Are Escape Rooms Real?

I love this question so much. There are a couple of layers to it that aren’t immediately evident.

Comic of a dog raising it's paw like it wants to ask a question.

The question “are escape rooms real?” is really asking 2 different questions:

“This is a real thing? I thought it was just a movie?”

And then the immediate followup:

“Wait, it’s real life… and not like a video game?”

Are escape rooms real?

Yes, escape rooms truly exist in real life.

Escape room creators are building games where a group of participants collaboratively discover and solve puzzles, tasks, and challenges to accomplish a goal within a set amount of time. The participants solve the games together, in a physical space, which is usually a themed environment. Sometimes these games are just about escaping a physical space like a prison. More and more often they are about completing a mission like Indiana Jones finding some powerful lost relic.

In fact, they are a global phenomenon existing in every continent except for Antarctica.

As of 2019, there were more than 2,350 escape room facilities in the United States alone. There is a sprawling global community of players who share game recommendations to traveling fans that can be found in the Escape Room Slack and a Facebook Group.

This isn’t a video game or TV Show?

Escape rooms conceptually began as video games and TV shows, but now they are real-life games that you can purchase tickets to.

Game shows like The Crystal Maze (UK) and Legends of the Hidden Temple (US) were certainly proto-escape rooms.

Video games like Myst, The 7th Guest, and even the Zelda series are clear ancestors of modern escape rooms.

We explored the history of escape rooms a while back if that kind of thing interests you.

Finding A Company?

We maintain a directory of all escape room facilities within the United States. To help you find great games near you, we also build recommendations guides; not all escape rooms are created equally.

Now that you know that escape rooms are in fact a real thing, go check one out.

Are Escape Rooms?

This post is part of our on going series, “Are Escape Rooms?…” We’re digging into questions, concerns, and curiosities that are common among new players.

Support Room Escape Artist’s Mission

There are lots of ways to support Room Escape Artist, like buying from Amazon after clicking into the links included in this post or backing us on Patreon.

The money that we make from these helps us to grow the site and continue to add more value to the community that we love so much.

2020 MIT Mystery Hunt "Escape Room" Puzzle

This year’s MIT Mystery Hunt featured an escape room-themed puzzle that was as brilliant as it was hilarious.

A portion of the wizard's hollow land in the Mystery Hunt.
The Wizard’s Escape was one of more than 175 puzzles in this year’s Mystery Hunt.

The Wizard’s Escape

The Wizard’s Escape was a 30-minute audio recording of 4 people playing an escape room horribly. You can hear them roughly describing the puzzles… and then you hear how they break, guess, and luck their way through the game.

It was up to the puzzler to use their audio cues to figure out how they were supposed to solve the game. I loved this puzzle on so many levels and it is freely available:

Attempt The Wizard’s Escape.

Whether you solve it or not, it’s worth listening to the audio. It’s really funny.

The solution and walkthrough are also available.

Puzzle Hunt Puzzles

If you aren’t familiar with puzzle hunts, they are their own beast… and the MIT Mystery Hunt is the annual final boss of puzzle hunts.

A couple of years ago I wrote a puzzle hunt primer specifically for the first Cryptex Hunt. That primer will help you get a handle on the concept. (You can disregard all of the Cryptex Hunt-specific information.)

A Personal Note on this Puzzle

The Wizard’s Escape is kind of special for me because after a few years of supporting other people in solving Mystery Hunt puzzles, this was the first puzzle that I was able to finish for my team.

I’ve been working hard to level up my puzzle hunting abilities and at this year’s Mystery Hunt, it really felt like my efforts had finally yielded tangible results.

Lock & Clue Escape Rooms – The Cellar II: Saul's Revenge [Review]

The Beast of Pawtucket

Location:  Pawtucket, Rhode Island

Date Played: December 15, 2019

Team size: 4-8; we recommend 5-7

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: $29 per player

Ticketing: Private

Emergency Exit Rating: [A+] No Lock

Physical Restraints: [A+] No Physical Restraints

REA Reaction

The Cellar II: Saul’s Revenge surprised us. Lock & Clue Escape Rooms struck an engaging balance between camp and legitimate scares.

