Escape Rooms Favourites Lists By HexaGamers / August 8, 2017 Share 0 Tweet Pin 0 Share 0 Share 0 The escape room craze only continues to grow with new companies and new rooms appearing every few months. At their core, each concept is the same--solve the puzzles to "escape" the room you're in. Sometimes escape means finding treasure, sometimes it means outrunning the cops, sometimes it means solving a longstanding mystery. Whatever your aim, rooms have some kind of story and contain different kinds of puzzles: locks, riddles, mirrors, word searches, black light, hidden messages, mazes, sorting, directional, magnets, ciphers, clue hunting, you name it, they've got it. Puzzles help you further on your path to success, and every room differs in theme, style, execution and staging.Rooms accommodate groups as small as two and as large as 16, and usually cost about $25 pp. Most comfortably work with 4-8, while we find 4-6 is the sweet spot. The key is knowing your teammates and being able to work with each other and complement each other's skills and shortcomings (Whitney isn't allowed to touch locks). With so many rooms to choose from, it can be overwhelming to know where to start, so we compiled our favourite companies and some of our favourite rooms still currently in play to give you a leg up. Wherever you end up, let them know the Hexagamers sent you!HexaGamers' Top Escape RoomsClick the room name for a direct link. Company Room Players Time Price Our Rating The Heist (GTFO) 2-6 45 min. $$ Keller's Magic Emporium (Escape City) 2-6 45 min. $$ Warehouse of Thieves (Logic Lock) 2-6 45 min. $$ Expedition (SideQuests) 2-8 45 min. $$ Nightfall (GTFO) 2-6 45 min.$$ Neurological (Escape City)4-1060 min.$$ Division 37 (Exit) 2-660 min.$$ Visiting Hour (GTFO)4-645 min.$$ Thirst for Murder (SmartyPantz)2-845 min.$$ Morning Never Comes (SmartyPantz)2-845 min.$$ Our reviews are based on our experiences with Logic Lock, GTFO, EEscape, Exit, Breakout, GTFO, Thrillscape, SmartyPantz, SideQuests and X-Realm. Side note: We have yet to attempt Sherlock Holmes and The Gallery (Logic Lock), The Inheritance (Escape City), Uncle and Abduction (SideQuests) and any at Time Escape, Escape Emporium and now Dream Escape (Leduc).After we posted this, we've gone back and completed The Directive (GTFO) and SS Tiberia (SmartyPantz). We had a blast at both! SS Tiberia definitely makes it into our top five.1. The HeistOur Rating: This room is phenomenal. It's hard not to give anything away in our excitement to boast about how amazing it is. If we could wipe our memories and play it again, we would. As jewel thieves, your task is to break into the vault and walk away rich before you get caught. We tend to like linear rooms (solving or obtaining a piece of the puzzle in order to move onto the next), but while Heist is non-linear, it isn't frustrating, nor does it stall your game.Our surprise, excitement and enjoyment kept escalating with each piece revealed in this room until we escaped with the stolen goods. Heist keeps giving and keeps going, never failing to surprise and encourage you. We were absolutely vibrating with our excitement and success. This room is so much fun and a great team challenge. You need to work as a team during several puzzles--we would have been lost without some of our teammates. There are a lot of interesting clues, puzzles and elements. And when we say a lot, we do mean a lot. There's so much going on and so much to solve, but it's not too much or overwhelming, and it gives every player something to do. The room is well-kept, thematically strong, immersive and fun. Did we say fun? It's fun.Lastly, the staff at GTFO are the best. They're enthusiastic, happy and dedicated to their trade, and they're always on the ball if you need help. They watch from screens so they know how you're doing, what you're doing and where you need to go--no need to waste time catching them up if you need a hint. The best part? They're as excited for your successes as you are, and are almost always waiting for you with a huge smile. If you have time, you can sit and have complimentary cookies and play games. GTFO is at the top of their game in every way.2. Keller's Magic EmporiumOur Rating: This was one of the first escape rooms we did, and it completely blew us away. It will be less challenging for seasoned players, but still a challenge nevertheless. As newbies, we worked hard to progress through this room, and we were ecstatic when we made it out (by the skin of our teeth). We felt like we'd earned it. Keller is a magician looking for a new apprentice, and you're working your way through the last part of the interview--though, not everything may be as it appears...Like Heist, it kept going and kept giving. Keller's had a ton of different elements we'd never seen (and still haven't seen), and we all had a hand in solving different puzzles, using our creativity and thinking as a team