THE ORPHANAGE - 60Out Escape Rooms
This is Escape Mattster's game No. 25.
Address: 135 S Western Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90004
Game: The Orphanage
Here is a carbon copy of my Yelp review, posted originally on 07/04/2018:
THE ORPHANAGE // Grade: A-
"...Enthusiast's treasure, book it soon!"
Like a fellow reviewer, I too planned a sibling bonding time at this 60Out location. Having played "Nautilus" (see "Previous") just days ago, I'd come to expect superb-quality product from both this brand and this location in particular. Being horror fans ourselves, we two were both super psyched/nervous the moment we arrived to venture into "The Orphanage"! Game master Leila, who was fantastic from start to finish, got us acquainted with the usual rules etc, and a doomed journey off we go!
After the GM slammed the main entrance door shut, we were shrouded in absolute pitch darkness (!). A creepy narrator voice filled us in what's up: a suspicious orphanage, missing kids, determined heroes (that'd be us). We set foot in the questionable orphanage, hoping to shed some lights on the children's disappearance, but only to be trapped in the foreboding building by a mysterious force. We have 1 hour to escape, or who knows what the dishonorable director'd do to us?
The scenic was amazing. I thought Nautilus was great, but Orphanage was even better. Even in the dimly lit room(s), I could visually tell the HIGH QUALITY materials they used to construct this truly movie-quality set. Upon actually touching the props, my fingers confirmed what I saw. Everything even *felt* HQ. 60Out even went the extra mile to manufacture a prop book without using actual paper (you'll see), thus eliminating the need for "un-immersive" lamination of individual pages. Such attention to details merited high praises.
What about them puzzles? This was where it got a little... "iffy". My sis and I both agreed that, in this aspect, Orphanage felt less like an escape room, but more of a haunt experience with specific task goals. Call us sucky players, but many of the steps did not feel organic or intuitive. When prodded by the GM in the correct direction, or when hinted heavily even, the solution made clear sense. But pre-clue, much of it fell in the category of "How were we supposed to know that?" Furthermore, one puzzle in particular was stunning to look at, theoretically functional, but poor in execution that it ended up coming off as confusing and frustrating. (Hence, the room's grade of A- instead of a full A.)
Despite the above, each activity we had to perform fitted snugly in the story world, and were all actually FUN to do. Therefore, even if I seemingly critiqued on the game play, I still thoroughly enjoyed the many moments I shared with my sister. (And that's really what it's all about, right?)
Now, the next important question: just how scary was it? As mentioned above, starting off the players in total darkness was a pretty ballsy move. You literally would have zero light source at hand or around you. (Even the renowned The Basement, another escape company, gives you an ominous, faint light.) I guess 60Out really meant business! As the game progressed, mood lighting, immersive audio, & other special effects all worked seamlessly together to create a terrifying tale that the audience would easily get lost in.
However, without the implement of an actual actor and live jump scare, it's a comfortable level of scariness. There were moments of hesitation, but my sister & I always ended up pushing through head on, motivated by the urgency of the clock's ticking down, and the captivating story behind the game. Suffice to say, it's horrific in the ways horror fans want it to be, without its being pee-your-pants level of scary that'd prevent you from enjoying yourselves. In fact, your own imagination is a significant player in your experience, and your adventure is only as frightening as you allow it to be.
Of note, the same overhead PA hint system was used, and Leila was even semi-in-character, thus making clue request both convenient & more immersive than Nautilus. Since most of the steps were counter-intuitive to how our 2 brains worked, we sadly used a whopping 7-8 hints to defeat the evils that lurked the orphanage.
We did, however, escaped with close to 15 minutes left. So as far as difficulty went, it wasn't terrible! The designers probably accounted for the stressful environment for the participants, and therefore budgeted the number of puzzles to the lower side, making an escape under 60 minutes more achievable. Basing on my own experience, I recommend a small group of 2 to 3 players for a spooky great time; and go lightly on the hints, as most players would have more than sufficient time to succeed.
Lastly, I want to thank Leila again for being an awesome GM. Not only did she help me take some great souvenir photos (check 'em out... we're dressed up, y'all), she even volunteered to explain any dying questions that we had regarding both the game and its behind-the-scene technology. Her professionalism made this a class-act escape game, and Orphanage's probably my favorite horror themed room thus far.