted tickets for this game.

Announcing Escape Immerse Explore: Montreal 2020

We are excited to officially announce our Grand Tour for 2020!

Escape Immerse Explore: Montreal 2020

Montreal is an artsy escape room market. The games on this tour combine detailed set design with puzzle-forward gameplay. You’ll enjoy some themes you’ve likely seldom encountered along with quirky game mechanics.

Escape Immerse Explore logo.

What are the dates?

Sunday, May 31 – Tuesday, June 2

Which Companies Are Featured?

You will get to play 10 games from the following companies:

Where Can I Learn More?

We have written up the details of the tour and answered all manner of questions that are on your mind… and some that aren’t.

Learn more about Escape Immerse Explore: Montreal 2020.

If the link above doesn’t answer all your questions, please contact us.

Where Do I Sign Up?

You can reserve your tickets right now by filling out this form:

Decode Ypsilanti – The Aurora Society [Review]

Not weather dependent

Location:  Ypsilanti, Michigan

Date Played:  August 3, 2019

Team size: 3-15; we recommend 4

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: $28 per player

Ticketing: Public

Emergency Exit Rating: [A+] No Lock

Physical Restraints: [A+] No Physical Restraints

REA Reaction

The Aurora Society was a standout escape game in a market that far exceeded expectations.

The suburbs of Detroit were a delightful place to play escape rooms… and please don’t crack a joke about “Detroit being an escape room.” I’ve heard enough of those over the past few weeks to last me a lifetime.

Decode Ypsilanti struck a balance between adventure, story, puzzle, and technology that all came together into a cohesive world.

In-game: wide shot of the room, a strange game sits on a table in the middle of the room.

If there’s a Holy Grail of words used to describe escape games, “cohesive” might be it; Decode Ypsilanti clearly knows this.

We loved spending a day playing around Detroit and we truly encountered zero duds on the journey. (I’m sure they exist; we just chose wisely). That said, if you only have time to play one game, make it The Aurora Society.

Who is this for?

  • Adventure seekers
  • Story seekers
  • Puzzle lovers
  • Scenery snobs
  • Aspiring wizards
  • Players with at least some experience
  • Players who don’t need to be a part of every puzzle

Why play?

  • Good storytelling in a fully themed facility
  • Entertaining puzzles
  • A beautiful set
  • Strong effects that served the story

Story

We arrived as potential new recruits for the magical and mysterious Aurora Society. We had to harness the power of the aurora borealis to earn our place among their membership.

A painting of an aurora.

Setting

As we entered the lobby of Decode Ypsilanti, we stepped into the world of The Aurora Society. We were greeted by in-character staff and addressed in the context of the world.

The hallways, games, and bathrooms were all in-world as well.

When we entered the game, the set was gorgeous. The woodwork, drapes, placards… everything felt like it was part of a cohesive magical world that existed long before we arrived and would continue long after we left.

In-game: A beautiful hourglass, a mape of council positions beyond it.

Gameplay

Decode Ypsilanti’s The Aurora Society was a standard escape room with a moderate level of difficulty.

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

In-game: a beautiful set of balances containing dangling precious stones.

Analysis

➕ Decode’s Ypsilanti location was fully themed around The Aurora Society. The lobby, the game, and the new game that’s in the works were all set in the same world.

➕  The Aurora Society was warm and elegant. The set had its own aesthetic and felt like it had been there for a long time. All of the set pieces, props, and puzzles looked authentic, like they belonged within this world.

In-game: A collection of candle sticks on a table.

➕ The Aurora Society used a lot of technology, but the technology didn’t steal the show. Decode Ypsilanti integrated it nearly seamlessly into the experience so that it simply felt magical.

➖ In what we believe was an effort to hide anything out of place in the world, Decode Ypsilanti used a mundane construction material and it felt far too subtle for a world of magic.

