At the end of a dark hall, we step into a cemetery. Left with only an ancient tome and a small "vampire hunter's kit," we are left to fend for ourselves against the evil Dracula.
We are actually in an escape room in Hollywood, California. The "we" is me and three friends who have agreed to help me hunt down Dracula. The escape room, by 60out Escape Rooms, is rated as a hard room with a 60 minute runtime. We make it through in 69 minutes. (They gave us a few extra minutes.)
There is not much story with the Dracula escape room. The last full-sized room I did involved an immersive video and a story about being trapped in the basement of a serial killing cannibal. This one is far simpler: we have to hunt down Dracula. No video. Fine by me; I just want to get to the puzzles.
The Dracula room is actually comprised of several different rooms. You start in the cemetery with a book that gives you hints to what your next puzzle is, and when you finish all the puzzles, a secret door opens, leading you into Dracula's tomb. More rooms follow.
It is hard to write about an escape room, because you don't want to give away too much. I don't want to tell you about my favorite puzzles because the point is to explore and figure it out on your own. I will say that, for the most part, the puzzles were very creative. There was one puzzle near the beginning of the experience that I did not like. The rules were unclear (the game master had to come over the loudspeaker three times to explain it) and there may have been technical difficulties with the props. But otherwise the puzzles were unique and difficult, but not impossible.
The game master was great, too. You are monitored at all times, and while you can request help, we did not. However, the game master did step in a couple of times to give us hints when we appeared to be stuck (or when it looked like we were going to pull a non-moveable part out of the wall). Even still, she did not tell us what to do, just suggestions like, "That piece doesn't move," or "You are not done with that prop over there."
The Dracula room is suggested for two to six players. We had four, and that seemed plenty. I once did a room with 10 or 12 people, and that was way too many. Four seemed the right amount to play the puzzles: enough different brains to attack puzzles from different angles, but not so many that you couldn't keep track of who had done what. Plus the rooms are rather small. It seems like it would be hard to move if there were six of us in there. The Dracula room requires a certain amount of physical activity, too, which would be harder with more people.
60 Out has over a dozen different escape rooms of varying difficulty, spread out across Los Angeles, most of them built for two to six people. There are traditional horror-themed escape rooms like Doctor Psycho, Ghost Ship, or Krampus, but there are also non-horror rooms, like Casino Heist, Da Vinci's Secret, and Hangover (nothing to do with the film). Upcoming rooms include Alice in Wonderland, Amityville, Freak Show, and Time Machine theme rooms.
For more information on the rooms, or to book your escape, visit 60out.com.