to progress. This room is phenomenal in setup, decoration, theme and execution. Every Escape City room is introduced through a video which is very cool, and the props and rooms are almost always well-maintained. We loved this room (we still do), and it's still our favourite at EC. Our one complaint with EC is that staff aren't always as enthusiastic as the participants, so when we busted out of Keller's, nobody was waiting for us, and the staff member at the front gave us a lackluster reception then sent us on our way. Still, EC does a fantastic job with its rooms and they're worth the time and money.3. Warehouse of ThievesOur Rating: Logic Lock is a newer company, and we weren't disappointed with their enthusiasm, themes, setup and style. One of the neatest elements of Logic Lock is their game masters. Each room is assigned a staff member who sits in a backroom, watching over the players and giving them hints or encouragement in the game's theme through the speakers. This keeps the game immersive and the flow smooth. (They really take the theme to heart. In Poltergeist, all the clues are given in the high-pitched girlish voice of the poltergeist, and it's really effing creepy.)Warehouse of Thieves was a lot of fun for us. As part of an elite task force, you've discovered the clan of thieves' stash and it's up to you to uncover all the secrets before the ringleader returns. We worked through this room as a group of six and while it wasn't an overly difficult room, it certainly was challenging enough in some areas for us to need a hint or two. The room looks fantastic and the theme is strong throughout. Logic Lock is one of the few companies we've found where the story is actually an integral part of the escape challenge. You need to think in terms of your role and what your aim is to help you on your way. In Warehouse of Thieves, there were some really cool and unique elements that challenged our thinking, and we were thrilled with the answer. There's a lot going on so a good team and teamwork is critical for success. When we thought we'd finished, there was more, and it was a pleasant surprise for us--though a bit of a panic, as we had to scramble to finish in the limited time we had left. We can't wait to come back and try Sherlock and The Gallery!4. ExpeditionOur Rating: This room is so pretty and so thematically strong. We walked in and said, "Wow!" There's a LOT to look at and a lot to marvel at. It may feel a bit cramped with eight people, but we can certainly see the benefit of having more heads to work on the many (many) puzzles throughout this room. We've done a few Egyptian-themed rooms and this one was by far the best. It even has sound effects and hieroglyphics, and best of all--no key locks. Each lock in this room keeps with the theme, and the entire room demands excellent teamwork to keep your momentum going. Everything is connected, and heads-up: you're split up, so communication is essential. We made a silly mistake in this room which cost us time, so remember to take everything in and know that everything counts.Expedition was introduced by an in-character staffer, and it's great to have the human interaction. It's hard to pay attention (if you're us, anyway) because you're so excited about the room and just want to go, but it's important. The timer is tucked away so you can keep track, but aren't distracted by it. As mentioned, there are a ton of puzzles that use all different techniques to get the solution. They split into two paths, and it's a little overwhelming at first, but if you get stuck, you can switch to the opposite path and work through those puzzles. It's a great room that demands attention, precision and teamwork. We loved our experience with SideQuests. When you start out, they give you the waiver spiel, then ask if you want them to check in with your progress (via walkie-talkie) or if you want to be left alone and ask for help at your own pace. They let you take in your phone (but ask you not to use it), and as parents of small kids, we really appreciate this. Like GTFO, SideQuests has a welcoming lobby and a lot of great board games to play. We took advantage of this and Jonathan, a co-owner, was cheerful and helpful in teaching us new games. It's a relaxed atmosphere, and their dedication and enthusiasm to games of all kinds is clear. We have yet to try out the other rooms, but we are pumped for them!5. NightfallOur Rating: If you get creeped out easily or jump at every manner of small noise (Kaitlyn...Whitney...), Nightfall may not be your cup of tea--but it's still 100% worth your unease. GTFO does an amazing job of setting their rooms up so they are themeatically attractive, but Nightfall is stunning. They brought the outdoors in to immerse you in the story. You and your friends are part of a rescue mission. Hikers have gone missing and the townspeople are convinced the legend of the creature has come true. Nothing