NorCal Escape Co – Escape Truck [Review]

Cons and Pros

Location:  Yuba City, CA

Date Played: November 14, 2021

Team Size: 2-4; we recommend 3-4

Duration: 41 minutes

Price: $100 for 2 players, $120 for 3-4 players

Ticketing: Private

Emergency Exit Rating: [A+] No Lock

Physical Restraints: [B] Mechanical Release

REA Reaction

The 41-minute-long Escape Truck packed an impressive amount of gameplay into a tiny space.

When approaching a mobile escape room, I look for a game that utilizes clever workarounds to compensate for a compact set and that tells a story appropriate for the mobile vehicle format. Escape Truck checked both of these boxes.

The premise was straightforward: we were convicts being transported to a new facility, and we had a brief window to escape after our truck crashed. When we were first led onto the truck, it felt wholly convincing as a prisoner transport vehicle. We were led to understand our roles in the story before we went on to discover the layers of secrets concealed in this environment.

The gameplay in Escape Truck was subtle yet exciting. A split-team start helped move players around the space efficiently and largely avoided single-player bottleneck puzzles. Escape Truck would be a great introduction to escape rooms for players new to the medium, and with a solid smattering of sneaky little reveals, it would be equally enjoyable for more seasoned enthusiasts.

Note: We played the 41-minute version of the Escape Truck. NorCal Escape Co also offers a different 15-minute version of the game for events, which features an entirely set of puzzles.

Unlocked handcuffs hanging from a metal bar.
Image via NorCal Escape Co
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Enchambered – Apart in Time [Hivemind Review]

Apart in Time is a 2-player point-and-click game created by Enchambered in Sacramento, CA.

This game is in a similar style to Enchambered’s other digital games: Alone TogetherTogether Apart, and Together At Heart.

Key art for Apart in Time features a broken mirror with a haunting face in the shards.

Format

Style of Play:

  • Online native experience (can NOT be played IRL)
  • Play on demand
  • Point-and-click

Who is it For?

  • Puzzle lovers
  • Any experience level

Required Equipment: Computer with internet connection. Each player needs their own computer.

Recommended Team Size: exactly 2

Play Time: about 60 minutes

Price: pay what you want, minimum of $10

Booking: purchase and play at your leisure

Description

Apart in Time is a two-person, cooperative game where each player has partial information and needs to communicate with the other person to solve the puzzles.

Omescape Sunnyvale – Kingdom of Cat-tastrophe [Review]

Meow-velous mayhem

Location:  Sunnyvale, CA

Date Played: November 12, 2021

Team Size: 2-6; we recommend 2-4

Duration: 90 minutes

Price: $50 per player for 2 players to $45 per player for 6 players

Ticketing: Private

Accessibility Consideration: Crawling and climbing (some players)

Emergency Exit Rating: [A+] No Lock

Physical Restraints: [B] Mechanical Release

REA Reaction

Kingdom of Cat-tastrophe told an utterly absurd story about warring factions of a cat kingdom. This game wholeheartedly committed to its bizarre, cat-filled weirdness, and it really worked.

Kingdom of Cat-tastrophe was more of a standard escape room compared to some of the more experimental offerings at Omescape Sunnyvale. Whereas Undercooked, Midnight in Hong Kong, or Chaos in the Galleria each offered innovative gameplay elements and were best suited for players with at least some experience, Kingdom of Cat-tastrophe was an excellent more accessible choice for beginners — while still showcasing the large, beautiful sets and distinctive narrative flavor that characterizes all Omescape Sunnyvale experiences.

For new escape room players, Kingdom of Cat-tastrophe would be a stellar introduction to the joy of escape rooms. For enthusiasts, it would be a fun warmup before playing Undercooked, Midnight in Hong Kong, or Chaos in the Galleria, but if you’re short on time and looking to play Omescape Sunnyvale’s most unique offerings, I’d recommend skipping straight to those rooms.

Castle interior with a large wooden door and stone walls.
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San Francisco, California: Escape Room Recommendations

Latest update: January 5, 2022

Back in 2012, San Francisco was home to the first escape room in the United States. Today, it’s a destination for innovative tech and brilliant puzzles. Here is our guide to the best escape rooms in San Francisco and Oakland.

If you’re in the area, check out our guides to San Jose and Sacramento as well (coming soon).

Image: Golden Gate Bridge Text: "San Francisco, California Escape Room Guide"

Market Standouts

Set & Scenery Driven

Puzzle Centric

Newbie Friendly

NorCal Escape Co – Fox Tail Saloon [Review]

Where’s my gold…en lager?

Location:  Yuba City, CA

Date Played: November 14, 2021

Team Size: 4-8; we recommend 4-5

Duration: 45 minutes

Price: $120 for 4 players to $160 for 8 players

Ticketing: Private

Accessibility Consideration: Crawling (for at least 1 player)

Emergency Exit Rating: [A+] No Lock

Physical Restraints: [A+] No Physical Restraints

REA Reaction

NorCal Escape Co struck gold with Fox Tail Saloon. This 45-minute beginner-friendly room stood out for its compelling set, slick design aesthetic, and environmentally-appropriate puzzling.

Moreover, the story in Fox Tail Saloon — the search for Billy the Kid’s hidden gold — so wonderfully tied into local history. Yuba City is in the heart of the “Sierra Nevada Goldfields” and is steeped in mid-1800s California gold rush culture. I love when escape rooms pull inspiration from local history, and it’s not a far stretch to imagine this saloon fitting right into this region 150 years ago.

Fox Tail Saloon included a distinctive approach to search-centric gameplay. In many escape rooms, searching can feel arbitrary or out of place for the set. In Fox Tail Saloon, the searching was naturally incorporated into the environment in such a way that I’d totally believe Billy the Kid hid these clues himself. Each time we found something, it felt intentional and loosely supported the story.

The puzzle sequence was parallelizable and felt quite light overall. With a fairly low puzzle count, much of the game was spent wandering around the space until one player discovered something. That said, this game was more about interacting in a cool historic environment than tearing through a large quantity of puzzles.

Closeup of two drink coins for the Fox Tail Saloon beside a 6 shooter.
Image via NorCal Escape Co

NorCal Escape Co has gained the most recognition for CONDEMNED2: The Box, but in my opinion, Fox Tail Saloon is equally worth a play. This game would be a delightful introduction to escape rooms for beginners, and its elegant aesthetic would also be of interest to more experienced players.

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