➕ The gameplay flowed well. We were never wanting for items or things to do. When we solved something, we opened something else. We received in-game feedback to understand our forward progress. This built momentum.

➕ The puzzles fit the world.

➕/➖ We also encountered our favorite escape room Sudoku implementation to date. It was aesthetically beautiful and we had to stop and think to realize this architecture was built upon Sudoku. The downside was that this puzzle was way too similar to a lesser implementation at Decode Ypsilanti’s other location, Decode Ann Arbor.

➖ The Aurora Society lacked an onramp. It started with a challenging puzzle where more minds added complexity, yet there wasn’t anything else to work on.

➕ The hinting came from a beautifully presented character who added depth to the world.

➖ The final scene was dimly lit. While there was some payoff for the low lighting, we struggled to fully appreciate the gameplay in this segment.

➕ The folks from Decode Ypsilanti understand the importance of narrative structure. In The Aurora Society, this took place in its own scene. While the narrative arc may not have been surprising, this playful interlude was unexpected.

➕ Decode Ypsilanti was committed to the world of their game. Upon completion of our mission, they closed an open plot thread. This was an unnecessary detail that most escape room companies would ignore.

Tips For Visiting

  • We found metered parking on the street and in a nearby lot. You’ll need coins to feed the meter.

Book your hour with Decode Ypsilanti’s The Aurora Society, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.

Disclosure: Decode Ypsilanti comped our tickets for this game.

Clue Carré – The Bookie [Reaction]

Rebookied

Location:  Metairie, Louisiana

Date Played: July 11, 2019

Team size: up to 10; we recommend 3-5

Duration: 45 minutes

Price: $23 per player

Ticketing: Private

Emergency Exit Rating: [A+] No Lock

Physical Restraints: [A+] No Physical Restraints

REA Reaction

RISE Escape Rooms is no more, but their games live on. 13th Gate picked up their more celebrated games Hijacked and Golden Lock-In Award winner Spellbound. Clue Carré took on The Bookie, which I felt was a deeply underappreciated game.

While it was far less bombastic than Hijacked, for my money, I think that The Bookie was a tighter, more complete package with superior gameplay and puzzles.

In-game: A bar beside a blackjack table in a back room casino.
Image via Clue Carré

Almost 2 years after we first played it, we visited Clue Carré’s new Surge Trampoline Park location and sort of played/ sort of watched our friends play the new, streamlined version of The Bookie.

What’s Different?

Clue Carré slimmed down The Bookie, cutting the game clock to 45 minutes and simplifying some of the puzzle play.

Additionally, Clue Carré added a big board to guide players towards the puzzle stations that hadn’t been solved.

In-game: A back room casion with blackjack, roulette, a craps tables.
Image via Clue Carré

It still looked and felt like the same game that we knew and loved… it just played a bit quicker and smoother. All of the set pieces remained, as did the most memorable puzzles and moments.

To put it succinctly, the leaner version was a better game. It eliminated a lot of the things that were convoluted in the original. I wasn’t expecting to love this game 2 years later, but here we are.

In-game: An old maintenance closet.
Image via Clue Carré

The only loss was to the difficulty level. Frankly, the number of players who will truly miss a little extra difficulty is greatly outweighed by the majority who will enjoy the faster pace.

Between Alien Encounter and The Bookie, Clue Carré’s Surge Trampoline Park location should be high on your playlist for New Orleans.

Tips For Visiting

  • This game is located at Clue Carré’s Kenner location inside Surge Trampoline Park
  • There is a parking lot.

Book your hour with Clue Carré’s The Bookie, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.

Disclosure: Clue Carré comped our tickets for this game.

Broken Ghost Immersives – The Rogues Gallery [Review]

Ain’t no party like a villain party

Location:  New York, New York

Date Played: July 23, 2019

Group size: variable

Duration: approximately 2 hours

Price: $65 per player

Ticketing: Public

Emergency Exit Rating: [A+] No Lock

Physical Restraints: [A+] No Physical Restraints

REA Reaction

We loved The Rogues Gallery… and also felt like it needed a lot more refinement.