In-game: A table covered in blood, body parts, and a large clamp.

This wasn’t a Party City Halloween props horror game. The Cellar II had some really interesting and unusual set pieces, some elegantly designed puzzles, and a great in-character gamemaster who breathed life into the game. It’s worth noting that the owner played that part for us, but insisted that he has an employee who does it far better.

If you’re in Rhode Island, there’s a lot to love about the The Cellar II, especially if a horror experience appeals to you. Go investigate for yourself.

Who is this for?

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

Why play?

  • Memorable interactions
  • Intense actor-driven moments

Story

We had escaped the butcher’s basement, which had seemed to put an end to the murder spree. All seemed right in the neighborhood… until people started disappearing again. Once more, someone had to go investigate The Cellar.

In-game: closeup of an incinerator door, blood runs out from under it.

Setting

The Cellar II was appropriately cellar-ish. It looked like a modestly gory murder basement. I know this because I’ve seen a few.

Lock & Clue Escape Rooms didn’t achieve (or seem to strive for) the grotesque level of detail on the extreme end of the genre. However, neither did they cheap out and make The Cellar II look like it was decorated with leftover Halloween decorations from Party City. They struck a solid, approachable balance, and included a fair bit of detail.

In-game: An old worn on/ off switch.

Gameplay

Lock & Clue Escape Rooms’ The Cellar II: Saul’s Revenge was a standard escape room with a moderate level of difficulty.

Core gameplay revolved around searching, observing, making connections, puzzling, and interacting with the actor.

Analysis

➕ With a detailed set, a badass prop, and an interesting character, The Cellar II was clearly made with love and thought.

The Cellar II struck a balance between campy and scary.

➖ The Cellar II was a search-heavy escape room. There were a lot of small details to uncover and a large gamespace in which to find them. One critical item was insanely tiny.

➕ The hinting was fully integrated in the gameplay and the experience. Because of this, Lock & Clue Escape Rooms had complete control over the timing and difficulty of The Cellar II. They chose when and how to push hints to the group. It takes a lot of skill to balance this for each group, providing enough character development along with appropriate puzzle direction. We were an unusual group for them – as a group of 6 highly experienced players – and overall, they did a phenomenal job.

➕ The Cellar II developed the character of Saul throughout this escape room. He had his own voice and writing style.

➕ Lock & Clue Escape Rooms put their own perspective on some of the puzzles. We especially liked how they spun one classic escape room trope.

➖ While many of the puzzles were worked into the setting or theme, some seemed like random escape room-y add ons that didn’t belong in the setting.

➖ We tripped up on an instance of double cluing. This cheapened an otherwise strong puzzle that thematically worked well.

➕ Lock & Clue Escape Rooms set this game in the same physical space as The Cellar, but changed things up quite a bit. We hadn’t played the original, but it was made clear to us that this game was fully redesigned from the original.

Tips For Visiting

Book your hour with Lock & Clue Escape Rooms’ The Cellar II: Saul’s Revenge, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.

Disclosure: Lock & Clue Escape Rooms provided media discounted tickets for this game.

REA on Escape This Podcast – Season 6, Episode 1

We’ve missed Escape this Podcast. It’s been quite some time since we solved the finale of season 2. We were thrilled to be back in action this week for the start of Season 6.

Thank you Dani and Bill for letting us kick off the newest season of at Escape This Podcast: Chronomaly.

The Escape This Podcast labyrinth microphone logo

What is Escape This Podcast?

This is an audio escape room. Dani creates each scenario, complete with a set, characters, and puzzles. Bill plays a character in the world of this season. David and I arrived – over the magic of the internet and audio recording (which was way too echoey) – to solve the puzzles and escape the room!

Listen Here!

You can listen to our episode here.

But before you do this, check out the season introduction here.

In the following episodes, other guests will travel through time examining the worlds of the past and correcting the time-stream.

