ESCAPE ROOMS – Omescape: Kingdom of Cats – California

YOUTUBE REVIEW

OMESCAPE WEBSITE

When I heard the game was cat themed and we’d be in a kingdom of cats I imagined I’d be chasing mice and solving physical cat type puzzles, however that is not this game. This is a great example of expectations not being met, but it’s not necessarily the creators’ fault. I had expected a completely different experience and was disappointed. You are actually humans in a cat kingdom trying to solve puzzles. The game itself, with no expectations considered, was an average game.

It’s a solid, well designed game for the most part. There are creative puzzles and a blend of ways to think in order to solve them. There were a few that were a bit of a logic leap here or there, but not so drastic that they couldn’t be solved with a little guidance. The game felt a little dated in it’s technology and style. There is a lot of crawling, so not the best for player with knee trouble or claustrophobia. Not my kind of game, but not bad either.

ODDITIES – The Speakeasy Society: The Door – California

SPEAKEASY SOCIETY

CHAPTER 3 – THE DOOR 

You know a show is gonna be great when it sells our in 3 hours and it was amazing. Please note that this review contains spoilers. Expect all three chapters to go into production again this year, so if you’d like to experience the show without any prior knowledge then I recommend you do not continue reading.

KansasCollection_CH3_1.JPG

Full Cast (left to right) Matthew Bamberg- Johnson as Phil Daring, Nora King as Dorothy Gale, John Henningsen as Lyman, John McCormick as Oscar Diggs (The Wizzard), Genevieve Gearhart as Phoebe Daring

My husband and I arrived and were escorted to a porch-like area to meet with Lyman along with another couple. We spoke with him about the themes of each chapter so far. Chapter 1 was about hope, Chapter 2 opportunity and Chapter 3 the future. The five of us discussed the difference between destiny and inevitable consequence. Within a few minutes the wizard entered to escort us into the house.  He inquired as to whether we had brought our keys, as they were very important to what was to come.

Upon entering the house I couldn’t help but feel curious about those who resided there. It was so lived in, unlike what I have come to expect from a theatrical set. As we entered the living room we were introduced to Dorothy. We had our first decision to make. As a group we decided who she was. Then the wizard did a card reading where we each got involved. In an unexpected turn of events Phil and Phoebe/Ozma entered the room through a magical door. They took Dorothy back with them and we were sent on our way.

Overall the show was interesting and unique. The actors were absolutely amazing. It is a wonderfully fun way to be immersed in the retelling of these classic stories. I felt that even though Chapter 3 was the smallest audience per show, somehow it felt the least intimate. I really love what they are doing with The Kansas Collection though.  I can’t wait for Chapter 4.

ESCAPE ROOMS- UNLOCKED: Escape Room -California

UNLOCKED: ESCAPE ROOM

 

Unlocked Escape Room is a truly magical experience. It is located in Orange County, California. The story is based around a stage magician, so there are some very unique props and decor in the game. The puzzles are well thought out and the flow is good.

I happen to be partial to the magical theme. I am very impressed with the way the theme integrated the puzzles seamlessly. I am also pleasantly surprised at the amount of magic effects included in the game without giving away too much as far as magicians secrets are concerned. All of the puzzles were logical and challenging enough for both experienced and new players. Some of my favorite puzzles in this game were really simplistic in concept, but still created “aha moments” even for us as experienced players. The game is fairly linear in structure. It’s a lot of fun and I highly recommend it.

There is a minimum of 4 people for gameplay, however they made an exception and allowed my husband and I to play without additional teammates and we were able to escape. We have both played over 200 games, so we had experience on our side.

Overall, this is a wonderfully designed and fun game.

Thank you to Unlocked for hosting us to experience your wonderful escape room game.

Watch the YOUTUBE interview here.

INTERVIEW – Raja Sahi & Zoltán Honti of Escapedom – ESCAPE ROOM

 

Interview with Raja Sahi and Zoltán Honti, owners of Escapedom in Westwood.

Please introduce yourself

Hi my name is Raja Sahi, co-founder of Escapedom. I’m originally from New Delhi, India and have lived in the US for 10+ years now. My professional experience is in the area of delivering technology solutions for major movie studios. I have a passion for creativity, brain teasers and puzzles, making Escapedom a perfect pastime for me.

My name is Zoltán Honti, co-founder of Escapedom. I’m also not originally from the U.S., having grown up in Hungary I came to the States over 12 years ago. I’m a cinematographer by trade and really enjoy creating visual environments. Having seen the success of escape rooms spread through Hungary and greater Eastern Europe I had a feeling they would catch on here in the States at some point.

Why did you decide to get involved in the escape room industry?

