Testing Facility – Escape Chronicles (Review)

Escape Chronicles first game, Testing Facility, is a fun experience featuring clever and clean puzzles.

Story and Background

Here is the official story from the website. The story is light and fun, and people who’ve played Stanley Parable or Portal may see some parallels. The set is a simple office, and there are quite a few fun and humorous moments.

You and your fellow participants have voluntarily agreed to participate in Bentham Laboratories’ latest study. Professor Bentham and his helpful assistant PAL will lead you through a series of tests all in the name of scientific progress! Do you and your team have what it takes to outsmart the professor and his creations?

The website also comes with a description of the tone and type of escape room that is quite accurate.

This room has a comedic tone, and is never scary. It is a puzzle heavy room that allows groups to split up. It is perfect for groups that have a sense of humor, and are looking for challenging puzzles.

Escape ChroniclesQuick facts:
  • Theme: Office
  • Play with strangers: Up to you. This game offers both a private ticketing and a public ticketing model.
  • Location: 5503 Cahuenga Blvd #101, North Hollywood CA, 91601
  • Players: 2-8 per slot (we recommend a team of 3-4 for experienced puzzlers, and 4+ for non-experienced players. 2 is possible as well for experienced puzzlers, but can be very difficult)
  • Public Ticketing Price: $25 per person on M-F, $30 per person on Sat-Sun
  • Private Ticketing Price: If you have a group of 6-7, you can switch to a private game for free. If you have a group of 2-5, you can pay an additional $25-$40 in order to switch to a private game.
  • Duration: 60 minutes
  • Overall Rating: ★★★★½
  • Booking: https://www.escapechronicles.com/book/

What we liked

  • It was funny – The small touches and narration made the game special for us – the owner has an excellent narrative voice and a great sense of humor, to the extent that we even wasn’t sure at some point whether the voice over the speaker was from our gamemaster or the game itself. The humorous storyline carries through the whole game, and we only wish there was more narration!
  • Excellent puzzle design – The puzzles were clever, novel, and very clean. There was very little extraneous information, and the solutions all made sense. The puzzle flow is clean, and the feedback mechanisms you get when you do something right are satisfying. The set is simple which lets the puzzles shine.

What could have been improved

  • The set was simple and did not develop – While this was appropriate for an office-themed game, the set is much more basic than most of the top games in Los Angeles. We would love to be able to see or experience some fun twists to the set, especially as the game develops. This reflects in some of the puzzle components too.

Tips

This game is non-linear in structure, which means that for most of the game there will be more than one puzzle that needs work. This means that there are opportunities for players to specialize and parallelize. You can get a good sense of both the game structure and puzzle flow through something provided to you in-game.

According to Andrew of the Escape Chronicles team (thanks Andrew!), the people who are most successful in this game are more the ones that embrace and adapt to the game structure, instead of the ones that are experienced puzzlers.

Overall Recommendation ★★★★½

This is a polished puzzling experience in a basic setting – we’d recommend a smaller group of 3-4 for enthusiasts and 4+ for beginners. They offer both private and public bookings for each slot, so this is achievable!

Escape Chronicles also has a second game, Smuggler’s Tunnel, that we haven’t played yet (it wasn’t open yet when we were in town). They have a particularly useful description of their game on its booking page:

This experience is dimly lit, but never scary. It is a score based game, where you’ll have a unique specialty that aids in finding hidden objects, and determining their value. It is perfect for groups that don’t mind light role playing, and are looking for a large number of puzzles.

This is a fun game for small groups of puzzle-lovers looking for great puzzles in a funny setting. You can book your tickets at https://www.escapechronicles.com/rooms/testing-facility/. Let your host know that EscapeRoomTips.com sent you!

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