Generally speaking, as most haunt events take place at night, we can only really do one Halloween oriented event a day. However, with a little searching and a little creativity in determining just what exactly you can constitute a "Halloween" event, we've been able to find some options that fit this definition wonderfully this Long Halloween season. And so, in a first for The Long Halloween Diaries, we'll be covering two events.
When planning this weekend I'd started looking around for ideas on potential escape rooms, and came across Countdown Live Escape Games, a company that expanded to Los Angeles relatively recently from Las Vegas. They had two available rooms, The Spaceship and The Psycho, and, well, with a room called The Psycho, I kinda knew we had to jump on this, especially after seeing that their reviews online were quite decent.
Not knowing entirely what we were getting into, but excited for an opportunity to jump into another escape room, Fi and I set off for Downtown LA with our reservations in hand.
Flash forward a bit, and I'll acknowledge that we did not escape. We got close. Within a matter of seconds close, actually, but we did not escape The Psycho's lair in time.
But did that matter? Not one bit! The quality and execution of this escape room were top notch, all around. After our briefing at the front desk, we were led into the dimly-lit living room of a serial killer, where we were soon locked in, alone. A TV on a table nearby crackled to life, and we got to see the killer giving a cryptic mission statement into the camera, offering us 45 minutes to solve the various puzzles hidden around his lair that would allow us to escape, lest we die a horrible, horrible death. And after that, it was the two of us against the room. We put together puzzle pieces, solved codes, and even had a fun time using a webcam backwards to read something hidden inside of a cabinet. The small room we were in soon opened into two adjoining, hidden rooms. The puzzles were difficult, but not impossible, and in the end we only had to ask for clues on one particular puzzle we were stuck on. If we'd had ten more seconds, we would have made it out, but alas, it was not to be, and we naturally died horrible, horrible deaths, literally because I accidentally inverted two wooden blocks.
Yeah, I'm still kicking myself over this one.
Though as always, lessons were learned, and lessons you will hear on the fun nature of escape rooms:
Escape Room Tip # 2: Communication. If you're going in with a group of people you know, be sure you have an open line of communication with everyone so nothing gets lost or misunderstood.
Escape Room Tip # 3: Be mindful of your time. 45 minutes, or whatever time limit they give you, may sound like a lot at the beginning, but you shouldn't use it to dawdle. It goes faster than you think.
Escape Room Tip # 4: This one's weird and specific, but necessary: know where the actual exit is. Find the exit door ASAP, and what's needed to open it (lock, code, etc.), so you know what to look for while you are collecting your clues.
And with our escape room failed and officially the seventh stop on our Long Halloween, we moved onto the 8th stop, a wholly different and brand new game...
Described as a trust exercise, in it teams of two are led into warehouses themed to a number of themes (The Possessed, The Dead, Dolls & Clowns... you know, the usual), and split up. One person is brought into a smaller, pitch black room room, while their partner is led to a computer screen with night vision cameras leading to their partner's room. The person watching the cameras has to guide their partner around the dark room, collecting a variety of items in a 10 minute time window, while being stalked throughout the room by monsters who can see you, even if you can't see them.
Then after the ten minutes are up, you switch places, and the process is repeated.
We'd never heard of anything like this before, and so as soon as we could, we definitely got our tickets for this event. After initially checking in at the storefront set up by Sinister Pointe (a great, weird little shop selling all sorts of genre things), we were guided to a warehouse about a block away where the event was being held. After a short wait due to some technical difficulties (it does appear they're still working out a lot of the kinks), a ringmaster character led us into the pitch black recesses of the warehouse and asked who wanted to go first. Ever the brave one, Fi volunteered, and I got to watch.
And then, well, there was madness, mostly good, some not so good.
We chose the Clowns & Dolls theme, and Fi's room was clearly the clown-themed one. It had two cameras in opposite corners of a relatively small room, and two roaming monsters set about to harass her. While I wanted to win the game while helping Fi avoid the monsters, I quickly realized only one would be possible, and left her to the mercy of the creepy clown and doll while guiding her around the room, trying to find the various listed objects in places that seemed likely. Figuring out a system of communication to start with was challenge enough, a challenge made all the more difficult by me not being close enough to the microphone for her to hear all I was saying, and the carnival kiosk in the middle of the room making it impossible to see Fi half the time. Nevertheless, after some growing pains and figuring out the room system, I was able to guide Fi around with a system of 90 degree turns and making her raise items so the camera could see if they were correct or not. And even though it involved digging through some cream pies that made her hands smell for the rest of the day, I was able to get her to find 4 items! (Out of 12, I believe, but still, not bad I think!)
And then it was my turn.
And, well, I didn't do so great. I'm a big guy, and I bumble a lot, and I'm kind of a coward when it comes to a lot of things, so there were some things I probably should have done (like reaching into a terrarium to pick up a rubber snake I thought might've been real) that I didn't do. Fi, my ever patient and wonderful wife, guided my blundering around well enough for me to find 2 of the objects in the room and helping me avoid most of the monsters, even chasing one of them for a while at one point, but to little avail. Also, at one point, I broke something in the room. I was picking up a number of rag dolls (I think, hard to tell in the pitch black), and dropping them as I thought they weren't needed, and then I hear the shattering of glass on the floor, and feel its grit as I shuffled around. I don't know what it is or what I dropped, and I feel terrible for breaking it, but since the secret police of Sinister Pointe haven't come for me (yet) after all my apologies, I think we're all just glad that nobody got hurt.
Though if anyone from Sinister Pointe happens to read this, I really am sorry.
In the end, this was a really fun experience that I'd like to see done with a bit more polish. The instructions and room layouts were a little more confusing than I think they meant, and maybe making some of the objects actually visible to the watcher, instead of having the watcher have to guide people to put their hands in everything, would have added a little extra fun and feeling of accomplishment. That said, this is still a fun and unique Halloween experience I hope they repeat next year.
Thank you for joining me this Halloween season, and as always, please drop me a line on Facebook or Twitter! I'm big into liking/following back!
-- Matt Carter
(We know there's a lot of Matt Carter's online you could spend your time with, so thanks for hanging around this one!)