It’s been a few years since the escape room craze hit the U.S., and the immersive puzzles are as ubiquitous as ever, sometimes eliciting screams, sometimes laughs. Anaheim’s Crossroads Escape Games and their marquee, horror-themed attraction, The Hex Room, provides ample amounts of both in what may well be the best escape room in California.
Fans of 2012’s Cabin in the Woods will be familiar with the tropes of classic horror movies, and it’s these same character archetypes that The Hex Room draws upon. Each player in a group of five to ten fills out a questionnaire, the answers to which will match them with one of six iconic horror film roles: The Detective, The Jock, The Prom Queen, The Nerd, The Rebel, and The Virgin. Players are then blindfolded by a sadistic harbinger and unceremoniously deposited into individual rooms all leading to one central hub, where whoever was deemed The Detective will become the de facto leader of the group.
Once the players remove their blindfolds, a 60-minute countdown begins, and the intensity and the pressure of the experience begin to set in. While there are no live actors involved in The Hex Room outside of the harbinger, the level of detail in the sets and the puzzles provides more than enough atmosphere, to say nothing of the cacophony of foreboding sounds and music being pumped into the rooms. Jocks will find themselves in the kitchen of cinema’s most famous cannibal, complete with a poster for fava beans and a pantry stocked with questionable canned goods, while Virgins will awaken in a dusty old library containing tomes from every conceivable era.
The Hex Room is a multi-layered experience, which adds both to its immense charm as well as its unrelenting difficulty. Players will have to first relay messages and relics through The Detective in the hopes of escaping their individual chambers, and only then can they work together to try and escape the bigger confines holding the entire team.
In addition, each participant will have their own personal “Hex Box,” a mini-puzzle of sorts that holds what Crossroads calls the players’ “Key to Survival.” Find this key but don’t escape? Dead. Escape without the key? Sorry, also dead. Players must both unlock their Key to Survival and escape the entire Hex Room in order to effectively “survive,” a tall order considering only 20% escape and a mere 5% survive.
In typical escape rooms, it’s easy for the more experienced players to emerge at the forefront while rookies may find themselves wanting for something to do. The design of The Hex Room renders this problem obsolete, as each player will have to escape their room on their own before being able to help the others, crafting a sense of both individual accomplishment as well as team pride.
Crossroads’ Hex Room takes every engaging aspect of an escape room and ratchets it up to 11. Horror fans won’t be disappointed by the volume of references, while players with weaker stomachs don’t have to worry about being plagued by nightmares, and all involved will feel like a genuine part of a team effort.
Whether or not they survive is another question entirely.
For more information on the Hex Room and other Crossroads Escape Games, visit https://crossroadsescapegames.com/