Date played: Wednesday, January 22, 2020
Number of players: 5
Max number of players possible for this room: 12
Public or private game: Private
Hatch Escapes is kind of in the middle of a residential area. It seems like a house that has had the windows removed and has been turned into an escape room. Since we were visiting from out of town, it would’ve been nice if their location had been near some other things that we could walk to, but it wasn’t really. I don’t remember what their sign outside the door said, but I do remember liking the sense of humor it portrayed. The employees we encountered were all super nice and friendly.
Our game master explained the rules outside the room, and there was a place just inside where we stored our personal items.
The story for this room on the website is as follows:
“LAB RAT takes place in a laboratory where giant rats are doing experiments on human beings, specifically you! The somewhat unhinged Ratkenstein, a doctoral student in the field of human intelligence (or, in his estimation, the lack thereof), has tasked you with completing a series of tests and puzzles. If you succeed, he can finally write his dissertation. If you fail, he’s going to put you and your friends in the old test-subject chipper (like a wood chipper, but for test subjects!). You’ll have one hour to complete the tests and attempt to get out of the laboratory for good, before Ratkenstein turns you into mulch!”
I thought the premise of the room was a great, original idea. The design and decor matched the theme well, too. This was the first room I had ever played with any kind of theme that set you in an environment where you were made to feel small around lots of big things, and I would enjoy playing something similar again.
I cannot imagine playing this room with the maximum of 12 people that the website lists. At some points there might be enough for everyone to have something to do, but at others I think many people would end up just standing and watching. I think 5 people was a great amount, although we had 2 people who were much less experienced in our group. But more than 6 would feel like too many in my opinion.
This room had some very unique puzzles in it, and I liked the creativity of the creators. There was one part in particular that I found very fun, where different people in the group had different tasks to do but were still working together. The way it’s done in the room was surprising, and I thought it was great. That might be my favorite type of puzzle in an escape room, where everyone gets to feel included and know that they are adding to the solution, and where it takes everyone doing something together to move forward.
I also enjoyed the use of video in the room, and this is something I wish more rooms would do. There were video clips that played throughout the course of the room, and the countdown timer stopped as these were playing. Why not include a little more story like this, to add to the total experience time a little? It worked very well here, and other rooms should take note.
One thing I would have liked was a little more “flow” to the game. We felt lost at numerous points, and it felt like we needed help too often. Our game master said we hadn’t actually asked for that much help, but he might have just been being polite? Or maybe we did do more on our own than other groups. Either way, it would have been a little more fun if we had been able to solve something, and have that lead us to the next thing, and have a clear path on what to do next. There were some points like this, but overall we felt like we kind of stuttered through the game.
We escaped with 1:02 left on the clock, if I remember correctly. One of my favorite things about this company was that their website noted that they would automatically prompt players with hints, to ensure that they were able to experience the entire room. It doesn’t mean that everyone always wins, but they at least help you along so that you don’t stay stuck at the beginning the entire time. I think this is how all escape rooms should be structured by default. Escape rooms are meant for fun, and the players should be assisted at least enough so that they can see and try all of the puzzles, even if they don’t complete everything. So a big kudos to Hatch Escapes on that!
Our game master took a group photo at the end of our game, even using professional lighting when he did! That was impressive. And he was just so super nice and willing to talk to us about the game and our experience. They really have great employees at this company!
Overall I would say this room was good, but that it didn’t have a “wow” factor for me. Based on the good things I pointed out above, I do think this company could definitely create a “wow” type of room in the future.
Play This Room If…
-You have a group with kids and/or adults
-Customer service is very important to you, as theirs is great
-You have a group of 6 or fewer
Skip This Room If…
-You only have time for one room in the LA area (I say this with some reservation, because I haven’t played any other rooms in the area, but I think there might be a company in a better location that would fit a visitor’s trip a little better)
-You’re brand new to escape rooms, as I think some puzzles would be too challenging
Overall rating: 3.5 out of 5
Company website: http://www.hatchescapes.com