A few weeks ago I had the chance to check out LA’s newest Escape Room, ESCAPEDOM.  Located on Westwood Blvd between a Thai restaurant and a pizza shop, I wasn’t really sure what to expect but nonetheless I put all feelings of doubt on the back burner and prepared myself for what was to come.

When going to an escape room you expect certain things – a story, a goal, tricks, puzzles, and many hidden surprises.  Most of the escape rooms that I do are themed around horror and/or the occult, and though Escapedom had these themes there was one aspect that I wasn’t expecting: Sloths.  Escapedom’s “Den of the Occult” not only dealt with witches and the occult but also sloths who had their own secret sect called “Slotheyrin.”  Upon hearing this, my Harry Potter fandom went through the roof and at this point I was completely sold on the experience I was about to have. Had the actual escape part of Escapedom not been enjoyable it wouldn’t have mattered all that much because I was so thoroughly entertained with the presentation and background story of the “Den of the Occult.”  Luckily, the escape room was just as fun and entertaining as I had hoped.

Now that I’ve given you a little taste of the “Den of the Occult”, here is a much more in-depth description of what to expect when you enter (from the ESCAPEDOM website):

“The Crystal of Death.  An ancient relic revered by all those who deal in matters of the occult. In the wrong hands this sacred crystal has the power to turn heaven into hell and end the human race as we know it.  The crystal is currently possessed by Maya Conway.  This mysterious vagabond was once our friend and confidant but is now our sworn enemy.  A tarot card reader by day and satanic worshiper by night, Maya Conway protects the crystal using all means in her power. 

Your objective is to sneak into her sanctuary and take possession of the Crystal of Death before Maya Conway can use it to summon the deadly spirits from the netherworld.  Do you and your daring teammates have the guts and willpower to enter The Den, locate the crystal, and escape in time to save yourselves and your loved ones?  The future of all humanity rests on your shoulders…”

Upon entering the room, you are greeted with the smell of incense. This was an immediate concern of mine because sometimes incense can be an incredibly overpowering smell but in this case it was wasn’t too much.  The room was windowless but there was a comforting and cheery feel throughout the space, which sounds odd for a room titled “Den of the Occult.”  As soon as we entered the 6 of us got to work solving the clues to find the crystal of death.  Obviously, this is a spoiler free review, so I won’t go into what the clues were, but I will tell you this – it was a lot more difficult than we expected.  Though there were times when we were frustrated, it didn’t deter us from enjoying the puzzles.  If there’s any advice I can give you readers, whether you are novice or experienced when it comes to escape rooms, is this…. Sometimes you don’t need to think so much.  Overthinking can be an hindrance and I found myself looking back and realizing that if I hadn’t thought so hard than I would have had an easier time finding clues.

When it comes to the design aspect, I think Escapedom did a fantastic job of making the participants feel as though they were inside of Maya Conway’s sanctuary.  It had that cliche feeling as though you stepped into the office of powerful witch; spell books and tarot cards along with the smell of incense and crystal balls, the ambiance was set and it was exactly how it should be. If you should be so lucky to unlock the clues that bring you to the second half of the experience, then you are in for a real treat as the darkness and evil will really consume you…

Overall, the experience at Escapedom was fantastic from start to finish.  It’s not everyday that you encounter an escape room that has wizarding sloths or unique puzzles and I think Escapedom did a great job of separating “Den of the Occult” from other escape rooms out there.  One thing to note is that there are penalties in asking for help as the game master will add on an additional 5 minutes for each question asked.  Unfortunately, we asked one and it landed us with a time of 1 hr and 2 min but it is what it is.  I still had a hell of a time and at the end of the day isn’t that what it’s all about?

For more information on ESCAPEDOM and the “Den of the Occult”, visit their website www.escapedom.com and make sure to give them a follow on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram!

Shannon M.

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