First and foremost, let me begin by saying that I had a ton of fun writing for LockedInReviews in 2017, and appreciate the opportunity I’ve had to share my thoughts with you all on this site. While it wasn’t feasible for me to review every room I went to this year, I’ve enjoyed sharing my experiences with you all, and I hope you’ve enjoyed reading my reviews. Reviewing escape rooms may be just a hobby for me, but it has truly enhanced my experiences, and let me to meet some awesome new people and make some new friends.
Since my wife and I have attempted around 50 escape rooms this year, narrowing it down to a top five was pretty tough. I think it’s only appropriate, therefore, to start with a few honorable mentions before we break down our top five of the year.
So let’s get started with my year-in-review!
Video Valhalla – Escape Room South Jersey
Bad straight-to-video sequels are back — and this time, it’s personal. This trip down memory lane had us laughing all the way back to the 80s. While the set design is nothing special, the puzzle elements and custom-made video covers made us really appreciate the care put into the room. Anyone who remembers the expression “Be kind, rewind” will LOVE the touches that Escape Room South Jersey put into this room to make you remember the “good old days”. This is a great room for new players, but is truly catered toward people who would appreciate the time period.
Deadwood Cabin – East Coast Escape Room
This small room includes a strong narrative that tells a dark and twisted tale, and let’s just say that “escaping the room” isn’t exactly what you should be concerning yourself with in this cabin. While it’s not the biggest or most high-production room out there, enthusiasts will appreciate the unique twist on the typical escape room mechanic. This is an easy-to-moderate difficulty room for those who want a little more story mixed in with their puzzles. With consistent improvements in their room design from room to room, we look forward to seeing more from East Coast Escape Room in the coming year!
Chris’s Top Five Escape Room Experiences of 2017:
5. Dr. Chen’s Office – Think Solve Escape
Dr. Chen’s Office is the finale of the Think Solve Escape trilogy of rooms. If you try their other two rooms first, you’ll find this room to be a fitting (and challenging) experience to close out the series. Outstanding construction, nice use of technology, and unique puzzles made this room an intense race against the clock. We really enjoyed this experience, and definitely suggest you try the other two rooms first to get a frame of reference, and to better appreciate the story.
4. The Hatter’s Hideout – Empire Escape Rooms
An homage to Lewis Carroll’s twisted tale, The Hatter’s Hideout takes you down a rabbit hole into the warped minds of some of the most well-known characters from the Disney film. From the doorknob face to the tea party table, the theming of the room is pretty much on-point. The true reason for this room cracking the top five, however, lies in the progression — or should I say regression of the room, into a warped experience that is truly a spectacle to behold. You’ll definitely walk away from this room a touch more mad than when you came in — and is that so bad?
3. The Mad Scientist – Klues Escape Room
We found this little gem while traveling to the Poconos for a wedding in May, and it resounded with us for the rest of the year. While the room starts off looking a bit bare, this doctor’s office has a lot hidden in the files. As the game unfolds, solving puzzles brings a pretty deep story to light, which we appreciated. Some of the effects and puzzles in this room were pretty unique, and absolutely awesome! Klues puts tremendous effort into their rooms, and it shows. I sincerely hope they get their other two rooms up and running in 2018 — maybe we’ll get to see them on this list again!
2. Captive – Bane Escape Rooms
The serial killer known as The Collector takes us Captive in his home, and it’s up to us to escape. This massive sprawling home is one of the most impressive spaces we’ve ever puzzled in, and working your way through the rooms can be exhilarating. While the puzzles aren’t particularly difficult, the detailing in the set is impeccable, and you really feel immersed in the environment as well as the story. While people may have mixed opinions about the finale, the entire experience of navigating through the home to find clues, shouting back and forth with your teammates, can create an adrenaline rush that enhances the game. We absolutely loved this room, and felt like it “checked off the boxes” more than most others. Kudos to Bane Escape for creating an outstanding serial killer room!
1. The Great Room – 13th Hour Escape (Formerly Haunted Scarehouse)
I have to be honest here – I’m not 100% sure how whether this room would resonate the same way outside of Halloween season, without actors, but this was, frankly, the best experience I have ever had in an escape room to date (hence why it’s number one on my list). The centerpiece of this room is, well, the room itself, which is a huge open space that allows you to stand back and appreciate the craftsmanship of the set and game elements. Many of the puzzles require teamwork, and there are a few moments that will surprise you, making you truly appreciate the care put into this room. Add into this experience actors that serve as the clue system (and, if you read the spoiler tag in my review, in somewhat nefarious ways), and you have yourself an experience that you won’t quickly forget. I truly think this room would be best experienced during the haunted house season so that you have the actors, but it would certainly stand on its own as an excellent room at any time of year (they plan to have actors back in for Valentine’s Day — date night, anyone?). The Great Room was more than just great — it was outstanding! Even though they currently have four rooms, 13th Hour is already planning for even more rooms in the coming year, and we cannot wait to make the trip back!
With the leap in quality and variety of escape rooms in 2017, I simply cannot wait to see what 2018 will bring! I look forward to playing new games, writing more reviews, and hopefully playing with some of you next year! I wish you all a happy and safe holiday season, and Happy New Year! See you in 2018!