The clock has started. You’re in a room with multiple doors, some of them locked, and there are puzzles on the walls. Next to you is a shelf of equipment with helmets and prop guns that have lights attached to them. You check the clock again: one hour. Where do you start?
The Exit Game, located in Monterey Park, is an interactive three-dimensional game in which you solve logic puzzles in order to open up new rooms to explore and escape from. Jeff Hsin, the owner and mastermind behind the puzzles, has a vision that involves bringing puzzle games similar to The Legend of Zelda series alive. The Exit Game is the largest escape room in the region with about 7,000 square feet. Just like a console game, you, the player, must go through a series of rooms and trials where you have to either solve puzzles, pick up clues, unlock rooms and chests, or decipher secret messages. It is a complicated maze where you not only have to find your way out, but you have to work for the solution. Sometimes that can involve being trapped behind bars, crawling through dark tunnels, reading hidden messages with black light, or crossing over laser lights. All the while, there can be audio sounds playing from above which are installed in order to set the tone of the maze, or even be a part of the puzzle.
Laser lights may get in your way of escaping The Vault.
The Lab, one of the four challenges available, has eight rooms to unlock, some of which you will find clues for the next room or the one before it. These clues are in plain sight, and because of how obvious they appear, it is easy to overlook them. It is the largest room, and a group of at least six people is recommended in order to complete the challenge within the one hour limit. You are given one official hint, which you can access by pressing a call button on the wall. However, anything after that will disqualify you from the Wall of Fame, which is a wall of pictures of those who completed the challenge within the time frame and without using more than one hint. This challenge in particular is 90% in the darkness, where you have to use a flashlight in order to find your way through. Don’t worry, though — nothing scary will jump out, at least that’s what Jeff told us before we began. Be careful not to overthink. Keep an open mind, and open your eyes.
The room with four doors: which one should you unlock first?
With our helmets on and our flashlight guns, we switched on our brains and started solving the clues in the first room, the same room in which we had received our equipment. There was no time to waste because the clock was already ticking. Subtle, eerie music played in the background, creating a suspenseful vibe. There was graffiti on the walls, aliens, and an old electric chair. We were sucked into what looked like an abandoned alien laboratory, hence “The Lab” or “Lab 51.” We were nervous since this was our first escape room, but within ten minutes we were able to solve our first couple of puzzles without much trouble. However, after the thirty-minute mark, that was when we started calling in for hints. As a two-person team, we couldn’t handle the simplicity of the puzzles. We were overestimating ourselves, and overthinking.
That was just “The Lab.” It is the easiest escape room for beginners, but if that’s too easy for you, there are other rooms as well. There is “The Vault,” “The Chamber,” and “The Villain’s Lair,” which is a reenactment of being trapped in a North Korean prison. Built for a maximum team of ten people, this challenge will split you into two cells, and it is up to you guys to figure out how to escape just by communicating with each other and looking at the clues on the walls.
A Prisoner of The Villain’s Lair about to figure out how to escape the room.
Jeff also told us that there are more rooms in the making. One of the older challenge rooms, “The Chamber,” has tentative plans to be converted into a Harry Potter room where challenges can vary from wand battles and talking to animated paintings.
Also opening this December, a new room, which is still being beta-tested, has exciting plans involving the digital realm and an actual desktop that is linked to the room itself. Jeff and his team plan to make this as realistically virtual as possible so that instead of bringing the game to you, you are forced into the game.
You can’t escape The Villain’s Lair until you crack the code in the journal.
If real-life puzzles with pressuring time-limits excites you, then try out The Exit Game. It not only serves as the perfect ice breaker, but is a great team building activity for special corporate events, clubs, organizations, and private companies. Groups that have experienced these escape rooms in the past include Google employees, YouTube stars, and various local companies.
Escape one room, or escape them all. The Exit Game will get you hooked on solving puzzles and making it out alive. Failure is not an option. Good luck.
111 N. Atlantic Blvd #148 Monterey Park, CA 91754