RECON Update

Lastly you can learn more about the Reality Escape Convention in this episode. We loved discussing this project with Dani and Bill.

RECON is our latest crazy passion project and we’re incredibly excited to bring this event to the immersive gaming community.

Unlock! – The Night of The Boogeymen [Review]

A great bad dream

Location:  at home

Date Played: January 11, 2020

Team size: 1-6; we recommend 2-4

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: about $15

REA Reaction

The Night of The Boogeymen is as good as Unlock! and table top escape games have gotten for me so far. I loved playing this game… and we’re not going to give away our copy (like we normally do) because one day I’m going to forget the puzzles and I’ll replay it.

Unlock's The Night of the Bogeymen box art depicts a cartoonish child hiding under the covers from a monster with red glowing eyes under the bed.

The Night of The Boogeymen had a simple, relatable premise: to help a child suffering from bad dreams. Artistically, the cards struck a beautiful balance of creepiness and childishness that felt perfect for this setup. The gameplay knocked it out of the proverbial park by adding abstract dream like constraints that were regularly changing the feel and play style of the game.

All of this was underpinned by a more (but not entirely) linear narrative that kept the number of cards on the table from getting out of hand or feeling too restrictive (both of which regularly wreck Unlock! games for us).

I highly recommend Unlock! The Night of The Boogeymen. Space Cowboys took their standard formula and added the best kind of spin to it.

Who is this for?

  • Story seekers
  • Puzzle lovers
  • Any experience level

Why play?

  • A brilliant and engaging bad dream like mechanic
  • Story-driven gameplay
  • Adorable art

Story

Young William was haunted by monsters that went bump in the night. Four boogeymen stalked the dreams of the child. As the boy slept we had to banish these beasts from his mind.

A stack of player cards on the left, the card backs are covered with glowing red eyes beside a story card explaining that a child is being hauned by monsters at night.

Setup

Unlock! games all follow the same structure of card-based gameplay supplemented by a mobile app. I explained it in detail in our first Unlock! review back in 2017.

A card depicts a book holding a door closed.

Gameplay

Unlock! The Night of The Boogeymen was a story-driven, play-at-home escape game with a moderate level of difficulty.

Core gameplay revolved around searching, making connections, puzzling, and a little dexterity.

The first two chapter cards explain the nature of the Boogeymen

Analysis

➕ The story was simple, effective, and relatable.

➕ The art was great. It captured the look of childish imagined horrors. When we were finished, I found myself looking though the cards to make sure that I picked up on all of the details.

➕ I found the puzzling delightful. Plenty of challenges were simple and straightforward, but there were enough chewy, satisfying solves to keep it from feeling like all we were doing was plugging related objects together.

➖ One puzzle was conceptually brilliant, but we felt that it was a bit too tangled up in precision. It was far too easy to get it wrong, even after having figured out exactly what we needed to do.

➖ Another puzzle was poorly gated. It seemed like we had all of the necessary information to solve it… but after incurring a few time penalties we eventually realized that we needed a little more information.

➖/➕ I still have no love for the hidden number scavenger hunt in Unlock! games. It’s a weak mechanism. That said, I do appreciate that the app points these out, but still, we occasionally aren’t sure if we’ve found the particular hidden number referenced by the app.

➕ The monsters that we had to battle were fantastic – both as villains and as game mechanics. The constraints that came with facing these monsters transformed this from a game to an experience.

Tips For Player

  • Space Requirements: a small table 
  • Required Gear: a smartphone with the Unlock! app

Buy your copy of Unlock! The Night of The Boogeymen, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.

Disclosure: Asmodee provided a sample for review.

Support Room Escape Artist’s Mission

There are lots of ways to support Room Escape Artist, like buying from Amazon after clicking into the links included in this post or backing us on Patreon.

The money that we make from these helps us to grow the site and continue to add more value to the community that we love so much.

Trapology – The Boobie Trap [Review]

Glorious hole in the wall

Location:  Boston, Massachusetts

Date Played: December 14, 2019

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

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: $32 per player

Ticketing: Private

Emergency Exit Rating: [A+] No Lock

Physical Restraints: [A+] No Physical Restraints

REA Reaction

The Boobie Trap was funny, a little sexy, and very racy – relative to most other escape rooms.

