Step Into Pandora's Box
Las Vegas is full of spectacular shows and sights to see. But have you ever wanted to step inside them? The Pandora’s Box escape room at “Trapped!” lets you do just that -- viscerally experiencing a full story in a small, intimate venue. Our four, experienced escape room players had a blast playing through all of the room’s puzzles and story moments, feeling like adventurers defeating ancient evils throughout our time in the experience.
The biggest strength of the room stood out in its production design, which evoked the sensory feelings of four elemental spirits through tangible effects we would trigger throughout the room. All of these moments of triggering new elements were exciting ways to experience the story and feel the power of the forces we were fighting, though none proved too large of a physical challenge to get in the way of the puzzle-solving. As we worked to complete our quest, it vividly felt like we were interacting with different elemental beings and experiencing a story as we fought against them. The puzzles themselves also incorporated aspects of these elements in their design. Though some incorporated their elements more fully than others, on the whole, it created a cohesive, themed experience.
Going in, we were made fully aware that the puzzle design would be very linear. While in some rooms this can feel like it detracts from our player experience, it helped to know that it was a fully intentional part of the design. The production design supports this decision, with lighting highlighting the active areas of the room and instructions encouraging players to only interact with lit areas. Because of the clarity of the instruction and design, we weren’t too confused by the format or looking for things that we wouldn’t find. Our group occasionally had downtime while one or two people worked on a puzzle, but given the immersive elements of the room, it was still an enjoyable place to be waiting in. The beginning of the room also had delightful moments in its linearity, where the first actions are so fun to engage with that little needs to be said beyond the set and lighting to encourage initial play. Our group of four experienced players solved all the puzzles in the room with a bit of time to spare, and was definitely the maximum size that I would want for the room, both in terms of puzzle linearity and physical space.
The puzzle design also features bonus content for players who want to engage further with the design of the room. The incorporation of these bonus elements felt very smooth, as we went straight into the bonus track from the main track without fully realizing we had been guided into further content. The bonus puzzles went back through the four elements in a way that we didn’t initially realize meant they were bonuses, but in retrospect it made clear where the bonus puzzles began. Because it wasn’t overtly stated where this moment was, though, I think players who don’t access the bonus content would still feel they fully completed a story. The one drawback of these bonus puzzles was their scale. Because they had to be unlockable but not on full display, they were a bit small in size, but still linear, increasing the amount of waiting time for people in the group without offering as much spectacle to tide them over.
The room’s hint system involved us interacting with our game master via audio. During the rules explanation, we were told that the amount of improvisation we put in would be the amount we get out, which felt like an invitation to play off of the actor. When we occasionally did so during the room, though, it felt like the game master was perhaps a bit surprised by this engagement, or had short, creative responses but didn’t lead into a larger scene. The hints functioned fine in this way, though given the way it was set up we craved a bit more from these interactions.
On the whole, Pandora’s Box provided a delightful, elemental adventure through its linear, themed puzzle design and theatrical production design choices. Though the room size and linearity may limit the player count, a small group of escape room enthusiasts would have a great time engaging with the puzzles and playing through the story.
-Sabrina Sonner, Latest Call Editor
Editor’s Note: This review was written after playing through the Pandora’s Box escape room in Las Vegas, though Trapped also offers the room at its San Dimas location as well. For more information including booking visit their website: https://trappedescaperoom.com/.