Usually when I went to head back to medieval times, I have to take a journey to Buena Park to cheer on the red knight. However, I recently discovered that there was a much easier, and much closer, way to do so, thanks to EscapeX Rooms located in Irvine, CA. Despite it being so close to home for me, I had not experienced any of the EscapeX rooms yet, but after reading nothing but good things about them in local escape room enthusiasts’ groups, I was excited to finally check them out.
Their latest game, THE CURSE OF THE BLACK KNIGHT, was our first foray into their world. The story is simple enough; a knight has passed, and his sword has gone missing. Because of this, a curse has fallen on a town, and only we can help lift it and return his sword to its rightful resting place.
The game is their first linear one, meaning that each puzzle leads into the next, making sure the group works together to figure it out. In addition to that, unlike most rooms that allow hints, there is no hint system here. EscapeX wants to fully immerse you into the world of the Black Knight and make you believe you are truly there. I was a little nervous about the lack of hints at first, but that fear wound up being unfounded.
After a wonderful introduction and overview from our game master Anthony (who was great, by the way), a door opened, and we were immersed into the world of the Black Knight. Right off the bat, we were impressed by the incredible theming in the very first room. It was a garden of shorts, and as soon as we stepped inside, we were met not with hard concrete, but a soft, mulchy substance that was so convincing that we thought maybe we had stepped foot outside to the Knight’s final resting place.
Over the course of our time in there, the room continued to open up to us, revealing new passages and secrets hideaways that kept us on our toes. The décor continued to impress, fully owning up to its medieval timeline and feeling quite authentic to it. The level of detail on display here was remarkable, and it is very obvious that a lot of love and care went into this room.
Despite not always being a fan of linear rooms, the puzzles themselves were great, each one flowing naturally into the next. There were four of us for this outing, and I felt that was the perfect amount of teamwork needed for this room. Each of us were able to use our own particular strengths, and the puzzles were varying enough that we each had our own “Aha!” moment in figuring them out.
Though THE CURSE OF THE BLACK KNIGHT is EscapeX’s easiest room, it still provided a challenge for seasoned veterans like us. For every puzzle we were able to figure out in a reasonable amount of time, there was another that got us to really think about how to tackle it before coming to the solution. There were also some really great puzzles I had not seen before, pulled off in such a way that gave us plenty of “wow” moments when we got to their completion. Two in particular required a fair amount of time work and having our group split up in different rooms in order to accomplish.
Again, despite being nervous about the lack of a hint system, it turned out to be a blessing in disguise. None of the puzzles were too hard that they seemed impossible, and we were able to solve them all once we put our minds to it. And along the same lines of keeping us in the story, there was no visible timer in the room as well. I find that the ticking clock usually puts me a little on edge in our bid to escape, but the absence of it here actually made the room more enjoyable for me. No stressing out and no yelling to my teammates “We only have 5 minutes left!”
Overall, EscapeX Rooms blew every single expectation out of the water with THE CURSE OF THE BLACK KNIGHT. The story, the puzzles, the sets, everything was top notch! You know, sometimes when you go to escape rooms nestled deep within an industrial park, it’s a mixed bag. Sometimes they are just offices decorated lightly to a theme. Other times, it’s like stepping into a fully realized world, such as the case here. EscapeX really enthralled me with this room, and I cannot recommend it enough. A friend from Los Angeles joined us, and after we complete the room, he said “This was well worth the drive to Orange County!” I cannot think of a higher praise than that!
EscapeX Rooms is located in Irvine, CA. In addition to THE CURSE OF THE BLACK KNIGHT, they have two other rooms: THE ATTIC and MAFIA HEIST. A second location, with a brand new room, will be opening in the coming months.
For more information, and to book your visit, visit them online at www.escapexrooms.com