Escape from the Time Travel Lab – SCRAP (Review)

Escape from the Time Travel Lab by SCRAP is both one of the first and one of the best escape rooms in the San Francisco Bay Area. This is the most impressive out of SCRAP’s 4 available escape rooms in the San Francisco Bay Area due to a time travel mechanic that’s a whole lot of fun.

Note: This game is available in multiple locations: currently San Jose, Los Angeles, and Toronto. I did it in San Francisco when it was still available there, but this review should apply to all sites.

Story and Background

"Official

 

This is SCRAP’s second escape room in the San Francisco Bay Area, following Escape from the Mysterious Room and preceding Escape from the Puzzle Room and Escape from the Jail. Time Travel Lab has found itself not just in multiple temporal locations but also multiple physical locations:

  1. San Francisco (Japantown) – Opened November 2013, Closed August 2016
  2. Toronto – Opened November 2014
  3. San Jose – Opened November 2015
  4. Los Angeles (Little Tokyo) – Opened November 2015

Here is the official story from the website:

You are trapped in a mysterious laboratory, where it has been said they study time travel. The door is locked. Hidden clues await you. If you cannot find the key to open the door, you will drop into spatial temporal distortion and you may not be able to return to this world again.

 

Will you be able to escape the time travel lab?

Quick facts:

  • Location: San Jose, Los Angeles, and Toronto
  • Players: 11 (we’d recommend 10-11)
  • Price: US: $319 ($29 per individual ticket), Canada: $308 ($28 + HST per individual ticket)
  • Duration: 60 minutes
  • Overall Rating: ★★★★★

Puzzle Quality

(Not a Time Travel Lab puzzle). A typical kind of SCRAP mini-puzzle, which relies on finding out some sort of "trick".

(NOT a Time Travel Lab puzzle). A typical kind of SCRAP mini-puzzle, which relies on finding out some sort of “trick”. Source – SCRAP

There are two main groups of puzzles in this game:

Mini-Puzzles

If you’ve played any SCRAP escape rooms before, you’ll know exactly what these are. These are a set of simple puzzles that rely on some sort of “trick” in order to solve and extract a word. The word will be associated with a letter, and the letter will tell you where to put it on the provided grid. Once you have enough of the words, you can guess the rest of the letters and find the required action.

Generally, I don’t find these mini-puzzles by SCRAP to be very impressive, since they usually rely on some sort of gimmick. Some others might find these puzzles more fun though. For our group, the highlight of the puzzles for SCRAP was truly the storyline puzzles.

Storyline Puzzles

The storyline puzzles in the Time Travel Lab are driven by the “time-travel” mechanic of the game tightly coupled with staff-triggered events. These storyline puzzles are so unique and well done that they are magical and memorable.

As with the usual SCRAP events, this game is heavily staffed and the staff members help make the game fun.

The final sequence of step(s) however are devilishly difficult and somewhat bordering on unfair. Since this game is not automated, the scope of potential actions you can take is enormously large. This game requires some serious creative and out-of-the-box thinking.

The difficulty of getting the final sequence leads to a <5% escape rate for this game.

Production Value

Nothing too out of the ordinary, but the decor and construction of the room help make the “time-travel” mechanic of the game work. You’ll see what I mean when you do it! The production value was comparatively high when it first came to San Francisco in 2013, but since the bar has been raised by other escape rooms in the Bay Area.

Shortcomings

The meat and fun of the game is in the storyline puzzles and the “time-travel” mechanic. The mini-puzzles are less fun, but you still have to finish them before you can get to the fun parts.

Overall Recommendation ★★★★★

SCRAP prides and distinguishes themselves on their low escape rates. Source - SCRAP

SCRAP prides and distinguishes themselves on their absurdly-low escape rates. Source – SCRAP

In our opinion – this is the best out of the 4 escape rooms that SCRAP has available in the San Francisco Bay Area. If you’re deciding between the four they have available in San Francisco Bay Area, I would recommend them in this order:

Escape from the…

  1. Time Travel Lab
  2. Puzzle Room
  3. Jail
  4. Mysterious Room

While the puzzle quality and production value are not the best compared to other games in the area, this game still deserves a 5/5 rating and makes it onto our list of the Top 10 Escape Rooms in the San Francisco Bay Area. The core mechanic is polished and extremely well-executed. The “time-travel” mechanic is unique and makes this game an absolute blast to play with friends and coworkers.

The time-travel mechanic is magical and a blast, especially for anyone who hasn’t done that many escape rooms before. The staff-triggered actions in this game makes this time-travel mechanic executed extremely well.

The last sequence of steps is devilishly difficult and causes this room to have a sub-5% escape rate. Good luck!

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