Trapology was one of the earliest escape room companies in the US, and in our opinion The Boobie Trap was their strongest game yet. This 18+ sexually charged game was a noticeable deviation from the norm.

In-game: a beautiful hipster coffee bar with all of the correct signage and equipment.

The introduction of an actor was fantastic and under the circumstances of this game, done in a classy, safe, and respectful way.

The sexually-themed puzzles were funny… although I would love to see Trapology push themselves farther to develop the quality of their puzzle and game elements.

How sexy is The Boobie Trap? Well, it really depends on what you’re into. I know some people who will find themselves blushing at this game. I know others who will find it adorable. Whether you’re blushing or smirking, I think you’ll find enjoyment.

All in all, this was a strong and unique addition to the Boston escape room scene. I love it when creators push boundaries and cast escape games in a new light to draw in different audiences. If you’re in Boston and looking for a good time, go spring The Boobie Trap.

Who is this for?

  • Adults open to (or eager for) sexual content
  • Scenery snobs
  • Any experience level

Why play?

  • Sex-themed escape rooms are a rarity
  • Amusing (non-sexual) actor interactions
  • Solid execution

Story

We had a dark desire that we were compelled to explore. It had brought us to a cute little coffee shop that hid a secret BDSM club in the rear.

In-game: Closeup of the Big Beans Coffee Shop logo, EST 2019.

Setting

Having not read Trapology’s website prior to playing, we stepped inside their BDSM club-based game… and found a compelling hipster coffee shop?

It was a great looking coffee shop complete with a barista who struck a true-to-life balance between incompetence and condescension. This was among the finest character acting that we’ve seen in an escape room.

Since everyone knows that the BDSM club is there, I’ll add that it evoked the right imagery, and certainly had some evocative setpieces. It was also adorned with photographs taken specifically for this game by a professional, so … authentic.

In-game: Closeup of two large drums filled with coffee beans attached to a grinder.

Gameplay

Trapology’s The Boobie Trap was a standard escape room with an actor in the opening act. It had a moderate level of difficulty.

Core gameplay revolved around searching, observing, making connections, puzzling, and engaging with the actor.

In-game: Closeup of the cash register with a signal that reads "No Sale"

Analysis

➕ The actor/ gamemaster fostered a hilarious opening scene. He was compelling as an incompetent and patronizing barista. Through this persona he was able to hint our group, keeping the gameplay on track, and the mood light, even when we stalled.

➕ The sets and props looked great. The coffee shop felt appropriately hipster. It had just enough sexual innuendo to tease the next act, without going over the top. The BDSM dungeon had stellar photography.

➖ There was opportunity to refine the gameplay in the first act. The first puzzle didn’t prepare us well for The Boobie Trap. It solved in a different style than the puzzles that would follow it. This style was also particularly challenging to engage with, given the distraction of the impatient barista.

❓ At the onset, we were unsure how to approach the gameplay. We didn’t know whether the barista would be integral to puzzle solving or whether he was more flavor for the experience.

➕ In the second and third acts, the gameplay found its rhythm.

In-game: A sign with the coffee shop's cup sizes. The sign reads, "Size does matter" and the sizes are, "Micro, average, & big."

➕ In general, The Booby Trap had plenty of escape room-y plot holes but Trapology always offered a prop to fill each gap.

➕/➖ Trapology played with BDSM concepts, and didn’t push things too far (personally, I think they could have pushed a bit father in an 18+ game). In a few instances, Trapology’s use of BDSM-themed props felt forced. There wouldn’t be any reason to slap these items together.

➕ We enjoyed a puzzle that turned heads.

➖ The story lacked a speakeasy-esque connection between the first act and the rest of the game.

➕ Trapology delivered with the finale. They set up the moment early with strong in-game cluing to deliver a satisfying climax.

