Vampire – Maze Room’s Newest Immersive Escape Room
My team of vampire hunters and I are enlisted to help Van Helsing kill a powerful vampire. The legendary hunter is detained elsewhere, leaving us to gain entrance into the vampire’s lair, find the needed weapon, locate the beast’s heart, and destroy it once and for all. We have 60 minutes to eliminate the monster or he will wake up and make us his next meal!
This is the second escape room I’ve done from the rapidly-expanding Maze Rooms, the first being the fantastically immersive Jack the Ripper room in Culver City. Like Jack the Ripper, Vampire combines stellar production values, a well-defined narrative, and innovative puzzles that fit well within the theme.
Of note is that there is a lack of guidance in the room. We were ushered into the first part of the escape room, complete with a previous victim hanging on the wall, played a brief introductory monologue laying out the premise, and then left to our own devices to figure out what to do next. Within the narrative, every puzzle progressed our journey via FX once it had been completed, adding to the mysticism and magic of the vampire’s castle. Bonus points for not a single padlock or combination lock – and for the use of bottled unicorn blood!
Adding to the challenge was the subtlety of the clues. In most cases, the puzzles took some lateral thinking to figure out how to go about solving them. On more than one occasion, we were totally stuck until we asked for a hint from our host and were able to proceed. In one or two other instances, the clues were just plain hard to find, almost too subtle. In the end, though, everything was solvable, as long as we looked closely and thought outside the box here and there.
It’s also worth coming back to the production value / set design. Each of the room’s sections had a distinct aesthetic, the blend of medieval luxury and macabre supernatural elements fit perfectly with the narrative of sneaking into the vampire’s castle. And, as far as we could tell, almost everything within Vampire is custom-built and decorated to fit the theme. The final set, in particular, has some real stand-out effects, enough that we asked our host to restart the room after we finished so we could get a closer look!
The music, while sometimes too loud for us to hear the hints and even each other, added a nice, ambient and eerie touch, as did the thunder crashes every ten minutes to mark the progression of time. All that was missing was an odd-looking butler and a decanter of something that most definitely isn’t wine.
As mentioned, this is a stellar room, with only a few nit-picky things to note, such as the loudness of the music. Another, also relatively unimportant, issue is the flimsiness of the premise: Why is Van Helsing leaving us to get more equipment if everything we need is already in the room?
The progression of the puzzles is strictly linear, not allowing for much exploration or multi-tasking. When we got stuck on a puzzle, that was all we could work on until we asked for a hint or someone had a flash of inspiration. The most noticeable one was toward the end. Without giving it away, it’s entirely possible to figure out one of the last puzzles before you’re meant to. Rather than design the room around that possibility, Vampire instead disables the event it’s supposed to trigger until the previous puzzle in the sequence is complete. That was a bit of a downer in an otherwise very well-made, challenging, and ultimately rewarding experience.
Overall, this is a highly-recommended room for veterans, but bring help if you’re a newbie. The minimum is 4 people for the room, and the location is in the back of the main building, up the stairs. The quality and inventiveness of both this and Jack the Ripper make me very excited to try even more Maze Room offerings.
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