A few weeks ago, I had the chance to check out one of the newest escape rooms in town, Escapade Games, located in Fullerton, CA, for their new horror themed room, ZOE. When my group and I arrived, we were led to a nondescript storefront with black out windows that gave zero indications for what we were about to experience. We were told to close our eyes as we were led into a room with instructions not to open them until we were given the go-ahead. Not knowing what would be waiting for me, I shut my eyes tight and in nervous anticipation I waited for whatever lurked in the shadows of the ZOEroom…

What happened in that next hour was some of the most nerve wracking moments I had ever experienced within an escape room. This is not your ordinary “solve the puzzle and escape” type of room, as there is a malevolent being that is stalking you throughout the duration of your time and it’s quite horrifying. There were moments when I couldn’t help but scream at the top of my lungs as the lights went out and the energy in the room shifted, only to then reveal a glimmer of the horror awaiting you. As much as this room terrified me at times, I couldn’t help but have a smile on my face as it had been quite some time since I had been this scared and I was loving every moment of it.

In-between my screams of terror, I was able to understand different aspects of the story that was unfolding. Something horrible had happened to Zoe and she needed our help in order for any of us to escape. Located within a house, trapped from the outside world, it was our job to put the pieces together of her troubled past through numerous puzzles and rooms inside this home. Speaking of the rooms, the set design of this entire space is absolutely brilliant, and as you progress from one room to another, a new design takes shape to reflect the wickedness of that particular space.

As far as the puzzles go, they were fantastic. Some took us longer than others, but overall I would say the puzzles were manageable, if only a bit on the hard side. I enjoyed the creativity that went into them as well as how they each related to the room they were in. If you find that you are stuck on a certain puzzle, or aren’t sure where to progress next, there is a handy system in place to help lead you along. I found this added detail to be very original, compared to asking someone over an intercom or walkie-talkie for help.

In the end, what really sets the ZOE room apart from other escape games is the sheer magnitude of terror and scares, from the moment you enter up until the last second that you leave. As I mentioned, I have never experienced anything like this and it’s been quite some time since I’ve been as scared as I was in ZOE. There may be moments an actor touches you, so if you aren’t a fan of that level of closeness in an experience such as this, then this escape room may not be right for you; however, fans of haunts/immersive experiences and those who love the thrill of being scared will want to experience all that this escape room has to offer.

For more information on Escapade Games and to purchase tickets for the ZOE room, visit their website at https://escapadegames.us/

Shannon McGrew
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