Tips For Visiting

  • Trapology is easily accessible by T. Take the Green Line to Boylston St.
  • We recommend Explorateur on the corner for a coffee, drinks, a meal… and some really interesting desserts.
  • This game contains adult content. It is for players aged 18+ only.
  • There is an actor in this game. Review our tips for playing with actors.

Book your hour with Trapology’s The Boobie Trap, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.

Disclosure: Trapology comped our tickets for this game.

Last Chance: Early Bird Tickets for Escape Immerse Explore: The Hayden Farm

This is your last week to buy Early Bird tickets to Escape Immerse Explore: The Hayden Farm.

From now until midnight EST on Friday, January 31, you can get a ticket to this escape room tour for $349.

Starting in February, the price goes up to $399 per ticket.

Escape Immerse Explore 2020 The Hayden Farm features a creepy black, white, and grey aesthetic.

Details

  • Sunday, April 5, 2020
  • 13th Hour Escape Rooms in Wharton, New Jersey

Should I Attend?

If any of these statements apply to you, then yes, buy your ticket now!

  • You’re a New Yorker who loves escape rooms, but doesn’t have a car. You can hop on our bus to visit The Hayden Farm (at 13th Hour Escape Rooms) in Wharton, NJ.
  • You’re a fan of immersive entertainment and you’d like to see an unusual take on actors in escape rooms. 13th Hour Escape Rooms only uses actors on weekends in October… and for this event!*
  • You’d like to play something a little bit creepy and your typical escape room group is terrified of the concept. I assure them, it’s creepy and not scary, but if they still aren’t interested, you can come with us!
  • You’d love to join an escape room tour, but a weekend is too much of a commitment. If a single day sounds more reasonable, this is the perfect tour for you.

More Information

This page answers all your questions about the tour.

Click the link above to read more about the escape rooms on the tour, what else is included in a ticket, and all manner of general tour information.

If you have other questions, don’t hesitate to contact us.

*If you don’t like actors, you’ll be able to select to play the games without them.

Upside Down Escape Games – The Arcade [Review]

Insert Coin

Location:  Taunton, Massachusetts

Date Played: December 12, 2019

Team size: 2-6; we recommend 3-4

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: $26 per player

Ticketing: Private

Emergency Exit Rating: [A+] No Lock

Physical Restraints: [A+] No Physical Restraints

REA Reaction

Few things make me as nostalgic as arcades. They remind me of my birthdays as a kid, the birthdays that really meant something.

The Arcade packed a lot of great content into a small package. Upside Down Escape Games modified a lot of old equipment into fun and fair challenges. I think that there’s something beautiful about that because all of these classic video games were about making interesting and fun mechanics out of basic technology.

In-game: A few arcade cabinets, the closest one reads, "Nintendowl"

If I were to ask anything of this game, it would be for more of the kinds of interactions that made this game special. I’d love to see it lean a little harder into the gaminess of the setting.

Upside Down Escape Games did a great job of using their technical and artistic chops to pull together something entertaining and unique. If you’re in the area, I highly recommend checking out The Arcade, especially if this feels like the kind of nostalgia that will put a smile on your face.

Who is this for?

  • Puzzle lovers
  • Video gamers
  • Any experience level

Why play?

  • The Arcade pushes a lot of nostalgia buttons
  • A good mix of puzzles

Story

Our friend Darryl was hosting his birthday party at the local arcade – but the guy had just disappeared – from his own party. I just wanted to play some games, but the rest of the group figured we really should find him. After all, it was his party.

In-game: the inside of a claw machine, filled with stuffed animals.

Setting

The Arcade was a small arcade complete with a couple of video game cabinets, a claw machine, and Skee Ball.

It was a small approximation, but it felt accurate. I think what really sold it for me was the ridiculous carpet.

In-game: a skee ball machine in an arcade.

Gameplay

Upside Down Escape Games’ The Arcade was a standard escape room with a moderate level of difficulty and functional arcade games.

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

In-game: The Escape Block arcade cabinet.

Analysis

➕ The Arcade looked authentic. That carpet! Throwback.

