Go Nuclear with ESC Rooms in North Hollywood

My friends and I have been kidnapped by terrorists and locked inside a shipping container bound for China. Inside is a weapon of mass destruction ready to annihilate any targets at the terrorists’ whim. Help is not on the way; we only have ourselves to rely upon. We must solve the puzzles to escape and, hopefully, save the world in the process. This is “Nuclear Option” at ESC Rooms.

Things Are What They Seem

ESC Rooms’ “Nuclear Option” is located behind the Secret Rose Theater in North Hollywood, a nondescript shipping container in the back parking lot. Their “lobby” consists of a few chairs beneath a tattered tarp awning. While not what we expected, it ultimately does fit the theme of the experience – intentional or not. We’re there because we’ve been kidnapped, not because we are embarking on a luxurious endeavor.

And, yes, the room is in a shipping container. Surprisingly spacious inside, the room’s theme is fleshed out by plenty of details – from wires to cages to crates to newspapers and other posters lining its walls. The people who’ve kidnapped us clearly work here, and they’re up to no good. The “Nuclear Option” room is ideally for 4-6 people, but can accommodate 3-7. I honestly wouldn’t recommend more than 4 players, as it is likely to get cramped while people maneuver around to work on the various puzzles.

The Puzzles Before Us

Players are initially separated into different compartments and handcuffed or chained – we are kidnapped after all – and need to work together to figure out the combinations or find the keys. During this first section of puzzles, communication is imperative and the inclusion of a somewhat physical task is a welcome addition. “Nuclear Option” is nicely immersive and players are incorporated into the story on several occasions. While the final section of puzzles is slightly unclear and somewhat ambiguous, players are given a decent amount of agency and freedom which only adds to the intensity of the set-up.

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“Nuclear Option” is a 70-minute experience (less if you escape before the allotted time). It contains a lot of content to go through – some clues you need, some you don’t. The puzzles are not particularly challenging – we only really got stumped on a clue we foolishly overlooked – and most of them are combination lock-based, which does not detract from the theme. However, there are a handful of very clever non-combination puzzles that highlight the tech within the room; some were absolutely brilliant brain-teasers. The winks to pop culture within the clues are also entertaining, but you do not need to know the references in order to solve anything.

The Final Countdown

Overall, “Nuclear Option” is a low-key, but highly-detailed escape room that is a great choice for new and experienced players alike. Despite the serious theme, my friends and I had a blast (no pun intended) sifting through all the clues and trying to escape. Don’t let the questionable location/outside fool you; inside that shipping container is a world that should definitely be experienced. Grab a few of your puzzle-loving friends and go “Nuclear!”

For more information, check out ESC Rooms on Facebook and Instagram. Book your own kidnapping through their website, and read our reviews for other escape rooms in the area here.

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