Having just played my 200th escape room, I decided it was time to compile a Top X list, and it just so happens that this event coincided with the nominations and voting for the Top Escape Rooms Project, which I was excited to participate in this year!
Believe me when I say it wasn’t easy to narrow it down. This list is based on a combined score of production design, narrative and puzzle design, uniqueness, and, last but not least, how much fun we had. Aside from the top few, the order should not be taken with too much weight - all of these are amazing rooms that I am super thankful to have had the chance to play, and it’s a big toss up between most of them.
I have also included the year in which I played each game, for two reasons: 1. Games change, so an experience from two years ago may not necessarily be the same as it is now. 2. The standards and market have changed so much over time (particularly in production design) that in some ways it’s hard to compare an old game to a newer one. Since this is a list of personal favorites, my scores are generally based on how I felt when I played the game. And so, here are my favorite 25 rooms thus far, with some (very brief) thoughts.
The Dome - Escape Room Nederland, Bunschoten, The Netherlands (2019) - This room left me speechless. I don’t want to spoil a single thing about it, other than it’s so good that I want to go experience it again.
The Lost Treasure of Alexander Humboldt - The Room, Berlin, Germany (2018) - Exemplary gameplay, set design, and storytelling. This room was the catalyst for my planning a trip to Berlin, and it was worth it. (This company has a new room now - when do I get to go back??)
Inventor’s Attic - Escape My Room, New Orleans, LA, USA (2019) - This room (like everything at Escape My Room, from the entrance to the photo area), was put together with so much care and love, and it shows. It also had one particularly brilliant use of an object that I’d never seen before, and we were all delighted by it.
The Man From Beyond - Strange Bird Immersive, Houston, TX, USA (2019) - This game/performance/experience is a work of art. It’s clear the team behind it has a background in theater, because the storytelling was as affecting as it was effective, and the entire production was as magical as it was meant to be.
The Storykeeper - Locurio, Seattle, WA, USA (2019) - From set to puzzles to performance, this really felt like stepping into a beautiful and whimsical adventure. My biggest problem with this game is that it was over too quickly - all I wanted to do was continue exploring this world.
Amsterdam Catacombs - Logic Locks, Amsterdam, The Netherlands (2019) - This game terrified me… in the best possible way? I’m truly not a horror fan (the number of scary games on this list is a testament to how good they are) but Amsterdam Catacombs really accomplished something special.
The Haunted House - The Chamber, Prague, Czech Republic (2018) - The puzzle flow was so smooth, and they nailed the atmosphere and effects; I couldn’t ask for a better haunted house game.
Lab Rat - Hatch Escapes, Los Angeles, CA, USA (2018) - This game was clever, funny, and a joy to play through.
The Experiment - The Great Escape, Zwolle, The Netherlands (2019) - I think this game has my favorite exit sequence ever. It was as triumphant as it was humorous.
The Playground - The Escape Game, Houston, TX,* USA (2019) - You can let your inner child out in this one! I just wish it had a jungle gym. :P
The Orphanage - DarkPark, Zoetermeer, The Netherlands (2019) - Here we traversed a very spacious Orphanage in the dark, encountering some creative puzzles while trying not to get too spooked.
Galactic Pioneers - Mindmaze, Prague, Czech Republic (2018) - The most solid space-themed game I’ve ever played. They executed perfectly what many rooms fail to do.
The End - DarkPark, Zoetermeer, The Netherlands (2019) - The End was a surprising and thrilling experience with an excellent actor (that I am not ashamed to say creeped me out a lot.)
The Executioner - House of Tales, Berlin, Germany (2018) - For a game about a killer, it was quite a lot of fun. House of Tales really impressed me.
Beast of Berlin - The Room, Berlin, Germany (2018) - My strongest memory is the great flow this game had, but like every game at The Room, it was also beautifully designed and cleverly put together.
Circus of the Lost Souls - Immersia, Boisbriand, QC, Canada (2019) - This room had my favorite hint mechanism ever. It was also well-crafted and exactly what you’d want from a creepy circus theme.
The Grand Immersia Hotel - Immersia, Boisbriand, QC, Canada (2019) - This game was impressive and fun from start to finish, and the actor really added to the experience.
The Night of the Wolf and the Serpent - Codex, Laval, QC, Canada (2019) - I finally got to play a Norse Mythology game, and it didn’t disappoint! Even walking into this room was a wow moment.
Gulliver’s Travels - Sherlocked, Rishon LeZion, Israel (2018) - This game delivered the story of Gulliver in a creative, humorous, and cinematic way.
Revolution - Liberty Escape (now closed), Philadelphia, PA (2017) - I played this so long ago now, but it was the first room I walked out of thinking, “I have nothing bad to say about this game.”
The Eventide Departure - Puzzle Break, Seattle, WA, USA (2019) - It may be a bit surprising this made it on the list, but as two players we really enjoyed this game through and through.
Cutthroat Cavern - 13th Gate Escape, Baton Rouge, LA, USA (2019) - The puzzles could use more cluing here, but what can I say? The set. Is just. Phenomenal.
Asylum - 13th Gate Escape, Baton Rouge, LA, USA (2019) - The set and atmosphere are amazing, and the puzzles here were probably my favorite out of the rooms at 13th Gate.
A Los Angeles Crime Story- Stash House, Los Angeles, CA, USA (2018) - Lots of exciting gameplay that can actually occupy a larger group, unlike most escape rooms.
Houdini Room - Palace Games, San Francisco, CA, USA (2017) - This room is so filled with puzzles that our group was busy til the very end of this 80 minute game. I’m really looking forward to trying the other rooms at Palace Games.
*The Playground exists at several of The Escape Game locations around the U.S.
What’s your favorite room, or favorite place to visit for escape games?