Mike: If you’ve read our reviews or have listened to our podcast, you know we do a lot of escape rooms. Now, while each one we do is different and fun, for the most part, they’re the same; a group of people go into a room and find clues to escape. We just tried Cross Roads Escape Games room called “The Hex” and I will say this: Cross Roads Escape Games room “The Hex” is the next step in the evolution of escape games/rooms.
Russell: Wow, this is definitely one of my favorite escape rooms I have ever done. Period.
Mike: We first encountered this new escape game company at Scare LA last August where they had a booth set up and some flyer handouts. If you actually read the flyer, there was a puzzle on it that, if solved correctly, would get you a discount when they opened. This was something awesome to me. Most new companies only want to get information out to their audience, but they took it a step further by adding that little puzzle. Fast forward a few months to HorrorCon and the Abra Cadaver Swap and they came out and they upped the ante. They didn’t have a puzzle on a flyer, they had an actual mini escape game at their booth! If you solved the clues and opened the last piece of the puzzle, you were awarded with $10 off admission once they were open. Because of these little details, this added SO much excitement. We were so excited to try this and had really high hopes based on their backgrounds (they’ve worked with Delusion and Queen Mary’s Dark Harbor) and their love of horror and escape rooms. Like a horror movie, just when you thought everything was safe, the killer (aka the City of Anaheim), would come and slash their throats (aka building permits) and not allow them to survive (aka open). There was a long, bloody battle that ensued (ok it wasn’t bloody) and our protagonists came out without a scratch and were finally allowed to open! Once we finally got inside, we knew that this was something special.
When you first walk into Cross Roads, you are greeted by the wonderful husband and wife team of Luke and Madison Rhodes (Cross Roads/Rhoades…get it?).
Russell: The thing that struck me upon meeting both Madison and Luke at each of the events you mentioned was their high level of enthusiasm. I immediately got the sense that they were true fans of the horror genre overall and escape rooms. Their energy made me want to check out whatever they were creating.
Mike: After welcoming you to Cross Roads, they’ll have you sign a waiver and then fill out a questionnaire. This brief survey will help them pick which “movie stereotype” you are for the room. There are 6 stereotypes you can be, the jock, the nerd, the virgin, the prom queen, the rebel, and the detective.
Once you become your stereotype, you are then led into a dark room. You might think this is where your game will begin….WRONG. You are then taken, one by one, and led away into other rooms and then locked away from the rest of your team! You are alone in your own room! This is what I love about the Hex Room. This is not like any other escape room I have done so far.
Russell: That’s a great touch to this escape room. Come on, we have all said to ourselves while watching some horror movie, “If that was ME, I would totally survive! I would never do anything stupid – like separate and wander off by myself!” The basic premise of Cross Roads puts that “back seat driver” mentality to the test. You get the chance to test yourself, see if you really do have the smarts to get out of a horror movie scenario.
Mike: Most escape rooms start by throwing your whole team into a room, closing the door, and then the mad scrambling chaos for clues begins with everyone running around, bumping into each other, and getting in each others way. With the Hex Room, each person is separated and in their own room. Not only must they escape their own room, but once they do that, they then have to escape with the rest of their team from the larger room. It’s an aspect that works so well. With 6 different rooms, you can come back and do it multiple times and still have a unique experience. A lot of escape rooms do not have replay value, but the replay value with the Hex Room is above and beyond. We did the Hex room twice in the span of 5 days and even the 2nd time going through, it felt like a brand new experience. Sure there were times when I knew a certain answer to a puzzle, but to keep it fresh and spoiler free for the others on my team, I did not give out the new information (which ultimately killed us since we didn’t escape) If we only had 20 more seconds, we would have. Not escaping is a bummer, but that doesn’t take away from the amazingly fun time we had each time.
Russell: Personally, I loved that about this room. To be able to come back and replay and get to see the puzzles being solved from the other side of a door – and I mean that literally for parts of it, is a truly unique concept and an important aspect of this particular room. For us, making the group decision to not offer too much guidance to each other (when dealing with puzzles we had personally encountered the previous time through) actually added to the excitement. Watching your friends triumph, fail or get to have the same “AHA!!!” moment you did earlier was amazingly fun.