Broken Ghost Immersives hosted this latest creation in the Wildrence. The space was retooled as a giant hybrid of tabletop gaming and roleplaying. We were villains attempting to take over the world after the death of the world’s greatest superhero.

In-game: a gathering of rogues

We were each given a character and let loose in a world filled with other villains – most of them other players. A few fantastic actors also played hilarious and compelling NPCs.

The beauty in The Rogues Gallery was that you could kind of play it however you wanted.

As the Green Emerald, I did what I do in games (and real life): I optimized our resources to conquer the world. And David… David did what he does: he got lost in role-playing as the nefarious Pyramid Scream, the benevolent scourge of stay-at-home mothers!

In-game: the character card for "Pyramid Scream." It's subtitled, "A multi-level massacre."
“You seem like a smart person who recognizes a great business opportunity when you see one.” -David

This sandbox, however, was a little too full. Interestingly, we never felt like there were too many players. Rather it seemed like there were far too many villainous teams, and Broken Ghost Immersives needed more efficient systems to move players through the mechanics.

If given the opportunity, we’d happily conquer this world again. It felt like a party with game mechanics. We hope that Broken Ghost Immersives brings back The Rogues Gallery with some refinements. If they do bring it back, may we suggest a name:

The Rogues Gallery II: The Inevitable Dark Second Chapter

Who is this for?

  • Story seekers
  • Villains
  • Best for players who are willing to let go and embrace their character (a little D&D experience doesn’t hurt)
  • Any experience level

Why play?

  • It’s funny
  • The NPCs were fantastic
  • It was engaging and amusing

Story

Good news, everyone! The world’s greatest superhero was just murdered.

To celebrate, all of the world’s rogues, A-list, B-list, C-list… and even the D-list (they knew who they were) were invited to a party of villainy and world domination.

In-game: An unusual device with buttons, dials, switches, and screens.

Setting

We entered the world of Wildrence, an immersive stage that has been home to many different productions.

The set itself was largely unchanged. I’m not going to spoil it. If you’ve never been, it’s best experienced in person. If you’ve been to Wildrence, you know the score.

In-game: a couple 12 packs of beer.
The answer to the question: “What do villains drink?”

Gameplay

Broken Ghost Immersives’ The Rogues Gallery was an immersive game that pulled heavily from role-playing, tabletop gaming, and video gaming.

Core gameplay revolved around meeting characters, finding missions, making moves on a giant projected tabletop game, role-playing (as shallow or as deep as desired), and completing a wide variety of quests/ challenges.

In-game: a handful of multicolored gems.

Completing challenges earned us colored gems that could be used to make moves on the giant world-conquering tabletop game. The team that took over the majority of the world won the game. It was like Risk, but with a finite clock, and turtling in Australia wasn’t a viable strategy.

There was a lot going on and it was impossible for any one player to experience everything. It would be impossible to truly experience all that The Rogues Gallery had to offer, even on repeat visits.

Analysis

➕ The characters of Rogues Gallery were phenomenal. We loved the names that we received. These were great jumping off points for us as players to turn ourselves into characters. It was such fun to put on these supervillain identities.

➕ A selection of NPCs facilitated The Rogues Gallery. Each character had a unique identity, brought to life by an actor. The characters worked so well in the world and the actors were as great as they were hilarious.

➕/ ➖ The best moments came at a price. One amazing segment removed players from the rest of the goings-on for long enough that they lost their grip on the larger game. This journey was David’s favorite part of Rogues Gallery because it gave him a chance to truly be his character. However, this came at a price of being essentially knocked out of the larger game. By the time he reemerged from his adventure, too much of the core game had moved on without him.

