Escape from the Jail – SCRAP (Review)

Escape from the Jail by SCRAP / Real Escape Game is a polished jail-themed escape room that follows the usual successful SCRAP formula. However, the core mechanic is frustrating, which holds back this room from being one of SCRAP’s best.

 

 

Entrance to SCRAP's Polk Street Location

The entrance to SCRAP’s new Polk Street location. Right when you enter you can see the waiver forms, a mini-gift shop, and a makeshift waiting area. (EscapeRoomTips.com)

Story and Background

This is SCRAP’s fourth escape room in San Francisco, following 1. Mysterious Room 2. Time Travel Lab, and 3. Puzzle Room. Escape from the Jail is not on Alcatraz, unfortunately, as they’ve been hinting that they’ve wanted to do for a while. Instead, it’s at their new Polk Street location, where they’ve rented space to host their games.

Here is the official story from the website:

You have been sent to a prison that is said to be inescapable. A closer inspection reveals a suspicious guard and mysterious coded message. Escape within 60 minutes or face a public execution. Team up with the other inmates, get past the prison guard and find a way out of jail.

Quick facts:

  • Location: San Francisco, CA
  • Players: 11 (we’d recommend 10-11)
  • Price: $330 ($30 per individual ticket)
  • Duration: 60 minutes
  • Overall Rating: 3/5
Posters from SCRAP's previous events in San Francisco.

As you walk into SCRAP’s Polk Street hallway, you can see posters from all of the previous events and escape rooms that SCRAP has hosted in San Francisco. (EscapeRoomTips.com)

Puzzle Quality

The puzzles in SCRAP’s Escape from the Jail are very much in line with the types of puzzles that SCRAP puts out. Various words are hidden with a diverse set of clues in whimsical and creative ways. However, these puzzles may get a bit stale if you’ve done many SCRAP events. SCRAP’s puzzles feel a bit more superficial and gimmicky than your usual puzzles, and usually don’t fit in well with the overall theme of the room.

Production Value

Escape from the Jail by SCRAP has some jail elements, but is far from seeming like a “realistic” jail-themed escape room. There is some creative and interesting uses of furniture or objects around the room, but SCRAP is falling behind in today’s escape rooms by not introducing more automated elements to their escape rooms.

SCRAP doesn’t do automation (and this game has no technology at all besides a sound system) – but instead relies on staff members to trigger important events in the game based on some sort of key action. These parts are fun when they happen, although the parts involving staff member involvement is much more limited in scope than other SCRAP games (like the Time Travel Lab)

As usual, SCRAP rooms are staffed heavily. In this game, there will be one staff member that plays a crucial “role” in the game.

Intro and Debrief room for Escape from the Jail by SCRAP

This is the intro area for SCRAP’s Escape from the Jail where you get a run-through of rules and tips (and also a debrief later). The police lineup backdrop is also where they take your photo. (EscapeRoomTips.com)

If you’re interested in a picture of the inside of Escape from the Jail, SFWeekly has a picture of a cell here.

Shortcomings

The “Jail” theme of SCRAP’s Escape from the Jail is somewhat superficial. The immersion is quite poor and you don’t feel like you’re in an actual “jail” at all. There are other escape rooms in San Francisco that execute on the “jail” theme a lot better: especially EscapeSF’s Escape from Alcatraz.

The main shortcoming in the game are gameplay design designs that severely restrict the game and its potential. The first problematic design decision is the severely-limited communication. The other problematic design decision is that your team will spend almost all of the 60 minutes separated.

Overall Recommendation ★★★

Escape from the Jail is frustrating. Not in the sense of the puzzles being overly difficult, but because the game forces you to wait between “aha!” moments and executing on those “aha!” moments. Communication is difficult and frustrating because of artificially-imposed rules.

This is the only escape room that I’ve done where the team has to spend the great majority of the time separated with very limited communication. This is generally a downer and a poor way to do any sort of team-building activity.

If you’re choosing between multiple SCRAP rooms, here is my recommended order to consider doing them in based on overall experience:

  1. Time Travel Lab (San Francisco, San Jose)
  2. Puzzle Room (San Francisco)
  3. Jail (San Francisco)
  4. Mysterious Room (San Jose)

This room follows the typical and predictable SCRAP style – so if you were a huge fan of the previous rooms you’ll likely like this one as well. While this is the newest of SCRAP’s available escape rooms in the San Francisco Bay Area, Escape from the Puzzle Room actually seems to have more modern design (likely because Escape from the Jail was actually supposed to open before Escape from the Puzzle Room, but SCRAP had some issues getting their new space open in time).

Tips on Making a Team

They will give out player numbers at the beginning. Make sure you’re in the same “half” of the team as the other people you want to be with. Your team will be separated into two groups, and you will spend most of the time with only that half.

The maximum capacity of this game is 11. The ideal team size is around 10-11, since SCRAP games have a ton of puzzles to do and a ton of small things to find, so the extra capacity actually helps here.

 

Official Poster for SCRAP’s Escape from the Jail

Make a Booking

You can make a booking for this game or check out more at http://realescapegame.com/jail_sf/. Let them know that EscapeRoomTips.com sent you!

Escape from the Jail by SCRAP is located at their new Polk St. address, not their usual Japantown location.

Real Escape Room – Polk St.
1812 Polk St,
San Francisco, CA 94109

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