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Monday, December 15, 2014

Escape Room LA: Getting Lost in the 1940's is Fun

It was like any other day in LA, the sky didn't know what it was suppose to do, traffic was a nightmare and I had the luck of getting stuck in a room. My gal pal from New Zealand, Miss Hilaire Carmody, who runs a similar site to mine, The Free'n'Cheap list, was in town. We found our way into Escape Room LA with a group of other colorful characters for an hour. It was us, them and three mysteries to solve back in the 1940's. The problem? A million other mysteries to figure out to escape the room, only in LA... and Japan and other cities that already have this game.

Escape Room LA comes from Race/LA, the guys who have you solving mysteries here and there around LA. The concept supposedly started in Japan and has traveled from country to country and finally ended up in LA. You're given puzzles to solve and a set time to get out of a room or else. Or else you lose the game.

You and up to 11 others are trapped in a room in this LA version. For Escape Room LA, the current theme story is you've entered a private detective's office. You and your current partners have to find out three things.

Three Things:

-The Correct Suspect
-The Merchandise
-The Way Out

The way out is in the form of a key, and brother we found a lot of keys, so don't get your hopes up if you find one. That key could just unlock another puzzle.

If you've ever enjoyed mystery video games like that of the Professor Layton series or board games like Clue, this is the real deal. It's you, some new friends or old ones, and some time in the 1940's. 

Escape Room LA transports you back to the 1940's with a room filled with secrets and assistant who keeps her mouth shut. The office of the private detective your helping out looks like it's from the 1940's filled with bric-a-brac, a grandfather clock, lock-boxes and puzzles and puzzles within in them. This joint has so many puzzles inside you best make sure you clear them in order or you'll run out of time. Oh, did I mention if you don't get out in an hour you and your group might be going for a swim in the LA River. One of the suspects is on his way to get the gems, that merchandise I mentioned, you see they were stolen and the detective was keeping them as least he said he was.

Time didn't slow down, my group and I rushed all over the place, too giddy to cooperate. My gal pal Hilaire and I worked on a push pin map, the map was trying to reveal something to us. Later, she got into trying to figure out the real criminal out of the suspects on file. This required finding out shoe sizes and heights. While she was figuring out the main suspect, I went digging through the dirt. Turning over picture frames and trying to figure out how to decipher some codes. All the while the assistant was trying to give hints, she wasn't just inside with us to make sure we didn't wreck the joint.

We might have wrecked it, we turned over every inch of the place, looking though books, going though old case files. One clue on top of another led us around the room, the smallest innate ornament might mean something or could be a waste of our precious time.

Sadly, out of the twenty-eight attempts to get out, we weren't' one of the two that made it out in time. A sad day for TTDILA, a sad day for Los Angeles.

Our hostess, Cythia S., thanked us for playing and hoped we would try again for a proposed comeback day for those who didn't figure it out on their first try. Right now, there's only one version of the game to be played, so if you stink at it, you stink at it once.

The experience might work better with a full crew of friends. That's not to say my group was an annoyance. Everyone worked together well enough, but we didn't really form a group hierarchy and had some bad communication. We all broke up and only came together in the last five minutes of the game, too late for us. Not too late for you.

Head back in time for a bit, see if your as smart as you think you are, try out Escape Room LA.
Oh, and wear some detective clothes.

Escape Room LA 
Wednesday, Thursday, Friday at 4, 6 and 8 p.m.
Saturday and Sunday at 12, 2, 4, 6 and 8 p.m.

120 E. 8th Street, Suite 311
Downtown Los Angeles
$30 weekdays / $32 weekends

Complaints, minor

The game itself is very dependent on you figure out the first clue, my group-and what I heard about the other groups-liked to look around. It's nice to explore, I mean when are you going to go back to the 1940's and turn over an office looking for some fleeced gems? The problems with that is exploration only matters if you can solve the puzzles. To escape you'll need to do both, many might not have thought it would be that complicated to get out, exploration of the room might be rewarded better.

Not everything has a silver lining. An electronic safe and some of the fixtures in the room need to be pulled. I'm fairly certain we didn't have safes with keypads yet in the 40's. If you look up, some of the scenery doesn't look like it's from the 1940's either, maybe it has to be there for legal reasons, but you can always hide strange modern light fixtures. The phone cord was clearly disconnected from the wall, yet we received some calls?

The waiting room is nice and modern, it shouldn't be. We're suppose to be in the 1940's, make it look like a 1940's lounge. Water bottles were suggested by our hostess for future groups. Hopefully her bosses listen to her.

My partner and I dressed up for the event, I suggest that Escape Room LA inform future clients to do so as well. Maybe have some clothing of the era on a rack people can wear to get them more in the mood. I'd like a coat rack on the outside of the office instead of a large basket on the inside.