➖ Our visit to Rogues Gallery had too many teams. It didn’t feel like too many people. Rather, the players needed to be distributed into half as many factions. Too many teams were iced out of the larger game too early and forced into subservient roles. This wasn’t catastrophic, but it felt bad for those folks, and simultaneously disrupted the teams with winning strategies. Fewer teams would also work better for teammates going on long character journeys that removed them from the larger game.

Rogues Gallery encountered both line management and resource management problems. The mechanics of using resources wasn’t clear from the start and we had to wait so long that it was prudent to have one player constantly in the gameplay line. By the end of the game, we had far more resources accumulated than time to use them, given the waiting issue.

➕ The mini games were mostly fun. Some felt a bit too much like homework, but we recognized that they worked well in the environment and for a wide variety of player types. There were activities for those who wanted to role-play and games for those who preferred more challenge-oriented interactions.

➕/➖ The powers were nifty, but unbalanced. As supervillians, the powers worked in the world. We loved the concept. Some powers felt a bit too powerful, however, and others seemed impossible to use.

➕ The end sequence was exciting and surprising. It brought the entire group together. The finale was guided by the NPCs, but shaped by the players. We loved the story we told.

❓ At The Rogues Gallery, each player dictated how much they would enjoy the experience. You could play as a LARPer, gamer, puzzler, or something in between. Your fun will be dictated by your personality and what you want to get out of the experience.

Tips For Visiting

Book your hour with Broken Ghost Immersives’ Rogues Gallery, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.

Rogues Gallery is not currently running.

Disclosure: Broken Ghost Immersives comped our tickets for this game.

60out – Miss Jezebel [Review]

A tea party to die for.

Location:  Los Angeles, CA

Date Played: July 27, 2019

Team size: 2-5; we recommend 3-4

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: $45 per player (minimum $135)

Ticketing: Private

Emergency Exit Rating: [A+] No Lock

Physical Restraints: [A+] No Physical Restraints

REA Reaction

Miss Jezebel was a one-of-a-kind, actor-driven game that combined immersive theater and escape-room-esque gameplay with delightful results.

Part interactive performance, part sneaking around and solving puzzles, Miss Jezebel felt quite a bit like being inside a point-and-click adventure game like Maniac Mansion, only bawdier.

The actor playing Miss Jezebel took command of the game flow while making us feel like the experience was uniquely ours. Because of the improvisational aspects of the show, Miss Jezebel may even have replay value for those who want to experience the performance elements again.

Miss Jezebel poses in glitzy tea party attire.

If you just want to be left alone to solve puzzles with your friends, Miss Jezebel may not be your cup of tea. But for groups who know each other well and are comfortable with a raunchier style of humor and more intense interactions than the average escape room, Miss Jezebel is a must-visit.

60out is planning more immersive theater experiences in the future. We can’t wait to see what they come up with next.

Who is this for?

  • Adults 18+ who are comfortable with suggestive humor
  • Fans of immersive theater
  • Players who enjoy interacting with actors
  • Any experience level

Why play?

  • Unusual interactions
  • Humorous, playful vibe
  • The thrill of deception

Story

We were detectives tasked with investigating an eccentric character named Miss Jezebel who was suspected of murdering a series of husbands. While attending one of her famous tea parties, we needed to surreptitiously search her home and uncover evidence of her crimes.

A table lamp next to a doorway with a beaded curtain featuring an open eye.

Setting

Miss Jezebel took place at the titular character’s home, in her dimly lit sitting room. At first glance, the decor seemed eclectic yet cozy, but closer inspection revealed an edgier side.

The scenery was fairly basic, but it supported the story and the gameplay effectively.

A sideboard filled with haphazardly stacked dishes.

Gameplay

Miss Jezebel offered a combination of immersive theater and escape room, with periods of actor interaction interspersed with bursts of searching and solving. The gameplay included a few classic escape room puzzles, but largely revolved around searching, stealth, and creative problem solving.

