ONE WAY TICKET - Maze Rooms LA
This is Escape Mattster's game No. 63.
Venue: Maze Rooms LA (Hollywood Branch)
Address: 1328 Highland Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90028
Game: One Way Ticket
Here is a carbon copy of my Yelp review, posted originally on 01/03/2019:
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ONE WAY TICKET / Grade: A
"...Enthusiast's treasure, book it soon!"
Can I get a high five? Because I have officially completed all 3 games available at Maze Rooms on Highland in Hollywood. For my tl;dr audience, it boils down to this: If you want a real challenge with tons of whimsical puzzles, go for "World of Illusions". If you enjoy elements of exploration and many surprises, try "Pharaoh's Tomb". Finally, if you want a strong plot-driven experience with an incredibly polished and posh looking set, buy yourself a "One Way Ticket"!
Tonight, dressed in our dapperest get-up, we took on Maze Room's take on a steampunk-inspired train ride, and came close to Death face-to-face. You see, as the most successful railroad business owners in the West, not only did we make bank, we also inevitably made some enemies along the way--some of them hidden right among the staff. A disgruntled employee had concealed a bomb aboard, set to go off in 1 hour, before the train's arrival at its final station. Would this journey be our last, a one-way ticket... TO HELL?
Two things really made me appreciate this room a lot more than I expected: the story, and the set. As mentioned above, this was a very strong plot line by most escape room standards. It's simple, yet direct. It's got an interesting conflict, and a clear goal for resolution. Its simplicity was elegant, and it really helped my group to get into character.
All the prep work done by the premise was further strengthened by the amazing, amazing looking set, which was essentially different cars on a train unit. The promo pics on the website probably didn't need a whole lot of photoshopping, because the production value was just as impressive in person as it was online. When I set afoot inside the room, I squealed uncontrollably. It. Looked. So. GOOD! It's certainly good enough to film a Sherlock Holmes movie in here. And with our own preppy costumes, everything just complemented to perfection.
On the walls of each train car were "windows" that displayed moving scenery that simulated constant motion of the moving vehicle. While this was undoubtedly an impressive touch, I did feel that without the element of motion, or an atmospheric soundtrack (train track sounds, maybe?), it wasn't 100% convincing. So owners, I'd love to see you perfect this aspect of immersion some day.
Puzzle wise, everything played out just as magnificently as the visuals. This was definitely a heavily tech dependent room, but the execution was perfect. Every key items used to unlock and progress the game were objects that were logical within the setting. And to illustrate without outright spoiling it for anyone, there's an alcohol puzzle in the bar, for instance. This was the ONLY ROOM of the 3 that impressed me so, in the way that no single challenge felt forced or misplaced. Literally every riddle tied in plausibly as actions that a character might take as the story unfolded.
I did have slight issues with the room that prevented it from being perfect; for example, certain objects would require *exact* placements to trigger next step, even if answer input was 100% the right idea. Some puzzle props would "react" (ie, make a noise) even when I knowingly had not yet attempted to solve 'em, leading to slight confusion, (as in "Did I solve this already? By luck?"). Finally, 1 particular audio cue went completely missing, causing us to delay a certain step until gm's intervention. Most hints I requested stemmed from these setbacks, and could potentially be avoided. Aw well, no tech room is ever perfect, and gm did help move things along, but this inevitably detracted from the illusion of escape room magic.
One particular puzzle'd also benefit from slight modification to provide a more clarified and clean-cut solution.
Difficulty was easy-medium, and with hints mentioned above, we defused the bomb with time to spare! I guess we oughta rename the room "Round-Trip Tickets" after all, 'cause evil's foiled, and Death's gonna have to try harder on another day.
Tbh... "Ticket" just became my favorite at the Hollywood branch, something truly unexpected since "Illusions" was such a strong contender. The commitment to balance story, immersion, and puzzle made "Ticket" the most well-rounded option, ultimately tipping the scale in its favor in the end.
Last but not least, our gm Clovis was one of the reasons why this business's keeping its 5-star rating. What a pro! He was quick to respond when I entered the building, well-versed and well-trained in the way he guided us through all the procedures, and was attentive and proactive in keeping the game progress smooth running. He's a bit of a stickler to the rules, which showed principles, and was a great promoter for his employers--Selfie Museum, anyone? He also showed passion for escape room as a hobby/topic in general, so tyvm, it's a privilege to have you as our gm in my closing chapter with this branch.