Zoltán and I have been friends for a long time and always had an idea to do a passion project together, outside of our regular day-to-day jobs. Zoltán being from Hungary, had read about escape rooms being popular there and doing well. So we had done a few searches in LA years back and there weren’t many companies as compared to now. We had hoped to be the first but obviously we weren’t. We both really enjoy puzzles and like working with our hands and solving things, so it seemed like a great fit for combined passions. Escapedom was officially created just about 2 years ago and we officially opened our first room about 1.5 years ago.

 

What makes your rooms unique?

We’ve really brought together a great intersection of technology and gameplay. Our puzzles work really well for groups because we’ve designed them in such a flow that they’re not very linear, giving the experience of multiple people working on puzzles simultaneously. So there’s not a lot of room for boredom when people play our rooms, even with large groups. The technology used in our rooms is really a living and breathing part of our puzzles. The surprise elements usually bring a smile to players’ faces, which makes us happy. Currently we have two rooms running Tue-Sun and we are working on the third room now.

What do you think is the most important part of an escape room design?

There needs to be a sweet spot across these design points. In the past we’ve seen problems when we’ve only concentrated on puzzles, but we then realized that, while the puzzles were making certain people really happy, others wanted to have a more immersive experience and a greater story. So we took it upon ourselves to evolve the rooms to have a greater intersection between all aspects of room design. Different people look for different things, so it behooves us, as designers, to try to make everyone happy and not just a few really happy.

Having had the pleasure of beta testing your latest room and seeing it again after changes had been made, I’m curious what is your process like when creating a room?

Our biggest learning from this process has been somewhat introspective for us. We, meaning the owners of Escapedom, sometimes get blocked on an idea when we just focus on a puzzle or story we have on our own. We’ve both learned that when we expand the ideation to a group of people, different people will bring different ideas to the project. Similarly speaking, a better movie is made by a team of people rather than just one individual, so we’ve learned to take our time and consider all the possibilities across various ideas.

 

Please share with us a fun story that has happened with your company.

A funny story is connected to our FBI themed room called The Lair. When one enters the room they’ll notice a theme of barbie dolls strewn throughout the room. Early on one of our first players had made a comment that we should name the antagonist in the story “The Dollmaker”, it had never occurred to us to associate some of our props to the actual bad guy in the story. It was great feedback and we ran with it. Sometimes you just need feedback from someone not involved to give a different but great perspective… it’s just like asking a teammate for help when you’re stuck on a puzzle and they identify something immediately that you didn’t recognize!

What advice do you have for players?

The advice for players is to never be afraid to try things and always make sure to be in communication with your teammates. Both in terms of telling them what is going on and looking around the room to see what others are doing. Also don’t spend too much time by yourself on a single puzzle, try grabbing another teammate to help you out. Two heads are always better than one.

 

Anything else you’d like to share?

Here’s a coupon code to come visit!  Use “RajaZoltan” for $3 off tickets. We look forward to seeing you!

 

Thank you so much! Everybody go check out Escapedom…they are great fun!!!

READ MY REVIEW OF DEN OF THE OCCULT HERE

ODDITIES – Speakeasy Society: The Axe – California

SPEAKEASY SOCIETY

YOUTUBE REVIEW

CHAPTER 2 – THE AXE

Who is the patchwork girl? Is it Dorothy? I assumed it was until I started reading L. Frank Baum’s The Patchwork Girl of Oz. Now I’m not so sure.

Now is a good time to say a huge THANK YOU to Speakeasy Society for introducing me to the entire series of books. I didn’t realize there were more after The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. The Kansas Collection inspired me to start reading them. 

I wasn’t sure what to expect as we approached the location for the second chapter of The Kansas Collection. I could see patchwork quilts covering the walls as I exited the elevator. Lyman was chatting with guests in the lobby near the makeshift bar. Furniture was scattered about the large room. Some of the drawers were hiding secrets. As I explored I found many letters, song lyrics, a list and more.

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I explored the area and chatted with friends until JinJur appeared summoning me and barking orders to get in line. My husband and I, along with another couple, followed her to a small room where she asked if we could be trusted. We were then asked who sent us and led into another area with a tent. Inside the tent we met a very upset Tin Man who no longer goes by the name Nick Chopper. His heartbreaking performance was superb. One of the characters then pulled me aside and threatened me for information which I was unable to give. My husband later told me that he didn’t even notice that happening to me because he was engaged in a secret conversation with the Tin Woodman. It’s amazing how Speakeasy Society manages to give each person their own unique experience even while we are only feet apart in the same room. I think this says a lot about the quality and effectiveness of the storytelling and the performers.

tin

We were led back to the lobby area where we explored a bit more and approached Lyman. My husband and I chatted with Lyman for quite some time. His quick wit had me laughing so hard tears were rolling down my cheeks. He helped clarify that this is taking place in Kansas. He also stressed repeatedly the importance of making choices. My interactions with Lyman were really the highlight of my night.

lyman

I am very impressed with Speakeasy Society and look forward to Chapter 3. I highly recommend The Kansas Collection.

