The door is shut behind us, and we are plunged into darkness.
How did we wind up here? Whose idea was it anyway to come to this house, to try to find (and release) the spirit of a little girl? After fumbling around for a few moments, we remember the flashlight. Of course, six people to one light isn’t the best way to explore, but hey, desperate times, right? With only one person leading the way, the others are left to fend for themselves; either following the path of light carved out for them, or try to make it alone in the dark. There has got to be some way to turn on the lights, though, right?
But of course, as soon as we figure that out…that’s when the screaming begins.
Escapade Games, located in Fullerton, CA, has done something that no other escape room has managed to accomplish before; they have made us truly terrified to be locked inside a room. Sure a lot of escape rooms bill themselves as ‘horror themed,’ but Escapade Games’ ZOE is the only one that kept us on our toes consistently, and made us scream over the course of our time spent inside of it.
This is no small task, trust me.
Owners Julia Ostrovskaya and Kirill Ostrovskiy have created something truly special here. Not only are there really, really, really good scares peppered throughout the experience, but the room itself is also pretty damn solid. This isn’t your typical escape room with tons of numbered locks to find, combination codes to figure out, and so on. Instead, they have taken the approach of making all of the puzzles ‘in-world’ to Zoe. A linear experience, each puzzle makes sense, story-wise and logistically, in the room itself. There are some new twists on old favorites, of course, but there were a TON of new things that I haven’t seen in other rooms before. Everything felt very natural, and in turn, made the flow much better overall.
The ‘set’ itself is also pretty great. While you may (or may not…) spend some of your time in the dark, when you can see things, it looks pretty great. The ‘home’ they have created does feel very much lived in. Each room you uncover is creepier than the last, with wonderful set decoration to make it feel even more oppressive. However, the sense of foreboding that strikes as you explore is almost overbearing at times, because you never know who, or what, will strike. The home is full of secrets…things move. Noises are heard. Is it real? Or just part of your imagination?
And that brings me back to the scares; wow. Just wow. They are AMAZING. They come, and they when they do, they hit you HARD. They make incredible use of lighting, staging, and sounds to make a truly terrifying experience. Again, not only is this by far the scariest escape room we have ever encountered, but it even gave some haunted experiences a run for their money with how well-crafted the scares were. A word of warning, though; this IS a full contact room. There is a very good chance you will be touched. Don’t worry, it’s not Blackout-level touching, but you may find yourself with a hand upon your shoulder or someone grabbing you in the dark! It’s effective, it’s terrifying, and it WORKS.
There is also a clever in-room hint system that works really well. They know the areas in which people may have problems, and so, little Zoe’s mournful voice will help guide you, should you need it. There were a few times where she cried out in horror before yelling at us that we were going the ‘wrong way.’ Very ingenious, and very unsettling as well!
All in all, Zoe is a fantastic room, and one you should definitely check out for yourself. Escapade Games really did an excellent job with their first room, and it makes me look forward to their next even more.
To purchase tickets to meet little Zoe for yourself, visit them online at: https://escapadegames.us/