We have talked before about the pros and cons of “replaying” an escape room and it is rarely a positive thing. The structure of the Cross Roads Hex Room guarantees repeated trips will have rewards each and every time.
Also, we should mention the design of the individual rooms. Each room creates a completely unique and authentic environment and truly feels like it has been crafted with love… or by a madman. You actually feel like you have stepped into a room lifted out of a horror film. Inside each of the rooms, there are elements… specific details… that enrich the game. Twice I encountered things that gave me a reaction of, “Ew, gross!” That was usually followed by me exclaiming, “This is so cool!!” The production value is key and adds to the overall thrill of the Hex Room.
It quickly becomes clear that all of the careful attention to detail within each room is not just mere decoration. The Hex Room also gets a very high marks for immersing you completely in the horror movie environment. Everything – from an object sitting on a table to something painted on the wall to something inside a drawer or cabinet – might be key to your escape. Sometimes, you can pick up something and immediately know it’s purpose, and other times the puzzles reach an intense level of difficultly absolutely needing multiple people involved to solve them. The wide range of difficulty levels for the varying challenges is absolutely part of the appeal of Cross Roads. The variety in difficulty greatly enhances the fun! I laughed out loud at one point because I had gone back to the same thing over and over again before suddenly realizing how simple the solution was. At the same time, in the same room, there was a code solution that stumped us all until our final seconds of “life.” It is impressive how many different types of challenges Cross Roads has managed to fit into this one escape game and the wide variety absolutely helps this become one of the most re-playable rooms we’ve encountered so far.
Mike: Even though we died twice, it’s not because the puzzles are impossible to solve. I feel that the puzzles are the perfect difficulty for the environment and time frame you have. Both times we played this, we got to the last puzzle and if we only had a few more seconds, we could have escaped. So those few seconds could have been earned by solving something else more quickly earlier in the room, or finding that last puzzle piece a little bit earlier, or communicated what someone found in their room a little more quickly or louder so that you didn’t have to “waste” time by repeating yourself. Of course all of these are “couldas” realized after the fact. The point is, this room IS escapable, but is VERY challenging as well.
Mike: Another thing that separates the Hex Room from other escape rooms is that each person/each room has a side puzzle that’s unique to your stereotype called the “Hex Box”. The Hex Box is a puzzle that contains that ultimate prize…Survival. In most horror movies, the stereotypes get killed off right? Well if you are able solve your puzzle AND your team escapes, then you survive. If you figure out your Hex box puzzle and don’t escape, you die. If you don’t figure out your puzzle and you escape, you die. So you can see how important it can be. As always, the fight for survival comes with a price. Do you spend that time selfishly and figuring out your Hex Box puzzle to try and survive while ignoring your teammates that may need your help? Or do you spend your time helping your team for the greater good of escape and risk the possibility of not having enough time to solve your Hex box puzzle and die?
“Live or die, make your choice” – Jigsaw
If you are a fan of the traditional escape game, you will love this. If you’re a fan of cheesy horror movies, you will love this. If you have no idea what this is about and think it will just be a fun time with your friends, you will love it. Seriously, I can’t recommend this enough. This will be my go to recommendation for people when they ask about escape rooms and which ones they should do and which ones are good.
The Hex Room has killed us twice so far, but the thing is, we can’t wait to go back for more and try the other roles we have not been cast as, yet! A lot of movies that have had a sequel and that eventually turns into a trilogy. Well, in the My Haunt Life vs The Hex Room trilogy (The third installment is still in the writing phase. There are cast issues as well directing issues), we are coming back from the dead, with a vengeance! We WILL conquer the evil of the the Hex Room.
Russell: Wait… isn’t the third entry of a horror trilogy usually in 3D? Do we get to where those funny, uncomfortable glasses the next time we go?
Mike: Well, if you want glasses, I guess you’ll be the nerd next time. Art imitates real life right? And speaking of bad jokes, no cheesy horror movies can be had without some “amazing” word play. So Cross Roads, here are my puns for you:
“We’re coming back to stick a fork in the Rhoades!”
“If we don’t escape, you will see a new definition of Rhoades rage!”
“If you don’t want to die, practice safe Hex”
“I think the Hex room is Hexcellent!”
Ok I’m done….for now