As a member of Yelp, I was recently invited to experience a free night at a downtown Los Angeles Escape Room called Countdown Live Escape Games. Escape Room games are a relatively new trend in “immersive entertainment,” that is, an experience in which the players are active participants, being both physically and mentally involved in the game play itself. Players in Escape Rooms are literally locked in a room and must solve a series of challenging puzzles and clues, in order to “escape” in the allotted time period. Yeah… it’s kind of like the Goonies!
- GET THERE: Many of the Escape Rooms in Los Angeles are located in downtown LA, but with the new popularity of the Escape Games trend, you will probably be able to find one in your own neighborhood. For LA denizens, LAist has a good write-up of 6 of their favorite Los Angeles escape rooms. You can always turn to Yelp for an escape room near you too. Better yet, let me google that for you. 😉 Be sure to read the descriptions of the themed Escape Rooms so you can pick one that seems like the most fun. And of course, use Yelp or other review sites to find the best ones. (For the record, I tried the “Psycho” room at Countdown.)
- WHAT TO WEAR: Typically the Escape Room time limit is around 45 mins-1hour, and it is climate controlled, so just dress casually/comfortably – jeans and sneaks. I’d probably recommend against hooker heels and short dresses, because you’re gonna be in a dark room scrounging around looking for bits and pieces of puzzle clues, not dressing to impress. I will say, I got pretty warm during our challenge – not sure if they raised the temperature or if I was all ramped up because of the excitement and rush of finding and solving clues!
- HOW TO PREPARE: I went in not knowing anything about escape rooms, or having researched beforehand and it was more fun that way – a totally new challenge in which we had to improvise as we went. In my group however, we had a few folks who had done Escape Rooms before, so those people did guide us a bit as to what to look for and how to efficiently string together clues. For this reason, I would suggest that you go with a group in which everybody is new to Escape Rooms. Having experienced an Escape Room, now I definitely can look back on ways to improve the experience if I try a different Escape Room. But I don’t want to post tips here and spoil it for you! Personally I love the idea of getting yourself into this mental mindset of following the room’s storyline, a la “OMG this psychopath locked me in a room like I’m in SAW and we have to get OUT!” And, starting completely from scratch putting all the pieces together. So yeah… keep fellow attendees to other Escape Room newbs if you can.
- LOCAL FLAIR: Not to worry, if you get REALLY scared in your Escape Room, they do have Panic Buttons that you can press to call for help. Because they really do lock you in that room… you literally have to solve a puzzle just to unlock the door at the very end to get out! Also during our challenge, the host staff could see us on the CCTV camera, struggling, so after a while they dialed in to a phone that was in the room (which looked like part of the set) and gave us some clues. Again, I wish that we didn’t get that kind of intervention, wanting to figure it all out on my own, but admittedly since we were kind of stumped I guess in hindsight it helped? Maybe if you don’t want this kind of help you can ask your Escape Room hosts NOT to intervene in your escape game. (PS – spoiler alert, we still failed to escape the room though!)
- FAIR & SQUARE? The Escape Rooms in Los Angeles typically run about $30 per person, which may seem a bit high for an hour of entertainment, but it was definitely a unique outing. I did enjoy my Escape Room experience – I was challenged, and liked how the puzzles made us think creatively. But, I think personally that I would have had more fun if I went with a group of friends – people that I already knew well. (My experience was an exception in this regard since my fellow escapees were Yelpers I didn’t know. I think most people do participate in Escape Rooms with their friends.) The final word – it was still fun however!
PS – If you really want some Escape Room tips from my perspective, contact me!