good happens to those who are outside when night falls, and you need to hustle to find the hikers (or discover their outcome), and break into the cabin before you meet the same fate. While there is only one room, it makes sense and it works really well. We broke out (or broke in) with six people and it never felt like too much or like we were cramped for space. In fact, there were some tough puzzles that stumped a few of us, so we benefited from other players' thinking. The props and puzzles are fantastic, and again, there are some insanely cool puzzles that we haven't seen elsewhere. While they take precision and creativity to figure out, the results are SO satisfying. One of the final puzzles is truly spectacular in its execution, but we can't say more lest we give something away. While the creepiness factor is high, Nightfall is still a lot of fun and a great challenge for new and seasoned groups.6. NeurologicalOur Rating: Full disclosure: some of us don't agree with Neurological so high on this list, and the fact that we really pooped the bed during this room probably drives that just a smidge. However. Neurological is straight-up impressive. We didn't escape, and while the guys blame the girls for this, the lack of communication (or our struggle to communicate) is what really killed our forward motion. You're the patient's brain, and you have 45 minutes to get the two sides of the brain talking to restore function and memory, otherwise it's lights out for good. If you're going to attempt Neurological, let us give you one piece of advice: do not split up according to personality trait. That is, do not stick all creative people together and all logical people together. We made that mistake as per the host's suggestion, and it cost us dearly. You really need a good mix on both sides of the brain to be successful. Neurological is a really cool room, and it is unlike any we've seen. Escape City went all out on this. Every component works together and is connected in some way. They truly made it seem like the brain is struggling to reboot and the methods they used are pretty amazing. Afterwards, you'll delight in recounting how each piece worked together and how the story played out. Neurological is challenging in so many ways on so many levels, both puzzle-wise and thinking-wise. Knowing your teammates, teamwork and communication skills are critical--CRITICAL--for success. This is not a room we would recommend for newbies, nor is it a room we'd recommend for tiny or huge groups. Things can get scattered, people can get lost and it can be difficult with too many people. Too few people and you may struggle with too few brains (ha) to work out the puzzles. That said, it is not a room you want to miss, so bone up and step up. You won't be sorry.7. Division 37Our Rating: Exit has several thematically-strong rooms, and the company staff is enthusiastic, knowledgeable and love their job. Sometimes the way the hints are given need a little tweaking (more prompting, less telling) but we have a good time with Exit's rooms and the challenges they present.Division 37 is one of their easiest rooms, and while it isn't as immersive as their other rooms like Catacombs, its strength lies in its story and puzzle execution. There are few red herrings in this game, but most everything present in the room has purpose and meaning. Working through Division 37 feels like piecing together a mystery picture scramble, where you build on successes and see the true image emerging. It's work. It's a brain tease. Every move matters. Everything is connected. And oh, it's delightful when it all comes together. If you're new to escape rooms, this is a good one to try. Don't expect the prettiest room or the most challenging, but still expect a room that's fun, well laid-out, uses different technologies and gets you thinking.8. Visiting HourOur Rating: Visiting Hour was our first experience with being split up, so it added an extra layer for us. We struggled through several elements of this room, but it was clever, thematically strong, immersive and challenging. There was a small hiccup where we wasted some time trying to complete a piece of the room, but the staff were on the ball and hopped in, helping us out without penalty.Similar to other GTFO rooms, Visiting Hour kept going and kept challenging us when we thought we'd finished. This amped us up, and our escape from this room was done yelling at an all-out run to beat the countdown. You can't ask for better than that. We were pumped, and so were the staff. There are several surprises in this room and everything is linked which we didn't expect, but it was well-done and kept us on our toes. We stalled in a few places but when we figured out the solution, we were pleased with our progress and the process to get there. The only part of this room that didn't make sense thematically was the piece where we hit a hiccup, especially as