➕ The arcade games were real and functional. We didn’t even need any coins to play them. If a player just wanted to play video games or Skee-Ball for an hour, that’s kind of an option.

➕ Upside Down Escape Games worked the arcade games into the gameplay, which was tons of fun. They created fair challenges out of mechanics that could easily have been impossibly difficult. They balanced how much time we spent in front of each cabinet while solving the escape room.

➖ Although the arcade games delivered tangible gameplay, there was opportunity to take other puzzle elements off paper and make them more tangible. 

➕/➖ One great game stole the show. We enjoyed the thematic set pieces, and the different ways it was incorporated into puzzle design. That said, by the end, it felt over-used.

➖ Although Upside Down Escape Games built some surprises into The Arcade, they didn’t all pop. With additional sound and light cues, these reveals could become events.

➕ There are countless obscure and overt video game references in The Arcade… if that’s your sort of thing.

➖ Our exit lacked a boss fight. We wanted a more impactful finale.

➕ As we exited the game, there was a surprise waiting for us.

Tips For Visiting

  • There is a parking lot.

Book your hour with Upside Down Escape Games’ The Arcade and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.

Disclosure: Upside Down Escape Games comped our tickets for this game.

Escape Artists – Baldwin Manor [Review]

Another day, another curse

Location:  Orlando, FL

Date Played: November 17, 2019

Team size: 2-6; we recommend 3-4

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: $32 per player

Ticketing: Private

Emergency Exit Rating: [A+] No Lock

Physical Restraints: [A+] No Physical Restraints

REA Reaction

There’s a good game in Baldwin Manor, but it was hidden by a lot of sloppiness:

  • It was too dark and our team was only given 1 flashlight.
  • The tech was far too finicky to be trusted.
  • There was so much wear and tear on a game that frankly wasn’t that old.

Escape Artist was playing with some fun concepts, and had they all worked as planned, this game would have had some great moments, but I felt like it undercut itself at every conceivable turn.

In some parts of the world, Baldwin Manor could stand out. In a fairly strong Orlando market, this game feels like it’s a few steps behind the upper crust. If you’re in the area and looking for an escape room fix, it will do the job… but I suspect that you’ll leave wondering why the execution wasn’t cleaner.

In-game: A strange chair with a very tall back at an old desk.

Who is this for?

  • Adventure seekers
  • Puzzle lovers
  • Any experience level

Why play?

  • Some great moments
  • An atmospheric environment

Story

Our family had suffered from a century of bad luck. Legend had it that our poor luck was the result of our great-great-great-aunt’s attempt at black magic. She had been trying to bestow herself with great luck… but had cursed herself instead.

We had recently inherited the family estate, the very property where the curse had originated. By chance or destiny, we’d arrived at the home on the exact anniversary of the spell. According to legend, this anniversary would be the one chance that we’d have to break the curse.

In-game: Portait of a dog dressed as a human beside an old grandfather clock.

Setting

Baldwin Manor was a dimly lit, stately manor with odd dogs-dressed-as-humans art on the walls.

As the game progressed, it shifted from oddly cute to slightly grim and menacing. It never crossed into horror territory.

From a construction standpoint, the set was showing a lot more wear and tear than we’d expect from a fairly new game.

Gameplay

Escape Artists’ Baldwin Manor was a standard escape room with a moderate level of difficulty.

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

Analysis

➕ Baldwin Manor was a puzzle-focused escape game with a lot of nifty solves that revolved around typical escape room props. We especially liked the layered puzzles.

 We played Baldwin Manor in low light, with only one small flashlight for the group. This made gameplay more frustrating than it needed to be.

➖ The tolerance on the tech was too tight. All too often, we’d take the correct action, but fail to trigger the solve or the open. This made a lot of the gameplay feel untrustworthy.

➕ Escape Artists used misdirection well to set up a reveal.

➕/➖ In Baldwin Manor, it was too easy to leave the group out of any given moment. One crucial prop could only communicate with one individual at a time. Additionally, with the gameplay spread out in the late game, 75% of our team missed a shining moment.

