When James Wan’s SAW arrived in theaters 14 years ago, it stunned audiences and brought the “torture porn” genre to the forefront. I remember being blown away by Leigh Whannell’s story and Wan’s directing style and it was clear I wasn’t the only one. Since SAW’s inception in 2004, fans have been graced with 7 other films, making this one of the most popular horror franchises ever. As much as the torture devices disturbed me, I always wondered what it would be like to experience a true, though fictional, SAW experience. As luck would have it, I didn’t have to look far as Egan Productions has designed not only an official SAW escape room, but one that is completely immersive, allowing participants to feel as though they are part of Jigsaw’s game.
What really sets this experience apart from others is just how immersive it truly is. From the moment you step foot into the Egan Meat Packing Plant, guests are transported into a game that feels just as real as anything else. I was mostly impressed by the amount of space that the designers had to play with. Situated in a large warehouse in Las Vegas, the amount of rooms used during the game is mind-blowing. I feel like we had to have gone through 7 rooms, each filled with uniquely designed puzzles and traps. As we progressed from one room to the next, the puzzles became harder and we found ourselves having to be placed in specific traps in order to help solve the puzzles. I will say that I appreciated how the puzzles weren’t over-the-top in terms of difficulty, but there were quite a few that did ultimately stump us.
As a designer, it was hard not to be blown away by the detail and time committed to making this experience feel as if guests were literally in a SAW movie. Most impressive was the iconic bathroom scene from the original movie. When we made it to that room I quite literally felt like I was on set of the movie. Everything from the bathtub, to the dirty toilet, to the “dead” body were located within the room. The bathroom even had the extra touch of looking used and dirty with the tile and grout having a gritty look to it. However, this wasn’t the only room that blew me away, as there were about 7 other scenarios that we had to work our way through and each one of them was designed with intricate detail so as to feel as if we were in a meat-packing plant.
My only critique was I wish I felt like the stakes were higher. With such a detailed experience, especially one based off of a film that is as terror-filled and grotesque as this one is, I did expect to feel more fear than I did. Now, there could be a reason for that as the group I was in was given three choices: we could either have the easy course (which would allow the game master to give us clues if we looked confused), the middle course (which would allow the game master to give us clues if we specifically asked), and the hard course (which the game master would not give us any clues). The group I was in chose the middle course which I think worked best for us, but I’m curious to know if we had picked the hard course if things would have been different. Since you have to sign a waiver, which is something I have no issue doing, I made the assumption that the intensity would have been dialed up more. I will say one thing though, unlike traditional escape games where you are given just one time of 45 or 60 minutes to complete the game, this one has a countdown in each room you enter. For example, in the bathroom, we were given 9 minutes to solve the puzzle as opposed to the room before which was around 6 minutes. This was something that I hadn’t seen in any other escape game and was a unique element that I hope to see in future games.
Regardless of the intensity aspect, my group and I still had a great time. Unfortunately, we didn’t end up escaping Jigsaw’s grasp, but we had a hell of a good time trying! Though I wish there were more scares and a stronger feeling of isolation and terror, I think for those who are looking for a unique experience unlike that of most escape rooms, but not too extreme, will find a lot to love with the SAW Escape Experience. If you are feeling that post-Halloween depression, have no fear because the SAW Escape Experience is open year round and is just minutes from The Strip. It’s open Wednesday and Thursdays from 5pm – 11pm, Friday 5pm – Midnight, Saturday 4pm – Midnight, and Sunday 4pm – 11pm and tickets start at $49.99. For more information or to purchase tickets visit SawEscapeRoom.com.