Escaping reality



Photo courtesy of NPR Escape Rooms offer a physical and intellectual puzzle for adventure seekers. Players are locked into a room while riddles and clues are provided to “escape” the eerie locked rooms within time limitations ranging from an hour to two hours.

Ingrid Chan , Staff Writer

The best adventure novels tend to involve characters who either fight or think their way out of dangerous situations, vicariously exciting readers and sating their thirst for thrills. Modern day escape rooms simulate just that sort of escapade and have become increasingly popular for teenagers and adults alike.

         They are the perfect solution for those bored by their tedious daily lives in today’s relatively action-deprived world. Because I played many escape-based computer games when I was younger, the mere prospect of having myself locked in a real life escape room for up to an hour excited me to no end. I was finally able to experience it myself at Haunted Recording Studio on Cahuenga Boulevard in  Los Angeles.   

This particular venue is not as popular as some of the larger and more expensive places you can find in L.A. However, it’s a good place to experience your first escape room, allowing you to get the hang of them at a reasonable price.

The Haunted Recording Studio has only one escape set: four rooms and a hallway. As a result, appointments must be booked beforehand and only one group, ranging from 2 to 9 people, can participate  at a time. The cost is around $20-$35 per person depending on one’s age and the time of the appointment.

Although its outward appearance was somewhat plain and unnoticeable, the actual escape rooms were well-furnished and possessed an appropriately eerie ambience. While it was not downright scary, the spookiness definitely disturbed and distracted me while I tried to solve the rooms’ mysteries.

        Upon our arrival, my eight cousins and I were told the haunting story behind our particular escape room: a young, aspiring actress had never come out of a run-down recording studio. Our goal was to release the ghost and escape as well, all under 60 minutes. Though the actual storyline was uselessly elaborate and did not really contribute to this particular experience, most escape rooms do require a theme, story and goal for the players to accomplish.

After signing papers which confirmed that we did not have a history of panic attacks, we were handed a walkie talkie–in the case of emergencies or if someone wanted to quit–and  and warily filed our way through the narrow door that was ominously locked behind us.

Greeted by a completely dark hallway and four rundown doors, three of which were locked, we made our way into the first room where we proceeded to ransack the place for clues. Since there were nine of us, we were the definition of a chaotic mess, completely disorganized from the very start; let alone that this was the first time any of us had ever experienced an escape room. At one point, we were stuck in a room for nearly 20 minutes, convinced that the key to the next room was related to some color-coded cables, though it had only been a decoy.  

Walkie talkie in hand, we shamelessly asked for a hint from the operator. Since we were being constantly watched by the cameras in the room to ensure our safety, the escape room employees were well-aware of exactly how much we were struggling. They obligingly gave a major hint to help us along, and we proceeded in this manner through the following three rooms, completely clueless but enjoying ourselves nevertheless.

For a more immersive and satisfying experience, try multiple escape rooms so you know what to look out for and how to problem solve in such situations. It’s also a good idea to go with a smaller group since it would cause much less confusion; the spooky atmosphere can’t be properly appreciated if there are too many people.

Your first time visiting an escape room is bound to be more frustrating–it was for us. But I can imagine how much more fun it would be if we had actually known how to handle ourselves.  Nearby escape rooms include Cross Roads Escape Games in Anaheim, Exodus Escape Rooms in both Anaheim and Rowland Heights, and Real Escape Rooms also in Rowland Heights.