it can really only be done by one person. It wasn't so exciting to stand around and wait while our teammate finished. But, overall, this room is a fun one and good to do when your team has some escape room experience.9. Thirst for MurderOur Rating: If SmartyPantz has a bloopers reel, we're on it. We had a disagreement about our starting move, and moved into the first challenge as a team. (SmartyPantz, if you have us on tape, please let us know. We want to see our lunacy in action.) The setup and theme for this room are both awesome. Props and staging are fantastic and the puzzles fit with the creepy theme. There's great flow to the room, but it isn't linear, so that can be frustrating and challenging for some. SmartyPantz uses walkie-talkies (and doesn't have clocks) to keep you as immersed as possible. As vets, this room is easier than many we've tried, but we enjoyed the puzzles and we were certainly stumped in a few places. It took us time to solve a few puzzles, and we used at least one hint. When we got it, we immediately said, "DUH!" so pay attention in this room. Everything is important! There weren't any blow-our-mind moments or unique elements we hadn't seen before, but we still enjoyed ourselves and relied on everyone in our group to ensure we were progressing. There's more space in this room, so you won't feel cramped with a larger group, but be aware, it's a creepy theme and very creepy room!10. Morning Never ComesOur Rating: SmartyPantz is along the lines of Escape City and GTFO in how it executes its rooms. Each is set up like a play, with theatre-style props, scenes and even actors who ham up the parts to the max. It's a fantastic experience and so much fun. Morning Never Comes is a simple room, and above all other rooms we suggest to our friends, it is the ultimate intro to escape rooms. Keyword: intro.SmartyPantz has a lot of fun with its rooms, using characters, lighting and even sound to create ambiance. We were impressed with some of the tricks and appreciated some of the creativity and flow of the room and puzzles. When we did this room, we had a few rooms under our belt already, so we had a good idea of what to do and how to work together. We absolutely killed this room. We escaped in about 15 minutes, and the staff were nice enough to let us try another room because we completed so quickly. There were some neat puzzles and tricks to be had, and we enjoyed ourselves, but we also had six people and were a bit deflated when we finished so fast. If you are escape room vets, this room isn't designed for you. It may be worth it, though, just to see the cool effects and room. If you've never tried an escape room, have no idea what to do, or don't have a big group, this is a good place to start. Honourable Mentions Catacombs (Exit) This was a challenging and interesting room with great theme and execution. We didn't escape, but the staff let us work through the last pieces until we solved the room. We only gave it an HM, however, because there were some logistical problems with the room that cost us a lot of time before we called for a hint, only for the staff to realize the piece we were trying to solve was broken. Additionally, there was a puzzle that was extraordinarily finicky and difficult, and it took a precision that only the staff had because they knew how the puzzle worked. It shouldn't have been quite as particular as it was, and this drew away from our enjoyment.National Security (E-Escape) National Security has nothing on the above mentioned companies when it comes to staging and immersion. Their room felt like a room with puzzles, not the scene of a high-stakes plot you've infiltrated. Some of the decorations and props were falling apart and looking worse for wear, taking away from ambiance. So why is it on our list? The room is a challenge, and it demanded we work as a team through several parts. If we hadn't, we would have struggled to the point of being completely crippled. We needed teamwork to progress. When we do escape rooms, we want to all feel like we're needed and that we're working towards the solution together, and National Security delievered. There were several unique elements of this room we hadn't seen elsewhere, and the theme carried throughout. It was a neat room even though the design and immersion left something to be desired.ConclusionEscape rooms seem like a pricey way to pass the time, but they're an amazing amount of fun. Make sure you have the right group and get your mind in the game before you go, but keep an open mind and remember to have fun. At the end of the day, this is what everyone--staff included--wants!Lastly, a huge shoutout to the staff and owners who make escape rooms possible! We appreciate every nuance and subtlety, and know how much work and thought goes into these rooms. Did we miss your favourite room? Do you disagree with any of our choices? We'd love to hear what you have to say!