➕ Escape Artists crafted one particularly exciting, memorable moment that was a true bright spot in Baldwin Manor.

➖This set was heavily worn. While the dark atmosphere obscured this somewhat, it was still apparent that Baldwin Manor had seen a lot of aspiring curse breakers.

Tips For Visiting

  • There is street parking nearby.
  • Baldwin Manor is located at Escape Artists’ Orlando location, not their Sanford location.
  • Note that Baldwin Manor takes place in low light.

Book your hour with Escape Artists’ Baldwin Manor, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.

Disclosure: Escape Artists comped our tickets for this game.

Are Escape Rooms Scary?

It surprises most folks to learn that the overwhelming majority of escape rooms are not scary at all.

Yes, scary escape rooms exist.

However, the horror genre is a small subset of the escape room medium. Horror escape rooms are heavily desired by some and hated by others. Within the horror escape room genre, most are more creepy and intense than they are terrifying.

Creepy image of a person fearfully clutching the window of a door.

A few horror escape rooms are legendary in the escape room player community for their fear factor, but they are extraordinarily rare.

Escape room companies label horror games appropriately as horror. If you read a company’s website before you book, you won’t inadvertently book a scary escape room.

Let’s examine:

  • Why do people assume escape rooms are scary?
  • How can you determine whether or not an escape room is scary?
  • Where can you find some truly scary escape rooms?

Why do people assume escape rooms are scary?

There are 2 reasons why most people immediately assume that an escape room must be a horror experience.

SAW

It’s difficult to hear the words “escape room” and not think about the SAW franchise. Those movies are literally about a group of people confined within a space and forced to escape or die.

You can rest easy knowing that whatever escape room you visit in the United States is a proper business with insurance and a desire to not get sued or prosecuted for murdering a paying customer.

The Official SAW Escape Las Vegas logo depicting Jigsaw.
Image via Official SAW Escape

Escape rooms – even the official SAW escape room in Las Vegas – are not operated by serial killers hiding behind a literal puppet.

Escape Room Movies

While most escape rooms focus on puzzle and adventure, the movies with the name “Escape Room” are all horror movies (one was more watchable than the others). More specifically, these movies are basically low-budget SAW knock-offs… which is funny because SAW was a low budget flick in the first place, and the sequels are all SAW knock-offs.

A character solving a puzzle box.
Escape Room (2018)

How do I determine whether or not an escape game is scary?

Scary escape games are generally clearly marked.

Zoe, the scariest escape room that we’ve ever played, had this video advertising it on the booking website. It isn’t coy:

Companies like THE BASEMENT that specialize in horror experiences are direct about this on their websites.

Creators of horror escape rooms are targeting a specific audience. They aim to appeal to players who are excited for the experience.

That said, if a game tells you absolutely nothing about the experience, like Escape Games Canada’s The Unknown, you can also read the total lack of information as confirmation that it’s scary.

Where Can I Find Horror Games?

If you’re the type of person who found this post not out of fear, but out of excitement, here are a few places you can go to seek out the thrill of a horror escape room:

The Basement, Los Angeles, CA

The BASEMENT is one of the best-known horror escape room companies in the United States. In each of their games, you are trapped by the serial killer Edward Tandy, who toys with you, his prey, as you solve his traps. From their collection, we highly recommend The Courtyard and 2017 Golden Lock Award-Winning The Elevator Shaft.

DarkPark, Zoetermeer, The Netherlands

DarkPark is one of the leading escape room companies in The Netherlands. At their locations in Delft and Zoetermeer, they create “mysterious, immersive, and blood-curdling experiences that take you to new worlds.” Their games are dark and intense. We highly recommend Golden Lock Award-Winning games Honeymoon Hotel (2018) and The End (2019).

Single Games at Escape Room Facilities

Are Escape Rooms?

This post is part of our on going series, “Are Escape Rooms?…” We’re digging into questions, concerns, and curiosities that are common among new players.

Support Room Escape Artist’s Mission

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The money that we make from these helps us to grow the site and continue to add more value to the community that we love so much.