Cross Roads Escape Games, Anaheim, CA
A few Mondays ago, I had the chance to visit Cross Roads Escape Games for their "haunter's night" featuring their escape room entitled "The Hex Room." Although this is not an exclusive seasonal attraction for Halloween, the theme of The Hex Room does invite participants to live out a horror movie by taking on the roles of recurring character types of many horror movies. Thus, it made for a good candidate for haunted attraction enthusiasts and performers looking for something to do on a night off.
Located in a perfectly normal-looking warehouse office in a industrial business park, approximately northeast of where the 91 and 55 freeways meet, Cross Roads Escape Games actually features two escape rooms--The Fun House in addition to the aforementioned Hex Room. In addition, the current incarnation of The Hex Room is actually a second generation escape room that has taken the design and puzzles of the original version and amped them up in quality and difficulty.
The attraction is designed to accommodate 5-10 people, and guests take on the role of one of six characters--the Detective, the Prom Queen, the Jock, the Nerd, the Rebel, or the Virgin. An ideal set-up involves six people, which is what occurred during my visit. One character is removed when the bare minimum occurs, and if there are more than six, then one or more characters are played by two participants. A survey taken while guests are waiting informs which roles each guest plays.
What makes this particular escape room unique from many others is that each character is actually separated from the others and placed into his/her own room to start the game. Within each of the six rooms are clues, props, and puzzles that are designed to help that person escape from the room and also elements that are vital for other players to escape from their rooms. As a result, communication is exceptionally vital. Players must speak and interact with each other in order to exchange information and actual props to complete the puzzles.
Those who are able to escape their own rooms join together in the common room, where a second layer of puzzles requires some of the items within each individual room to be used in concert to find the codes and keys needed to escape the overall Hex Room. And to make matters even more dramatic, guests can be left behind! It is possible for a scenario to occur wherein a guest provides the group with the information or tools needed to escape the larger room but be unable to find the items required to escape his or her own room.
This, as you can guess, makes teamwork very important. Players must work together and help each other to ensure maximum success. However, for those seeking further personal glory, each individual escape room also contains a optional puzzle that players can solve to earn a bonus medal (note: only used as a sign of success and not a souvenir guests can keep--though perhaps the producers may consider offering that for sale to those who are able to solve their personal puzzle and escape the overall Hex Room). Just don't be so focused on solving the personal puzzle that the greater good and escape is compromised due to lack of communication.
My Monday evening trip partnered me with five other participants, only one who I already knew. Of our half dozen, only one had never done an escape room before (my friend), and one had actually done this same room in an earlier, different form. And although another member of our group had played numerous escape rooms before, most of us had relatively low experience in this genre of entertainment.
Still, we had a good group that worked together to solve a myriad of puzzles. And as time raced down on the one hour limit, the tension definitely started to build. As an overall experience, there was nothing particularly scary about the escape room. The premise revolved around the ambiance of a horror movie, but that was more inspiration for the set dressing of the rooms, the characters, and the props and clues. There were no scares and no other actors brought on to frighten or disturb. Instead, the ambiance was just ominous and nerve-wracking. After all, if we didn't escape, our fate was death, and who knew how that would actually take place?
We ultimately escaped with a scant 0:49 seconds left (joining 20% of all participants), and only one of our group members was able to also solve his personal puzzle (placing him within the top 5% of all guests). The puzzles were challenging but not overly maniacal for the sake of just being hard. Clues fit the nature of typical escape rooms--connecting patterns, resolving word puzzles, finding codes and combinations to safes and padlocks and locks. And with the rich theming and creepy atmosphere, the whole experience was thrilling and exciting, leaving me eager to experience more.
Cross Roads Escape Games boasts itself as the highest rated escape room in L.A. and Orange Counties, and if my experience was any indication, it is well deserving of the high praise that it receives. I am not really an escape room aficionado, but after this experience, I actually felt excitement to seek out more similar quality rooms to explore with friends! Though I admit my escape room experience isn't that broad, I feel that in an expanding world of more and more popularizing escape rooms, The Hex Room stands out as one of the top ones. Get a good group together and have a fun and suspenseful hour in this fantastic interactive attraction!
Pricing for The Hex Room is $35/person, and though that might be on a bit of the high side, I think the quality is worth it. Get more information at Cross Roads Escape Games' web site.
Architect. Photographer. Disney nerd. Haunt enthusiast. Travel bugged. Concert fiend. Asian.