Our mission was to find evidence that would bring down Miss Jezebel without her catching on that we were investigating her. Therefore, we had to follow Miss Jezebel’s instructions and not get caught breaking her rules. Disobeying her could result in one of several “punishments” that were both undignified and time-consuming.

Because of the interactive format, much of the experience was improvised by the actor and the participants. Rather than following a strict puzzle flow like a typical escape room, the hour felt like it was broken into stages, with some variability in the interactions that could get us to the end of each sequence.

A lace-covered table lamp illuminates a dim room, including a framed monkey head.

Analysis

➕ Miss Jezebel bills itself as a “thriller/comedy,” and it did not disappoint. The pressure to achieve our goal was intense, but the scenario was so zany that we couldn’t help but laugh—a lot.

➕ The actor playing Miss Jezebel excelled at inhabiting a demanding role while also keeping track of our progress and subtly nudging us toward our goal. Miss Jezebel was a dangerous killer…but she was a fun dangerous killer. She somehow made us feel unsettled, entertained, and perfectly safe all at the same time. By the end, we were almost rooting for her to win.

➕ Due to the improvisational nature of our interactions with Miss Jezebel, it sometimes felt as if we were pushing the game forward by creating our own solutions. We enjoyed having the freedom to improvise our way out of each problem—or at least feel as though we were improvising. This variation also personalized our playthrough, making it feel like each group’s experience would be slightly different. It would be fascinating to see how other groups approached the same obstacles.

➕ We incurred a couple of penalties for getting caught breaking the rules, but they were so amusing that we didn’t realize they functioned as time penalties. These “punishments” were more fun than frustrating and provided some of the most memorable moments of the evening.

Miss Jezebel’s off-the-wall interactions were captivating and memorable. Despite the bizarre nature of the puzzles, we felt completely immersed in our adventure.

Miss Jezebel is 18+ primarily because it relies heavily on adult humor—approximately the level of debauchery you might expect at a bachelorette party. Miss Jezebel also included a handful of potentially awkward interactions along the same lines. Some players might find these elements embarrassing; others will find them hilarious.

➕ At times the gameplay felt remarkably like a video game brought to life. We loved the situational puzzles that forced us to improvise in order to cajole or distract Miss Jezebel. Of the more traditional escape room puzzles, one aha puzzle had a particularly creative solution reminiscent of an old-school point-and-click adventure game.

➖ The audio hints sometimes overlapped with the actor’s attempts to point us in the right direction. They were also occasionally more direct than we would have liked. Subtler hinting would have allowed us to feel we made the discoveries on our own.

➕ Miss Jezebel asked a lot more from us than the typical escape room, but we always felt safe and comfortable with what the game required. Our group of two seasoned improvisers and one timid puzzle enthusiast handled the game just fine. The 18+ rating and the “expose the killer” theme may sound intimidating, but we always felt like we were having fun.

➕ 60out threw in a few amusing Easter eggs, including a reference to another of their games.

Tips For Visiting

  • Free parking is available in the rear of the building.
  • This experience has live actors. Review our tips for playing with actors.
  • Miss Jezebel isn’t scary, but it is socially challenging. Bring at least one or two people who are outgoing, hard to embarrass, or just willing to take one for the team.

Book your hour with 60out’s Miss Jezebel, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.

Disclosure: 60out comped our tickets for this game.

Escape My Room – Escape Extinction: Sharks [Review]

The Magic Schoolbus

Location:  New Orleans, Louisiana

Date Played: July 14, 2019

Team size: up to 10; we recommend 5-7

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: $19.95 per aquarium member player or $23.95 per non-member player

Ticketing: Public

Emergency Exit Rating: [A] Push To Exit

Physical Restraints: [A+] No Physical Restraints

REA Reaction

Escape My Room built a game inside of the New Orleans Audubon Aquarium; it was something special.

Port De La Porte, and the SS Audubon submarine in the middle of the Aquarium.