 

 

ODDITIES – Speakeasy Society: The Key – California

SPEAKEASY SOCIETY: THE KEY

YouTube Review

We’re off to see the Wizard, the wonderful Wizard of Oz…or are we?

It’s a choice. Make a choice. Should you or shouldn’t you see him? Either choice is a choice, so make a choice. The most beautiful thing about The Kansas Collection is the amount of choices you must make. Sometimes you may not even realize you are making them, but this theatrical event mirrors life in that way.

The Key is chapter one of The Kansas Collection. This was my first time experiencing Speakeasy Society’s work. I’d heard about it from all of my immersive theatre friends, so I had to check it out. I went in blind. I had no idea that the show had anything to do with the Wizard of Oz. Honestly, I didn’t even realize it was The Kansas Collection. I just knew everyone loved it and it had something to do with keys.

My husband and I attended the show together. We got our tickets online and eventually received the location in an email. Upon check-in I saw many familiar faces from the immersive theatre community waiting by the fire staying warm since the event took place outside and it a was chilly Los Angeles evening. Everyone was excited for the show and waiting their turn to be called back for their two person show. When Jeremiah and I were summoned to begin we first met with a vibrant character. (I would later find out his name is Lyman.) He set the mood by asking us questions and getting us involved. He then sent us into a tent to fill out a form. While completing our forms I asked the character Jo what the date was. He responded in a rather unusual way explaining that time works differently moving between Kansas and Oz. Then Jeremiah and I were sent in different directions to meet with our individual recruiters for the EC (Emerald City) to serve the Scarecrow King. I pledged my loyalty to the Scarecrow King. I didn’t just say the words, I meant them. I was told to be observant and avoid the man in the hat before being sent on my way back to the fire. I knew where the man in the hat was. I had seen other participants walking up to him and chatting. I wasn’t sure what to do. I talked with my friends for a bit and asked a few of them if they had been told not to speak to him or if I was “supposed to” anyway. Eventually with the encouragement of my friends I approached him hesitantly. I made that choice, even though I was told not to by my recruiter and had honestly pledged allegiance to the Scarecrow King. It was a moment of weakness. I received some information from him, waited while Jeremiah did the same and then we were off on another adventure.

I’ve only been involved in the immersive theatre community for the last year or so and in that time I’ve experienced a handful of immersive events. Some of them included alternate reality games that lasted months before the paid events, but none of them worked quite the same way as this unique form of storytelling. Speakeasy Society sets the bar for this particular form of interactive storytelling. I’ve never experienced anything quite like it. The shows are fairly short compared to traditional theatre, but incredibly impactful. They are separated into many chapters. Each chapter is another theatrical event moving the overall story forward. It’s brilliant. I was not only impressed with the format and execution of the theatrical piece, I thought the actors did an amazing job.

Overall I’m very impressed with Speakeasy Society and can’t wait to experience the upcoming chapters of The Kansas Collection.

ESCAPE ROOMS – 60out Escape Rooms: Outbreak – California

60OUT ESCAPE ROOMS: OUTBREAK

YouTube Review

I love this company and Outbreak happens to be at my favorite 60out Escape Rooms location in Marina Del Rey. Not only is there easy parking, awesome staff, amazing food walking distance from the location, but they also have some of my favorite escape games at this venue. Outbreak is one of those favorite games.

Outbreak is a wonderfully immersive experience. The set design, props, decor, use of technology is outstanding. The puzzles are not your standard “puzzle room” style conundrums, but rather a more hands on approach to figuring out what you might really do in the situation. I find this makes the experience all the more immersive and fun. However, if you are looking for a more puzzle heavy, mentally challenging game you may want to choose one of the other games at this location. However, if you want to really feel like you’re in a high stakes situation or a character in a video game that is going to save the planet, this is a perfect game for you.

There is a serum that you must find to save the world from a deadly virus. I know it’s not the most original concept in the world of escape rooms, but they do such an amazing job of executing the game that the over-used theming that it’s perfectly fine. I mean, just because I’ve played games with that theme before doesn’t mean newer players have anyway. Besides, people love being a hero and saving the world.

Overall Outbreak is one of my favorite games in the nation for it’s creative out of the box style, beautiful set and incredible immersion. It’s like spending an hour being in your own science fiction action movie, instead of just sitting at a theatre watching one. I highly recommend this game for players of all levels.

 

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WHERE TO EAT NEARBY:

SINNERS & SAINTS DESSERTS

One of my favorite bakeries is walking distance from this location. The Sinners & Saints Bakery has a large selection of delicious baked goods (including gluten-free) as well as unique coffee options.

EKKAMAI RESTAURANT

I’ve eaten here every time I’ve come to play games at the Marina Del Rey 60Out location. They have great Thai food with a good variety of gluten free options. It’s reasonably priced and always yummy. They have quick service. They are a couple of blocks from the games. I think they may be in a converted Taco Bell, so not a fancy place but a great local find.