- Played October 2016
- Los Angeles
- 60 minutes
- Up to 10 players
- What People Say
EscapeIQ is located in the shabby but surprisingly lively Arts District, a section of Downtown LA saturated with murals, bricks, and benches. If you love taking pictures with friends and poking around, EscapeIQ will fit right into your schedule, especially because Little Tokyo and multiple taco trucks are less than a five-minute walk away. When you enter (which at first can be rather confusing because of the weirdly dysfunctional front door), walk up the twisting staircase and past the double front doors and the entrance door will be painted in black on your left. Game masters are hugely accommodating and very friendly (ours kept us and laughed with us for a good fifteen minutes), and there’s some couches, games, and comic books to keep you waiting.
As the game host told us the moment we entered the room: “Everything’s from Ikea, so be careful.” As long as you heed this one rule (Ikea has great stuff, but it’s a bit flimsy) and don’t jump on the furniture like Godzilla, you’ll be good in this room. In fact, there’s not really that much to break: The Vault seems to be an exercise in minimalism, with very few decorations and some of the clues used multiple times. There’s some wires and cables that are poking out randomly, but those are pushed out of the way and impossible to reach or adjust without tools. (Note: Be careful when you play, since if you aren’t careful you can easily trip over some things right at ankle height.)
But the plot is where the rooms does lose some points: Half the time you do feel like you’re actually trying to break into something, but the other half it seems like you’re doing some cool puzzles that really don’t have anything to do with the theme. Our team had to check the story on the website to make sure that yes, we were actually in a vault in the Arts District trying to rescue a friend. The Vault’s storyline seems to twist together a variety of some of the most popular escape room genres, and doesn’t quite seem to deliver on any of them. However, the standout part of EscapeIQ’s rooms is that they require a bit more physical interaction with your environment than the standard escape room, and while you don’t have to be a world-class athlete to successfully escape, it’s nice to use your body as well as your brain in order to tackle the Vault.
The puzzles… honestly, we may not be the best judge of this category, since our team got out in a blistering twelve minutes. There were certainly a lot of puzzles and the variety, tech, and setup was pretty awesome, mixing together the newer light-and-switch-type puzzles with old-school locks and combination. There’s even a couple of instances where a puzzle might cause you to panic and lose your head for a moment. It takes an unusually sharp eye to see some of the clues that are hidden; this room will be harder if you’re more of a puzzle solver than you are a clue finder.
But despite the lack of amazing decor, a compelling story, or standout puzzles, this room has a certain je ne sais quoi about it that sucks you in. Maybe it’s the fact that, every single time you solve a puzzle, a loud noise or bright light rewards you and you really FEEL like you’re accomplished something that leads you one step closer to a goal. It’s like a magnified version of the satisfaction you feel when you popping open a lock in any escape room. As well, the several places where you actually feel like you’re breaking into something are really, REALLY well done, to the point where you’ll be begging your game host to let you back in after the game to play some more. A perfect example of a room where the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. Something about this room is actually, genuinely very fun, despite the fact that all the elements you may be looking for aren’t quite there. EscapeIQ holds a pair of the strangest escape rooms in LA, and it is well worth working into your evening schedule if you’re poking around the Art District.