Escape Extinction: Sharks blended 5 Wits-style, high-throughput, amusement gameplay with strong, puzzley escape room challenges. All of this was topped off with an amazing set and kid-friendly story that would feel right at home in a quality cartoon. The resulting game offered something to players of all ages, attention spans, and skill levels.

We’ve seen other museums (big and small) host escape games, but none of them have come close to the scope, scale, and quality of the collaboration between Escape My Room and the Audubon Aquarium.

There are tons of amazing escape rooms in and around New Orleans. Add this one to the list of must-plays.

In-game: lisa, chris, and drew inside of a shark.

Who is this for?

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

Why play?

  • Fantastic set design
  • Tons of fun puzzles and tangible interactions
  • Strong, yet adorable storytelling
  • The greatest magnet maze ever built

Story

As members of Human Animal Rescue Team (H.A.R.T.), we boarded the SS Audubon with one mission: save sharks from extinction.

In-game: a group of kids watching a briefing from a commanding officer.
Image via the Audubon Institute

Setting

We approached the SS Audubon, a large submarine docked in the Aquarium. Once aboard the boat, we met some delightful characters and followed our captain on an adventure to save sharks from extinction.

In-game: a group solving inside of the submarine.
Image via the Audubon Institute

The experience took us through the submarine and then to some unexpected locations as we saved massive, misunderstood fish.

In-game: the submarine's engine.

Gameplay

Escape My Room’s Escape Extinction: Sharks was an unusual escape adventure with a variable level of difficulty.

In-game: players solving a beautiful, multi-colored logic puzzle.
Image via the Audubon Institute

It was built in a railroad style. Teams moved through the rooms at timed intervals, whether or not they had solved all the puzzles. It would be challenging to solve all the puzzles in the time allowed, but teams don’t need to solve them all to complete the game.

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

In-game: multiple players pushing colored buttons on a panel.
Image via the Audubon Institute

Analysis

➕ We loved the theme of Escape Extinction: Sharks and the characters we encountered aboard this submarine. The captain was especially adorable. The kid-friendly villains were comical. The whole cast set the right tone for a playful game with a serious message.

In-game: someone watching security cameras.
Image via the Audubon Institute

➕ Set design was on point. To quote our ex-navy teammate – and one of the most experienced escape room players in the world – Drew Nelson: “the sub read like naval architecture.” Additionally, each set felt profoundly different from the previous one, while maintaining a feeling of cohesion between the locations.

➕/ ➖ The first room onboarded players by priming them to collaborate. We especially enjoyed the opening puzzle. That said, the first scene was packed with some of the most challenging puzzles in the experience, which seemed like a steep on-ramp.

❓ Because there are more puzzles than most teams can complete in the time allotted for each room, playthroughs could feel unfinished. As puzzlers we wanted to be completionists, but that wasn’t how the game was meant to be played.

In-game: someone on a bicycle powering a device.
Image via the Audubon Institute

➕ The puzzles encompassed interesting and varied interactions.

➖ One segment asked the entire team to collaborate to steer the game forward. While the challenge was conceptually great, the interaction felt like it could have used more refinement.

➖ There was a recurring locking mechanism that seemed to work against the solvers, forcing frustrating backtracking.

In-game: a player inputting a code into a locker keypad.
Image via the Audubon Institute

➖ The sound system could be turned up a bit.

➕ We stepped off our sub into one entirely unexpected scene. The set expanded and contracted to bring this scene to life. This was one of my favorite scenes that I’ve ever encountered in my escape game career. Nearly any other company wouldn’t have bothered to add the level of detail that Escape My Room did with this relatively small moment.

Tips For Visiting

  • This game is located at the Audubon Aquarium of the Americas in New Orleans.
  • You do not need to purchase admission to the Aquarium to play Escape Extinction: Sharks.
  • To locate the game, follow signs to the lobby of the “Entergy Giant Screen Theater.”

Book your hour with Escape My Room’s Escape Extinction: Sharks, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.

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