Escape Room LA: The Pyramid
We’ve been on quite the Escape Room binge here at Media-Geeks. I think this is because the industry has fully matured into “Escape Room 2.0,” where the newest offerings are all a step above the first wave in terms of production quality and innovation. Those old basic one-room experiences won’t cut it anymore! At this point, the industry has established a foundation of what makes a good room, and it’s a race to see who can be the most elaborate. A win for us fans!
Escape Room LA
My latest escape is one that I was particularly excited for. It’s the newest offering from my favorite overall company, Escape Room LA. Their “Alchemist” room, reviewed here, is one of my 3 favorites ever. Their other rooms are all high-quality experiences as well. With the company’s history of delivering the goods, I couldn’t wait to see how they’d update their room to fit the latest and greatest trends.
Even before the experience started, you could see signs of the company’s success. The previously sketchy entrance into a random building in downtown LA has finally gotten a real lobby, with street signage, a check-in area with seating, and pictures around the walls of past participants. The new vibe is much more welcoming, greeting players and amping them up.
An employee dressed as an archaeologist cleverly welcomes our group by asking (in-character), if we’re also looking for the pyramid? Because she thinks she found it with her compass, if we’d like to follow her. So our adventure began between moss-draped blocks of carved stone. Later, we saw giant masks, carved idols, a door of spears, a sacrificial altar, skull-lined catacombs, and mummified warriors. It was really a feast for the eyes.
The Pyramid is certainly Escape Room LA’s most jaw-dropping and elaborate, in terms of physical production. The sets are beautiful and complex. There are many moving parts and mechanisms, great lighting, oodles of enticing puzzles, and a real sense of wonder. I felt dazzled, and I absolutely got ahead of myself, peering into the next room while puzzles still awaited us in the current one. I think my whole group did that.
Many newer rooms use more gadgets than the first generation. I personally love them, although I understand they cost more to implement and can be frustrating when they go wrong, so there is a higher risk for the companies that use technology. The mechanisms in this room are a great mix of old-school devices like wheels, levers, and puzzle tiles, and more high-tech items like lasers, magnets, and lights. There were no mechanical difficulties here. Everything worked smoothly and impressively, although I do think there was one instance where we used a shortcut that we weren’t supposed to be able to. I think this was a result of the device being used at the extremes of what it is capable of, but it didn’t adversely affect our solving of the puzzle. And everything else was awesome, especially a couple of different and elaborate door-opening mechanisms. I know, I know, doors are exciting now? But they were! A good design uses technology to allow for a wider variety of puzzles and make even ordinary aspects into exciting moments for players.
The pre-room speech usually includes a line about communication being crucial. It’s true, and I think I’m a decent communicator with my team. Unfortunately, in this room, our communication broke down for me. There are several puzzles available at the same time, which naturally leads to people splitting up. However, there came a point where I was stuck and it looked like another group had something interesting going. I asked what they were doing and nobody could/would take the time to answer. On some level, I understand; you are racing the clock and don’t want to break your train of thought. After all, you can explain it after we escape. Unfortunately for me, there was probably a 5-minute block where I didn’t have anything to do, and worse, didn’t even know what my team was doing because they were too busy doing it to explain it.
Another puzzle was solved near the end without me even seeing it. I didn’t mind because I was solving my own thing, so I wasn’t stuck. Immediately after that, though, we escaped, and I never got to see how it worked. We did get a super-fast walk-through from the guide, but it was skimmed over faster than I could understand, so I still didn’t get it. Walking out I was left with a nagging feeling like I hadn’t experienced the whole room, although of course I had. It was just a couple moments of frustration that highlighted for me the importance of communication, even if you’re an expert.
Go Explore…if you already know how!
The Pyramid is a great room that fully embraces the improvements in Escape Room experiences that have developed recently. There is a variety of challenging puzzles, stunning atmosphere, and creativity in abundance. The only problem is…this shouldn’t be anybody’s first game. Not that it’s too hard, although it is difficult, but because it might be overwhelming. Even I got overwhelmed, and I’d done almost 40 rooms! Many aficionados don’t like rooms with a linear structure because they feel too constrained. For new players, I believe that linear structure really helps with the teamwork and learning how to make your way through an escape room A new player in The Pyramid, faced with so much to do, may easily become overstimulated. Even though the room is great, their emotional state may prevent them from experiencing all the fun moments that can be had.
So if you’re an experienced escape artist, go do the Pyramid! It’s a winner! If you’re more of a novice, with fewer than 3 rooms so far, I’d recommend you do a couple of others and make a point to come back to this later. Luckily, this same company has some more beginner-friendly rooms at the same location, like the Theater.
Escape Room LA has five rooms and are open on weeknights except Monday for $32 and all day on weekends for $37. More information and booking can be found here.