Things weren't adding up, there were photos of winners on the walls, strange doors that were barred or looked like they were connected to vaults. So I stepped up to the single counter with the sign above it that said, "Exit Game," and was told they had real escape games.
Many real escape games have popped up and vanished over 2015 in the LA area. The simplified version is your locked in a room, given an hour to escape, and must use the clues inside to figure out how to get out. For some reason, many have taken the horror route. You're locked in with a zombie or a killer is after you. Featured on this site before was the Escape Room LA: The Detective, that takes place in a film noir 1940's style.
However, I had never seen one like this. This had the look of a place that wanted you to hangout and be a little in awe of the experience. People were enjoying themselves, laughing while playing Monopoly and Connect Four.
Hank Kim, an employee started to break down how the games worked, because they had multiple escape rooms to try. We walked past those who had come before us and won, there photos adorning the wall as winners. "The A.I.," was the newest room, he got me interested when he mentioned a killer A.I. similar to Glados from Portal. "Have you heard of Colt 'Ezreal' ?," Kim asked. I said, "No." "He's one of the designers of League of Legends (a popular online game) and he helped design the room. Then Kim asked, "Do you know Freddy Wong(famed for video game themed online video content)?" Which I replied, "Yes." He helped make the new room as the artist designer and sure enough his head would be greeting me in a short time needing my help. We were interrupted throughout the conversation by screams and laughs coming from behind the walls of games in session.
Slowly, Hank passed by each room on the wall explaining the setting and a bit of the story and also the success rate. They really did calculate the percent people made it and flat-out tell you the first time you try and game room you probably won't make it. Hank went through with the various scenarios. "Villain's Lair, you're trapped in a prison. Your job is to escape the prison. Find the bomb and disarm the bomb." To which I said, "So, not only are you in prison, you have to disarm a bomb, that's a bit much. They must really hate you in this prison" Five in all rooms were explained, the one with laser grids did pass my mind as fun. Or maybe the one where the floor lights up in a certain order.
Or was it that stupid?
Freddy Wong's face appeared on screen of a computer in the simple bachelor pad apartment room. For fans of his YouTube channel, like myself, it was a treat to see him be part of the night's story. He took on the role of Jonathan Adams, a genius inventor who was going to get blamed for hacking the US Government and trying to steal their data. He asked for our help to prove his innocence.
Now before we could get anything done we had to start his computer and without spoilers that meant solving some simple puzzles and changing the look of the room a bit. What was the most fun part of this was having the room displayed on screen of the computer like a computer game. The real world room and the game room, worked in sync. This would have a much more connected focus later in the game.
Our group soon unlocked enough clues to get an avatar for Adams, which was good since the AI, a female voiced computer program wouldn't let us do much with out any sort of proof we were Adams. The video game version of Adams would move on screen, after we plugged in a flash drive that had him on it. We controlled him with the keyboard like any game. Now that we had him we could unlock even more in the game ...and the real world? Soon we opened another door both in the game and to the little room we were in.
I wasn't so angry about those $30 bucks anymore. Turns out Jonathan Adams was building more than a helpful home A.I. in his spare time. He was building a rather intelligent A.I. that now wanted to kill us within the allotted time with a neurotoxin and was then going to take over the world. We learned this in the new lab area we unlocked with a chained up robot exoskeleton and even more puzzles to figure out.
The A.I. was now shown on a new screen, looking rather devious with nods to the PC game System Shock, a sort of predecessor to Bioshock. We had a timer on our neurotoxin death to motivate us to solve the new puzzles. As well as her not consumer friendly attitude of constantly mocking us.
"Does that light do anything!," I shouted. Soon we scrambled as another room unlocked. We weren't done with the game within the game. We had to unlocked boxes with triforce symbols on them in the game to unlock them in the real world. Four boxes in total to block the bitch A.I. from getting out into the world and her losing control of where we were trapped. Each box held a key that had to be put into another machine to lock her out of her own system.
Puzzles varied and many needed team work to be solved. Both by making sure what was going on outside the lab room and by just figuring out clues together. After figuring out a segment we would break a code on the wall, input into a keypad and then have to figure out the right way to connect wires so we could unlock the next box. Or we had to shout out a pattern, playing a computer game from another room.
Oh, magnetically sealed boxes. How you angered us and we tried so much to open you.
In a rush, with only 1:59 on the clock we managed to beat the evil A.I., a message from Jonathan Adams thanking us and the door opening. We doubled high-fived, the only high-five below jumping in the air and high-fiving to a freeze frame.
End of Spoilers
Outside, passed a sign that said victory we were immediately greeted by the likes of no one. Have some fan fair when people win, Exit Game. After a high-five high, it's a letdown for no one to be there and say, "Great job!"
We then joined the winners on the wall as Team Awesome, a just name for a team that awesome to win.
Exit Game's The A.I. was a perfect blend of PC game problem solving with real world escape adventure. It was chock-full of video game references, which what sold me going down that escape room. It was like being in your own video game or mystery/science-fiction movie. Very worth a try for a large group of friends. Though be warned you may not be as awesome as my randomly assorted team.
*I liked there reminder system. After swiping my card that told me my exact time, and further instructions that was sent to me by e-mail and connected to my calendar.
*Bring cash, it'll save you a few bucks.
*No phones allowed inside, they have free lockers to use.
*You can be put in a random group, there must be a last two players for an escape game to be played, except room 2.
Inside the Atlantic Plaza Shopping Center
111 N Atlantic Blvd #148, Monterey Park, CA 91754
Average price Adults $32
Mon 2:00 pm - 10:00 pm
Tue 2:00 pm - 10:00 pm
Wed 2:00 pm - 10:00 pm
Thu 2:00 pm - 10:00 pm
Fri 1:00 pm - 12:00 am
Sat 11:00 am - 12:00 am
Sun 11:00 am - 11:00 pm