Escapade Game’s “Zoe” Escape Room is a Truly Immersive Horror Story
“We came, we escaped, we crapped our pants – Mike – My Haunt Life”
“I did NOT scream like a girl…over and over – Russell – My Haunt Life”
These two quotes are written above the door to the waiting room at Escapade Games. One of the rewards for escaping is to sign their wall (of fame). Every so often, an experience will leave us filled with fright, excitement, and the yearning to do it over at the very moment the experience ends. Escapade Game’s “Zoe” Escape Room gave us that experience. “Zoe” is a horror escape room, but it is true, immersive horror. This isn’t just a “horror” room with some blood on the walls. No no, this is much, much more.
Russell: Let’s talk about horror. Let’s talk about the fun that comes from the shiver running up your spine, the reflex jump when a loud noise occurs, the giddy mix of fear and excitement that comes from thinking you may not be alone in the dark… when the creepy voice on the phone warns you may die… when the car does not start as the killer approaches. If you are a horror fan, you relish such moments. If a haunt or live event can create such moments, when they happen to you it brings a satisfied smile to your face. Right?
What if you could gather a few of those moments together and enjoy them right now? The strength of Escapade Games is that they are succeeding in providing such moments in a fun, creative new experience that allows you to step inside a compelling horror story and challenges you to survive and be brave enough to find your way out.
Mike: We often talk about how there aren’t many horror related things happening in the “offseason”. Escapade changes that. If you want to have a fun, horror experience, you can go to Fullerton, CA, get immersed, and have an amazing time. You don’t have to wait until October for this. You can do it tonight if you wanted!
Russell: Mood is everything for this room. Stepping into a horror setting can happen in different environments, a haunt immediately comes to mind, of course. The beauty of this room is that it succeeds in delivering those wonderful creepy moments that get your heart pumping. You think you are alone…what if a flash of light reveals you are not… but the next flash confirms that you are? What if the power goes out at the worst possible moment? What if the phone rings in the middle of the night? What if something near you moves by itself – what do you do? Horror film moments surround you inside this room. In their advertising for ZOE, the name of this room, they simply state, “Be a part of a horror movie.” They fully deliver on that promise.
Mike: Russell and I often talk about production design within a room. After this room, the “mood” is just as important as the set design. The mood gets you immersed in this environment and makes you BELIEVE you are in this environment in real life. It’s no longer an escape room, it’s a living, breathing entity all unto itself and you are stuck in the middle of it! Once that door is locked behind you, you feel yourself instantly transported to a place you may have only seen on a big screen. You are living this nightmare now and it’s up to you to wake up from it.
Russell: Since you are active… this is an escape room, after all, distraction works completely to the advantage of the room. You may not even notice things changing inside the room as you maneuver to solve clues and finish tasks. That is where the strength of this room firmly rests… the element of surprise kept us guessing and jumping and, yeah… screaming, almost constantly. Mike and I both had moments where we screamed, leapt and (maybe) even hid or ran in fear. The intense level of fun, for me, is almost indescribable. THAT is how much I love this room.
Mike: Not only did Russell’s Haunt Noises™ make an appearance many times throughout the room, but also, Russell’s potty mouth! It’s been a long time since I’ve heard Russell swear out of shock and fright and this room made it happen many times. I was definitely caught off guard and surprised MANY times throughout this room that made me scream as well! That is the best part of this room and one of the main reasons we’re being so vague. If you’re a horror nerd like we are, this room will be that much better if you don’t know the surprises lurking and waiting for you inside.
Russell: One of my favorite things I have ever done in an escape room happened when Mike and I were about halfway through. As I said, changes happen inside the room as you progress. In one moment, I found myself in a claustrophobic space trying to figure out my next step. Suddenly, I hear Mike scream nearby. Just as I realize what I am supposed to do I find out that Mike has simultaneously encountered something that put me in the position of having to… well… save him, to some degree. It was a horror movie moment come to life. I felt like I had to save my friend from something I could not see. THAT’S an exciting moment. It was real. It happened. It was thrilling and exciting. Above all, it was a blast!
Mike: That was definitely my favorite part of the room and might be my favorite escape room moment of all time. I had genuine fear during that moment because I didn’t know what would happen. I was truly present and immersed in this world…to the point where I thought I might get taken away and not be able to continue. This is what happens when you let yourself go into these worlds that are created. The payoff, when things like this happen, add so much to your experience.
Russell: Stressing Mike’s earlier point, if you love horror and decide to attempt this experience DO NOT RESEARCH OR READ REVIEWS. Just go! On the technical side, I’d like to point to a couple of things. In my opinion, this is a room you want to explore almost slowly and truly appreciate the atmosphere. This room is an impressive achievement when it comes to tone. Escapade has created a true horror experience that you can step into and explore. As far as the escape room elements go, this will probably not be the most difficult escape room you will encounter. That is not intended as a criticism, at all. In the middle of the event, there is a series of tasks that, I must admit, I found wonderfully confusing and challenging. Also… it was a very original idea! The clues and riddles and puzzles are well-integrated into the story being told. However, it is that story and the constantly shifting environment that is the reason I would recommend this experience to horror fans.
Mike: Right! Obviously, escape rooms are meant to be fun for most people, but sometimes, for some people, getting the record or high score takes precedence and these people miss out on story points and really don’t immerse themselves in the environment. If you are like this, please, don’t do that in this room! You will want to take your time and absorb everything you see. The story, the rooms, the props, everything. The payoff will be worth it, we promise!
Russell: We escaped, but we actually got so wrapped up in the story we forgot to do one task. (It did not affect the outcome, but it is funny that we were so emotionally charged that we fumbled on accomplishing one thing.) There were a couple of times when Mike and I struggled to hear some narration that provided information, but it did not affect our experience negatively. The only reason I mention it here is to offer the advice to listen and pay close attention to details and sounds when you attempt this room.
Mike: You mentioned the narration. Now in this room, they give you some helpful hints in such a great way. It’s done in character and is so creepy at times! I don’t feel that these hints were too much. We’ve done many rooms where we feel that the clue giving is too much. This was not one of those rooms.
Also, I want to point out that just the two of us did this room. This room can accommodate up to six people. So if you only have a couple people, do not fear that you won’t escape because you need more people. It IS possible to do.
Russell: How do you thank an escape room? It is a true credit to Escapade and the creators of the ZOE room that I left feeling revitalized and I left being reminded why I love horror… it can be FUN. Things that go bump in the night remind you that you are alive and they make the dark a thrilling place to hang out. That feeling of excitement is something I have not had in a while… Escapade gave me a very large helping of it and I am grateful for it.
Mike: I think the answer is simple…our smiles and the fact that we immediately told them we wanted to do it again. I think to any creator, seeing the positivity and eagerness to do your creation again says good things. Even with that being said, I still want to say more. I want to tell everyone I know to go and do this room right now! Thank you Escapade for bringing Zoe into our lives.